Have you ever wondered what goes into PPC management? If only you could spend a day in the life of a PPC manager. Well, lucky for you, I’m going to give you a first-person account of not only one day, but 5 days.
Either you’re looking into it for yourself or you already are one, and are just curious what I do differently. Well, today, I’m going to walk you through the joys and challenges of being a PPC Manager.
For the sake of sparing every detail of my day (no one cares how many times I used the restroom), I’m going to map out some of the mundane consistencies I go through–so we can focus on the major action items of the 5 days I recorded my activities. Trust me, a lot can happen in just 5 days without those details.
Morning – Monday morning is always the most packed for me as this is when I send out my weekly update for the performance of the 7 days prior. It’s also a very important day, because it is how I show the value and continuous efforts that I’m providing as their PPC manager. In some ways, it’s kind of like a weekly sales pitch on why you and your service are worth it to your clients’ business (if you’re tracking metrics properly and doing good work, the results should speak for themselves).
What do I put in my reports? It differs from client to client as the nature of their business (eCommerce vs. Lead Gen) differ, but some things stay consistent. I view my reporting in 4 steps:
✔ What was done to improve the account — Negative keyword mining, bid management, keyword expansion, landing page optimization, etc.
✔ Wins and Losses — Hopefully, you have more of the first than the second, but you can quickly outline both of these aspects through the Reports tab. One of the most common uses of the Reports tab is to show the rising competition in the account. For those of you who do not know how to utilize this tool, I’ll show you now.
For this example, since I want to demonstrate the rising CPC in the account, I used a line graph.
✔ Explain The Losses But Follow Up With Improvement Ideas — I explain the cause and what we can do to improve from learnings. One of the most important things in the reports is to touch on the bad things and how you can improve as clients will eventually see the poor performance. It’s always best to be the bearer of bad news who’s also proactively finding a solution.
✔ What I’ll Be Doing in the Upcoming Week to Improve the Account — Some of these will be repeating from what you did last week, but there should always be some unique improvements that you can do. For experienced PPC Managers, there’s a plethora of optimizations you can make (Audience building in Analytics, RLSA, etc.)
Afternoon – After grabbing a sweet Chic-Fil-A Cobb salad — trying to be healthy in 2018 as I’m 6’7, so I need to keep my heart healthy if I want to live past 50 — I dive into my main task for that afternoon, which is building out new Facebook campaigns for a new client I just recieved.
When diving into their account, there were a couple key things right out the gate that I could see to improve with our new campaigns.
First, they were an ecommerce business that was only going after mobile traffic. Unless you have the most killer mobile checkout process (see Wompmobile.com for killer ecommerce mobile pages), desktop is typically the highest converting device medium for purchasing items online. So, I duplicated each mobile campaign and changed the setting from “Mobile Only” to “Desktop Only”.
Side Note: As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to split your campaigns up by device and platform to have the greatest grasp on how to better performance.
Second, they were using (2%) lookalike audiences which were driving up CPA. When deciding where to spend budget first on Facebook, the chart should look like this in ascending order.
Lookalike (2%) w/ Lookalike (1%) excluded
Lookalike (3%) With Lookalike (1&2%) excluded
So, naturally I went in and created ad sets that followed the image above. The results were great, achieving a 400% increase in volume.
Lastly, I noticed that we had some landing page optimization that needed to be done. The typical CRO help: CTA clearly defined above the fold, better layout clearly explaining what was in the product and its benefits, and mobile optimized. Being mobile optimized is especially important when you’re pushing an ecommerce product as Facebook can drive a ton of high quality traffic to your page, but it’s then up to you to convert the user once they’re there.
Thus, completed my Monday workday. I proceeded to go home, workout, eat, and binge watch my new favorite show…Frontier (must watch!).
Another Morning – Tuesday was quite the busy day for me. Starting at 9:30 a.m., I had a meeting with a client to discuss another way that they could generate leads. Up unto this meeting, we were running primarily AdWords, going after bottom of the funnel traffic looking for this client’s service.
The issue that they were running into was the visitors filling out their contact info. on the landing page were not a high quality group of leads and, therefore, they were seeing lead opportunities decline. I knew they had a product that could service enterprise level companies as they had worked with some in the past.
So, I called a meeting to discuss ABM (Account Based Marketing). For those of you who are not familiar with ABM, it’s a relatively new type of strategy in which you use your advertising dollars and other marketing efforts to focus on specific companies for whom you would like to sell. Instead of having a one-to-all marketing strategy, you have a one-to-one strategy. Some of the benefits of ABM include: clear ROI, reduced resource waste, delivering personal and highly targeted messages, sales alignment, a bajillion more after.
A quick note about ABM, if you’re intrigued, it typically works best for companies who are targeting enterprise (1,000+ employees) level companies.
If you want to know more about ABM, and some of the strategies and tools that I use to make this effective, please comment at the end of this post and I’ll write another blog dedicated to ABM. It would be too much for this post and not our focus for today.
After that hour and a half long client meeting, I dove straight into a QBR (quarterly business review) with another company to review our performance over the past 3 months. Presenting this to each client is extremely helpful as it shows the client that you have one eye on the past, knowing what happened (wins, losses, overall performance) and one eye looking towards the future.
For this particular client, they had tons of customer data in their HubSpot account as they had been killing it on AdWords for their particular service. My suggestion for expanding was focused on upping our budget on Facebook as we were relatively tapped out on our AdWords bottom of the funnel quality traffic.
Quick side note: there’s always going to be a limit on the bottom of the funnel traffic that you can obtain from people actually looking for your product or service. This doesn’t mean that it’s the end of what you can do with AdWords as you can go after more general top of funnel keywords and boost a cold offer like an eBook or percentage off campaign for e-commerce.
But for this particular client who had a ton of user data, I believed Facebook was the clear option due to Facebook’s ability to do lookalike audiences. Also, since they were a software company, expanding to Capterra, was also a no brainer.
Afternoon – Around 2 o’clock i received an email from a client that was letting me know the CPA was too high for them to continue and be profitable (currently 100% AdWords). So, what are the first steps to take when you need to lower your CPA? Let me walk you through my process for AdWords:
⇥ Step 1 – Identify what the goal CPA for the account is. This will be your north star when monitoring CPA and ultimately success for your client.
⇥ Step 2 – Go into your AdWords account and click on the “Keywords” tab.
⇥Step 3 – Filter only the keywords that are above the CPA threshold.
⇥Step 4 – With newly found high CPA keywords, to lower CPA quickly, you can mass lower bids.
⇥Step 5 – After lowering bids to get the immediate upper hand on high CPA keywords, you must remember that almost all keywords (if you have the right negatives) can be high performing. So, I went back on my high CPA keywords, selected all and viewed search terms like so:
Pro tip on how you can speed up the negative keyword mining process for larger accounts: use the script called N-Gram. Find out more information here.
Morning – After finishing responses to my morning emails, I had to jump on a post kickoff call with a new client. I had just received them the week prior and wanted to go over the progression of our new campaigns vs their legacy campaigns. So, what did I want to go over? Obviously, the key metrics, comparing the difference in clicks, conversions, cost / conv., and cost.
On a follow up call like this, it’s always helpful for the client to know what was done to improve the account, as they don’t want to feel ignorant. How did our campaigns achieve a conversion rate of 26% when theirs only did 15%? What did they do wrong, or right?
The main reason being, of course, our infamous SKAG campaign structure that gives us the ultimate visibility into keyword performance and bid management. Click the link above for more information–but in its basic form, a single keyword ad group is an ad group with the same keyword in exact, phrase, and broad modified match types. So, if your ad group is “Best PPC Agencies,” your keywords would be: [best ppc agenices], “best ppc agencies”, and +best +ppc +agencies.
Taking the time to screenshare your account and walk your client through the work you have done while showing results, gives the client the ultimate sense of security and comfort in the work they’re paying you to do. Though sometimes, it feels like a waste of your time, I’ve learned that keeping in constant contact with your client does wonders for their happiness and your personal retention rate.
Afternoon – Wednesday afternoon was focused on an account that I love to work on. Why? No limit to their budget, and unlimited testing (as long as we stay within a certain CPA).
I’m going to explain one of my newest strategies that I’ve found quite effective when trying to expand conversion volume while still staying within a delegated CPA. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Target and Bid RLSA. Quickly, Target and Bid RLSA is a type of search remarketing that allows you the ability to bid on keywords for people who are searching, but have already been to your landing page previously. You can find this option under the Audiences tab like so:
What’s so cool about this option? Well, since they have already been to your page, you know 1) they know who you are; 2) they know, to some degree, what you offer; and 3) based on certain audience builds (e.g. session duration > 30 sec), you know how interested that potential visitor was. So, what does this mean for your Target and Bid campaign? It means I’m more free to bid on broader, less relevant keywords that I typically would not advertise for–but because of reasons 1-3 above, I’ll go for.
Here’s an example. I had a client that was all about algorithmic investing, which is a niche within the day trade investing market. Most of my keywords were centered around the specific niche combined with trading like: “algorithmic trading” or “day trading.” But in my Target and Bid campaign, since I know they have been to my page, I’m willing to go after keywords like “trading”, “invest”, and “algorithm” — words that by themselves, in a typical campaign, would bring in 95% junk. But in this case, may bring back interested customers.
Morning – Thursday morning, I jumped on a call to review lead quality with one of my clients. One thing that I’ve learned, working in PPC for a while now, is AdWords conversions mean nothing to clients if they’re not seeing it relate to an increase in sales. What you see in AdWords interface are basically vanity metrics until you compare them with your clients and match up lead quality. If you’re not tracking keyword performance for your clients, my suggestion would be to immediately stop what you’re doing and add URL parameters to your account. How do you do this?
On its simplest level, you can add UTM’s to your URL options page of AdWords. See below:
Enter your UTM’s and click “Yes” for Auto-tagging to add these parameters to every ad.
The issue with this method is that the UTM’s are static, so you cannot track on the keyword level. That’s why we use hidden fields on our landing pages and use GA tracking parameters to dynamically insert important fields from our AdWords campaign into our Unbounce pages. Here are the parameters we use:
Once you have this implemented, you can have logical conversations with your client about what keywords are seeing the best performance on your end. The main reason you want to discuss this is because of the issue that arose during this morning client call, the converting keywords did not match up with sales dollars on their end.
What we found was that even though 50% of the campaign was converting lower with a much higher CPA, they were leading to more opportunities and, eventually, higher sales dollars. The other 50% of high converting keywords were junk leads and led to 0 sales. If we did not have this information, we would assume all campaigns were doing well — since they were making money and wouldn’t of had the knowledge to cut off the 50% and spend it on better keywords. So, please, track your keyword->lead->lead quality with your client to make sure you’re making the best use of your advertising spend.
Afternoon – This afternoon was dedicated to a new client onboarding. They were a rather large company in the tech industry whose largest problem was ROAS — since they also had even bigger boys competing with them on almost every aspect of their campaign, making it hard to pull the profit they needed.
This caused an interesting thought as, even if we fully optimized their AdWords campaign, their CPC’s were so high even a 50% conversion rate would make it hard for them to hit the profit point they needed to be at. So, the advertising strategy must change or mold into something different.
I reviewed who their target market was and noticed that even though they were 90% business to consumer, they did have the ability to market to the B2B space, which is also much more lucrative per deal. Through reviewing together who we could potentially go after using social platforms (SMB all the way to enterprise level businesses), we mapped out a new plan of action to maximize revenue per spend, the ultimate goal of any advertising campaign… duh.
Morning – every Friday morning, we have a full account manager PPC team that’s headed up by the one and only Joel Neudstadter, our Director of PPC. In these meetings, we go over some of the changes, improvements, and overall happenings of our team. It’s a good time for all of us to sync up, share some of the things that are going on in our account, and if needed, ask for advice.
Just as a fun example, in our last meeting, I had an account that was on 🔥 and not in the good way. I feel like I had looked at the account so many times and could not visualize my next pivot to improve the account. That’s where bringing it up and having an extra set of eyes was extremely helpful.
They pointed out some clear wins — Target and Bid RLSA going after more general keywords, full broad match type campaigns of long tail keywords with low bids, and a few others. From this meeting, I had actionable next steps to take towards saving the account and client — showing that teamwork is an invaluable asset in the life of a PPC manager.
From this meeting, I jump into reviewing my tasks for the week to make sure 1) I finished everything I needed to get done that week and 2) if i missed anything, to dive in and complete it before the weekend comes. Too many times, I’ve promised to get things done by a certain date for clients and then come Monday morning, I see the dreaded email of a disgruntled client who saw I did not complete what I said I would. So, life lesson for Spencer, if you promise to do something, DO IT!
Afternoon – The conversation that I had Friday afternoon is one of the most difficult conversations that a PPC Manager can have and should be talked about on the front end, starting with sales but then reviewed many times by the account manager. That’s the question of expectations.
When talking with the client during our weekly meeting, one of the questions I like to ask is their thoughts on the success of our campaigns and their overall happiness. With this particular client, I had not done the best job of reviewing our goals and where we’re performing in relation to them. Come to find out, they were not happy because they had expected better, faster results. Problem I had was when I looked at the goals that were set, we were totally on track.
It was a valuable lesson to learn–but part of (arguably, the most important part of) my job is to keep the client informed on what we agreed to in terms of performance and performance timeline. Without this, being done properly, even if you do amazing work, you can find yourself on the other side of a termination of service email (worst email possible).
Wrap Up on My 5 Days
I hope you have enjoyed looking in through a microscope of the fun life of a PPC manager. Sometimes, you’ll have glorious days where everything seems to be working the way it should and some days you’re a literal digital firefighter. How do you make your career primarily made of golden days? Continually be refining your skills, being a student of the industry. Technology is always changing and our industry is always developing. If you can adapt with it, you’ll succeed.
I’d love to hear from my readers about what their day-to-day struggles are with PPC/CRO, and how they’ve overcome some of these hurdles. Leave me any comments below.