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Welcome back to our two-part series on pay-per-click with our guest, Lillie Beiting of CribMaster. In Part One, we went over a bird’s-eye view of what is going on in PPC. Today, we’re going to further investigate some best practices to consider if you’re going to implement a PPC campaign.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
If a company wants to jump into PPC, their goals will vary depending on what they want to accomplish; there are a lot of different ways to go. As mentioned in Part One, PPC plans from a retail perspective are going to be very different from a basic brand awareness campaign, which will differ from a campaign driving towards one specific landing page, which will differ from the goals of a traditional campaign.
“There are so many different ways you can go. So what I really start with is identifying what you want.”
Planning really works best if you segment everything out and understand what you’re going after. That’s why so much of pay-per-click, depending on which medium you’re using, is set up at a campaign level: so you can do different campaigns. So first of all, figure out what’s important to you; figure out what’s important to your brand; figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to get more just clicks to the website? Are you trying to get more people to sign up for your newsletter or podcast?
When it comes to B2B, your goals generally involve nurturing people, and getting them to respond and engage with you, and understanding how your products fit them.
Keep that in the back of your mind, but also be open to what the rest of the market has to say; and that changes every single day. This is because pay-per-click, for the most part, is bid-based. It’s an auction, much like eBay or Wall Street, so it’s subject to what else is going on in the market.
2. CHOOSE YOUR WEAPONS
There are a lot of different analytics and research and predictive programs you can use to help you handle the fluctuations in the market, depending on your needs. Google is a great place to start, because they have a lot of free predictive tools. If you’re in AdWords, they have Keyword Planner. Just don’t forget to take all of those suggestions with a grain of salt. Google has a lot of neural network capabilities, but it’s still a computer. What it may suggest might not make sense to you necessarily: so try to use common sense in your decisions, too.
“Unfortunately, you can’t purchase [common sense] these days.”
And as Google and Facebook and Youtube all try to force people over to pay-per-click, Moz and Conductor Searchlight are great places to start with SEO and keywords. They’re not actually pay-per-click, per se, but they’re a great tool for measuring analytics and keyword strength.
Of those options, Moz is free and very helpful; but if you’re willing to put in the funds, Conductor is worth the money when it comes to investigating what your competitors are doing in the marketplace.
In the B2B space, too, knowing what your competitor is doing – or not doing – is very important.
And a lot of times with B2B digital marketing, especially in the industrial space, there’s a lot of work still to be done. But if you are cognizant of these things, you can get an advantage in the market advantage. So know what your competition is not doing, so that you can get there first.
“And again, everyone is sort of their own little chemistry set when it comes to digital marketing, so what might not be working for them might work for great you… Really good digital marketing is semi-scientific. It’s kind of a mixture of a science and an art. It’s really like hard statistical analysis, if you’re doing it right.”
So keep looking for strong numbers to back up what you’re doing. Plan well; create an educated hypothesis for your every move; but be willing to change when the market does.
3. RESEARCH THE MARKET
Now, not every marketing department’s going to be able to or willing to research the market and its fluctuations. In that case, their next option is agency.
“My thought on doing it in-house is this: if you’re the kind of person who can read a book and then properly wire an entire house up to electrical code, do it in-house.”
In several years of experience all over the US and Canada, Lillie can only recall one person who she considered would be more than capable of in-house research… and he had two master’s degrees, one of which was in statistics. That’s not to say those people don’t exist in your company; they certainly can. But hiring out isn’t going to be the end of the world, whether you want an agency or an individual to join your full-time staff.
If you want to hire internal staff for the job, there are a lot of great PPC gurus out there. And since PPC is an internet-based platform, it’s easy to keep in touch with them and remain apprised of new changes in the market.
“If you’re going the agency route, which is also a perfectly valid and healthy way to go, work with somebody who is collaborative; and if they make stuff sound really easy, I’d be extremely leery… I mean, you could really teach a whole graduate-level course on this. It’s that much detail.
So, I would say, work with somebody who doesn’t give you the, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ve got this, it’s fine,’ because that’s concerning. [Choose someone who] is very collaborative in their approach, hears you out, hears what your goals are, and also calls you on some of your BS, too.”
A good pay-per-click manager is willing to face you and say, “I know you said this was really important to you, and we’ve wasted thousands of dollars trying to follow it, but it’s not working. It’s not converting. Can we try pursuing this sort of campaign that does seem to deliver?” You don’t want the ‘Yes Man.’
Don’t badger somebody into being an order-taker; you hired them to be an expert in an extremely nuanced field because, theoretically, they know more than you.
Of course, you should still hold your agency accountable. If you do work with an agency, see if they’ll give you access to the platforms that they’re using so you can take a look. You don’t have to be an expert to look into PPC, and it will cost you nothing to gain some insight into the KPIs and gain a level of literacy with those programs.
“There are so many free webinars you can attend, and a lot of very big agencies will run webinars too. One of the best resources I’ve ever encountered is ThinkWithGoogle.com. It’s a Google property, and they have so much information… they have these amazing case studies in there… that’s a really great place to start.”
As you learn to read the data that’s coming in, it will give you a generalized overview of how your company is doing. Your agency can also help translate this, of course, but as you learn how to read that data, you will better learn how to respond to it and ‘diagnose’ the next steps for your marketing team.
Data is a symptom – not a cause – of the changing market, so treat it as such, and use it to figure out what’s happening.
So, to recap…
Before you get started on pay-per-click campaigns, step back and identify what you’re hoping to accomplish with it – be it brand awareness, clicks on a specific landing page, email subscribers, and nurtured leads that will eventually become sales. Once you’ve laid down that map for yourself, there are many useful tools that can help you identify current campaign trends, as well as what your competition may be up to (or lacking). Just remember to keep an eye on those numbers as they fluctuate. Try to gain some literacy with the analytics coming in to your campaigns… but be open to listening to experts who may be able to tell you more about the intricacies of the market.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get each of our weekly episodes sent directly to your inbox; or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes so you can listen on the go! If there’s a particular topic that you’d like for us to talk about, or if you have a particular a challenge that you’d like us to take a crack at, send us an email. We’d be happy to answer them for you.