Sponsored Content: Adzooma – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 09 Jan 2020 18:54:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Why are you making PPC budgets so difficult? /why-are-you-making-ppc-budgets-so-difficult-326422 Wed, 18 Dec 2019 12:30:00 +0000 /?p=326422 Here’s how to keep your head on your shoulders and make much easier, simpler work out of your budgets.

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Setting a budget for your PPC campaigns is not easy. Too little and you’re selling yourself short. Too much and you’re literally throwing money away. Most tend to err on the side of caution here, with 40% of brands and agencies saying that their PPC budget is lower than it should be. 

To make things worse, there’s no golden figure or right answer that comes to setting your budget. It’s all down to you.

On average, SMEs spend between $108,000 and $120,000 a year on PPC. But there’s absolutely no way of knowing if you should align with those averages or not until you’re there. 

However, though PPC budgeting is no easy task it’s not that difficult either. All you have to do is take a step back, relax and stop making it so complicated. Let’s walk you through it. 

Go back to basics

If you already have the total budget that you want to spend on your advertising, you’re in luck. All you need to get your ballpark figure is a little bit of quick math. 

“Total budget / Campaign duration” 

So, if you want to run a £20,000 campaign over four months, you would have £5000 a month to spend. That’s on average, £167 a day.


If you wanted to give the campaign the biggest push in the first month, you could raise that budget to £7500. That would lower the other three months to approximately £4170. 

Okay, now calculating a budget isn’t quite as easy as dividing lump sums evenly for your duration. But if you don’t go back to basics and start simple, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed and quickly buried under the mountain of numbers around you. 

This is how you get your figures to start with. Then you break them down even further and alter them based on your goals. 

Budgets are pointless without goals

You’ve got your ballpark figure. Now, what is it you’re actually trying to achieve?

If you can’t answer that question, put everything down and go find an answer. You should not be assigning budgets if you don’t have a specific goal in mind. 

  • Want to up your sales? 
  • Increase your brand awareness? 
  • Drive traffic to your product pages? 

Whatever it is, you need something that guides exactly where and how your budget is spent. Once you’ve got that figured out, we can move on. 

Set targets to achieve your goals 

How will you know that you’ve met your goal? There’s one word for it. 


Yeah, those all-important things. 

Most budgets don’t work because you’re not setting targets. You’re just throwing money into the wind and seeing what happens. If you do that, you can’t be shocked to find that you’re all tapped out without seeing that much bang for your buck. 

So, set targets that align with your goals. Something that’s measurable and relatively achievable (but don’t make it too easy, you need something to aim for after all). 

Once you’ve set targets, you can go in and tweak as your budget needs. 

If something’s not working, get rid of it

We haven’t got the time or budget to waste on losers. Look at what is working and build more like that. Simple huh?

Look back at your past performers 

You don’t have to start from scratch every time you run a new campaign. Use the power of the past to guide your future by exploring old data. 

Look at what channels were most profitable and assign the bulk of the budget to them (still using the above advice, of course). 

If you notice that your CTR was much higher from mobile, increase your budget for these devices. If you got the most conversions in the evening, add an adjustment for this time period. 

Simply put, find out what worked before and put your budget there. Done. You’ve got your first set of adjustments in the bag without overcomplicating it. 

If you don’t have any past data to work from, don’t worry. Give everything a relatively even scope and monitor closely to see what your top performers are.

Monitor your results 

You absolutely cannot budget for your PPC campaigns accurately without keeping track of your data and results. But, for the love of all things good and holy, don’t just blankly stare at the data. Take stock of what’s going on and use it to influence any adjustments. 

To help with this, you’re going to want to keep all this information in one place. Admittedly, I may have been cruel to Excel in the past, but there are times where you can’t beat a useful spreadsheet to help analyze data.

But you don’t have to overcomplicate things by building one yourself. There are thousands of templates out there that you can use to get started. If it doesn’t work, you can always take the parts that do and build yourself a Frankenstein’s monster of a sheet. It’s much simpler than building from scratch. 

Speaking of templates, these offerings from Hubspot are a great shout. In particular, we’re a fan of the Master Marketing Budget.

It gives you space to enter budgets for your entire marketing plan, allowing you to track expenses across all channels. 

What’s more, it will automatically populate your monthly totals for you, including your budget, actual spend and how much you have left. This data is also visually shown inside of a graph and line chart, giving you all the totals you need in a nice, pretty way. 

Whether you use this example or not, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by finding a template and sticking to it. 

Automate yes, smart bidding no

Smart Bidding is Google’s solution to automating the budget process. Just enter your maximum budget and they’ll automatically assign and adjust your budgets to hit your goals. 

A great idea in practice, but in reality, it falls far from the mark. It’s notoriously underdeveloped, and as much as updates are making it “smarter”, it’s just not there yet. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on automation. You can use tools to help automate little adjustments and simplify your job. 

Again, simple changes can help to meet your targets. 

  • If your CPC is getting too expensive, lower your budgets 
  • If an advert isn’t performing, pause it. 
  • If your CPL has dropped, increase your budget. 

But there is a way to do this without hours of manual labor. Automated rules.

You have three options with automated rules: 

  1. Internal tools 
  2. PPC scripts 
  3. External tools

Internal tools, like Google Ads’ automated rules, will automate the changes you need – but they’re a little cumbersome to set up. They also lack certain features like notifications by only offering an easily-lost email when a rule is triggered. 

In addition, you can only set the rules to run at certain times, leaving your accounts vulnerable without 24/7 monitoring. All in all, it falls a little far from the mark. 

PPC scripts can fix some of these problems. But they require a good knowledge of JavaScript to edit and customise to your businesses needs. Plus, with PPC scripts, you’ll always be at risk of them failing whenever Google puts out another update.

Which leads us onto external tools. And, spoiler alert, we have a great one in mind. 

Budget adjustments you can set and forget 

Quick disclaimer, I work for Adzooma. So naturally, they are the tool I’m going to showcase for their automated tools. But that’s not just because I work there, it’s because they are the best I’ve come across. 

It works like this: 

  1. Go to your automation tab and click ‘Add new automation rule.” 
  2. Set up the rule you want. It’s fully customizable. 
  3. Click save and you’re good to go. 

It’s that simple. 

The rules will work 24/7, giving you complete coverage of your accounts. All while saving you valuable time and effort.

Don’t want us to make changes? No problem. You can set up alerts that will notify you in-app or via phone so you can remain in total control. You can try it for free here

Simplify your way to success

If you want to stop making your budgets so difficult, you need to simplify. 

That means going back to the basics, focusing on your goals and setting achievable targets. Reviewing your past successes, keeping an eye on your data and making changes depending on your performance. And, where possible, making use of templates and tools to make your job easier. 

And fundamentally, that’s the core of everything we’ve been talking about in our articles. From keyword research, PPC management and reporting… There’s always a way to make things simpler. 

Start by going back to basics. Put your focus on what really matters and take advantage of the tools available to you. 

Simple, right?

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How to create PPC reports people will actually read /how-to-create-ppc-reports-people-will-actually-read-325975 Tue, 10 Dec 2019 12:30:00 +0000 /?p=325975 Stop wasting hours of your week building reports that don’t even get opened.

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I used to have a love/hate relationship with reporting. 

I loved it because data was the sweet nectar we all need to achieve better growth. Reporting allowed us to collect it, ready to take action. Plus, there was something oddly satisfying about seeing what you had physically achieved.

On the flip side, I hated reporting because it took so much time and effort.  In fact, statistically, reporting is actually the second biggest time sink for PPC managers. This isn’t surprising. (If you’re curious, keyword research was in first place. We’ve already covered how you’re wasting your time on keyword research here).

After pouring so much time into reporting, those reports were ignored. Clients didn’t care or understand. So what was the point?

But then I discovered a better way and started making reports that people actually wanted to read in a fraction of the time. You can do the same and stop hating your reporting by doing one simple thing. 

Stop overcomplicating it. 

Yeah, a groundbreaking statement there. If you read our work on easier PPC management, you’ll see that this is a common theme. 

But don’t worry, I’m not going to give you some inspirational yet impractical quote and leave you to go on your way. This isn’t that type of article. 

A data happy wonderland

Over complication of reporting comes down to two key areas: 

  1. The data you’re using in the reports. 
  2. How you are creating your reports. 

We’re about to get into the first one. 

Some reports look like Willy Wonka and the data factory. There are metrics everywhere you look! Which isn’t all that helpful. 

Make your reports simpler by selecting the data that matters. But that is easier said than done. You need to show the full picture of what’s going on, however not every campaign can be judged by the same metrics. 

So what do you do? 

Who is reading this? 

Take a step back. Who is this report going to? 

Putting yourself in the shoes of who is reading the reports will help narrow down the actual metrics that you need to use. If it’s going to a small business owner who just wants to know if the campaigns are worth it, make sure you show them the conversions and ROAS. 

If it’s going to a marketing manager who is intent on building brand awareness, show them the impressions and clicks. 

In addition, explain things to them. Tell them what these metrics mean and why they’re important – in terms that they will understand. Rather than giving people a sheet of numbers, give them value, information and context. 

This will help ensure that your reports aren’t just read, but that they’re used. 

The exact content you need will depend on who they’re going out to. These are people you will know better than us. 

If you’re not sure – ask them. Find out the most important aspect they check and what reports are actually useful for them. There’s no point building reports for the sake of them. If they want something particular, build that and move on. 

Ah. That’s much simpler. 

Step back from the vanity metrics

Vanity metrics are those that serve no purpose other than to boost your ego and make things look good. But they don’t actually deliver any actionable value and should not be included in your reports. 

They are a colossal waste of time. 

Metrics like time on site are a great example of this. If users are spending more time on your landing page, this metric might be included in your report for a boost. But this doesn’t actually show anything. Whether someone spends 2 seconds or 4 hours on your landing page doesn’t matter – the only thing that does is taking action. 

Most of this is about context though. 

If you’re trying to increase sales of a new product you’ve launched, you shouldn’t be looking at ad impressions. It delivers nothing valuable other than an odd “neat!” exclamation. 

So what if 5,000 people have seen the ad? Tell me how many people have bought the product. 

That’s what matters. And this is what your reports should be made from. 

Right, that’s data covered. Now let’s talk about how you’re actually building these reports. 

Let go of the Excel sheet reports 

There’s a time and a place for Excel. And I think as long as PPC lives, there will be a use for it. 

I never want to make another Excel report again. Time-consuming isn’t even the word. It’s fiddly. It’s ugly and it’s practically unreadable to anyone that isn’t an Excel wizard themselves. 

But we don’t live in the dark ages anymore. There are plenty of programs and tools that you can use that are far quicker and easier on the eyes. They also might make it more accurate too, as according to Adverity, 90% of all spreadsheets contain errors. 

In fact, a quick Google search has brought up dozens of options, including Sisense, Reporting Ninja, Agency Analytics and Swydo. And of course, our own platform, Adzooma. In my completely unbiased opinion, ours is obviously the best. 

The point is, it’s easy to find a tool that will work for you. Once you do, build templates. These will be the key to your success. 

Note how I used the plural here for templates. Like there’s no “one-size-fits-all” campaign, there’s not going to be one for your reports. Create templates that are for specific purposes or people so you can roll them out exactly when you need them with minimal effort. 

Get visual

By nature, we are visual creatures. That’s just who we are. It’s an instinct to seek out images – I’ll even bet that your eyes went to the images on this page before you read these words right?

Showing your data in a visual way is every marketer’s dream and increases the chances of your reports being read. A harsh but true fact there. 

But there’s a difference between useful visual representations of data – and useless time-consuming gimmicks that really don’t work. 

It has to fit the data and make it easy to understand. You know what this doesn’t apply to? Pie charts. There are almost no PPC metrics that fit nicely into a pie chart. And yet, so many people insist on using them for everything. 

I’m hoping the below image will highlight this well… 

All joking aside, picking the right graphs is a very important thing to consider. In an ideal world, every report could look fantastically engaging with professionally designed infographics. But that’s a lot of time and budget for something that isn’t needed. 

You need to simplify it. Which means simple, yet visual, ways of showing the data. Generally, line graphs are some of the best options, particularly if you’re showing changes over time. 

This is because you can easily see with your eyes what’s happening and follow a visual story of it moving through time. 

Simple. Easy to understand. Efficient. Don’t underestimate how simple graphs can uncomplicate your reporting. 

Get the AI to do it for you

Surprise, it’s another case of AI (Artificial Intelligence) saving the day. This is a recurring theme and will carry on until every business realizes that AI is an absolute necessity. 

Anyway, back to the point. 

AI is a time-saving miracle for reporting. Let me show you by guiding you through own reporting tool inside Adzooma

Here’s how it works. 

  1. You go to the reporting tab in the top corner.
  2. Click the ‘Create report’ button. 
  3. Add what elements you want, including text, images and even your own logo. 
  4. With the data, select the exact metrics you want, in the format you need. Whether it’s a table or a line graph, the data will auto-populate from your account, saving you the job of having to find it yourself. 
  5. Want to add a new page or change the layout? Just hit the buttons above. 
  6. And you’re done. 

Save and export them as needed. 

One of the best features? Once you’re done – your report will be saved as a template. 

So when you’re ready for a new one you just have to click it. That’s it. It will automatically update itself with the new data, ready for you to send off. That’s your reporting, done in seconds. Ready to stop overcomplicating your reporting? Try our powerful AI tools for free.

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Stop managing your PPC campaigns the difficult way /stop-managing-your-ppc-campaigns-the-difficult-way-325390 Thu, 21 Nov 2019 12:30:05 +0000 /?p=325390 It’s time to embrace easier, simpler and time-saving ways to manage and optimize your ads.

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We recently wrote about how PPC managers are making keyword research a lot harder than it should be. If you’re seeing a pattern here, well done.  

It’s all about overcomplication. 

Overcomplication is a frustratingly irritating problem because you’re not doing anything wrong per se. The job will still get done, it just takes a lot more time and effort necessary to reach the finish line. 

Let’s say you’re decorating and the goal is to repaint a room a rather gorgeous shade of teal. Now, rather than use a regular roller, you decide to use fine art paintbrushes. It would be a lot more hard work and take days longer than it should. And for what? A patchier finish? 

What a pointless waste of time. 

That’s ultimately what you’re doing with your PPC campaigns when you manage them the hard way. 

Here are three ways you might be falling into the dreaded world of overcomplication… 

1. Using the wrong metrics 

PPC management is nothing without data. 

Oh, that sweet glorious data. No more guesswork and blindly making changes to your campaigns. Just the pure hard facts that you need to make improvements and boost your success. 

Data is a bit of a double-edged sword, though. It gives you all this information for pinpoint accuracy. But the sheer amount available means that you can get lost chasing the wrong details and metrics. 

Note the emphasis on wrong here. This is because although every single metric is important, they serve different purposes. If they don’t align with what you’re trying to achieve, then why are you focusing on them? 

Keep it simple by sticking to the metrics that matter to you. 

These metrics should be directly related to your goal. 

  • Got a campaign that’s designed to improve brand awareness? Look at your impressions. 
  • Trying to increase traffic to your website? It’s all about the clicks. 
  • Want sales and conversions? Say hello to your conversion rate. 

This is stuff you know already. Not every campaign is going to have the same goal, which means you shouldn’t judge them by the same data. 

The best way to teach this is by an example. So welcome to these example campaigns:

With no context and using these metrics, we would assume that because campaign 2 has the best CTR, it is the best performing campaign. So, we should increase the budget to campaign 2 and see how to amend the others to match these results. 

Okay, let’s add some context: 

  • Campaign 1 is supposed to increase brand awareness
  • Campaign 2 is created to drive traffic to the website
  • Campaign 3 is designed to increase sales and ROI 

Ah. This changes things right? With that in mind, let’s add some more data. 

Oh, now these metrics show the campaigns in another light. 

Compared with campaign 2, campaign 3 has fewer impressions, clicks and conversions. But, campaign 3 blows it out of the water with the lowest cost per conversion and highest ROAS, which matters to this campaign more because of its goal. 

The lesson here? There’s no point stressing that your CTR has gone down if you’re actually getting higher value conversions from it. This is a success. 

When we get caught up trying to hit a magic number for every single metric out there, this often gets lost. 

2. Not thinking about the big picture

Not only can you overcomplicate your PPC management by losing yourself in the wrong metrics, you can also get so focused on the little things that you lose sight of the big picture. 

The goal: increase conversions.

Unfortunately, your campaign just isn’t performing the way it should. Your click-through rate is high, but your conversions are low. ¡Qué desastre! 

Cue panic stations and testing out every possible variation in order to improve these metrics. But… your PPC campaigns aren’t the whole process. It’s just a stepping stone on a greater journey. As much as you need to test your ads, it’s not the only touchpoint they go across. 

So, think: what happens after they click? 

Visitors need to go somewhere relevant that provides a good, smooth experience and is easy to use. This is what makes them convert. If you send them somewhere that doesn’t provide this, they will leave. In fact, according to a survey, 26% of shopping cart abandoners said that complication was the reason they left. 

You want to keep your customer journey as short and as simple as possible. This is something we’ve stressed before when discussing why a 17 step customer journey was responsible for its ultimate failure. 

And yet. 

48% of businesses don’t test their landing pages. That’s nearly half! Imagine if you never tested your ad, thinking it was perfect first time around. 

Honestly, that’s despicable. 

The lesson to learn here? You can overcomplicate what’s wrong by honing in on those little minor details instead of looking at the bigger picture. 

3. Relying on PPC scripts

PPC scripts are supposed to make management a lot quicker and easier. Take the freely available Zero Impressions Alarm for example. This script is designed to monitor your account and alert you if your account or particular campaign is down. 

Rather than waiting for your next review, you can work on fixing it straight away. Great news, right? 

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, PPC scripts are more hassle than they’re worth.

If you don’t understand JavaScript, they’re horrifically overcomplicated. Even if you do understand it, they can be notoriously difficult and fiddly to get right. Even the pre-made scripts can require some customization work to suit your company. 

That’s not the worst part. 

You just can’t rely on scripts. As soon as an update is rolled out, your PPC script is out of date. There’s no one constantly checking it to make sure that it’s still working the way it should. 

That one is on you. So is the responsibility to yet again edit the code to align with the updates. 

Gah. How complicated. 

Here’s how to make PPC management simple 

Right, full disclosure time. I work for Adzooma, so your instinct will be to distrust everything that I’m about to write as a biased plug. But that doesn’t negate the truth of what I’m writing. There’s little point of me selling you a dream that isn’t real. 

If you want to make PPC management simple, you need to stop overcomplicating it. 

So, stop and think. Think about your goals and what you’re trying to achieve. Instead of getting caught up in the tiny little details of your campaigns, think about the bigger picture and what changes can actually aid your progress. 

Secondly, choose the tools that are built to save you time and money – without the effort and annoying maintenance of PPC scripts. A tool, like Adzooma, for example. Let me explain why. 

Everything on our platform is built to save time by simplifying your PPC management. There’s two core features that make this possible. 

Firstly, the Opportunity Engine. As the beating heart of Adzooma, this is intelligent AI that analyzes your account, crunches the data and presents you with actionable changes you can make to improve your campaigns. 

These Opportunities can be anything from new keyword suggestions, budget changes or even fixing spelling mistakes. Most of them can be applied with a single click. This saves you from countless hours spent manually looking at your data and figuring out which changes you need to make. Much simpler. 

Instead of relying on PPC scripts to free up your time, our automation and alerts feature has you covered. Let’s go back to the earlier campaign designed to drive website traffic. If clicks went below a CTR of 5%, you could pause the campaign. Alternatively, if the CPC descresed, you could set a rule to up your budget and make the most clicks for a lower cost. 

Just set up the rules you want and let us take care of the rest. No coding, no updating and no checking to see if they work. We’ve got it covered for you. 

Get all this, and more, with Adzooma. Interested? Try for free today.

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Yes, you are making keyword research harder than it should be /yes-you-are-making-keyword-research-harder-than-it-should-be-324860 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 12:30:58 +0000 /?p=324860 Get better results and maximize your budget by keeping things simple.

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PPC managers make unnecessarily hard work out of keyword research. Yes, that’s a bold statement to make. But it’s one we’re making nevertheless.

Don’t get us wrong, this isn’t meant to start a fight. Nor are we implying that PPC managers are no longer needed, because that’s simply not true. In fact, it’s something we’ve covered before explaining why PPC agencies are not dying out.

As long as there are PPC campaigns, there will be PPC managers. They play an essential role in creating, running and optimising campaigns to ensure businesses get the best results for their budget.

That doesn’t mean every PPC manager is perfect. The truth is that most of you are caught out by overcomplicating many areas of your disipline, including the keyword research stage.

Keyword research is always worth your time

Without research, it’s impossible to build a viable list of keywords that will bring in the clicks and conversions – at a price that fits your budget.

We don’t need to tell you how important keywords or research are. You’ve heard this all before.

Here’s the short version: having the right keywords helps get your adverts seen by the right audience, for better prices.

Keywords also impact your quality score and ad rank, helping you get those higher ad positions on the SERPs. And when the top 3 ads get 46% of clicks, anything you can do to push yourself higher into these positions is a must-have. However, there is such a thing as trying too hard.

Imagine you’re at school and have a 1-page assignment to hand in. But you want to impress, so you hand in 24 glorious pages and wait to be basked in glory. It’s not worth the extra time and effort that you put in though. You would have got the A with the 1-page paper like everyone else.

You don’t need to strive for extra-credit with PPC. Your keywords either work or they don’t. This is something you’ll find out by testing. Research can only take you so far.

All the gear with no idea

Controversially, it may be the rise of technology that’s contributing to overcomplication.

The core function of PPC tools and software is to save you time and simplify your jobs. It’s the sole reason why we built our own platform, Adzooma.

When it comes to keyword research, there are a whole host of fantastic tools that can instantly generate keyword ideas. But the sheer amount of data and results you get from them is ripe for overcomplicating.

Enter your core topic and they can instantly spit out a thousand keywords or more to target. In fact, SEMrush’s Keyword Magic tool promises ‘10.5 billion semantically related & long-tail keywords’. Wow.

That’s crazy!

In what campaign would you ever use that many keywords? I dread to think of the ad groups that would be created to accommodate anything near to a thousand keywords. And so should you.

Google recommends that you use no more than 20 keywords per ad group. 20 is a maximum here. You don’t have to hit this.

Smaller, targeted ad groups will win over blindly hitting every single keyword variation under the sun. Every time.

Now, these tools are great for finding keywords. But if you start researching every single variation that comes up… well, you’re just making life harder for yourself. Don’t get caught up in the minor details. Keep things simple and stick to smaller, smartly curated keyword lists for precise ad groups.

What happened to common sense?

Life would be far better if more people used their common sense. But don’t worry, we’re not going to launch into a full complaint against the current state of the world. This isn’t the time or the place. 

Relating it back to PPC, common sense is needed to group keywords into simple, close-knit ad groups.

This is something we should excel at. It’s a physiological human impulse to categorise everything into simple, clear and neat boxes. It’s how we make sense of the world around us.

Let’s say you’re setting a campaign up for a bakery. It doesn’t take a lot to recognise that you can group your keywords by:

  • Product (cakes, pastries, or desserts)
  • Flavour (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry)
  • Dietary requirements (gluten-free, vegan, nut-free)
  • Location (if they own more than one branch)

And yet this is often overlooked. It’s something that you all know, but you spend so much time focusing on details that don’t matter.

Which brings us nicely onto our next point.

Don’t get caught up in the technical details

There are thousands of blogs and resources that will bang on about keyword match types: about what they are, how to use them and why you need to add negative keywords to your repertoire. This is all well and good, but there’s one thing that seems to be missing: keyword intent. 

Here’s the low-down. Without looking at keyword intent, your campaigns are almost guaranteed to include the wrong keywords. Sorry, but it’s true.

If someone is searching, they have a particular goal in mind. No one really Googles things for the sake of it. These goals are split into 4 main categories:

  • Informational. For example: “how to remove coffee stains from a white rug”.
  • Navigational. This could include searches like “rug store near me” or “RugMaster contact information”.
  • Commercial. This could include searches like “The best rug for pets” or “wool vs cotton rugs”.
  • Transactional. This could include keywords like “rugs for sale”.

If you’re building a campaign to purely sell some beautiful white wool rugs, you wouldn’t bid on informational keywords. After all, if they’re using the “how to remove coffee stains from a white rug” search, it’s safe to assume they’ve already got a rug.

It would have to be one mighty coffee stain to require a new one.

That’s not to say if you’re selling something you should only stick to transactional keywords. If you have a physical store, bidding on navigational keywords is a great shout. Paired with the knowledge that 57% of traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices, these keywords are primed to capture audiences when they’re already out and about near your store.

Intent is something that Google is also pushing through its own micro-moments. This is described as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do, or buy”.

An intent-rich moment, that’s the heart of the matter. It’s all about intent.

Stop making your keyword research complicated by getting hyper-focused on details that don’t matter as much in this stage. Keep it simple by focusing on intent. 

The research never stops

Approximately 15% of daily searches have never been made before. It’s a growing and adapting beast. Research helps you tame it.

No one can predict the future. Research is all about using the current facts and data at your disposal to make a pretty good guess, but it’s not set in stone. You’re never going to have keyword metrics you discover exactly line up with your results.

The beautiful thing about PPC is that you can change it at anytime. When something doesn’t work, you can get back to the research and try the next thing. And the next…

The moral of the story?

If you want to stop overcomplicating your research, test your results. This will give you more insights and data into what works. This is your ammunition for success.

This stage will never stop as there will always be room for you to achieve better results.

The right tools to test your campaigns

The good news is that there’s plenty of PPC tools around to help make sure you don’t overcomplicate this stage. And, if you’ll excuse us for blowing our own trumpet, we’ve got something you might be interested in.

Our own platform, Adzooma is pretty special.

Firstly, we need to clarify that Adzooma is not a keyword research tool. It’s much more than that. Adzooma is an all-in-one platform that will help you optimise and manage every part of your campaign.

Analysing your account, it crunches the data and gives you accurate performance insights you can use to influence your strategy and improve your results.

If something isn’t working, Adzooma will let you know. For example, if you’re using keywords with the wrong intent, we’ll flag up when they’re not performing. You use this information to streamline your entire campaign.

Adzooma also automatically generates Opportunities specific to your account that can be actioned immediately. Like say if you have duplicate keywords, you’ll get the chance to remove them without having to run your keyword list through a keyword deduplication tool first. Most of these can be applied with a single click.

But there’s so much more on offer – including automation, alerts and custom reports to name a few.

You can try it all for free here.

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Will traditional PPC agencies die out in the age of automation? /will-traditional-ppc-agencies-die-out-in-the-age-of-automation-321439 Wed, 11 Sep 2019 11:30:29 +0000 /?p=321439 AI has become ubiquitous in modern life, and PPC management is no different.

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“Robot automation will take 800 million jobs by 2030″

Now, that’s an attention-grabbing headline. It’s enough to send most people into a frenzied panic that, for the most part, just isn’t called for.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not screaming “fake news!” at every automation headline out there. The fear is definitely real, particularly for some industries like warehousing, automotive and manufacturing.

But when it comes to PPC and digital marketing, you haven’t got much to worry about. Trust me. Automation is to be embraced, not feared.

Automation is changing the future

There’s no denying that technology and automation are impacting your everyday life.

You go grocery shopping and use self-checkouts. You can order McDonalds off the screen, not the counter.

Even Amazon opened a supermarket in Seattle with no checkouts, using tracking technology to know what customers removed from the shelves and charging their account as they left the store.

But change is a natural part of life. It may shut some jobs down, but it will always open new ones up. Think about it.

NASA used to have human calculators. All clothing was made by hand. Farmers and ranchers comprised over 50% of the U.S. workforce.

Nothing stays the same forever. If it did, I wouldn’t be writing this article. I wouldn’t even know what a computer or the internet was, never mind make a career from it.

There will be jobs in 20 years that we couldn’t imagine today. In fact, a 2018 report predicted that automation will create 133 million new jobs by 2022.

As long as the internet is around, PPC agencies will still exist.

It’s not us vs. them

I’ve read articles that claim that machines are better at humans at PPC 80% of the time. But that’s rubbish.

It feeds into this annoying myth that we seem to be at war with technology.

We’re not. It’s not robots vs humans.

Why? Because no matter how good automation and AI gets, it will never have empathy, creativity or emotion.

If robots start developing a heart, then maybe it’ll be time for us all to worry about our jobs.

People buy with emotion. Without intrigue, they wouldn’t click on the ad. Without passion, desire or even fear, they wouldn’t convert. It takes a human to understand this emotion when advertising to customers.

Take shaving razors for example.

The real reason customers buy razors is because they want to feel good about themselves. Because they’re nervous about a job interview and want to make the best first impression. Because they’ve got a brand new red sparkly dress for a wedding anniversary and want the confidence to wear it.

What makes a great PPC agency isn’t just knowing how to set up campaigns. It’s having the creativity and understanding to really connect with what customers want, and create engaging adverts that they’ll actually want to click.

Let’s look at some examples:

Now the advert above isn’t bad. But there’s no emotion in it. It’s bland and doesn’t give the customer a reason to explore more.

Now, let’s compare it to this advert:

There’s so much more emotional string-pulling. It connects to what the audience wants, making it far more engaging than the first example.

This creativity will never be replaced by a machine.

Automation and the human touch

When you combine time-saving automation with the human touch, you get something really special.

Take Jonny for example. Now, Jonny is a PPC specialist for a major insurance company.

He came to Adzooma to save time on his campaigns, without surrendering total control. When using the software, he was suggested to increase his budget on a particular set of ads that were performing well.

If he was just relying on automation, that would be the end of the story. He would have applied the changes and moved on to the next task. 

But Jonny knew that this was only one half of the story.

So he went back to look at the data regarding the adverts that were performing well, to see why they were getting more clicks than the others. All of these ads had one thing in common: they all mentioned “free consultations.”

With that information in mind, Jonny created a new set of ads to test.

These ads didn’t just mention “free consultations,” but also worked to build trust and take away any fear about customers being locked into agreements straight away. He saw the data that automation had given him, then added a human, emotional response to get the full story.

In the end, the new ads outperformed the initial set.

You can read Jonny’s Capterra review here, where he describes how our automation features allow you to “shave serious time off your day to day optimizations” and also “easily identify themes and points of weaknesses in your accounts” to shape your overall strategy.

The bottom line?

Automation and humans need to work together.

Sink or swim

Once you’ve accepted that automation isn’t going to take your job, some people then decide to just ignore it and carry on as normal anyway — as if sticking your head in the sand was a way to solve any of life’s problems.

The truth is if you don’t embrace automation, your PPC agency will be in trouble.

Automation is the future of PPC. It’s designed to save you time on manual processes and make it easier than ever to do your job, without competing with you for it.

Just take a minute to think about what you do every week. I bet in there, there’s so many jobs that you wish you could speed up. Tasks that are repetitive and take up too much valuable time to complete.

If you’ve ever wished there was an easier way, automation is your answer. It’s actually the reason why Adzooma developed its platform in the first place.

Without automation, you’ll be left behind by the agencies that have implemented it.

And no, automation isn’t something that’s only accessible to the big players. As we’ve already touched on before, there are plenty of AI options for small businesses.

You need to embrace automation and use it to take your business to the next level.

Or, don’t. Watch your company fall behind the competition and be left in the dust at the side of the road.

The choice is yours.

Taking the automation plunge

If you’re smart, you’ll make the choice to bring automation into your business.

The best way to do this? Think of where most of your time is wasted right now, then get on the market and test them. There’s bound to be one (or more!) of them that will work perfectly for your business.

Full disclaimer, I work for one of them, Adzooma.

But I’m not about to give you a lecture about how our platform is the only product in the world that you’ll ever need. That it will solve all of your problems, land you that promotion you’re desperate for, and double your earnings.

I don’t want to sell you on promises or pipe dreams. What I will give you is the cold, hard, facts.

And that is Adzooma has a number of automation tools and features that will save you a lot of time and effort, including:

  • Automated rules to remove repetitive tasks through custom rules so you’ve got more time to dedicate yourself to other aspects of your business
  • Custom alerts to keep you in the loop, so you have full control over your PPC campaigns
  • 24/7 monitoring of your accounts, with over 50 suggested opportunities designed to improve your accounts — most of which can be applied instantly with a single click.

It’s something I’ve recommended to friends before, including an old work colleague of mine, Charlie. One of the top features he loved was the ability to generate custom, white-label reports.

Before, he had to spend hours manually trawling through the data and formatting reports to send clients. It was the part of his job he hated the most, particularly when he felt that his clients didn’t even read them.

But with Adzooma, he could drag and drop the elements he needed, add a logo, and they were ready to go. Even better, Charlie could save them as templates which would automatically update when he needed them.

But enough about Charlie. This is about your business.

So don’t just take my word for it. If you think Adzooma could work for your company, try it for free.

But even if Adzooma is not the right call, you need to take advantage of automation. Its arrival isn’t going to kill your PPC agency. But not embracing it might leave you stuck on that road, watching everyone else drive into the future without you.

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AI for small business is no longer an option. It’s a necessity. /ai-for-small-business-is-no-longer-an-option-its-a-necessity-320965 Wed, 28 Aug 2019 11:30:03 +0000 /?p=320965 There has been no better time in history for small, disruptive businesses to win big. They just need to be smart.

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Time for a fight

Let’s set the scene. It’s an English pub on the outskirts of London. It’s raining, obviously. There are four of us crowded around a small table.

Once upon a time, we worked together. We were teachers back then, and now we’re marketers.

Every so often, when the stars align, we all meet up.

There is little time for politeness. There is scant regard for nuance. We laugh, we joke, we play dice games. We find out who’s doing what and where. We drink, we argue and we learn from one another.

But on this particular night, things got lively. There was an unusual level of spice. And it all started with this.

“AI is expensive, and it can’t be trusted.”

Explosive AI potential

On one side, Jeff. He works in PPC marketing.

On the other, Richard, who works for a tech startup.

Let’s frame their argument. Research by PwC suggests that by 2030 the UK’s GDP could grow by 10% from AI alone. That’s an extra $289 billion. Globally, it’s closer to 13%.

Richard’s line of reasoning: if you fail to capitalize on this opportunity, others will.

Things started badly. Jeff suggested that, currently, the vast majority of businesses cannot benefit from AI. It’s a waste of their time. It will eventually be useful, but not yet.

Frankly, this is wrong. Richard told him as much. Regarding AI as an emerging trend – as something that’s in the pipeline and not ready to deploy yet – is a dangerous mistake.

35% of Amazon’s revenue is already generated by its AI recommendation engine. Spotify, Netflix and YouTube are champions in their field at using algorithms to get people to consume more content, more often and for longer periods of time.

Richard went one step further. Draining his pint, he said, “look, mate, it’s become black and white. Either you embrace AI, or you don’t. Either you seize your part of that money pot, or you don’t. Change your ways or get left in the dust.”

Shots fired, right?

“Okay,” Jeff said, “the big boys are using AI. But small businesses can’t. They don’t have the money to invest in it or the time to train their staff.”

Fair point. A Vistage study found that only 14% of small to medium businesses are using AI. 51% utilize it to assist in business operations; 46% to improve customer engagement.

And Jeff’s flawed line of reasoning is widespread. It goes like this: AI technology is meant for larger companies. It’s meant for Amazon, who can spend $22.6 billion globally on research & development.

But this isn’t true. And if the position isn’t challenged, then gigantic firms will grow bigger still and the opportunity gets lost.

Entry-level AI

Backpedalling, Jeff explained he already used rudimentary forms of AI to automate.

He used an Account Anomaly Detector –  a freely available Google Ads script that detects and alerts you when an account is suddenly behaving differently. He’d set up a zero impressions emergency alarm too.

Fair enough. Any sane PPC manager will be automating at least some part of their Google Ads workflow. If they’re not using a platform to achieve this, they’re using scripts.

“Not good enough though,” Richard fired back.

There was a collective groan from the table.

Making things work

Richard doubled down.

“See, in a world of increasingly intrusive software, AI-driven automation software can actually let you relax. It can let you stop worrying about work. Tonight, already, I’ve seen you check accounts at least five times,” he said.

Jeff shifted in his seat.

“It’s Friday night,” Richard said. “You should be able to go to the pub with some friends and have a drink without doing that.”

This makes sense. Automation technology supplementing what you do is something I’ve argued for previously. Set up automation rules in a platform so that if something’s fishy, you get notified. Or pause the offending campaign, ad group or ad until you can diagnose and fix things later.

Now, all-encompassing marketing software exists. I had worked with Adobe Marketing Cloud at a retail & leisure industry giant. Richard had used Kenshoo.

They’re full, all-in-one packages that let you deliver a unified marketing strategy all under one banner. AI-driven software pushing insight, automation and scale.

“But,” Jeff complained, “the pricing is insane for a small business. We don’t have the budget, the time or the expertise to make that work.”

Zero alone time

However, there are better options out there for small businesses.

In fact, there’s a dizzying array of platforms to choose from when it comes to optimizing, automating and managing PPC campaigns at scale.

Now, full disclosure, these days I work for one of them: Adzooma.

And that allows me to say with full confidence: it isn’t acceptable for any PPC Manager in 2019 to work without some level of automation.

No human being should be handling the increasingly complex world of PPC alone. Nor should they be surrendering full control to a machine.

Instead, the best approach is to have a human being supported by a machine (or platform). This will win every single time.

Why do I know this?

Because it’s my job to know my industry inside out. I know what the competition is pushing; what issues they’re skating around. I know what they do well and what they don’t.

Provide smart PPC results quickly, one site will say. Pay a monthly subscription to download PPC scripts. Put things on autopilot. Optimize everything automatically.

But, in reality, you want to automate parts of your workflow while retaining control of the big strategic decisions.

You’re looking to save time and get more from your budget. You’re looking for smarter, more effective advertising. But, most importantly of all, you’re still the boss.

Control is king

And that was Jeff’s issue. When pressed, he owned up.

“Yeah, fair enough,” he admitted. “I’m worried about losing control. I’m worried about a platform making a decision on my behalf that’s wrong. I don’t trust it.”

But that just doesn’t wash.

Adzooma’s automation feature lets you set up simple rules. It can pause adverts if your Quality Score falls too low. It can pause whatever you need when impressions, clicks, conversions, spend, CPC or CPA aren’t where you need them to be. Or, alternatively, notify you.

This eliminates the brutal time cost of manually checking everything. It prevents someone like Jeff wasting their time.

It also allows you to scale. And this is precisely how small businesses can capitalize on AI-driven platforms like Adzooma.

It’s precisely how people like Jeff can claim their part of that AI money pot.

The Opportunity Engine

But it’s not just about automation.

Adzooma’s Opportunity Engine is our name for a wide range of recommendations that can optimize accounts.

Our platform constantly analyzes your data and presents ad managers with opportunities. They can review them and apply most with a single click.

This allows small businesses to do two things.

One, it allows a small business to run successful PPC campaigns without having a dedicated, technical PPC manager on the payroll.

Two, it allows a small business agency to scale up their operations – which is, incidentally, why we built Adzooma in the beginning.

We didn’t want our account managers spending hours and hours performing routine, manual work on every account. We wanted to give them more time to acquire and onboard new clients.

Avoiding the woe

Look, you can be like Jeff. You can do manual and supplement your workflow with scripts. Here are 162 Google Ads scripts that can supercharge your campaigns.

Here’s one of the very best. It’s a script to find the best text for new ads using an n-gram analysis. The original post, shared by Daniel Gilbert, concerned finding the best and worst search queries. Regardless of your setup, you must try this.

But, realistically, you need a platform behind you to get to the next level.

It would be a ludicrous lie on my part to tell you that any platform can replace a smart, strategic, business-oriented human being. But woe betide any human being delivering success without a powerful Adzooma-esque machine whirring away behind them.

David, not Goliath

Do not fall into the dangerous trap of thinking you’re too small for AI.

Small, disruptive, innovative businesses have been important since the dawn of capitalism. The little guys don’t always win, but they do push the engine along. And, when they’re smart, they win big. Very big.

The potential is ridiculous.

You don’t need to become an AI expert, and you don’t need to hire one. You need to identify and select platforms, like Adzooma, that has AI embedded into them and works for the goals you want to achieve.

If you want to capitalize on the AI boom, you need to get started right now. Optimize, automate and win.

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Why every PPC manager needs to automate more /why-every-ppc-manager-needs-to-automate-more-319999 Wed, 31 Jul 2019 11:30:50 +0000 /?p=319999 Recently, the BBC did an article about Amazon turning 25. Frankly, it was appalling. It asked the question “how has the Amazon empire been built?” – and then completely failed to answer it. It listed a bunch of things: strong revenue, retail sector dominance, Amazon’s value flying high, etc. etc. Yawn. Let’s actually answer the […]

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Recently, the BBC did an article about Amazon turning 25. Frankly, it was appalling.

It asked the question “how has the Amazon empire been built?” – and then completely failed to answer it. It listed a bunch of things: strong revenue, retail sector dominance, Amazon’s value flying high, etc. etc. Yawn.

Let’s actually answer the question, shall we?

Witty fluff about dodging tax aside, Amazon became – and will remain – a powerhouse because they innovate. In 2017 they spent $22.6 billion globally on research and development.

While that figure might be contested, there’s no doubt that Amazon has achieved dominance through spending big to stay ahead of the curve. Alphabet (Google), Intel, Microsoft and Apple were right after them. Noticing a theme?

No robot is going to take my job!

So, innovation is vital, but what’s the greatest enemy of innovation?

The fear of change.

And I am absolutely sick of hearing people complaining about change.

In this industry, the fear of automation follows a familiar but broken line of reasoning: robots are eventually going to take my job. And there’s no way in hell I’ll help them!

This is known as reducing your “value proposition”. People think that the value of the service they provide is under attack from AI. The better it gets, the more redundant they become; the smarter it gets, the less useful they are.

And, I get it. Technology has taken over 90% of the jobs people used to do. This is unpleasant for some –  particularly if you are on the frontline of industries that have experienced rapid change.

Detroit. Auto manufacture. Coal mining in the American Midwest – and, as the son of a coal miner from the British East Midlands, I feel this one keenly across the pond.

But you know what? My father, who left school with very poor grades, upskilled elsewhere. He became a police officer. He went into education. He opened up businesses. He embraced the change and took his opportunities.

Some people don’t get these opportunities and that’s a tragedy. But in marketing, they’re staring us in the face.

It’s about time people started viewing automation like this: an immensely exciting opportunity for those willing to take it. For PPC specifically, it’s a chance to get increasingly clever machines to supplement our work – not replace us.

Because with the right technology stack in place, and the right mindset about how you evaluate and improve your workflow, you can do some truly incredible things.

Fear what you don’t know

Not convinced? Research by PwC suggests that by 2030 the UK’s GDP could grow by 10% from AI alone. That’s an extra $289 billion. Globally, it’s closer to 13%.

But AI is already a big deal. 35% of Amazon’s revenue is generated by its AI recommendation engine.

Despite this, the vast majority are completely unprepared to capitalize on this opportunity.

A report from Headspring sets this out in worrying detail:

  • On average, the more senior a person is in an organization, the less familiar they are with AI. In the report, German CEOs were the worst offenders.
  • People see both themselves and their companies as unprepared to adopt AI. This was most pronounced in the UK.
  • Over half of those contacted either didn’t know or disagreed that AI would help them perform more efficiently.

But let’s think about this for a second, shall we?

The likelihood of a human being more efficient than a correctly programmed AI is close to nil.

See, with the right technology in place – and assuming we use it correctly – then important but time-consuming number-crunching becomes a thing of the past.

AI is more accurate. It’s more efficient.

Utilize it and suddenly you get more time to do stuff that actually requires a human being. High-level thinking tasks like acquiring new clients, onboarding them, upskilling in other areas and producing ludicrously good copy for ads.

Fix up, look sharp

The Headspring study is Euro-focused, but Americans don’t get off easily either. You’re just as bad as us: 70% of Americans expressed weariness or concern about a world where machines perform many of the tasks done by humans, according to Pew Research.

I say all this with love, and with genuine concern.

Because the victories of the impending future, which is coming whether we like it or not, will be had by those who embrace AI.

If you aren’t constantly on the lookout for software and technology platforms that can replace some of the work you’re doing, there is something gravely wrong. If you aren’t always looking for ways you can shave time off your task list by finding machines that can do things quicker, there’s a problem.

If you don’t seize these opportunities first, someone else will.

Assembling your stack

It’s easier than ever to build a technology stack. Big names in the blogosphere are very quick to post long lists of software and platforms for you to try. Here’s one from Neil Patel on marketing automation tools; here’s another from Hubspot (with their own software front and center, naturally). Offers, free trials, no long term contracts abound.

Quite frankly, there’s a dizzying array of platforms and software available to PPC managers. Now, I work for Adzooma, so of course, I’ll tell you they’re the best.

But this will illustrate a crucial point.

It’s your choice

Don’t trust anyone who tells you how to set up your technology stack. Any sensible “software as a service” will demo their features. For example, at Adzooma you can try the platform free. And you should be trying things out as often as possible.

While establishing a routine that works for you is great, there’s a great danger in sticking with what you know. Being comfortable. Following your toolset slavishly.

For those that don’t know: people who stick around with their banks and insurance companies get bad deals. By the same token, people who stay in the job and don’t switch firms every 2-3 years get paid worse.

We hate change; we fear it. But looking for change that benefits us works elsewhere, and it works with technology too.

Loyalty is meaningless. Always look for what works best for you. Try automation software. Whether it sucks or seems fantastic, check out their competition, too, and make your own decisions.

Marketing moves explosively fast and automation is moving even faster. Keep looking; never be satisfied. Make some time each month or quarter to review what you’re getting from your stack and if there are other opportunities knocking.

Hidden winners

With this mindset, you can suddenly become a lot more brutal about what you want from your stack. There are lots of tech startups vying for your attention in the PPC automation sector. There are subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their benefits, features and pricing.

I converted the best PPC manager I know to Adzooma because of its nifty automation tool. He liked the simple but powerful rule creator. He’s dabbled with the other features but, stubborn as a mule, he still uses his old faithful platform for little bits – and is still known for cracking out some horrifyingly complex JavaScript he swears he wrote himself.

It’s the right workflow for him. It could probably be more efficient, but he made a change for the better. The point is: try everything and see what works for you.

Another crucial thing to remember is that any sensible firm will be constantly developing their tool. At Adzooma, we created user communities where feedback is acted on rapidly. This means you have an opportunity to push for features you aren’t able to find elsewhere, or that you’re using in another tool and would prefer to have in one place.

I’ll put it plainly: I wouldn’t trust any software or platform that hasn’t created some kind of feedback portal. Automation moves so quickly that this lack of user focus is glaring and suggests trouble down the line.

Unending faith in human beings

Here’s some good news: most company bigshots trust human beings, not machines, to make the big decisions. Despite rampant fearmongering, that’s not going to change for decades.

And that’s great. Because that means that we can use automation software to supplement what we do.

There’s technology out there like Adzooma to make your workflow more efficient. We do it with reporting, one-click optimizations, and automation tools. The time you save with the platform can be used to stay smart, stay strategic and always think big picture.

But, remember, you’re always going to be in control of the key decisions. Do not fear change; capitalize on it.

This article contains the opinions of an Adzooma employee and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company.

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Three reasons PPC campaigns fail that nobody seems to care about /three-reasons-ppc-campaigns-fail-that-nobody-seems-to-care-about-319305 Tue, 16 Jul 2019 11:30:42 +0000 /?p=319305 Google “how to make your PPC ads convert better” and your search results will be littered with blog posts like this: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. It’s “quick and easy”. Use these “rapid growth hacks”. Here are some “tricks”. Here’s how to copy the best-converting PPC campaigns. And, honestly, I get it. I’m not criticizing […]

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Google “how to make your PPC ads convert better” and your search results will be littered with blog posts like this:

Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. It’s “quick and easy”. Use these “rapid growth hacks”. Here are some “tricks”. Here’s how to copy the best-converting PPC campaigns.

And, honestly, I get it. I’m not criticizing fellow writers for doing their jobs. These posts are great for SEO. Google wants you to put out quality content that answers people’s questions as quickly as possible. Writers are going to do that.

Perhaps these guides will help you, perhaps they won’t. But I’ll tell you this for free: they are selling you a dangerous lie.

Here’s the truth: optimizing your PPC campaigns is not easy. Sometimes it’s not even that quick!

But it’s incredibly powerful if you do it right.

“Be first, be smarter or cheat”

In the brilliant 2011 film Margin Call, bigshot investment banker John Tuld says: “There are three ways to make a living in this business; be first, be smarter or cheat.”

Copying your competitors is cheating. Following “ten tips” guides – even if you see some success – is cheating too. It could work – but it probably won’t work that well. And what if it doesn’t? What do you do next?

It’s why understanding and deploying what comes next is essential. There are no lies here: my way is harder, and it might take longer. But it’s smarter. It gives you the mindset you need for success.

Reason one: don’t follow the herd, be a wolf

I’ve been helping businesses run PPC campaigns for a long time. Generally, businesses are run by busy people who don’t have enough hours in the day. This time pressure forces them to rush. They scramble around looking for best practices to apply.

But here’s the problem: general best practices aren’t specific enough to your business.

See, what works for Shoe Salesman might not work for High High Heels. And “10 quick PPC ad hacks for any business” are unlikely to work well for either business.

It’s why free tools like the Adzooma Performance Score Report are much more valuable than generic lists. They look at data that’s specific to your business and provide actionable feedback.

But even when you’re armed with that information, you’ve still got to think strategically. You’ve got to think big picture.

Cut it down to this: what’s the key to success in marketing?

Know your audience. Understand what drives them.

Data, customer, act

So, how do you figure out what your audience wants? Ask them.

No, really.

One of the most successful PPC campaigns I ever ran came from some pretty banal data.

Picture this. My client was selling board games. They were spending tons of money on online advertising but it was performing poorly. When I dug into their data, I found something I didn’t expect.

Generally, people spend more money online on a Monday and it tails off as the week goes on. But for this client, the trend was even stronger. People were going into their working week and spending big early on Monday – especially the Monday after that month’s payday.

We spent money on an incentivized survey to analyze this.

Collating the responses, we found that people needed a “pick me up” at work. They wanted a game delivered for their game night which was typically Thursday, Friday or Saturday – hence the purchase on Monday.

To help make their purchasing decision, customers were also watching “how to play” videos of the board games they were interested in.

Here’s what we did:

  • Added “how to play” YouTube videos to our sales pages
  • Diverted a huge chunk of our budget to Monday mornings and afternoons
  • Reworked the copy of our ads to emphasise the “learn to play” video element

It was an explosive success that came from thinking strategically.

We used our data, we asked our customers, we acted.

Reason two: winning the battle and losing the war

Not enough people who run PPC advertising truly consider the customer journey. They pour over their data, they tweak a word here or there, they fiddle with audiences and budgets and timeframes.

They cheer at a 10% increase in conversion rates one week; they cry at a 10% decrease the next. They look for marginal gains to cost per click, cost per acquisition, etc.

They think tactically, not strategically. Short term, not long term. Win now, whatever later.

Sure, thinking strategically with PPC campaigns is not as easy, but it’s much more useful. And it’s much more likely to be successful.

Pathfinding and the customer journey

Let me show you: get a piece of paper and write “What’s the action I want my customer to take?”

Keep it somewhere close. It’s the golden rule for PPC.

Too many people answer this question with “click on my ad”. And, sorry, but that’s just plain wrong.

It’s actually best to start at the end.

Head to the page people will land on when they click your ad. Look for the action you want people to take. Is it signing up for a newsletter? Is it buying a dress? Is it signing up for a free trial of your software?

Now, work backwards from there. What are the steps your visitor must take before they can do what you want them to do?

Now you’re thinking strategically.

Seventeen steps to complete failure

One of the biggest impacts I ever had on a company came from using this “pathfinding” process. It came from seeing the bigger picture.

The client’s PPC campaigns were failing because they had thought tactically, not strategically.

Sure, I changed a few words in their ad copy and tweaked their target audience – but whoever had come before me had done a stellar job with that in the first place.

What was wrong? There were seventeen steps in the customer journey.


It took seventeen steps for a customer to go from clicking the ad to having their holiday booked.

That’s insane.  A thousand blessings to the few customers who endured that process!

Map out your customer journey. Go to Amazon or other ludicrously successful sites and map out their customer journeys. Check out your competitors, too.

The journey should be short and simple. Cut out anything unnecessary. Consider having more streamlined (and personalized) journeys for specific campaigns. One lander for this campaign, and another for that one.

You want scalpel-sharp focus with PPC. Always and forever.

Reason three: not testing your ad copy correctly

With your customer journey in mind, you can start to write better ad copy too.

See, overworked PPC managers often hunt through their company’s marketing materials to borrow text. They look at competitors. They hit up Google Trends.

But they don’t look at the lander. They don’t think about the customer journey.

A colleague of mine presented the team I work on with the following ad:

“Can you do better?” he asked.

We were worried. See, this was his “champion ad” and my colleague is extremely good at his job. The ad’s numbers were pretty damn good.

Well, we improved them. The “winning” ad from our alternate set is here:

Why’s it doing better?

Remember that golden rule above all else: focus on the action you want your customers to take.

See, this was a brand campaign. What are the goals for that? Here are three: build trust, reassure the user, get them to take an action.

Compare that with a “how to improve your online advertising” search. In that case, the searcher wants something educational. Consider how different the ad copy for that would be.

The new PPC ad and its landing page won because it built trust, reassured the user and led them to sign up for our free trial.

Of course, it’s harder than it sounds. There’s lots of text to play around with in a modern PPC ad. You’re tempted to write about the benefits of working with your company, the features of your products, etc.

Instead, think of it like this:

What’s the action you want them to take? What are the benefits to the user of taking that specific action?

Keep it tight, keep it focused and keep testing your message.

Read “quick and easy” how-to guides and mine them for ideas. But, please, never let them fool you into thinking that optimizing your PPC campaigns is quick and easy.

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