3 Sneaky Ways To Bid On Competitor Keywords

In the advertising world, most businesses have to deal with competitors. In traditional media, many publishers offer competitive separation, where your ads will be separated by physical space (in print) or time (in broadcast) from your competition.

In search, though, your ads appear alongside your competitors. A search for books will yield ads from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and possibly local retailers. They’re all competing with one another, on the same web page, for the click.

Many PPC advertisers are interested in bidding on their competitor’s brand names. Why not try to take visitors away from the other guys? It seems easy to do – but quality score creates a challenge.

Anyone who’s ever tried to bid on competitor brands has probably gotten hit with poor quality scores. It makes sense – after all, if I searched for “Target stores,” why would I want to see ads from Walmart? The search engines know this, so they slap anyone who’s not Target with a quality score of 1 or 2.

Still, there may be good reasons to bid on your competitor’s brands. Maybe you’re new to the market and need awareness. Maybe there’s confusion between your brand and a competitor, and you’re hoping to capitalize on that. Whatever the reason, it is possible to bid on competitor brands and get decent quality scores and traffic. Her are 3 sneaky ways to bid on competitor keywords.

Bid on misspellings.

Does your competitor have a hard-to-spell or easily misspelled brand? Gather up all the possible misspellings and bid on them. Misspellings, to the search engines, are vague – do you mean the brand, or do you mean something else? When it’s not clear, your ad has a better chance of appearing.

Here’s an example:

misspellings
I meant to search for “esurance” – the auto insurance company. But I typed “ensurance” instead. Esurance still showed up as the top ad.

But look at the second ad. It reads awkwardly – they’re probably using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) – but the query I typed is in the ad twice, and therefore it’s bolded and stands out. They also have 6 sitelinks showing – more than the other advertisers in the top ads. And they’re promoting “Low Rates.” I had to read the ad carefully to realize it wasn’t for the company I meant to search for. Most users wouldn’t read carefully – they’d just click.

Clever use of DKI, along with features like sitelinks, can help your ad stand out on misspellings of your competitor’s brands.

Bid on “cancel” keywords.

I saw this tip on Twitter, and it’s revolutionized my competitor keyword campaigns:

tweet for cancel
What better way to reach disgruntled customers of competitors and woo them your way than by bidding on keywords used by those who want to cancel?

Not only is this tactic smart, it’s effective in counteracting the poor quality score usually seen on competitor terms. Here’s an example:

non cancel kws

Nearly every competitor brand name has a quality score of 2 and is rarely shown due to low quality score.

But look at the “cancel” keywords:

cancel QS

Quality score jumped from 2 to 4-5, and even 10 in one case! And the “cancel” keywords are getting click-through rates that are well above average. Better yet, they’re driving leads.

If you’re in a service or contractual business, adding “cancel” terms to your keyword list can dramatically improve results in your competitor campaigns.

Use all the weapons available to you.

It almost goes without saying that successful competitor campaigns need great ad copy. A killer offer and reasons to choose you usually perform well. I’ve seen competitors use exclusive, super-deal offers for competitor campaigns that aren’t promoted anywhere else, just to grab those conquest clicks.

Getting creative in your ad copy doesn’t hurt either. Look at the Olive Garden ad on the search for Applebee’s:

better ad copy

Not only is the Olive Garden ad clever, it’s also earned ad annotations from Bing Ads, showing they have 205,900 followers on Twitter and have been visited by 100K users in the past month.

While advertisers can’t control ad annotations, they can control ad extensions. Use them to make your ad stand out on the page. You’ll need to earn a spot on the top of the page for most extensions to show, but ad extensions can be a real differentiator.

Consider this search result for, ironically, search competitor intelligence tools:

competitor serp
Adgooroo isn’t bidding on their brand, and SpyFu is taking advantage. They’re using callout extensions and Google+ extensions to make their ad stand out on the page. I’ve also seen call extensions and location extensions used successfully on competitor ads – imagine if you discover that the business you were searching for is further away than a competitor offering the same thing!

Give the searcher every possible reason to contact you instead of the competition, and your competitor campaigns can be a good source of quality traffic and sales or leads.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at Search Engine Watch on December 16, 2014.

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PPC for Content Marketing: Channels and Measurement

In earlier articles about content marketing, I talked about the content audit, audience research, timing, and the buyer journey. In the final post in this series, we’ll discuss how to match content to channels and measure success.

As a PPC professional, you might be thinking that all content should be used in PPC. After all, if it’s worth creating, it’s worth advertising, right?

To a degree, that’s true. We have so many weapons in our arsenal that we can promote nearly any type of content in PPC. Some assets are going to be home runs, and others will strike out. It’s our job to make good decisions about channel placement, measure results, and optimize accordingly.

The first step is to decide which content should go where. Go back to your buyer journey map. It’ll tell you whether your content falls into the awareness, consideration, or decision phase of the journey. While PPC spans all 3 phases, some types of content work better than others in each stage.

For example, decision content rarely performs well in display or social PPC. That’s not to say you can’t use it there, but it should supplement your awareness content, rather than stand alone. I like to use awareness content in display and social, and decision content in remarketing. That way your users see something different, and it helps pull them into the funnel.

Content format is another consideration. You can’t run a video ad in Google search. You can put the video on your landing page, but you can’t use it in your actual ad. But you can do a YouTube Ads campaign using the video.

Think carefully about where your content is hosted. It’s easy to put presentations on SlideShare, or videos on YouTube – but do you want to drive PPC or media traffic there? Probably not. You’ll need to create landing pages and embed this content on the pages.

Social PPC is a whole different animal. If your goal is engagement or audience building, you probably won’t mind promoting tweets with YouTube videos, SlideShare decks, or even photos and infographics – content you’d never promote in search.

Lay all this out in a channel matrix so you know what’s being promoted where.

Once you have your content mapped to channels, you need to figure out how to track it. It’s ideal to know not only which individual assets perform best, but what types of assets. I mentioned this briefly in the buyer journey discussion, but it’s important to repeat it here.

There are several ways to track content performance. You can create individual landing pages for each asset, and then track performance by page. Or, you can create a content ID system that parses out the asset title, buyer journey stage, and content type – and then roll up that data via your analytics platform.

This is a critical step: you must think about how you’re going to track content performance across channels. While some assets will do well in certain channels and poorly in others, some assets will rise to the top as high-performers across all channels. That’s the content you want to promote heavily – and try to replicate.

For instance, if a particular report or white paper does well across the board, you might want to create an updated version of it, or write a similar report about another product or service you offer.

Look at asset types to see what your audience responds to. Do they prefer videos, or do they like to download white papers to read and share? Thinking about this at the outset will enable you to develop a tracking system that gives you the data you need to make decisions.

Use your tracking data not only to optimize what’s in market, but to guide future content development. Test different assets against each other and gauge results. Socialize your learnings internally (or with your client if you’re an agency).

To the uninitiated, content marketing sounds like an insurmountable task. By following the steps outlined in this series, you can develop a successful content marketing machine and fuel your PPC efforts at the same time.

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PPC Campaign Setup Best Practices

Everyone who works in PPC management will have to set up at least a few new PPC campaigns. Setup seems easy, especially if you read what the engines tell you. But there are several tricky default settings that can trip you up.

It’s easy to make mistakes in campaign setup that can negatively impact performance. Here are some PPC campaign setup best practices to follow.

Campaign Setup Basics

Experienced PPC managers may take the basics for granted – after all, we’ve looked at these settings hundreds of times, right? But that doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes. I recently set a campaign’s geotargeting to the entire US when it was supposed to be geotargeted to a few cities. Be sure to look at the following settings to ensure they mesh with your campaign goals:

  • Billing & Currency
  • Account Timezone
  • Geographic Distribution
  • Language
  • Campaign Budget
  • Ad Distribution
  • Ad Rotation

For an overview of all these settings, here’s an article I wrote for Web Marketing Today.

Campaign Setup Strategies

Once you understand the various settings that are available, you need to think about campaign strategy. What makes the most sense for each campaign? Review some of the choices you have in terms of ad rotation, budget delivery, etc.

Also, think long and hard about mobile. Do you have a mobile version of your site? Is your site responsive and works well on mobile? Can users take conversion actions on a mobile device? Don’t just automatically include or exclude mobile – think about how it fits with campaign strategy.

Audit and QA

Even the most experienced PPC managers make mistakes in campaign setup. I’ve set the wrong budget, opted campaigns into display by mistake, set wrong geos, added “keyword” to my keyword list, and messed up destination URLs and tagging. It happens to the best of us.

The worst possible thing that can happen is to have a client, or your boss, find your mistakes. While some things will inevitably slip through the cracks despite your best efforts, putting an audit and quality assurance (QA) process in place will help you to avoid the most egregious errors.

One key to successful QA is to have someone else check your work. We recently did a huge launch of new landing pages for a client with a very large campaign. On top of that, we had to manually tag our URLs. It was a complicated process with a big margin for error. We had multiple sets of eyes on the destination URLs to make sure everything was set up correctly. We checked, and then checked again. And I had others help me, because after I’d stared at it for multiple 10-hour days straight, it was hard to find my own mistakes.

Another key to correcting errors is to do regular audits. We’ve all made changes to accounts in good faith, only to realize we messed something up in the process. Auditing your campaigns on a weekly or monthly basis will help keep errors from perpetuating over time.

My favorite audit tool is Joe Kerschbaum’s 10-Minute Audit spreadsheet. He presented it at SMX Advanced 2012 on a panel we were both speaking on, and I’ve used it ever since. Even though it’s 2 years old, it still holds up – the only thing that’s changed is device segmentation (sadly). Even still, you should think about mobile as I mentioned above. Are you using mobile-preferred ads? Call extensions? Other tactics for mobile success? Use the audit spreadsheet to find mistakes quickly.

Again, it’s best to have someone else audit the campaigns you manage. While I’ve used it on my own campaigns, it’s easy to miss things. If you work on a team, take turns auditing each other’s campaigns each month. You’ll be glad you did.

What are your favorite campaign setup best practices? Share in the comments!

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Must-Read Posts On PPC And Other Topics

I’ve been bookmarking great PPC posts like a madwoman the past few days, and some of the posts are too good not to share. Here are my must-read posts on PPC, and on a couple other topics that PPC managers will find useful.

Excellent Bidding in PPC by Lauryan Feijen. This long but worth-the-read post covers how to effectively bid on keywords for best results. If you’re looking to meet your PPC goals, check this one out.

Multi-Ad Group Testing by AdAlysis. This video is intended for users of Brad Geddes’s AdAlysis tool, but it’s worth a watch for anyone looking to streamline ad copy testing across large accounts. You could apply the principles outlined in the video to a pivot table and gain similar insights with a few calculations, although it would take significantly more time than it takes in AdAlysis.

Incidentally, I’m a huge fan of AdAlysis. If you manage multiple accounts or have a large account with multiple ad tests, this tool is a must for saving time on test analysis.

Google AdWords Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA): The Ultimate Guide by Lisa Raehsler. An oldie but a goodie, this Search Engine Watch post is a must-read primer for anyone looking to take advantage of the power of remarketing lists for search ads.

The next 2 posts are on giving great presentations. Even if you don’t speak at search conferences, you probably have to give presentations to clients, or to co-workers if you work in-house. I bookmarked these 2 posts because they’re loaded with tips that I can use right away to make my presentations better.

Making Great Presentations by Ian Lurie. A true lesson in the “less is more” philosophy, Ian’s Slideshare deck will have you fine-tuning your PowerPoint decks in no time.

Free Resources For Great Presentations by my friend Aaron Levy. Aaron gave this presentation at his alma mater, Villanova University – but the lessons in this post apply to far more than just college students. Everyone can benefit from the resources he offers up in this killer post. (Disclosure: Aaron credits me with providing ideas for his presentation, and I did send him a few tips – but this post has given me way more than I gave it!)

Give these great posts a read or view – you won’t be disappointed. Got any great PPC articles to share? Post in the comments!

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6 Milestones For Successful PPC Campaigns

When I train new PPC hires, one of the questions they often ask me is, “How long does it take to get a PPC campaign running well?” It’s a fair question, and the answer isn’t what you might think.

A good PPC campaign takes time to set up. It’s not immediate like Google Adwords would lead you to believe:

This is Google's idea of how quickly a campaign can go live. They're wrong.

This is Google’s idea of how quickly a campaign can go live. They’re wrong.

Here are 6 milestones that will take you on your way to a well-run campaign.

Research

Doing your homework is a must. Guessing at keywords and creating one ad that lands on the homepage is not the way to approach PPC. You’ll need to think about campaign goals first, and then do your keyword research.

Creating good ad copy is harder than ever with all the options out there today. Be sure to incorporate best practices.

Campaign structure is also vital for success. Plan for expansion, and create campaigns and ad groups that will make management and reporting easier.

Tracking

If you don’t measure results, how will you know if the campaign is running well? Tracking setup can be very simple, using only Google Analytics or the engine conversion tracking scripts, or it can be ridiculously complex, with content marketing and CMS integration, call tracking, social media, and other integration elements.

Set aside time to get the tracking right before you launch. Inaccurate tracking is worse than no tracking.

Approvals

Whether you’re in an agency dealing with clients, or in-house with a boss or CEO, someone will need to approve your campaign before it goes live. Chances are you’ll need someone else to set up the tracking on the website, too. Allow time for approvals – in my experience, a 2-day turnaround is lightning-fast, and it frequently takes a week or more for all approvals and tracking codes to be installed. Work that time into your launch plan.

And if you’re creating new landing pages, plan on at least a month to get them up and running. Even with marketing automation, I’ve found it takes several weeks to create new pages, QA them, and get them ready for traffic.

Relevant Data

One of the great things about PPC is its immediacy – you can start seeing data right away. But just because you can see data the first day doesn’t mean you should act on it.

Use the first days of a new campaign to trouble-shoot: ad disapprovals, broken links, and tracking issues are some of the roadblocks that can crop up in the early days of a new campaign. You should definitely look at the data to spot these challenges and fix them as soon as possible.

But don’t fall into the trap of viewing performance after a couple of days or weeks and making huge decisions on it. Most campaigns need at least a month to really get a feel for performance. The first couple weeks will have huge swings in key metrics – so it doesn’t make sense to decide the fate of keywords and ad copy while things are going back and forth. Give it time.

Optimization

Campaign optimization should be ongoing, of course, but it’s in the first month or two that the most learning happens. You’ll probably find a couple of keywords and ad variations that perform terribly. As long as you remove them quickly, usually there’s little to no harm done. Fail fast and learn fast should be your motto.

Reporting

Reporting is another way to get your campaign performing well. In a report, you must show results, highlight key wins, and point out issues and problems. Even though you’re looking at your PPC data on a regular basis, you’ll probably see something in the first report that you didn’t notice before. And that’s ok.

I always tell clients that their first report is going to be their worst report in terms of performance. It’s the baseline by which future performance is judged. And a good PPC report will facilitate a conversation between you and your client or boss that will help you get the campaign to perform better in the future.

Work toward these milestones as you set up your next PPC campaign. What milestones do you look for in a new campaign? Share in the comments!

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PPC and Content Marketing: Integration

Previously, I’ve talked about PPC and content marketing as it relates to the content audit, audience research, timing, and buyer journey. Now it’s time to think about integrating your content marketing efforts across channels.

It’s common for advertisers to integrate their search and social PPC channels. PPC can inform SEO and vice versa, and social PPC can inform search as well. Frequently, the same person is managing many or all of these channels, making it even easier to coordinate and integrate learnings.

But what about other kinds of media? Think about ad networks, traditional media, organic social, PR, email…. Are you talking to these folks about your content marketing?

Chances are, the answer is no. And it’s time to start.

Map channels to the buyer journey.

The best way to begin the mapping process is to go back and look at your buyer journey. Map each channel to the phases in the buyer journey that make the most sense. You’ll probably need to break things down even further and map campaigns within the channels to the buyer journey. PPC, for instance, can fit into multiple buyer journey phases, so you’ll need to map campaigns accordingly.

Once you’re done, you’ll have a good roadmap of which channels need to be working closest together.

Track content across channels.

Now it’s time to think about tracking your content across channels. It’s not always easy to do, but if you have a good content management system, usually you can assign a content ID to each asset. Then you’ll include the content ID as a URL parameter in each channel. This enables you to slice and dice the data and see how each content asset performs across channels and as a whole.

This is the secret sauce that will help you take your content marketing to the next level. If you know that a certain asset performs well in every channel you’ve used it, then you’ll want to lead with that asset when you enter a new channel for the first time.

If you don’t have a CMS that can track content performance for you, you could try using the utm_content parameter in Google Analytics for content ID. As long as it’s used the same way across channels, you could get asset performance this way.

Track content types.

It’s also important to learn what types of content perform best. Are white papers your top lead generators, or do videos perform best? Track performance by asset type, either by including it in the content ID parameter, or by tracking it manually. One of our clients tracks link clicks on asset titles in their web analytics, using consistent link naming across all channels. The asset title always includes the asset type, so we can roll up the results fairly easily.

Establish a consistent naming convention.

I can’t stress enough how important the naming convention is to content marketing integration success. A naming convention is like a code or shorthand that maps back to your content. For instance, an Intro to PPC white paper might be coded like this: ppc_int_wp_01. All PPC content would contain “ppc,” all intro content would contain “int,” and all white papers would contain “wp.” “01” is the specific asset number. This convention enables you to track and report on all kinds of asset types.

Establish your naming convention before you begin, and you’ll be able to track content performance across channels.

Don’t forget to ensure that all marketing channels, including organic social, are using the content parameter in their destination URLs.  All the naming in the world is no good unless it’s used consistently!

Use the data to learn and improve.

If you find that white papers perform best across all channels, you now know that you need to start writing more white papers. You might find that certain types of content do better in PPC than in other channels, and vice versa.

Be sure to communicate learnings to all involved: your counterparts working in other channels, your client or boss, and so on. Set a monthly or quarterly content performance review meeting to go over your findings. This way you ensure that everyone is informed and can use the information to improve the marketing efforts in their area of expertise.

An integrated content marketing strategy can be highly effective. How have you integrated your PPC content marketing? Share in the comments!

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7 Things About PPC Strategy Your Clients Want to Know

So, you’ve landed a new client (or gotten approval to start an in-house PPC campaign) and you’re ready to open up a new Adwords account. You’ve read all the PPC blogs about campaign settings and setup; or maybe you’re an experienced PPC marketer and you’re itching to pull the trigger.

While you’re thinking about ad group structure, campaign settings, and ad copy, your client or boss has questions about PPC strategy. Here are 7 things about PPC strategy that your clients want to know.

1 – Campaign goals.

Ideally, you’ll have discussed goals before you kick off the campaign, and structured your campaigns accordingly. Every conversation you have with the client should center on goals: why the questions you’re asking pertain to their main pain points and needs, and how you plan to achieve their goals.

Sometimes strategies need to shift or change, and if you’re the one driving that change, the client wants to know that too. For instance, if you decide to test the Google Display Network, the client will want to know how that fits with their overall strategy. It’s easy to get excited about testing something and forget to get client or decision-maker buy-in. Keep the lines of communication open for best results.

2 – How you’re going to get more leads for less cost.

This is what it comes down to, right? Sales or leads are foremost on most clients’ minds. All your PPC reports should include optimization recommendations that illustrate how you’ll increase leads and improve cost per lead. Clients care less about the keywords you’re bidding on, and more about making their cash register ring.

3 – How they compare against competitors.

It’s rare for a client not to care about their competition. Market positioning vis-à-vis the competition was probably part of your pitch process – but it needs to be reviewed frequently. Clients are often obsessed with their competitors’ every move. Proactively watching the competition helps the PPC manager to be prepared for threats and opportunities, too.

Use a tool like SEMrush or Spyfu to easily keep tabs on your clients’ competitors. I can guarantee your clients want to know what they’re doing.

4 – Why you picked the keywords you did.

I said earlier that clients care less about keywords and leads, and that’s true. But it doesn’t mean they don’t care about keywords at all. They do need to know what you’re bidding on and why. It’s a good idea to periodically send your clients a list of keywords that are driving traffic, whether it’s the top 10 or 100 or 1,000 terms. Have a conversation with them about why you chose the keywords you did. I often find that clients don’t understand how keywords work, and will ask why you’re not bidding on product attributes or ingredients (I once had a deli restaurant client who wanted to bid on “poblano peppers”), slogans, and other phrases that, to a PPC manager, aren’t even keywords. Take the time to explain why you chose the terms you did.

5 – Why you need a new or improved landing page.

Ah, landing pages. They’re so often the bane of my existence. It’s common for clients or bosses to ask why you need to create new landing pages, or why you need to edit your existing pages. It’s crucial to walk them through the reasons why you need a killer landing page. Nothing is more frustrating for both the PPC manager and the client than settling for a subpar landing page (or, heaven forbid, the home page) and then wondering why results are terrible.

6 – When you will see results.

Ah, PPC reporting. Another potential bane of the PPC manager’s existence. While we may despise reporting, it’s not negotiable – clients and bosses need reports.

New clients will be very anxious about when they’ll see results on their new PPC campaign. Lay out a reporting schedule early on, and agree on what will be reported. Don’t forget to set expectations: I tell new clients that the first month is always going to be the worst month in terms of performance. Frequently, there are tracking issues, keywords you shouldn’t have been bidding on, and landing page issues that don’t get resolved in the first month. Figure out how long the benchmark period will last and set the expectation with the client.

We tell new clients that the first 4-8 weeks are the time that we do a lot of learning and tuning. While we make every effort to set campaigns up for success, not everything we try will work. That’s the point of testing – to fail fast and learn fast. Clients just want to know when they can see the cash register ring, so set the expectations up front.

7 – How do we know if we’ve succeeded?

The answer to this question goes beyond “well, your sales/leads went up.” What is the desired cost per lead? How many leads or sales are you expecting from the program? How does PPC affect other channels? What KPIs will tell us that we’ve gotten what we wanted out of PPC? Be prepared to answer all these questions, or work with your client to answer them. And when you do succeed, shout it from the rooftops!

Are there PPC strategy questions your clients ask that I haven’t covered? Share in the comments!

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Top Tips for Social PPC Success From the Experts

Social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are here to stay – and they all have PPC ad platforms. More and more advertisers are including social PPC in their search marketing mix.

While there are many similarities between social PPC and search PPC, there are some key differences. In many ways, social PPC acts more like display than search – but it doesn’t really act like display, either. Social PPC has its own set of best practices for success.

If you’re like a lot of PPC pros, you’re probably struggling to get your head around the whole social PPC universe. So, I asked some of the top experts in social PPC to share their top tips for social PPC success.

Facebook Audience Tips

The power of social PPC is its targeting abilities. With search, you’re targeting keywords; with social, you’re creating personas. Accurate targeting is a great feature of social PPC, so it’s crucial to get it right.

“Create and manage audiences in Facebook Power Editor to run and test ads with specific messaging for specific demographic groups,” said James Svoboda of Web Ranking. “This will help control ad spend on new campaigns and helps speed up creation of new ads by having established audiences.”

If you aren’t using Facebook’s Power Editor, bookmark this article to read later and go get started. It only works on Chrome and acts a lot like AdWords Editor for Facebook.

One of the great features is audience creation. You can create an audience in Power Editor and apply the audience to any or all of your ads. You can also create new ads and apply the saved audience to them.

Reaching your target audience in Facebook can be challenging, especially for B2B advertisers. My coworker Jessi Link recommends that advertisers “get creative with targeting. Since most of our clients are B2B, and job title targeting can be lacking on Facebook in particular, I’ve found it helpful to reach these audiences by targeting fans of industry publications, conferences, and companies that serve that audience exclusively.”

Targeting competitors is another popular tactic.

“Targeting people who like/follow your competitors is one of my favorites,” said Julie Bacchini of Neptune Moon.

Joe Drury of WebTrends agreed, saying users of all social PPC platforms should target competitors.

Drury also recommends using Facebook custom audiences. Custom audiences let advertisers target Facebook users by email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, or app user IDs.

LinkedIn Audience Tips

Many of the Facebook audience tips are great for LinkedIn as well. Of course, LinkedIn has its own unique opportunities for audience targeting.

Drury said that “on Linkedin, groups are king.” Using and targeting groups, as well as job titles and interests, is highly effective.

Robert Brady of Righteous Marketing recommends that LinkedIn advertisers “overlay targeting for increased relevance. Industry + Seniority + Job Function is a good one to try.” I’ve had success using this method myself.

Bonus Audience Tips

I love the tip I got from social PPC guru John Lee of Clix Marketing. He suggested that advertisers “use the ‘back door’ – target LinkedIn and Facebook with the Google Display Network, layered with contextual keywords.” Both LinkedIn and Facebook use the GDN to backfill their display inventory, so if you want to dip your toe in the water using a platform you’re more familiar with, here’s your chance.

Here’s another tip from yours truly. If possible, prioritize your audience and create campaigns by priority.

For example, you may have a “hot prospects” list and a “cooler prospects” list. Create separate LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter campaigns for each audience. This allows you to use different messaging, bids, and budgets for each audience much more easily than if you lump them all into one.

Social PPC Ad Optimization

Ad burnout in high-impression social PPC networks is a real problem. It’s imperative to keep ads fresh while still generating a good CTR. Ian Mackie of PointIt offers this simple, yet profound tip: “Use dark/old posts in Facebook to quickly A/B test images, headlines, and creative.” Why reinvent the wheel?

Images in social PPC ads create a whole new level of complexity for advertisers used to dealing with 95 characters of text. Finding effective images is a perpetual challenge for advertisers trying to combat ad fatigue.

Getting attention in Facebook ads, in particular, can be tricky.

“Images of pretty, smiling women get clicks,” said Justin Freid of CMI Media. “They may not be the right clicks, but you get clicks.”

Jesse Semchuck adds that it “also helps if the woman is looking at your call to action button/copy.”

While these ideas may sound frivolous, they’re legitimate. People are drawn to people – it’s instinctive. Our eyes follow another person’s eyes. And pretty or suggestive images get attention.

Even in the more businesslike LinkedIn environment, images can make or break an ad. Choose them carefully, and test them relentlessly.

Images may have other editorial challenges, as well. Facebook limits text in an image to no more than 20 percent of the image. But there is a workaround.

“If you’re getting hit with the 20 percent text rule and have to use a particular image, target your ads just to right hand side,” said Timothy Jensen of Overit.

Twitter Ads pose a different optimization challenge, because most of their promotion options focus on promoting tweets, hashtags, or handles. Carefully crafted tweets work well, but there isn’t a good way to split-test them in the ad environment.

That’s where Twitter Lead Generation Cards come in. Lead gen cards are sort of an “ad within a tweet.” You’ll set up a lead gen card, and then send promoted tweets to it. Lead gen cards are effective for driving email signups, white paper downloads, and other common lead gen activities.

As Drury put it: “Lead gen cards rock for B2B!”

Social PPC Campaign Optimization

Most social PPC channels offer both CPC and CPM bidding options. On Twitter, you pay per engagement: click, retweet, or reply. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer CPC and CPM.

Facebook also offers Optimized CPM. oCPM is an advanced bidding option for users of the Facebook API. It allows advertisers to set a value for actions, reach, clicks, or social impressions. Once the values are set, Facebook optimizes ad serving against them.

Several social PPC experts recommended oCPM. Terry Whalen‏ of CPC Search suggested “using custom objectives with oCPM for Facebook bidding” as a way to improve performance.

Mackie is also a fan of oCPM. He said he always starts with CPC bidding and then moves to oCPM to optimize for whatever the goal is.

I owe a big thanks to Mackie for my final two campaign optimization tips:

  • Facebook’s attribution window is set to “1 day after viewing an ad or 28 days after clicking.” Depending on your sales cycle, you can adjust this for reporting purposes to be whatever combination of 1, 7 & 28 (days) makes sense.
  • Qwaya is by far the most inexpensive Facebook Ads tool on the market today.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t aware of either of these, and I’m now seriously checking them out.

A huge thank you to all of the experts who contributed tips – I know I’ll be using all of them in my social PPC campaigns!

Got a tip of your own? Share in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Search Engine Watch on November 12, 2013.

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Social PPC

Looking to dip your toes into the social PPC waters, but aren’t sure how to get started? You’re not alone. Social PPC is similar to keyword PPC, and yet different enough to confuse those who are new to the game.

Luckily, you can follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you.

Elizabeth Marsten wrote a great post for ClickZ called The Definitive Guide to Social PPC. Check it out.

For tips from top PPC experts on social PPC, check out this post over at Search Engine Watch.

I recently spoke at SES Atlanta about social PPC, and I wrote an article on it for Search Engine Watch. In the article, you’ll find detailed tips to succeed with social PPC.

To boil it all down, I created the ultimate cheat sheet for social PPC. Too many advertisers just decide they “need a presence in Facebook Ads” or another social platform, without thinking through any strategy or keys to success. Use this cheat sheet when you’re creating the strategy for your next social PPC campaign. Thinking about these factors prior to launch will set you up for a profitable campaign, instead of a money drain.

social ppc cheat sheet

You can download the sheet in Excel, too.

What are your favorite paid social tips? Share in the comments!

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6 Must-Bookmark PPC Resources

Way back in 2012, I published a post with my favorite PPC bookmarks. Well, 2 years is an eternity in PPC, so I thought I’d update the list. Here are my 6 favorite PPC resources that you need to bookmark in 2014.

3 of the links from 2012 are still on my list this year. If you’re not using these PPC resources, what are you waiting for?

Modified Broad Match Tool from Acquisio. This tool enables you to paste a list of keywords, tell it which ones you want to add the broad match modifier, and spits them out with a keystroke. It’s a huge timesaver and I use it at least weekly.

Ion Interactive’s Landing Page Checklist. While the original link from 2012 no longer exists, use this helpful post on their blog to ensure your PPC landing pages are designed for conversion.

Google Analytics URL Builder. A good way to make sure your custom URLs for Google Analytics are formatted properly.

Here are 3 great PPC resources I’ve found over the past couple years that I refer to again and again.

Visual Website Optimizer statistical significance tool. This downloadable spreadsheet will help you test ad copy efficiently.

How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network. This post by Bryant Garvin at the Get Found First blog is a must-bookmark for anyone using the Google Display Network.

Optmyzr Free Adwords Scripts. Started by former Googler Frederick Vallaeys, Optmyzr is an Adwords Scripts company. They offer some time-saving free scripts on their site.

Happy bookmarking! What are your favorite PPC resources? Share in the comments!

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