7 Questions To Expect From Your New PPC Manager

So, you’ve taken the plunge and hired a new PPC manager. Maybe you’ve decided to hire a PPC agency, or maybe you’re keeping PPC in-house but want someone to manage your program full time. Either way, congratulations on the new hire!

You’ll no doubt expect your new PPC manager to do keyword research, set up ad copy tests, manage bids, and track conversions. But PPC management goes way beyond keywords & ad copy. Here are seven questions to expect from your new PPC manager.

What are Your Goals for PPC?

The first thing your PPC manager should do, before he or she even logs into AdWords, is talk to you about your goals. A PPC campaign without goals is like traveling to a new city without a map. How will you find your way if you don’t know where you’re going?

Expect your new manager to ask specific questions about sales goals, cost per conversion targets, and overall business goals.

What are Your Key Products and Services?

If you’ve hired someone from within, they probably already know the answer to this question. Everyone else needs to ask it.

Even if your goal is just to use PPC to increase overall sales, it’s invaluable to know which products or services are your “must-haves.” This info is critical for prioritization, especially if you run low on budget and your PPC manager has to dial back your spend.

Who is Your Primary Target Audience?

Even your from-within hire should ask this question. Not only is it important for overall marketing strategy, it can also drive PPC tactics such as engine placement, geotargeting, and ad messaging.

For example, if your goal is to generate awareness of a new product targeted to women age 35-54, you might want to focus on Facebook ads. You’ll get zillions of impressions, and they’ll all be delivered to your target audience. If your goal is to reach business decision makers, you should try Bing – it works very well for B2B at a fraction of the cost of Google.

Are There any Specific Offers You’d Like to Promote?

Not all PPC is offer/promotion-based. But it’s still good to know what promotions and offers are out there so you can test them in PPC.

PPC is a great way to vet marketing messaging and get immediate response data without spending a lot of money on creative and traditional media.

You can use PPC to test offers and concepts before rolling it out to display and print. It’s an efficient way to see what resonates with the audience and avoid sinking money into messaging that doesn’t get attention.

What is Your Desired Cost per Conversion?

While this question is related to the goals question, it needs to be asked on its own. I’ve lost count of how many clients I’ve worked with over the years who have no idea how much they’re willing to pay to acquire a customer.

Sure, it’s possible to run PPC campaigns without a target CPA in mind – we’ll just try to get the lowest possible cost per conversion. But if you have even a ballpark number in mind, share it with your PPC manager!

I once had a client in a competitive vertical with CPCs upwards of $5/click. We were getting CPAs of around $15, and I was pretty happy with that. Turns out the client didn’t want to pay more than $5 per lead! We would have had to convert every visitor in that situation.

Get these thoughts out in the open before your campaign launches – you’ll both sleep better at night.

What Conversions are you Measuring, and How are You Measuring Them?

This is another question that a surprising number of advertisers answer with “I don’t know” and “we’re not.” If those are your responses, that’s OK. Your PPC manager can help you. But identifying key website conversion actions and setting up a way to track them will be their first order of business, before they even log in to AdWords.

If you’re tracking conversions, that’s great! If you have more than one conversion you’re tracking, take things one step further and make sure your PPC manager knows the priority of each conversion.

If you’re in ecommerce, online sales will probably be your number one conversion; but you might also be interested in email signups, contact form submissions, phone calls, and other actions. Knowing the importance of each conversion will help your PPC manager optimize campaigns accordingly.

What’s a Good Time to Hold a Recurring Meeting?

Nobody wants more meetings. But regular communication with your PPC manager is crucial, whether the manager is in-house or at an agency.

Meetings don’t have to be in-person; I have 30-minute monthly calls with several of my clients, and we rarely cancel. That’s because the clients know that we’ll discuss progress toward their business goals, how well we’re reaching their target audience, promotional offer results, cost per conversion, and conversions by type.

Sound familiar? It should! We discuss all the questions I’ve outlined here. And we talk about other things too; but the primary agenda is usually the first six questions in this post.

Even if your PPC manager isn’t new, it’s a good idea to revisit these questions with them. You’ll be glad you did.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Search Engine Watch on December 18, 2012.

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Why Agencies Need Better PPC Support

There has been a lot of chatter in the PPC community recently about Google Adwords support, or lack thereof. I’ve written more than my share of rants on the topic. It’s no surprise that Google would bear the brunt of PPC pros’ frustration – after all, they are the market leader and therefore are the platform we all use every day.

But step back from your daily annoyances and think about the big picture that is Google Adwords. They actually have built a decent platform for agencies, with MCCs and sub-MCCs. They have Adwords Editor. They have Google Partners.

I know Google Partners is nothing to write home about. But have you tried working in any of the social PPC platforms? Tried contacting their PPC support team? Gotten any nice gifts from them?

I thought so.

Here’s the thing. Agencies handle many (not all, but many) of the large PPC accounts out there. We are frequently the ones getting advertisers to try new things like Pinterest Ads. It behooves the search engines to give us the support we need to spend our clients’ money!

I’m sure that many of the questions crossing the desks of the engines’ PPC support staff are basic, and likely come from mom and pop advertisers trying to do PPC themselves. So why should the PPC engines offer any support to agencies when our numbers are relatively small? Isn’t general support enough?

No. And here’s why.

We are not beginners.

Sure, agencies hire new PPC staff all the time, and frequently these new hires have no experience with PPC. The fact of the matter is, though, the newbies aren’t always the ones calling Google or Bing for help. In the agency world, many of us who call are very experienced in PPC. Experienced PPC’ers see support calls as a last resort. We’ve already exhausted all other resources, including reading the help files and tinkering with the interface ourselves. We’re stuck, and that’s why we’re calling.

Therefore, we need dedicated PPC support staffers who are experienced themselves. This is where Bing really shines. We have a dedicated team at Bing, and they are experts. They are not the latest new hires cutting their teeth on the 1-866 number. They get that we get it, so on calls we dispense with the basics and talk strategy; and when we have a problem, they don’t read us the help files – they go in and fix it.

That’s what we want from you, Google – and from all the rest of you: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… LinkedIn only offers support via email, and I don’t think Facebook or Twitter offer it at all. So when we do have a question or something isn’t working, guess what? We often pull our money and spend it elsewhere.

We handle multiple clients.

Like I mentioned earlier, Google is the leader by a long shot in making it easy to work with multiple clients. Bing has gotten better, but their MCC-equivalent leaves a lot to be desired. Facebook has a decent interface for multiple accounts – and they have Power Editor which is awesome. But their reporting is pretty terrible, and both the online UI and Power Editor are glitchy at times.

LinkedIn? Well, they sort of have an MCC but its usefulness is totally overshadowed by the fact that their ads interface times out after about 5 minutes.

A few weeks ago, I was creating a campaign for a client who wanted to target 100 companies. After painstakingly spending an hour entering each company one by one (since LI has no bulk upload function whatsoever), I hit “next” and got the login screen. Thankfully, LI did save my work – but why give people that heart attack?

Agencies are in PPC interfaces all day. Don’t time them out! Facebook and Twitter never time out on me, and neither does Google. Bing only does after several hours of inactivity. C’mon LinkedIn – if you want agencies to spend money with you, don’t force them out of the ads interface every 5 minutes.

I joked on Twitter a while back that I was going to write a blog post called “The Top 3 PPC Engines That Don’t Want My Money.” Let’s hope we get some fast improvement, or I may yet write that post.

What do you think? Is agency PPC support just a pipe dream for all but the largest spenders? Found a way to get better support? Share in the comments!

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Google Partners: More Of The Same?

This week, Google announced their new Adwords agency program, Google Partners. It replaces the old Google Engage, and the rollout was much-ballyhooed by Google. They even sent out chocolates in an Advent calendar-type box, counting down to the Google Partners 2-hour livestream this past Wednesday.

While the chocolate was delicious, the livestream was not. Only about 20 minutes of the 2 hours was devoted to talking about benefits of the new program; the rest of the time was filled with speakers giving keynote-ish talks about sales. Chatter on the Twitter hashtag was not positive, to say the least.

Given the rocky start, I was not feeling bullish about Google Partners. Kicking things off by wasting 2 hours of busy agency PPC’ers time was not giving me the warm fuzzies.

Later on Wednesday, though, I got an email from a Googler who’d been assigned to our agency. The email was legit-looking, unlike emails we’d received recently that, honestly, we thought were spam. I agreed to a call with the Googler, eager to hear if we were actually getting an agency rep, or if we were just going to hear more sales pitches.

The call was yesterday. Overall, I’m feeling lukewarm about Google Partners – not ecstatic, but not as angry as I was a few months ago.

Some of the positives from the call:

Google has revived agency support for specific accounts.

They’ve essentially gone back to the model they had a year or two ago – assigning quarterly reps to specific accounts by vertical. To someone like me who’s done PPC for years, this wasn’t new – but it was a huge step forward from the previous “we can only help with large new business accounts” approach.

In addition, the rep told me that she could help with other clients not assigned to her – at a minimum, she’d try to find out if the other accounts had an assigned rep, or if there was some way she could help. This was definitely encouraging – instead of saying “I can’t help you with existing clients,” Google is now saying “Let me see how I can help you.” Huge step forward.

Roles are more clearly defined.

I’ve gotta hand it to the rep I spoke with – she was prepared. She’d reviewed the accounts that were assigned to her, and sent me a spreadsheet outlining the exact topics we’d be discussing and focusing on. She also sent me a helpful outline of who can help with what:

google roles
While the accounts she is assigned to are only a fraction of our client base, it’s a start.

The spreadsheet also included a resource list – sites we can go to for help with Google products, case studies, and other pitch materials. I was familiar with most of the sites, but it’s nice to have them all in one place.

The rep is local.

One of my biggest complaints over the years has been the weird way that Google assigned teams geographically. I live and work in Michigan, and Google has an office in Ann Arbor. Yet, despite my repeated insistence that they assign me a rep out of that office, we’d get stuck with someone in California – 3 hours behind us time-wise. I complained repeatedly that having to wait until 11am EST at the earliest to get someone on the phone was not helpful when we had a crisis; it didn’t matter.

Until now. The rep I spoke with yesterday is based in Ann Arbor. Yes! She even invited me to come meet with her. I’ll definitely take her up on that. While it may seem like a minor thing, the ability to meet with your rep face to face can’t be overstated.

The call wasn’t all rainbows and chocolates, though. There were some definite negatives:

We still have multiple points of contact for our agency.

I probably sound like a grumpy old lady, but I miss the old days where we had one rep for our entire agency. It was so nice to call someone we knew well, and who knew all of our accounts. Although the reps changed frequently, we often had the same rep for a year at a time.

It seems as though those days are gone forever. Google is still assigning reps on a quarterly basis. So, just about the time you get the person up to speed, they’re gone. Can you imagine if your clients switched agencies every quarter? How well do you think their campaigns would perform?

There’s still a heavy sales push.

The list of “optimizations” in the aforementioned spreadsheet was full of the same old stuff: use mobile, use sitelinks, use display, etc. The thing is, we DO use those things when they make sense for our clients. But some of our clients only have one landing page, for example. This means we can’t use sitelinks. A lot of our clients don’t have mobile sites; and they’re B2B to boot. So, no mobile for us.

The bottom line is, we’re agencies. We know that Google offers these things. If clients use them, it potentially makes us more money. And when we don’t use them, there’s a good reason why. Please, Google, stop pushing stuff we can’t use.

To sum it up, we’re back where we were a year ago.

Google Partners isn’t all that new. The service levels are back to where they were a year or so ago. It’s déjà vu all over again.

The only new thing I’ve heard so far is that Google can revoke your partnership if they think you’re not using “best practices.” Yikes. We all know how Google defines best practices: “Use all our stuff and bid as high as you can.”

In their defense, it’s still early. I’m hopeful that we can finally make some progress.

What’s your take on Google Partners? Is it a step in the right direction, or is it more of the same? Share in the comments!

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4 Ways to Kill Your PPC Health

Most medical experts agree that patients should take responsibility for their own health. While it’s a doctor’s job to help the patient get well, the patient needs to cooperate. When the doctor and patient don’t work together as a team, the patient’s health can suffer.

An agency/client PPC relationship is a lot like a doctor/patient relationship. Both parties are responsible for the health of the campaign, and they need to work together. Not doing so can lead to less than optimal PPC well-being.

Here are four ways clients and agencies can kill a campaign.

Diagnosing Without an Exam

Consider this scenario: Patient walks into the doctor’s office and says, “Doctor, my chest hurts. I need open heart surgery.” Doctor says “OK, let’s schedule the surgery now.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

You don’t need a medical degree to realize that the doctor in this example isn’t doing his or her job. What if the patient only has indigestion? Or what if they have bronchitis or pneumonia? Is open heart surgery going to fix either of these issues?

Yet in the PPC world, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve met with a client early in an engagement and the client says, “We need to launch a PPC campaign.” And too many PPC agencies say “OK, let’s open an AdWords account.”

The problem with this picture is that you haven’t figured out what marketing problem the client is trying to solve! What are their business goals? What are the pain points in their online marketing? What are the key performance indicators for their yet-to-be-launched PPC campaign? How will those KPIs be measured?

No reputable doctor would prescribe treatment for a patient without a thorough history and exam. Likewise, no reputable PPC company should launch a campaign without first establishing goals, KPIs, and tracking, along with a conversation about how PPC fits into the overall marketing mix.

Seeing Too Many Doctors

Most people would agree that medical specialists serve a necessary purpose. A general practitioner is probably not the best doctor to remove a tricky brain tumor, for example.

However, the doctors need to work together. They all need to understand the patient’s diseases, history, and treatment plans. When a patient runs from one doctor to the next without telling the others, it can have catastrophic results.

The same thing can happen in PPC. If too many people work on the account and don’t talk to one another, usually the campaigns don’t do very well. Or if the client makes changes to the account without telling the agency, performance can suffer.

Clear communication between all responsible parties will go a long way in ensuring that the campaign works as well as it possibly can.

Taking Medicines Because You Always Have

While there is a lot to be said for tried-and-true medications, sometimes they stop working. Either the patient gets better and doesn’t need the medication any more, or their body stops responding to it. Regular checkups are needed to make sure the current medications still make sense.

In PPC, regular meetings between the agency and client will help ensure that the campaign and marketing tactics are still working. For example:

  • Don’t bid on the same keywords for years at a time without reviewing them to make sure they still work and make sense.
  • Don’t settle for the same ad copy month after month without testing something new.
  • Work together as a team to continually question and review the current marketing plan and make sure the prescriptions are still working.

Not Telling the Doctor What Medications & Supplements You’re Taking

This is a common issue in the medical world. Patients either knowingly or unknowingly don’t tell their doctor what medications they’re taking, and this omission can have serious consequences. Medications can work together, or they can work against one another – and some combinations can be deadly!

Similarly, it’s not uncommon for PPC clients to forget to tell their agency about:

  • Sales or promotions taking place in other channels that could affect or benefit from PPC.
  • Products that are no longer available.
  • Website pages that have been changed or removed.
  • Shifts in overall marketing strategy.

Usually, the client isn’t being malicious – they really just forget to tell their PPC agency about these things. Yet these omissions can keep their PPC campaigns from achieving optimal health!

If you’re a client, be a good patient. Provide your agency “doctor” with a complete history and marketing picture. Communicate with them regularly.

If you’re an agency, be a good doctor. Ask questions so you understand the client’s marketing goals and KPIs. Communicate with them regularly.

By working as a team, you can ensure that your PPC campaigns stay healthy!

Editor’s Note:  This post originally appeared on Search Engine Watch on February 14, 2012.

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Don’t Blow Off Your PPC Agency’s Strategy Meetings

As you probably know, I’ve done PPC in both an in-house and agency setting. One of the things that puzzles me about agency life is the number of clients who seem to put their agency on “ignore” after hiring them.

When you’re an in-house SEM, you can’t delete the emails from your boss asking for a meeting, nor can you let all their calls go to voice mail. Chances are you’re heavily involved in marketing planning and strategy sessions, too. So why do clients blow off their agency’s requests for meetings?

There are a couple of reasons I can think of. First off, I think some clients have the mentality that they hired an agency so they won’t have to think about SEM. The last thing they want is yet another meeting to talk about stuff that they don’t want to be bothered with (i.e. SEM).

Another reason could be that the client’s afraid the agency will try to upsell them in the meeting. This is a valid concern – and for all you agency folks out there who use every conversation with a client to try to sell them on more services or a bigger budget, please stop. Now. You’re doing the rest of us a disservice.

As a client, why should you take time out of your busy day to talk to your agency? Well, I’ll tell you why.

Your agency needs to be in the loop.

Certainly your agency doesn’t need to know every little thing that goes on in your company every day. If that were the case, you’d be better off hiring someone in-house. But when it comes to some things, your agency absolutely does need to know in order to continue to provide services that are of value to your business. Here are just a few things that your agency needs to be aware of:

• Website changes, especially pages that get moved , deleted, or added
• Shifts in marketing strategy and messaging
• New product launches
• Pricing changes
• Other marketing campaigns you may be doing, even if they’re not SEM campaigns

There are many more, but you get the picture. In my experience, agency strategy meetings are a great forum for these conversations to take place. Of course, you can use the phone or email, too – but if you’re holding regular strategy meetings with your agency, they can help you manage the marketing process and make recommendations for improvement that you may not have thought of.

You need to be in the loop.

The PPC world is constantly changing and evolving sometimes faster than even us PPC pros can keep up with. As a client, you don’t need to study up on every last detail of new PPC launches. However, you do need to be aware of some things that could impact your business either positively or negatively – which is where your agency comes in.

In addition, your PPC agency probably has ideas for new things to try in PPC. They also have their finger on the pulse of your customers by way of the queries people are using to find your business. It behooves you to listen to this information, because it can inform not only your PPC campaigns, but other marketing as well.

Your agency has valuable insight that you should look at.

I’ve written about PPC reporting and what should be included in your agency’s reports. While at a minimum you need to take the time to read the reports, it’s even better if you schedule a meeting or call to go over the reports with your agency contact. After all, they’re the professional, and they likely have insight beyond what’s written on the page that they can share with you. I’ve found that report meetings with clients are often the best way to keep each other in the loop and to brainstorm new ideas for taking campaigns to the next level. The meetings don’t have to be long, and it’s really worth your time.

A good PPC manager won’t waste your time. They’ll handle the day to day business of running your campaigns effectively, and will only contact you when they have good information to share, questions, or insight for you. Do me a favor: don’t screen their calls, and don’t send their emails to your spam box. Take the meetings. You’ll be glad you did.

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Google Engage for Agencies – What’s It Worth?

As part of their overhaul of their Certification program, Google recently launched a new service for SEM agencies called Google Engage for Agencies. The program offers training resources, marketing materials, news, and support for agencies who manage Adwords accounts on behalf of clients. Members of Engage also get free $100 Adwords vouchers to use for new clients.

The program launched several months ago, but I just recently had time to go in and play around with it. Overall, I’m underwhelmed. In order to secure your membership in the program, you’ll need to watch four 15-20 minute videos covering an overview of Adwords. The videos are so basic it’s not even funny – really 101 type stuff. And you have to watch each video in its entirety to get a little code you can enter to finalize your membership and get your $100 vouchers.

It seems to me that anyone who’s already Adwords Certified should be able to skip that step. After all, if you’ve passed the Fundamentals test, you’ll already know everything that’s in the Engage videos. You can’t tell me that Google doesn’t know you’re certified – the login for Engage is the same as your Adwords login, and your profile includes certification info. And if you work at an agency, your time is money – time spent watching basic videos on stuff you’ve been doing for years is time you’re not doing billable client work.

All that said, there are a few redeeming qualities of the program. Obviously, the vouchers are nice – I don’t know any agency folks who would turn down $100. Engage also has a library of marketing materials that can be used to sell Adwords to clients. For example, there’s a downloadable PDF on preparing a sales pitch for Adwords, complete with worksheets you can use to ensure you’re asking the right questions of your prospect. While I’m not personally responsible for sales at Fluency Media, I’ve passed along many of these materials to our sales team.

And the training modules are definitely helpful for new agency team members who need to get up to speed on PPC. So if you’ve hired an intern or new staff member, I recommend starting them off with the intro videos I mentioned earlier. You’ll get the dual benefit of training them on PPC and enrolling them in the Engage program at the same time.

Engage also includes handy links to Adwords Certification training modules. This info, formerly found in your Adwords MCC, is a good training resource for those new to PPC, as well as a handy refresher course for anyone who needs to get certified or renew their certification.

To sum it up, if you’ve been doing PPC for a while, you may not find much use for Engage; but if you’re new to PPC, you’ll find it informative.

Have you tried Engage for Agencies? What do you think of it?

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How Not To Use Your Agency’s PPC Reports

People hire PPC agencies for a number of reasons:they want to use PPC, but don’t know how; or they’ve tried it but found it too complicated and time consuming.I’ve worked on both sides of the desk, in-house and agency, so I definitely see the advantages of each approach – and there are times where it just makes sense to hire an agency rather than try to do PPC yourself.

Any PPC agency worth its salt will provide some type of reporting on a regular basis.Some reports are more useful than others, but that’s a topic for another post.No matter what type of report you’re getting, there are ways to make use of the information, and ways not to.Here are some ways you should NOT use your agency reports.

Nitpicking over small details.

Ideally, your agency reports will include not only detailed data, but high-level insight and analysis.Even if the analysis is lacking, though, don’t obsess over minutiae.Focusing on one keyword’s stats, or one day’s data, is not a good use of your time – nor of your agency’s time responding to the inevitable questions you’ll have.You’re paying your agency to obsess over these details, precisely so you don’t have to.Don’t waste your time worrying about minor details that really don’t factor in to the big picture.

Ignoring the reports entirely.

Believe it or not, this is more common than you may think.A surprising number of clients receive their weekly or monthly report email and file it away without even opening it.On the one hand, maybe these clients trust their agency so completely that they aren’t worried about their account’s performance at all – sort of like the thousands of people who file away their 401K statements without ever looking at them.But just like a 401K, PPC performance can vary – and a good client will want to be aware of these variations.

Furthermore, a good report will contain not only data, but recommendations for future improvements such as landing page or website changes, shopping cart suggestions, and other information.(If only our 401K statements came with this info!)A good PPC manager can do a lot of great things without client involvement, but website changes often not are on that list.As the client, this is the stuff you’ll need to do – so ignore it at your own peril.

Taking the information and then trying to do things yourself.

I think some clients consciously try to use their agency as a training school, learning as much as they can so they can take everything in-house.Let me be clear – I’m not saying that no one should ever take things in-house.There are many instances where this makes a lot of sense:when the account has grown to the point that it warrants a full-time person managing it, for instance.

I’m also not saying that taking PPC training courses from qualified teachers such as Brad Geddes from Certified Knowledge is bad.Far from it!I’m a huge fan of continuous learning and training, and everyone, from agency managers to in-house PPC’ers, should take advantage of as much training as they can.

What I am saying is that it’s unfair to hire an agency under the guise of a vendor-client relationship, and use them to set up and optimize your account and make a bunch of recommendations – and then take the whole thing in-house in 3 months.

If you need help with initial start-up and optimization, that’s perfectly fine – but be honest about it!Tell the agency that you’re looking for a short-term commitment and you need help getting things off the ground.Some agencies will be fine with this, and some won’t – but in any agency-client relationship, a good fit is key to getting optimal results.Pretending you’re going to be a long-term partner, and then dumping the agency 3 months in, is not the best use of your money or the agency’s time.As the old adage goes, honesty is the best policy – and the best way to get what you really want out of the relationship.

If you’re thinking about hiring an agency, or if you’re already using one, I highly recommend my friend and fellow PPC Chatter Robert Brady’s post on agency reports, It’s Client Reporting, Not Training.It’s a great read, and it helped inspire this post. Thanks, Robert!

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3 Gift Ideas To Give Your PPC Agency

If you celebrate Christmas, you’ve probably at least started your shopping by now. If you’re looking for a gift to give your PPC agency, here are some ideas for you. Best of all, they’re all free!

Tell them everything.

Your agency will have tremendous difficulty running a successful PPC campaign if you don’t tell them what your business goals are. We’ve been surprised many times by our clients when they tell us that their #1 goal is something we’re not even touching with PPC campaigns. While not everything is easy to promote in PPC, nothing is easy if you don’t know what you’re promoting.

Along the same lines, tell your agency when you make changes to your website. It’s not uncommon for PPC managers to discover that the landing pages they’re using for paid traffic all of a sudden don’t exist anymore. Remember, you’re paying for this traffic. If you’re not going to keep your PPC agency in the loop, you may as well use your money to buy lottery tickets instead.

Take their recommendations.

You probably hired a PPC agency because of their knowledge and expertise in the field. You realized that they’re experts in PPC, and you’re not – so you’ve decided to pay them to put their expertise to work for you.

Ignoring your agency’s recommendations is like ignoring doctor’s orders. Sure, no one’s holding a gun to your head to make sure you follow directions, but if you don’t, things aren’t going to get better. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if your PPC agency recommends changes to your campaign or landing pages, you’d be “insane” not to listen to them!

This doesn’t mean you have to blindly do everything your agency says. But at least have a conversation about it. Talking things through and compromising is better than just blowing things off.

Respond to their communications.

Any PPC manager can tell you about the one client who never responds. Emails and reports go unread; voice mail messages go unreturned. We PPC managers are pretty good at keeping things rolling along with little direction – again, that’s probably why you hired us. We pride ourselves on being able to manage your campaigns without needing daily direction from you.

All that said, we’re not contacting you to chit-chat, and we’re not spending hours producing reports to clog your inbox. The most successful PPC campaigns are born out of collaboration – back and forth conversations between agency and client. So if I’ve called you 4 times and you don’t respond, or I send emails that never get a reply, it’s hard for me to get the best results for your campaign.

Trust me – we PPC managers don’t want to add to your workload. We understand that you hired us to take the burden off your shoulders. But success in PPC (or any marketing effort, for that matter) comes from collaboration and communication.

So take the time to share and respond to your PPC manager. Your bottom line will thank you.

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PPC In-House or Agency: Decisions, Decisions, Part II

Last week, I wrote about the pros and cons of in-house PPC management. I’d like to thank all of you who commented on Twitter and linked to the article – it’s gratifying to know that I can help sort out some of these things for you!

In Part II of this 2-part series, I’ll cover the pros and cons of agency PPC management.

(And it bears repeating: let me make it clear that this is my personal blog. As such, the opinions expressed in this and every post here are mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of past or present employers.)

Agency Pros:

  • Experience. Chances are they’ve done this before. Lots of times. They’ll be ready to hit the ground running with best practices, instead of spending a lot of budget trying to, as someone on Twitter said last week, “get a clue.”
  • Contacts at the major search engines. Any agency worth their salt has a dedicated account team at both Google and Yahoo/Bing – meaning they have a direct line to help and support within the search engines.
  • Contacts in the SEM industry. Again, most agencies worth their salt attend at least one or two search marketing conferences per year. The really good ones not only attend the shows, they speak at the shows. They’re plugged in to what’s going on in the industry – and your account will benefit from their connections.
  • Multi-channel integration. Many (although certainly not all) digital agencies can manage not only your PPC program, but your SEO, social media, display, email, and sometimes even traditional media. This holistic view gives them a “big-picture” perspective that can get lost when these programs are siloed across several in-house departments.
  • Accountability. As an outsourced vendor, it’s in the agency’s best interest to be good stewards of your PPC budget. If they’re not, it’s pretty easy for you to pick up your ball and go to another agency – or go home and do it in-house.

Agency cons:

  • Cost. This depends on how you look at it: of course, it costs money to pay a full-time in-house PPC staffer. But an agency is going to charge you to manage their PPC budget, resulting in either a higher PPC budget, or a reduced spend with the search engines.
  • Communication can be an issue. Good agencies know how to work around this, but sometimes it’s hard for a client to know just what the agency is doing.
  • Accountability. Yes, I know I listed this in the “pros” column, but hear me out. An in-house PPC manager has to report to your company’s management team. If they do a poor job, chances are good they’ll be fired – and have to look for another job. But an agency manager likely works for several clients. Unless they’re grossly negligent, doing a poor or even mediocre job on your PPC account probably won’t’ cost them *their* job. It may cost the agency your business, but that person will probably just keep on working there.
  • Depth of account manager expertise. While it’s absolutely not the case at many agencies, sometimes the day-to-day management of your account will be handled by a junior staffer (or even an intern). While junior staff is almost always monitored by senior staff, if it’s important to have your account managed by a seasoned PPC pro, it’s not guaranteed at an agency.

Like I said, there’s no one right answer. I’ve done both, and I strongly believe in both approaches. If you’re wrestling with this idea, I recommend listening to this episode of the Best Search Strategies show. Jamie and Brian (both are super-smart acquaintances of mine) give a thorough overview of questions and considerations to review when you’re deciding on in-house or agency.

And as always, let me know your thoughts!

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