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https://relativityseo.com/seo-services/ Jeff Baum – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Mon, 06 Aug 2018 18:10:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 A look at the new Google Ads (AdWords) interface /a-look-at-the-new-google-ads-adwords-interface-303231 Mon, 06 Aug 2018 18:10:00 +0000 /?p=303231 Contributor Jeff Baum looks at the benefits of the new Google Ads reporting and automation features.

The post A look at the new Google Ads (AdWords) interface appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Last month, Google began transitioning accounts from the old AdWords (now Google Ads) interface to the new one exclusively. The purpose of this update is to provide advertisers with more resources to manage the growing complexities of paid search advertising.

The new Google Ads interface contains many new features aimed at helping advertisers gain the insights needed to drive performance in a hyper-competitive environment. The new interface also contains artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning features that automate key optimizations, freeing up advertisers to focus on account strategy and analysis.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of the new reporting and automation features.

Standard dashboard

After logging into a Google Ads account, the first thing you now see is the account overview. This overview is displayed in a visual dashboard format that provides standard performance metrics segmented by ‘”looks,” such as new words appearing in recent searches, most shown ads, auction insights and other key metrics that help advertisers quickly discern what overall account performance is.

The overarching benefit of this new dashboard is its ability for advertisers to more quickly understand what direction performance is trending so quicker optimization decisions can be made. Paid search has always been data-heavy, which often leads to marketers suffering “paralysis by analysis.”

The new interface addresses this issue by providing segmented metrics and recommended actions to take (further explained in the next section of this article) so advertisers can be quickly steered towards focusing on what’s most important within an account.

Below is a sampling of some of the data available in the overview that can be leveraged.

Recommendations engine. The new interface provides a robust recommendations engine that recommends optimizations based on a campaign’s actual performance versus its goals. This engine also allows for automated optimizations that can be implemented with just a couple of clicks.

The benefit of this recommendations engine is it gives PPC marketers optimization guidance which helps answer the question, “What do I do with this data?”

The ability to view “all recommendations” or recommendations segmented by categories such as bids and budgets, keywords and targeting, ads and extensions, and critical fixes that need to be made helps marketers focus on whatever area of the account needs the most help.

Custom dashboards.  Another benefit of the new interface is the ability to create custom dashboards. Within the dashboard are dozens of data fields which can be mixed and matched in any combination to provide a real-time dashboard containing the performance metrics that are most important to you.

The standard dashboard provides a ton of information aimed at helping you interpret overall account performance and identifies high-level trends and insights. What the standard dashboard doesn’t provide is a view into the underlying drivers and leading indicators of performance. The custom dashboard enables advertisers to customize reporting and track it in real time. That helps accelerate the advertiser’s ability to put together the strategies and tactics needed to meet your account’s performance goals.

Predefined reports. I loved the old dimension’s tab in the former ads user interface (UI). I could quickly scan the data tables and easily identify trends, opportunities and performance anomalies. When I learned the dimensions feature was being retired, my fear was that advertisers would lose critical pieces of information needed to make quick optimization and expansion decisions.

Fortunately, the dimensions tab was replaced in the new user interface with a new feature called “predefined” reports. In my opinion, predefined reports offer more robust information than the dimensions tab. Predefined reports provide the same information as the dimension’s data but allow you to view this data graphically. When analyzing data for trends and insights, it’s much easier to view data visually to quickly glean the information needed to make strategic decisions.

Below is an example of a mock predefined report I created. This report visually demonstrates the correlation between average position and conversion volume by day of the week. The benefit of viewing this data visually is that I can quickly identify what days are performing best in terms of average position and conversion volume. Had I tried to do this in a raw data format in the old UI, I would not have been able to gain insight into the relationship between the average position to conversion volume by day of the week.

The predefined report brings an extra element of insight that was not previously available.

One thing to note about predefined reports is that they’ are static. You’ll have to manually change the report’s date range for data to refresh to the latest numbers.

Enhanced demographic targeting. Demographic targeting within the old AdWords has been available for quite a long time. However, in the old user interface, it was not possible to combine demographics, so it was not easy to understand the full scope of your account’s demographic performance. The new interface provides functionality that allows advertisers to create demographic combinations. These combinations provide deeper insight regarding your account’s demographic performance.

For instance, I was recently analyzing demographic performance for an account and applied a combination of gender and age. Based on this analysis (to my pleasant surprise), I learned that the 65+ female demographic outperformed expectations. The account is a school, and I had assumed that older demographics wouldn’t perform well. But based on this new insight, I’m currently in the process of refocusing the strategy to account for this new piece of information.

Conclusion

Pay-per-click (PPC) managers and their associated stakeholders crave deep insights. Uncovering critical new pieces of information that can be gleaned and leveraged to gain a competitive advantage is crucial to success. The Google Ads team understood this problem and developed a set of reporting and insight features that address key problems, such as identifying what’s working and what’s not in a more granular way.

Identifying these areas in a more granular way gives advertisers more precise guidance regarding what levers to pull in an account to increase revenue, improve return on investment (ROI) and positively demonstrate the value of PPC to stakeholders.

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Stay sharp and relevant with ongoing PPC training /stay-sharp-and-relevant-with-ongoing-ppc-training-297662 Fri, 11 May 2018 14:16:00 +0000 /?p=297662 Contributor Jeff Baum recommends ongoing technical and soft skills training for your PPC team.

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The paid search world continues to grow and evolve at an extraordinary rate. Machine learning and automation are changing how the paid search professional operates. Account managers must be more customer service- and business-oriented than ever before.

Being strategically proficient is no longer a luxury — it’s a requirement.

The challenge pay-per-click (PPC) professionals and their managers face today is identifying the core skills needed to successfully manage paid search in an ever-more-complex business environment and ensuring that a strong training plan is in place that enables the PPC professional to meet those challenges.

Skill requirements

Today’s PPC professional needs to be very adept at proactively finding solutions to complex problems.

I’ve seen a distinct shift in client expectations.  Five years ago, clients used to be impressed by our account manager’s ability to “pull the levers” within an account; the bar for success was tactical proficiency. Clients now expect the PPC professionals they engage with to be tactical whizzes, which means just being tactically proficient is no longer enough.

The new client expectation is that their account manager is someone who understands the big picture, the big business problem that needs to be solved, and knows how to use the right set of PPC tactics, tools and machine learning in a strategic way. That talent needs to lead to meeting performance goals and quickly identifying and seizing upon new growth opportunities.

In addition to possessing superior technical skills, the PPC professional must also possess finely tuned soft skills needed to communicate how they fit into the organization’s big picture, the impact of their work and how their use of PPC is solving the big business problem at hand.

In the ever-growing fight to justify PPC spend and obtain more budget, the PPC professional must communicate on a simple level to clients and stakeholders what PPC is and how it’s making a material impact on their business.

Sample PPC training program outline

At my company, we have an extensive training program that covers the entire gamut from training people new to the industry on the skills needed to launch a successful career to enhancing the skills and knowledge of the very experienced.

The purpose of our training program is to offer continuing education that provides employees with both the hard technical and softer business skills needed to work within today’s complex business environment.

Here’s an outline for putting a PPC training program together that continuously builds your and your team’s skill sets.

New hire or beginner training. This base level of training exclusively focuses on teaching the new PPC professional what paid search is and how to pull the levers of a PPC account. During the first few months of training, the goal is for the beginner to gain enough understanding of PPC so they can start to perform basic account work.

Each week of the beginners training cycle centers around a specific theme.

For instance, one week may be dedicated solely to learning account structure, while another week is dedicated solely to learning bid management or how to use PPC tools like AdWords editor.

The purpose of these themed training weeks is to immerse the trainee in a specific subject matter so they get a great understanding of how to complete basic PPC tasks. These training modules consist of theory (e.g., learning what bid management is and how to arrive at a proper keyword bid) and a practical application exercise. Every trainee is assigned a case study they must complete. Trainees are provided a scenario based on the subject matter they’re working on that week.

Completing a case study provides the trainee an opportunity to practically apply what they learned so that when the time comes, they can work on an account and have a basis of understanding regarding how to approach a problem and apply the right solution.

Additionally, it’s important to become Bing and AdWords certified. Getting certified demonstrates the beginner’s ability to understand basic (and not-so-basic) concepts and receive proof of proficiency. Being certified offers an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise to clients and stakeholders, especially during those critical early years when the PPC professional doesn’t have a lot of real-world experience under their belt.

Weekly training. Devote some time weekly to soft skills training.

I spend 30 minutes every Monday with my team training on a variety of aspects of our consultative approach to account management. Training our team how to be more consultative and strategic gives team members the skills and confidence needed to provide strategic recommendations, pitch new initiatives and communicate in a way that clients perceive their account manager as being confident and in control of any situation, positive or negative.

Monthly training. Once a month, take some time out from normal operations and devote it to technical skills training. I’ve found that taking half a day out monthly allows us to deep-dive a topic.

For instance, a few months back, members of Google’s paid search team came in and spent four hours training us on attribution.

Another time, the department broke into teams and spent the day training on all of Facebook’s new advertising features and shared their learnings with each other.

New features in Facebook Ads Manager reporting

Monthly training will allow you to do a deeper dive into advanced topics and important new features so you and your team can stay on top of new trends and enhance your capabilities to bring more comprehensive solutions to clients and stakeholders.

Conclusion

Whether you work for an agency, in-house or as a consultant, it’s critically important to have a robust ongoing training program in place.

PPC is always changing, so keeping up with the latest and greatest features, trends and strategies will keep your skills relevant and up to date. Constant technical and soft skills training will help perpetuate the perception that you’re an expert in the field and therefore a more effective PPC ambassador to your clients and stakeholders.

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Invest in a killer PPC campaign by using these smart budget strategies /invest-in-a-killer-ppc-campaign-by-using-these-smart-budget-strategies-291731 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 18:03:14 +0000 /?p=291731 Contributor Jeff Baum discusses how allocating funds and developing smart budgets brings focus to your PPC campaigns and helps make them a success.

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Ad BudgetsBudgeting is one of the most important components of pay-per-click (PPC) account management.

They are a direct reflection of a campaign’s priorities and are the bridge that ties strategy and tactical execution together. Without well-thought-out budgets, a PPC program can never reach its full potential.

This article discusses how to think through the budgeting process to ensure priorities are met and goals are reached.

Budgeting: The fuel that makes strategy go

One of the best analogies between budgeting and strategy is an automobile.

Think of strategy as the vehicle and budgeting as the fuel that runs the automobile.

Without a vehicle in place, there’s nowhere to insert the gasoline. This is the way that I think about the relationship between strategy and budgeting: Without a proper strategy in place, there is no mechanism for determining where to invest money allocated to PPC

So, how do we create an effective PPC strategy?

  • Establish goals. Establish PPC goals aimed at improving overall business metrics to ensure alignment. Review PPC goals at least bi-annually to ensure they’re still relevant and in alignment with the current overall business situation.
  • Set priorities. Once goals are established, it’s important to determine key priorities. For instance, if the primary goal is revenue growth, the priority should be executing initiatives that drive conversions, such as keyword or audience expansion. On the other hand, if the primary goal is driving profit, then the priority should be focused on initiatives such as search query report (SQR) mining for negative keywords and other forms of optimization.

Once goals and priorities are set, then it’s time to create the PPC strategy. Use these four steps to build your strategic plan:

  • Assess situations. Assess the overall situation by analyzing factors such as performance, the impact of competition, overall market conditions and true needs of the business. Developing an overall view of the situation leads to the next step, which is creating a point of view regarding how to manage your PPC program.
  • Create a point of view. Your point of view is ultimately the governing philosophy for how the PPC account will be managed and should be tied directly to goals and priorities. Align your point of view with the goals and priorities of the accounts to ensure you’re working on the right initiatives.
  • Create a tactical plan. The next step after creating a point of view is to create the tactical plan. Tactics are the actual tasks performed in the account. For instance, remarketing, bidding and writing ad copy are all examples of tactics that can be taken to execute the overall strategy.
  • Focus on funding. Once the plan is built, budgeting comes into play. Creating a focused strategy based on priorities and a strong tactical plan directs where and how budgets are allocated.

Building budgets: What to consider

So, how do we get started building budgets? Here are some factors to consider when creating budgets and deciding how to invest in them.

  • Performance. For an existing PPC program, tying budget to performance is a key component of budget allocation. While most of your budget will ultimately be allocated to profitable campaigns and channels, strategic decisions should be made on whether to invest in “loss leaders” that can help reach goals.
  • Seasonality. Invest in resources when the business is at its busiest. In the slower seasons, use your PPC budget to not only drive conversions but also to build brand awareness.
  • Attribution. Use attribution data to prove the influence of PPC on conversions either cross-channel or within the channel. For instance, you might learn that certain campaigns don’t convert well, and the instinct is to turn them off. However, if they lead to conversions in other campaigns, you’ll want to allocate budget to keep the conversion path open.

When building budgets, you’ll want to invest in “tried and true” channels like AdWords and Bing. I typically invest 70 percent of a PPC budget in those channels that have proven to contribute significantly to one of my goals.

I then invest 20 percent of the budget in what I call “safe bets.” These are channels I have not invested in before, but, based on overall advertiser feedback, are considered reliable sources.

Finally, I keep about 10 percent of the budget available for experimenting and testing. It’s important to push the envelope a bit and find new sources of traffic. However, until these sources prove themselves to be reliable contributors, I minimize risk by limiting the amount of budget I invest into less proven campaigns.

Building budgets: An example

There are numerous PPC budget creation methods. For instance, an account I manage requires quarterly budgets vs. budgets for the entire year. Here is an example of one:

To create this budget, we analyzed the percentage spend increase month over month (MoM) from the prior year. For instance, we learned there was a 20 percent increase in spending from December 2016 to January 2017. As a result, we took December 2017’s spends and applied the previous year’s percentage increase to set the budget.

The assumption was made that if growth was 20 percent the previous year, the budget could then grow another 20 percent. This method of budget creation has been successful in setting budgets that drive consistent year-over-year (YoY) growth.

Final thoughts

Budgets reflect your PPC program’s goals, vision and strategy. The instinct as a PPC professional is to jump right into an account and start building and optimizing campaigns. However, focusing on budgets first ensures you have the proper amount of funding required to reach goals and fulfill priorities.

Focusing on where to allocate budgets, whether in existing or new campaigns, is important in helping to focus efforts. Going through the budgeting process will help focus all your efforts and bring clarity to your program.

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2-step methodology for dealing with PPC performance downturns /2-step-methodology-dealing-ppc-performance-downturns-286962 Fri, 24 Nov 2017 14:30:07 +0000 /?p=286962 What happens when your paid search campaigns are experiencing a sudden and unexpected performance drop? Columnist Jeff Baum shows how to handle this situation -- without losing your clients' trust.

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The most important thing I’ve learned from my 15 years of PPC experience is that sooner or later, account performance will take a downturn. When that day comes, we must be prepared to deal with the consequences of performance not meeting expectations. These consequences could range from stakeholders losing trust in your abilities to receiving ultimatums to “fix performance or else,” and worst-case scenario, someone else being brought in to take over the paid search program you’ve spent so much time and energy building.

Performance downturns can be very stressful and put you on the defensive. However, having a solid methodology for responding when performance is bad can help instill confidence that you have what it takes to turn a negative performance situation into a positive one.

This article discusses a two-step methodology for confronting underperformance in a way that helps you garner trust with your stakeholders and instill confidence in your ability to manage PPC accounts through the tough times.

Step #1: Diagnosing the problem

Clients and stakeholders need to have confidence in those managing their paid search program. When performance takes a downturn, they depend on their account manager to tell them what the problem is. If an account manager cannot demonstrate they understand what the problem is, then why would the client/stakeholder have any confidence that the account manager can solve their performance issues?

How do we go about diagnosing the root cause of a problem? Diagnosing a problem requires diligent research to pinpoint:

  • when a problem first began to occur.
  • what key metrics are lagging and thus leading to the performance downturn.

Putting the methodology into practice

I’m currently dealing with an account performance issue that is causing this month’s performance to lag in terms of lead volume. I ultimately identified the issue as a drop-off in brand keyword traffic. How did I discover that brand traffic was the source of this issue? I did it by analyzing the following key metrics:

  • CPCs: Accountwide cost per click spiked dramatically from October to November. This was my first indication that a traffic pattern shift occurred.
  • Conversion volume: AdWords pixel conversions were down significantly month over month.
  • CTR: Click-through rate also dropped significantly.

The sudden drop-off in conversion volume and CTR, along with a spike in CPCs, led me directly to consider recent brand traffic performance. Typically, this account I manage has very steady traffic patterns with steady CPCs and conversion volume. As I dove further into brand campaign performance, I saw that branded impressions and clicks dropped dramatically, which caused CPCs to spike and volume to drop. Because of the brand traffic performance drop-off, cost per conversion increased dramatically due to the account’s over-dependence on non-branded traffic.

Further digging into the account, I discovered that branded traffic dropped suddenly at the end of October. This information allowed me to focus on specific changes made to the account during that period. I ultimately discovered several high-traffic branded keywords were paused in error as part of an overall optimization. These keywords were unpaused and bids readjusted. Traffic and conversion volume is now recovering.

As you can see from the example above, it took quite a bit of research to arrive at the problem’s root cause. Once a problem has been identified, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Communicate what the performance problem is and recommend solutions

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve seen a lack of understanding and communication be the downfall of many business relationships. I’ve witnessed PPC account managers fundamentally not understand the performance problems they’re facing, ignore the fact that a problem even exists and fail to address problems head-on with their stakeholders. Allowing any of these things to happen quickly erodes trust.

To maintain your credibility as a PPC expert, it’s imperative that you do the following when there’s an underperformance issue:

  • Own the fact that an underperformance issue is occurring. Denying or minimizing an issue will make your stakeholders angry. Owning the issue helps convey that you understand how urgent the problem is.
  • Communicate the issue verbally, in written form and through visual means to demonstrate that you’ve made the effort to be fully transparent and that you’re willing to educate your stakeholders as to what the problem is.
  • Explain in full detail your recommendations for fixing all underperformance issues you’ve identified. Never leave stakeholders with just the problem. They depend on and expect their account manager to offer solutions that will lead to improved performance. Our stakeholders view us in a similar regard to doctors when their accounts aren’t healthy. How would you feel if a doctor diagnosed you with an ailment but didn’t recommend any course of treatment? This is how clients feel when they’ve been informed of an underperformance problem but not offered any guidance regarding how to get their account back on track.

Clear communication and context helps remove fear. Oftentimes, stakeholders become emotional and lash out because they feel their account manager doesn’t grasp the gravity and urgency of a situation. It’s our job as account managers to take the lead in eliminating fear of the unknown by providing as much background information and context as possible regarding an underperformance problem’s root cause, and propose sufficient courses of action for remedying the situation.

Final thoughts

No matter how hard we try, we’ll never be able to avoid the inevitable performance downturn. However, what we can do is be prepared for how we’ll respond when this time arrives. Fully understanding root causes of performance issues, developing the appropriate solution and decisively communicating all of this to our stakeholders is crucial to successfully surviving performance downturns.

It’s easy to be liked and respected when everything is going well. The real test comes when things are not going according to plan. Going through the fire of underperformance and successfully coming out on the right side of it will help build your credibility and your stakeholders’ trust in you.

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Critical tips for navigating difficult client relationships /critical-tips-navigating-difficult-client-relationships-281217 Fri, 01 Sep 2017 14:48:21 +0000 http:/?p=281217 Dealing with a challenging PPC client? Columnist Jeff Baum explores some tips for reducing client frustration and fostering trust so that you can focus on what really matters: driving results.

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At some point in your PPC career, it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll have to manage a difficult client. Whether it’s an agency, consultancy or in-house relationship, somebody’s bound to be unhappy. Numerous issues will arise that will test your patience, attitude and self-worth.

This article will share a few tips regarding how to navigate the choppy waters of managing difficult clients, and how you can build a successful relationship with them.

Tip #1: Demonstrate empathy

Whenever a client of mine is being difficult, I try to visualize myself in their situation. Clients exert a ton of pressure on those who execute their PPC programs, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to pressure being put on them.

With difficult clients, I want to ensure I have a full understanding of their context, and I probe for answers to the following questions:

  • How is actual PPC performance vs. the client’s goal? If performance is down, do I truly understand why? Have I fully communicated the “why” to my client, and have I also communicated a comprehensive plan for addressing any performance issues? Clients get frustrated when they need answers and those who are responsible for executing their paid search program are not proactively supplying this information to them.
  • Is there a bigger business issue at play that I’m not aware of? Oftentimes, when clients are stressed about performance and become overly demanding, there are usually bigger issues at play — such as across-the-board digital underperformance. PPC is usually the one lever that can be pulled quickly to drive immediate results, so clients lean on their PPC team to help them get out of trouble. Recognizing this dynamic and asking questions about the entire business helps project confidence that you have a 360-degree understanding of the challenges your client faces.
  • Am I being innovative enough? I’ve experienced firsthand clients getting frustrated because I didn’t bring big ideas to the table. Clients spend a lot of money on paid search and social — and they demand (rightfully) that they’re getting above-and-beyond value.

Knowing your client’s overall situation can help you better discern what’s driving them to be frustrated and difficult. Having a deep understanding of your client’s pain points will help you develop a plan of attack that reduces frustration and therefore allows you to focus on what’s most important, which is doing the work and driving results.

Tip #2: Always provide context

A current client of mine once told me, “Data is just data. I don’t care about it. What I need to know is what it all means and what you’re going to do about it.”

Clients really dislike having a lack of context and insight regarding the state of their PPC. Following are some of the ways we can provide context to our stakeholders:

  • As I mentioned earlier in this article, always have a definitive answer to the question of “why.” In my experience, poor client relationships and associated churn is a direct consequence of failing to explain the “why” behind both good and bad performance. Failure to provide deep performance insights creates a lack of understanding perception that destroys trust. For instance, when not being able to explain why performance is good, clients form a perception that PPC is doing well despite your efforts. Not being able to explain why performance is bad could radiate a perception of incompetence. Being able to explain what the results are, what they mean, and what’s going to be done to double down on success or adjust after failure signals to clients that you’re in control of the situation and have a solid plan to move forward.
  • Have a document on hand that can be shared with clients to show them what you’re working on. You shouldn’t spend much time discussing the to-do list, as clients can read over the status doc at their leisure and ask questions when needed. Instead, focus your meeting times to explain the impact of your work and what it’s leading you to work on next. Having a status doc that can be proactively shared with clients allows them to stay constantly updated regarding your work. It also demonstrates your willingness to be 100 percent transparent, which increases trust.
  • Understand your client’s most important KPI, and drive to it as hard and fast as possible. I work with many lead-gen clients, and they usually have dual goals (e.g., get me x leads at x CPA). When taking that guidance literally, then explaining results, I usually receive response statements such as, “We don’t have enough lead volume,” or “CPA is too high despite the increase in leads.” KPIs are usually not created equal, so ask your client to define which KPI is most important to hit. This will give you some insight into whether their business is focused on growth or efficiency. Having this information will help you design a better-informed overall account strategy. Having this extra context could mean the difference between experimenting with new platforms to grow volume or spending most of your time trimming bids and adding negative keywords to an account.

Providing the “why” can help remove frustration directed at you personally. Clients want to know why things are the way they are so the best decisions can be made. Make it easy for your client by providing all the information available that’s relevant to share. Clients will appreciate the transparency, and while they might be frustrated about performance, they’ll want to continue working with you to find new solutions and ways forward.

Tip #3: Make it a partnership

The client relationship profile most prone to failure is one that lacks some level of partnership. For instance, a situation wherein a client insists on dictating strategy and action plans without input from the PPC team usually leads to disagreements, misalignments and frustration on both sides.

On the other hand, I’ve experienced client relationships that do not work out because a client is too hands-off. Without some level of guidance and direction from clients, it’s very difficult to keep PPC aligned with the overall business strategy, goals and objectives.

Below are a couple of things you can do to help create a successful partnership:

  • Negotiate a nearly equal say in the direction of the PPC program. In this scenario, someone has to be the final decision-maker in terms of strategy and overall direction — and in my opinion, that should be the client’s responsibility. However, if the everyday PPC person or team can provide a large amount of input into the strategy and direction, they’ll feel more invested in its success.
  • Do your part to ensure everyone involved with the PPC program is treated with respect. Passing the buck or assigning blame in a non-constructive, disrespectful way will only lead to animosity, which will reduce the effectiveness of the relationship and hurt results. Tough feedback from clients is part of the business and should absolutely happen. Agencies and partners should feel comfortable providing tough feedback of their own when warranted and be able to hold those clients they work for accountable as well. In all instances, both sides should be working to provide feedback and criticism in a constructive, positive way.

Final thoughts

Collaborating with clients is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be adversarial. Understanding your client’s point of view, determining the stress they’re under and providing them with the information and context needed to be successful can go a long way toward cutting through negative emotions. Doing so allows both sides to focus on what’s important: finding solutions to big problems.

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Learn 3 proven methods for winning additional PPC budget from your clients /learn-three-proven-methods-winning-additional-ppc-budget-clients-276130 Fri, 09 Jun 2017 16:20:49 +0000 http:/?p=276130 Looking to grow your PPC accounts? Columnist Jeff Baum explains that doing so means selling clients on the notion that your approach is the best way forward -- and that more budget is required to execute the plan.

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One of the chief success metrics for our agency’s account management team is organic growth. We define organic growth as the amount of additional revenue generated through our existing client relationships.

Clients come to us because they want more out of their paid search and social program; they want consistent volume, revenue and profit growth. To drive organic growth, account managers must “always be selling.” This article will discuss methods PPC account managers in any situation (agency, consultant, in-house) can use to persuade their stakeholders to invest more budget into their PPC accounts.

Method #1: Have a solid strategy

Having a solid strategy is the cornerstone of any PPC program. Without a coherent plan in place, it would be extremely difficult or nearly impossible to convince stakeholders that investing more budget in paid search is a wise idea. Stakeholders want to know why more budget should be invested, how the extra budget is going to be spent and what the expected results are going to be.

Working under the guidance of a coherent, larger plan creates both trust and credibility, which is the first step to complete in any sales process. If clients don’t have trust in the plan — or worse, don’t trust that there is a plan — it will not be possible to create the necessary justifications to win any extra budget.

What does a PPC strategy look like? The pillars of solid PPC strategy should contain the following elements:

  • A deep understanding of the overall business situation (performance metrics, competitive landscape, deep understanding of the client/stakeholder’s most important goals).
  • guiding principle that governs overall direction. Translating the guiding principle into a simple-to-understand core objective will keep the PPC program tied to an overarching plan.
  • A coordinated action plan with initiatives that are tied directly to the guiding principle.

Carve out time to create a solid strategic plan. Good strategy is the conduit for positive performance — which, in turn, makes it easier to state your case for more budget.

Method #2: Pitching new ideas

Presenting new ideas to clients is critical to winning more budget from them. Why is it important to always be presenting new ideas?

  • PPC is dynamic, and the landscape is changing all the time. A strategy or tactic that’s implemented today could be outdated in a few months, or it could simply stop working. New ideas prevent stagnation and keep your PPC program fresh.
  • There are more pay-per-click platforms than ever available for marketers to utilize. Breaking into social advertising platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter opens new possibilities for growth and expansion.
  • Expansion leads to new budget over time. For an account to grow, it often needs more budget to properly test new ideas and initiatives.

How do we pitch new ideas to clients in a convincing way? Here are some tactics to use that can lead to a successful pitch for new budget:

  • Define the scope of the idea your pitching. Are you proposing a small modification to your PPC program or a radical change?
  • Tailor the pitch to who the decision-maker is. In most client/stakeholder relationships, there’s the daily contact who has operational control. Based on the size of the idea, the client might need to bring in their superiors to sign off on the decision and approve additional testing budget. Ensuring your pitch answers the questions of the most important decision-makers increases the chances of winning additional budget to fund your proposed initiatives.
  • Boil ideas down to their most important points. The easier it is for stakeholders to understand your idea, the budget required to successfully implement it and the urgency for moving forward, the better the chances of getting sign-off.

Always strive to bring new ideas to the table. Innovation is the key to account growth, and ultimately, to growing PPC spend. Successfully convincing clients to invest in new initiatives vs. routing budgets from existing ones provides more flexibility to test and iterate, which are key backbones of PPC success.

Method #3: Overcoming objections

In any selling situation, you must be prepared to overcome objections. Despite having a strong strategy in place and regularly presenting innovative new ideas to clients, there will come a time when clients say no.

“No” should not treated as the final word but rather the beginning of a rolling dialogue that ultimately leads to winning more budget. Use those nos as an opportunity to strengthen your pitch and develop a stronger case for obtaining more budget. Following are a couple of ways of overcoming objections:

  • Educate your audience. In my experience, when I see a pitch fail, it’s mostly due to a lack of context. When preparing your pitch, make sure you understand the big problem your stakeholder faces, and educate them as to how your initiative will solve it.
  • Having a strong point of view. Many pitches also fail when the presenter does not have a convincing point of view regarding the subject matter. The best way to develop a strong point of view is to do extensive background research, make solid projections on potential outcomes and consult with others to gain feedback about your plans and pitch. Based on that information, you can develop a point of view that can be communicated in way that garners trust and confidence in your way forward.

Overcoming objections is all about building credibility. Being fully prepared and confident in the information being presented can help reduce objections and lead you to secure more budget for your PPC initiatives.

Conclusion

Growing PPC accounts is all about selling clients on the notion that your approach is the best way forward and that more budget is required to execute the plan. You need to have a coherent strategy, a steady stream of new ideas and a compelling argument for why they should be implemented to expand your client’s PPC program.

Always selling — whether it’s a new optimization, tactic, strategy or platform — demonstrates a commitment to growth, which ultimately leads to increased budgets, stronger revenues and profits.

The post Learn 3 proven methods for winning additional PPC budget from your clients appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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A proven method for building a strong PPC account team /proven-method-building-strong-ppc-account-team-270982 Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:46:36 +0000 http:/?p=270982 What's the ideal structure for a team managing a PPC account? Columnist Jeff Baum shares the benefits and potential pitfalls of his agency's "team of teams" approach to account management.

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As director of services at an agency, one of my main responsibilities is creating account teams for new clients and making sure existing teams are properly resourced. At Hanapin Marketing, we staff account teams according to the philosophy of available capacity, and we believe that achieving the best possible fit is the first step towards building a solid client relationship. As the saying goes, “Get the people right, and the rest takes care of itself.”

A powerful way to staff up larger accounts is what we call the “team of teams” approach. The purpose of  a “team of teams” is to ensure account managers have proper support so they can focus on strategy creation and have the resources needed to handle the implementation. Each individual within the team of teams has a specialized area of expertise — hence they are a part of that specialized “team” as well as the account team — and each person has clear responsibilities.

Today, I’m going to share how we go about building a team of teams, the benefits of this approach and some of the potential pitfalls that can be a threat to efficiency and effectiveness.

Creating the team of teams

You can employ the team of teams approach in any paid search environment, so it’s not solely for agencies. For instance, if you’re working in house and have multiple resources, you can put together a team to work on a special project. If you’re working alone and don’t have additional resources to tap into, you can hire a consultant or multiple consultants to create your very own team of teams.

At our agency, a typical team structure usually consists of the following:

  • Associate Director: This person is responsible for ensuring the right strategies are in place and that work is being executed in a timely fashion.
  • Account Manager: Responsible for the day-to-day operations of an assigned account. Account managers are responsible for strategy creation, owning the client relationship and project managing the implementation of initiatives and optimizations.
  • Account Analyst: Responsible for owning account analysis and rolling up analyses to the account manager. The information account analysts glean from accounts is used by the account manager to form a strategy.
  • Production Associate: Responsible for implementing all strategic initiatives, optimizations and other routine account maintenance.

Benefits

When I was coming up through the ranks of paid search and often worked as a team of one, I was sometimes stretched thin and unable to go into enough depth in areas such as account analysis, spend enough time researching new features or think through new account strategies. A main benefit of the team of teams approach is its ability to create scale by allowing team members to focus and specialize.

No one person is an expert in all things PPC. Creating a team of teams provides the ability to bring in experts that can focus 100 percent of their time in areas of an account where they can have the greatest knowledge and can create the most impact.

Creating an environment where experts can focus on their strongest areas ultimately increases account performance and leads to happier customers and stakeholders.

Pitfalls

The team of teams is an effective approach for dividing responsibilities, but there are potential pitfalls to avoid.

Unclear roles
It’s crucial to clearly define and communicate each member’s specific role on an account. It’s easy to form a team but hard to ensure everybody completely understands the role they play on that team.

I’ve personally witnessed the consequences of team members being unclear about their role and responsibilities. Key work doesn’t get completed, which leads to client frustration, and a paralysis comes over the account team. This negatively impacts efficiency and overall performance.

Communication is tougher
The more people are involved on a team, the harder it is to keep everyone on the same page. The account lead must be deliberate in how they facilitate communication between team members.

PPC accounts are more complex than ever before, which means providing clear context is imperative to making sure everyone understands the requirements concerning a project, optimization, analysis and so on. When communication is clear, that enables the right work to be performed, leading to meeting performance expectations.

An effective way to communicate with the team at large is to hold a standing internal meeting where all parties can get together and discuss important priorities, concerns and deadlines for work completion. Holding an internal meeting where everyone’s together at the same time ensures the team is on the same page.

Clearly defined responsibilities and clear communication can help overcome obstacles and keep the team moving in the same direction.

Final thoughts

I’ve personally witnessed the positive financial growth experienced by our clients’ accounts when we’ve adopted the team of teams approach.

Dividing up responsibilities creates focus, which means there’s more time available for PPC managers to develop cutting-edge strategies, provide deeper insights and takeaways and build stronger client relationships. Consider using the team of teams approach the next time you sign up a large client or take on a big project.

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Improve your paid search & social through relationship marketing /improve-paid-search-social-relationship-marketing-265600 Fri, 23 Dec 2016 16:25:27 +0000 http:/?p=265600 Contributor Jeff Baum explains how you can nurture your prospect through the entire buying journey using search ads and paid social.

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A major shift I’ve observed taking place in both the paid search and social advertising industry is a move toward relationship marketing. Brands can no longer be available to customers only when they’re ready to convert. Advertisers must now be ready and willing to provide value to their customer’s days, weeks, or even months prior to a conversion taking place.

The key to a successful relationship marketing program is to take customers on a buying journey. An effective paid search and social program must create brand awareness, generate demand, force a buying decision, and finally inspire brand loyalty and advocacy.

This article outlines strategies for effectively leveraging paid search and social in a way that builds sustainable relationships, which ultimately drives ever-increasing amounts of revenue and profit.

Strategy #1: Be there for your customers

The first step toward building sustainable relationships is being where customers are either searching for information or consuming content.

Learn where your specific audience is consuming content, and gain an understanding as to what phase of the buying cycle they’re in while on those platforms.

For instance, if a customer is on Facebook but in the awareness or consideration phase, prepare messaging that focuses on a product’s benefits, and lead them to a landing page that provides useful information that leads to a buying decision at a later date.

Asking for the conversion too soon can scare customers away, which ruins credibility and eliminates any chance of converting them at another time through alternate tactics such as remarketing.

Customers also consume content on multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets. Creating device-specific campaigns geared toward the behavior being exhibited by your user segment is a powerful way to leverage paid search and social to drive additional business.

For instance, if a retailer receives significant amounts of mobile traffic but conversion rate is low, this could imply that users on mobile devices are in “research mode.”

If those users are, indeed, in research mode, driving them to a product information page with the intent of remarketing to them later could be more effective than driving users directly to a purchase page and asking for a sale when the customer is not ready to complete a purchase.

Creating messages and content based on device-specific behavior is a powerful way to build a strong 1:1 customer relationship.

Strategy #2: Micro-targeting

Micro-targeting reaches people at a deeper level. Deeper customer connections result in stronger loyalty to your brand, which increases the chances of winning business through your paid advertising efforts.

A few ways to micro-target are:

  • Demographic targeting: Many businesses have data that tells them which demographics make up their core customers. Creating campaigns with messaging based on demographics creates a hyper-targeted opportunity to reach your core audience and speak to them in a way they understand that leads them to take action.
  • Location: Geotargeting has been around a long time. However, the key to effective geotargeting is to mine location reports for purposes of targeting smaller sub-locations. For instance, let’s suppose a restaurant is in the borough of Queens. Is it more effective for a campaign to have a geotarget containing all of NYC or one that targets just the borough of Queens, where there’s a higher probability of that traffic leading to becoming paying customers? Location reports can help you decide the best way to target.
  • Interests: Are you trying to reach customers through their interests? For instance, if your business sells outdoor gear, are you targeting just general keywords like “outdoor gear,” or are you targeting people’s specific interests, like “fishing” or “water skiing?” Connecting advertising messages with people’s interests reaches them on an emotional level, which removes significant barriers to conversion.
  • Ad scheduling: Another way to think about ad scheduling is creating campaigns based on time of day. Going back to our previous restaurant example, let’s say the restaurant in Queens offers both lunch and dinner. Creating a “lunch” campaign provides flexibility to just focus on lunch. On the flip side, another campaign can be created that just focuses on the dinner crowd. Ad scheduling can be used to as a micro-targeting tool to bring in the right customer at the right time, as opposed to just being a method of excluding traffic.

Strategy #3: Ad messaging

A recurring theme throughout this article is aligning ad messaging to where customers are in their buying cycle. A successful message moves people to respond on both an intellectual and emotional level.

This concept is known as the elephant and the driver. The elephant reacts purely on emotion, while the driver uses intellect to make decisions. Targeting ad copy to both the emotional and the rational helps remove obstacles and drives people to convert.

An example of an ad employing the elephant and driver concept is shown below. Consider this approach when creating ad copy. You’ll be rewarded through improved results!

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Conclusion

Conversion paths are longer and more complex than ever before. Providing value throughout the buying process is critical to success. Being there for customers regardless of whether they’re in “buying mode” builds a loyal following based on trust.

Creating a loyal following of brand advocates will positively multiply the effects of your paid search, social and overall digital marketing initiatives.

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Why call tracking helps improve PPC lead generation account performance /call-tracking-helps-improve-ppc-lead-generation-account-performance-259545 Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:15:27 +0000 http:/?p=259545 Columnist Jeff Baum explains that when properly set up, call tracking can help you both measure the value of your PPC campaigns and optimize them for better ROI.

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Many businesses receive significant lead volume from phone calls. The reason marketers want to generate phone leads is to capitalize on the immediacy of being able to activate the sales funnel.

This article delves into why lead generation businesses need to have a call tracking solution in place, how data collected through call tracking technology can improve conversion funnel performance and why integrating call tracking into third-party systems can lift paid search performance.

Why do lead generation businesses need call tracking?

Lead generators run into a blind spot when trying to assess the value of their paid search campaigns. While it’s easy to track web-based conversions, phone leads generated through a single “catch-all” phone number can’t be tied back to a specific source or keyword.

Optimizing accounts with incomplete information leads to poor outcomes such as pausing campaigns, reducing keyword bids or removing marketing sources that could be providing value through phone conversions.

Call tracking provides visibility into total account performance via use of tracking phone numbers. These tracking numbers identify a phone lead’s marketing source (e.g., Google or Bing) and the keyword that specifically drove that phone conversion.

Having this additional information on hand better informs key decisions such as whether account structure needs to be altered or budget allocations shifted between campaigns and sources. For instance, analysis of data from a call tracking solution can lead to expanding a PPC account into new campaign types (such as call-only campaigns) or optimizing an account’s ad messaging to include “call us today” or similar call-to-action messaging.

Improving the conversion funnel

Generating leads is only half the battle for lead generation marketers. The leads generated need to convert into paying customers to justify the outlay of marketing dollars. A call tracking solution can also bring specific information to paid search marketers about the sales funnel that can be optimized. Here are a few solutions to consider.

  • Automatic phone routing. Provides the ability to set specific rules and criteria to take inbound calls and automatically route them to a salesperson in real time. Immediately routing phone leads to a salesperson or call center reduces lead aging and increases the probability of converting that lead.
  • Phone call classification. Variations of this feature can be used to automatically classify phone leads as good leads or bad leads. Furthermore, automatic classification of phone calls can help determine whether paid search traffic is truly driving sales-related calls or support calls. Leveraging this information can help optimize PPC campaigns to ensure high-quality, sales-oriented leads are being generated and that every marketing dollar is optimized for maximum return.
  • Call transcripts. Analyzing conversations between customer and sales representative is one of the best ways to both optimize the back-end conversion funnel and to uncover new keyword lists and audiences that target qualified, top-of-funnel prospects. One of the most effective PPC (and overall marketing) strategies is to optimize and target based on what your current customers are telling you.

Strategically speaking, call tracking solutions provide the means to create a “closed-loop” PPC marketing strategy. Simply put, top-of-funnel data can be used to optimize the back of funnel, and back-end funnel insights can improve how the top of funnel is targeted.

Integrating into third-party systems

Most call tracking solutions offer the ability to integrate into a variety of CRM, advertising and other platforms. The ability to integrate call tracking provides more complete insights and enhances the ability to optimize your PPC program. Some key integrations revolve around:

  • CRM. Integrating call tracking into a CRM system allows for the ability to create records from phone leads that can be managed and tracked through the sales funnel.
  • advertising platforms. Integrating call tracking into platforms like AdWords or Bing Ads further guides marketers regarding how to best create and optimize paid search campaigns.
  • bid management. Integrating into third-party bid management platforms increases the effectiveness of their technologies. For instance, feeding call conversions into their systems allows for creation of call-specific bid rules and also provides the additional data needed make specific bid algorithms like CPA or position-based bidding work more efficiently.
  • conversion rate optimization. Call tracking integrated with CRO technology provides deeper insights into testing experiments and can also help determine new testing ideas. Call conversion tracking embedded within CRO tests more accurately determines the success of a particular landing page or set of pages.

Final thoughts

Call tracking provides marketers the information and functionality needed to optimize both the top and bottom ends of the conversion funnel. Gaining visibility over phone lead performance and fine-tuning lead generation efforts will lead to better paid search and overall business results.

The post Why call tracking helps improve PPC lead generation account performance appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Using automation to execute PPC strategy /using-automation-execute-ppc-strategy-253173 Fri, 08 Jul 2016 14:48:20 +0000 http:/?p=253173 Looking to automate aspects of your PPC campaigns? Columnist Jeff Baum discusses how to define your automation requirements and choose the right kind of technology.

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Both technology and automation play a huge role in the digital marketing space. Paid search and social functionality is more complex than ever, the number of platforms and networks that need to be managed is constantly expanding and clients are demanding deeper analysis and insights. These convergent dynamics put a strain on the account manager’s ability to efficiently manage accounts.

The right technology provides the ability to automate routine tasks and solve complex problems quickly, which frees up account managers to focus more on strategic planning and exploring new growth opportunities.

Defining automation requirements

The difficult part about automating a PPC account is figuring out where to begin. How do we determine what to automate, and how do we identify the right set of technologies for the job?

The first step in the process of answering this question is fully understanding what an account’s goals are (or should be). You can find out this information through business download meetings, comprehensive data analysis, industry analysis and account audits. Once you’ve clearly defined goals, you must devise a strategy to reach those goals.

A clear strategy brings into focus the types of tasks that need to be completed and the kinds of technologies and automations needed to execute it. Below is an example of how I determined the automations needed to reach goals for an account I manage.

The account has a cost-per-lead goal of $200. Our optimizations primarily consist of pausing non-converting spend, adjusting bids either up or down depending on individual keyword performance, analysis of search query reports for negative matches and analysis of placement reports to identify non-performing sites to exclude.

We complete these optimizations on varying schedules ranging from daily to monthly. Because the account is so large, it takes a ton of time to manually complete these routine tasks and takes away from working on higher-impact growth initiatives.

Based on the above information, we were able to implement a comprehensive set of automation rules to manage standard account optimizations. Here’s a sampling of some of the rules we set:

  • Pause all keywords spending more than $300 without a conversion over the past 30 days.
  • Pause all ad groups spending more than $300 without a conversion over the past 30 days.
  • Reduce bids 25 percent on all keywords with a greater than $500 cost per acquisition over the past 30 days.
  • Exclude all placements with 0 conversions and more than 25 clicks.
  • Pause queries with 0 conversions and more than $300 in spend.

Any automation we put in place should directly support the outcome that we’re trying to achieve. Automation rules that aren’t in alignment with overall account strategy can lead to poor performance. Carefully think through any automation plan, and consider both the benefits and risks before implementing.

What kind of technology should I use?

The answer to this question is, “It depends.” There are dozens of technology solutions on the market, ranging from reporting platforms to bid management solutions to technology that automates creative testing.

Additionally, the advertising platforms themselves offer automated bid management functionality and provide the ability to pause keywords, ad groups and campaigns, based on specifically defined criteria. You can even set up scripts in Google that allow for paid search accounts to be integrated into an organization’s inventory or CRM system.

Budget and account size certainly play a large part in deciding whether to utilize a third-party technology solution or free tools the advertising platforms offer. It’s important to weigh cost vs. time saved in order to focus on big strategic initiatives.

At Hanapin, we utilize a reporting tool called NinjaCat. This reporting tool automatically pulls spend from a variety of advertising platforms and other associated account data such as clicks, impressions and click-through rate. The tool allows you to create dashboards and KPI graphs that track performance vs. your goal(s). It’s well worth the monetary investment, because automating data collection (rather than compiling it manually) frees up account managers to focus on taking action in accounts.

When deciding whether to use paid technology vs. a less powerful free tool, I use the following criteria:

  • Can free automation tools help me meet account goals and execute strategy effectively?
  • Do paid tools offer me functionality that provides deeper performance insights that I can’t get from free tools?
  • Will I save a significant amount of time with a free tool, above and beyond what I would save by using a paid tool?

Having a defined criteria for when to use technology will make it easier to decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to invest in technology.

Final thoughts

You should deploy technology primarily to quickly and efficiently execute strategy and reach goals. Too often, automation is narrowly viewed as a shortcut to reducing workload. While it’s important to make workloads more efficient, it’s more important not to lose sight of the big picture, which is improving account performance.

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