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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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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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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