Over the years, I have seen so many horror stories when it comes to PPC Management. Whether it’s advertisers flying blind with their ad budgets or the common event of not knowing that their ads are being shown with irrelevant terms, there should always 100% transparency between the agency and the client. Furthermore, there needs to be more HONESTY on behalf of the PPC Agency. In this post, I will talk about a few areas of the Agency/Client Relationship that should be based on being honest with the client.
Educate the Advertiser:
Let’s face it, the PPC agency knows more about PPC Marketing than the client. However, that does not mean the client needs to be taken advantage of because they do not know how everything works. The person handling the client’s account needs to “in many ways” educate the client as to what is working, not working and where there are opportunities.
Everyone makes mistakes, right? Well, PPC Agencies should not try and hide them just because they can get away with it. Agencies should be forthcoming with admitting mistakes that were made and how efficiently and effectively they were fixed. It’s better to be honest with the client, than having them find out later that you lied to them. Ever heard of a Referral or a Testimonial?
Honest and Factual Reporting:
Over the years, I have seen so many poor examples of PPC Reporting where clients receive an excel spreadsheet of just Clicks, Impressions, CTR%, CPCs, etc… and not a single keyword or text ad or even a sentence on the performance of the account. In today’s world that is unacceptable. Moreover, I have also seen examples of trend charts being manipulated to disguise the true performance of a specific metric. Agencies have a responsibility to provide not only excellent service, but also honest and factual reporting.
PPC Marketing is not for everyone and for those who are spending money have this perception that the more they spend the better the results. That is completely FALSE. If an client/advertiser was given any sort of Guarantee from an agency, they should “run for the hills”. Guarantees in PPC Marketing are very dangerous for both parties because they create false expectations. An agency must be honest and upfront with the client when it comes to setting expectations both on performance and future success. The agency must have a clear understanding of the client’s:
- Cost per Conversions/Acquisition
- Targeted Audience
- Messaging Tactics
- Daily and Monthly Budgets
Honesty is always the best policy in PPC. Agencies have a responsibility to not only provide excellent service, but also be honest and forthcoming with the client. I have heard countless stories of poor PPC Management, including the topics I mentioned in this post. Some may say that is good for the industry because it creates more “turnover” and more opportunities for other agencies. However, for this PPC Geek, I believe in Happy Clients.
Like anything, mastering the fundamentals of pay-per-click account management requires both practice and perseverance. Today’s #Ham4PPC comprises nine lessons I’ve learned from my years as a PPC professional.
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As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a part both the Startup and Digital Agency World, it pains me to witness the many recurring mistakes that are happening by bringing these two worlds together. The Agency wants the business and the Startup wants the best and smartest people to “grow their baby”. It all sounds like a “no-brainer’ right? Well, this perfect situation can sometimes be clouded by one of the most bastardized words in the client-agency relationship – Expectations. In this post, I will highlight some of the misconceptions that could, at the very least, help the next Startup as they prepare to show their product/service to the world.
How to Play the Digital Agency Game:
Don’t get me wrong. There are many highly reputable Marketing Agencies in the world that do not fit this description. On the other hand, there are some other Agencies that work on a different playing field that is not financially supportive of Startups. Most agencies take a 15% commission of Ad Spend regardless of performance or the companies financial situation. These agencies often provide a “Production Line” level level of service that question the actual time spend which leads to the overall client performance. Beware of agencies that promise GOLD and deliver pennies.
What Startups really need from an Agency:
- 100% transparency of where and how their money is being spent.
- Daily Direct communication with the Strategist/Marketer.
- Less than 24 hour turn-around times for typical updates.
- Level of ongoing Education on how the digital advertising world works.
Big Agency Regurgitation
I have witnessed many horror stories over the years from prospects/clients from either a performance or client relationship with a previous agency. The one thing that all of them had in common was the lack of achievable expectations. Situations such as poor communication, lackluster performance and just an overall bad experience have not only left a bitter taste in their mouth but also question the entire agency experience. Moreover, this feeling of being “burned” has motivated their thinking to bring the marketing “in-house” as the only alternative to reaching success. This is not a good thing….
As a big fan of conferences, they often open your eyes to a whole new world of innovation, prosperity and vision for business owners and that’s a great thing. However, it can sometimes backfire to the point of confusion and anxiety of what to focus on first. It is very easy for Entrepreneurs to get “over-excited” about the latest bells and whistles in software, automation and analytics. They are told that once they have these tools in their toolbox, they can turn their business into a fortune 100 company instantly.
Unfortunately, a reality check is needed to bring everyone down from this “high” and re-focus on the core issue at hand which is identifying, engaging and converting with their core audiences within a sensible budget. Remember, investing in Shiny Objects make you vulnerable, not successful.
The Misunderstanding of Monetization
In some instances, both advertisers and agencies, often forget to track every interaction point and that little oversight can be an unfortunate mistake. This assumed “low-hanging” fruit for tracking things other than traditional eCommerce/Lead Gen Forms such as (below) can completely skew overall performance and future optimization which could be devastating to startups as they hunger for continual growth.
- Contact Forms
- Email Newsletter Signups
- Live Chats
- Phone Calls
- Pageviews of a particular page can lead to
Mistrust of the Case Study
Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:
- Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
- Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
- Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that)
Don’t Bet the Farm
I can understand the anxieties of Startups where they want to launch their business with a big bang. However, spending too much too fast (especially in the PPC marketing world) can completely ruin their chances for steady sustainable growth. It’s imperative to start testing “right out of the gate” as well as identifying the quick wins and losses. Moreover, you will need to develop strategies to generate relevent traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth”. To prove this theory, just a take a look at these screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.
Outside Opinion Overload
Yes, it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when launching a new company. However, getting advice from people who think they know certain aspects of online marketing because they read an article or attended a conference, can be a slippery slope. Taking advice and/or criticism from someone “on the outside” that completely contradicts the vision of both your business partners and hired experts can be harmful to the business. This 3rd party opinion is often made without any understanding of what it takes to implement as well as its expected outcome. Whether it’s strategies about Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers can have a negative effect on revenue if not discussed by everyone on the team.
Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get, discuss with your team and agree to label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyze the heck out of them.
Forecast Projection Failures
How many times have you seen someone simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000 we will generate an additional $ 1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic.
- Take in account the following scenarios:
- Market Saturation Levels
- Seasonality Highs/Lows
- Potential Technical issues
- Search Engine Algorithm changes
- Increased Competitor landscape
“Off the Mark” Target Audiences
Hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they over-spent their PPC dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires more than just a few hours of typical market research. When it comes to online marketing, either hire a PPC Consultant or purchase PPC Competitive Research Software such as SpyFu.com to see some of these invaluable competitor information:
- Monthly Budget Trends
- PPC and SEO Keywords
- Top Text Ads
- Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
- Review monthly and seasonality trends
- Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.
Here’s an example:
Whether you are building a Startup company or growing an existing one, the agency experience should be a positive one. However, dealing with the “dog eat dog” agency world when it comes to trust, expectations and continual growth is unfortunate and should never happen. I hope this blog post, at the very least, has provided some insight into preventing these situations as well as learning from them. Finding the right agency partner is just as important as finding the right target audience.
Hero Academy is a new video series by Hanapin Marketing that offers short and basic how-tos for marketers that are new to paid media, looking to expand into new platforms like Quora, or need tutorials for learning and implementing new features in advertising. While many of the videos feature our own Hanapin team, we also […]
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New jobs have been posted to PPC Hero’s Job Board, including new positions open at Hanapin Marketing, JEMSU, and Online Optimism. Here’s a brief look at some of the positions available: Online OptimismNew Orleans, LARole: Digital Ads Strategist (SEM/PPC) Online Optimism’s Advertising Department is growing, and we’re looking to add a Digital Ads Strategist to our other two full-time SEM/digital […]
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If you’re brand new to digital marketing, you’ll likely hear the term CRO. It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital marketer working at an agency, member of an executive team working at a SaaS company, or marketing team member at an e-commerce company, you may hear this term and need to know what it is.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Hero Academy offers short, entry-level how-to training videos for marketers new to paid media at no cost. Perfect for an employee that just started working at your digital marketing agency.
Read more at PPCHero.com
As Marketers our job is to not only interpret analytics data, but to also provide a summary of the performance and apply recommendations for future strategies, forecasting and on-going testing. However, this standard metric of decoding is not enough and we need to find a better way to communicate successes and failures that the client can understand. That is why storytelling is just as important now than it was when we are in Kindergarten when the teacher read us a story in a circle.
In this post, I will highlight the importance of storytelling with the client which not only helps the client understand, but also reinforces the client-agency relationship.
Storytelling is also a Science
As marketers, early on we are classically trained to become proficient in Excel, Powerpoint and (my personal favorite) writing on whiteboards so that we can be perceived as smartest one in the room. These elements of communication comprise of bullet points, summarizations, goals and objectives, sales vs. cost projections, etc… On the contrary, we are most likely doing it all wrong. There have been many studies and published articles that debunk this MBA/classroom method and reinforce the one of oldest and most fundamental communication methods.
In an very “eye-opening” article by Lifehacker.com published back in 2012 entitled “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains“, author Leo Widrich states “It’s in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens. When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.“ So in essence, telling stories not only puts our entire brain to work it also allows the storyteller to put ideas and thoughts into the listeners brain as well.
Complexities of Storytelling
For most clients, they do not care too much about CTR%, AVG positions, bounce rates, etc… they want to know what is causing their cash register to ring below are some of the common questions they are mostly concerned about:
- What’s working and why?
- Whats not working and why?
- Why are sales down this month as compared to last month?
- How can we generate more sales without increasing the budget, etc…
Because of this difference in understanding success metrics, marketers need to take all of the Analytics data (which are considered very complex by clients) and transform them into a story/language that they can understand. For example, lets suppose that the client saw a 50% increase in sales coming from their “Brand Terms” in Adwords as compared to the previous month. Instead of just providing them with increased performance metrics such as CTR%, Conversion rates, etc.., marketers need to do a little digging around and form a story that they can understand.
A story would be something like:
“Well, since we added more generalized “non-branded” terms as well as your interview on the local TV station, a larger audience of people who were not familiar with your brand before, typed your brand into Google and clicked on the PPC Text Ads. ” It is this type of success story that can create that “light bulb” in the heads of the client to ensure them that they are prospering their investment in you or your agency.”
Leveraging Web Analytics Data to Feed the Story
Just looking at common performance data is simply not enough to tell a story. Marketers need to look at various layers of data to comprise a story that can makes sense to the client. Identifying these interesting and important metrics such as hour of day, day of the week. GEO by state, metro area, city, direct/bookmark, conversion funnels, etc… These are examples of the metrics, combined with overall performance data is what makes up the holistic story that the client needs to hear. Moreover, these stories often lead to future optimization strategies and testing which is great for the client-agency relationship.
Trying to explain all of the intricate metrics and what they mean to a client is hard enough. But simplifying the data and creating a story around it, even as an “ice-breaker” at the beginning of the conversation, helps the client feel like they made the right choice in hiring you. The one thing we need to remember is that a story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect and that is what clients need to understand.
Have you ever heard this joke before? A Financial Planner and PPC Marketer walk into a bar… Probably not. However, the strategy that they would advise their clients on would be quite similar. If there was (1) one piece of advice I would give Startups (especially Early Stage), it would be diversification… and a lot of it. Startups typically have very limited advertising budgets so they have to account for every penny they spend. In this article, I will explain the reasons for this diversification as well as how best to execute them on a limited budget.
Setting Realistic Expectations:
As one of the most “bastardized” words in agency world, it’s imperative to keep everyone’s hopes and dreams in check with regard to the online marketplace. Attending conferences, reading case studies and talking with other business owners is not only a great idea, it’s encouraged. however, it can also “set off” false expectations that could be devastating to the overall goals and objectives. I have advised clients (both past and present) to NEVER trust Google with their campaigns, keywords and budgets because they don’t care about growing your business, they just want your money. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, your instincts are correct!
Separation of Brand vs. Non-Brand:
It’s simple math. It costs more money to reach consumers who DO NOT already know your brand. Over time, the brand takes “all of the credit” because that is how everyone searches for you. But, here’s the catch. Getting to that phase in consumer behavior can be difficult to achieve, especially on the wallet. Here are a couple strategies that can not only help the wallet, but also the align the expectations.
- Leverage Google Display, Mobile and YouTube Video networks
- Low cost ($ 0.10 – $ 1.00 CPC/CPV).
- More continuous visibility.
- Expectations are set to branding only.
- Utilize micro-targeting of Social media for specific audience testing
- Target specific audience segments within a short period of time.
- High volume allows for multi-variate ad testing.
- Conversion tracking pixels allow for full analytics reporting.
Monetize Everything Under the Sun
This may sound like a “no-brainer” to some of you, but startups tend to forget that measuring success is more than just placing an order or a form submission. Often, little things like email signups, chat sessions and phone calls eventually lead to “real” conversions later on in the buying cycle. It’s important for everyone involved to consider these little conversions in the overall big picture. In some instances, these interactions act as a barometer when something is wrong or unclear and can help improve usability within the website experience.
Startups are faced with tough decisions when it comes to advertising due to their limited Ad budgets. They also cannot afford to, “bet the farm” on something that they heard at a conference or read in a case study. In 2016, consumers are everywhere (Google Search, Facebook Ads. YouTube. Twitter Ads, etc…) and startups need to leverage all of the platforms to maximize their exposure. They also need to understand that certain ad platforms serve different purposes as well as perform better than others.
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