Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, February 13, 2009

5 Ways To Be A Good PPC Client

These are crazy economic times, and businesses are rightly watching every penny of expenses. In a recession, advertising and marketing are often the first expenses to be cut - often at their own peril. When times are tough, you need advertising all the more - you can't afford to let even one potential customer slip away to the competition.

If you're using an SEM agency to manage your PPC, here are 5 suggestions based on my experience managing client accounts.

1. Take the time to educate your account manager on your business. Before you launch a campaign, spend 30 minutes on the phone talking about current and past marketing efforts, product / service lines, customer profiles, competitors, and anything else that's important to you. (If you've been working with an agency for a while and haven't done this, that's ok - spend 30 minutes this week and do it now.) This overview will be very helpful to your account manager in choosing what keywords to bid on, what type of targeting (demographic, geographic, etc.) to use, and what ad copy to test.

2. Speaking of ad testing: Work with your account manager to develop an aggressive ad testing plan. This could include simple copy testing, offer testing, and/or landing page testing, among other things. Get creative with special offers - the beauty of PPC is that you can run a test for a very short period of time and get a lot of great data. You may find that lowering your price by 25% leads to a 100% increase in conversions - meaning more total revenue for you.

3. Make sure your account manager sets aside a portion of your PPC budget to bid on branded terms. At least once a week I read an article or hear a comment saying that it's a waste of money to bid on your own name: you most likely rank #1 organically, and people searching on branded terms are looking for you anyway and will be motivated to find you, so you shouldn't pay for them to come to your site. While it's true that you should rank #1 and that a branded searcher is a motivated searcher, you should still bid on your brand. Why? (1) Your competition is probably bidding on your brand. If your ad isn't on the page, you risk losing that click to them. (2) You can't control the verbiage in your organic listing. OK, you can write a great meta description and on-page copy, but can you test offers and landing pages in organic? No. With PPC, you have total control over your ad message and your landing page - meaning you can not only outrank the competition in PPC, but you can put a compelling marketing message in your ad and send the visitor to a dedicated landing page that's optimized for maximum conversion - and that boils down to great ROI. (3) Having both a PPC and organic presence greatly increases clicks to your website. We recently had a client whose PPC campaigns consisted primarily of branded terms. Due to temporary budget constraints, they paused their PPC for a month. Well, not only did they lose all the conversions from PPC, but their organic and direct-referral conversions also dropped by 30%. For this client, PPC only represents about 15% of their traffic. So, by stopping PPC, conversions from 85% of their traffic fell by 30% - including conversions from branded phrases. The end result? A net loss of far more conversions than just PPC. Needless to say, they didn't hesitate to restart their branded campaigns.

4. Take the time to read your monthly reports. If your agency is any good, your account manager has spent a lot of time and brain power creating your reports. Not only do the reports contain campaign performance data, but they (should) contain recommendations for improvement. Read them. And engage your account manager in a conversation to discuss them. Clients who don't implement their agency's recommendations often see less-than-stellar results - and then blame the agency. But whose fault is that, really?

5. Tell your account manager when you make changes to your website. Yes, your account rep should keep tabs on your site anyway. But they can't watch it every second. If you're running an offer in PPC and you remove it from your landing page, you've created a disconnect between your ad and your offer. Would you run a newspaper ad promoting a product that's nowhere to be found in your store? Of course you wouldn't - so don't do that with your PPC ads.

This list really boils down to communication. Don't worry about "bothering" your account rep with too much information. Much of this communication can be done via email - a few minutes sending an email can save hours of aggravation (and sub-optimal performance) down the road. Taking the time to keep your PPC account manager in the loop will pay big dividends in ROI from your campaigns.



  • Agreed, across the board. I wrote a post on this a couple of weeks ago at, but I think yours is much better.

    Thanks for the thoughts...

    By Blogger B. Llewellyn Shepard, at 11:05 AM EST  

  • Thanks for reading, Llewellyn!

    Incidentally, Marketing Sherpa just released an article on getting good ROI from branded PPC. It's worth a read.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 1:34 PM EST  

  • This is great, communication so important and this post really brings that fact home.

    Although your agency is the expert don't be afraid to share your ideas with them, you know your business better than anyone. Your agency will be able to help you develop those ideas into fruitful marketing campaigns.

    By Blogger LE_BayshoreBlogger, at 3:39 PM EST  

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