I’ve come to the conclusion that search marketing makes you super smart when you use it to its full potential. Obviously, one doesn’t get smart by being lazy, complacent or having campaigns run on autopilot.
PPC smarts come from rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty with data, analysis, and data-driven decisions. In this article, I’ll cover several ways in which PPC can make you super smart.
1. Use PPC To Make Tough Strategic Decisions
Paid traffic ain’t free! So, it’s important to bark up good trees and to steer clear of trees that bear bad fruit. Let’s say your company sells a product to both B2B and B2C consumers. In your PPC account, you see that B2B margins/sales figures are much higher than B2C in terms of margins despite fewer sales and a much longer sales cycle. You explore further and notice the same is true in offline sales generated by your company. The PPC insight may help guide strategy more to the B2B side of the equation.
If you didn’t rely on PPC for leads, you might have missed this insight. When a lot of your traffic is “free” (SEO/inbound) or hard to attribute (word-of-mouth, brand, etc.), you don’t feel acute pain when you target the wrong types of customers. With PPC, you can watch that budget draining on poorly-targeted prospects and feel that painful feedback in the near term. It forces you to get smart!
Related to this, PPC virtually forces you to put appropriate B2B tracking in place: call tracking (both online & offline), CRM integration with your PPC accounts, etc. Sadly, it’s still not uncommon for companies to fail to track the entire process from click to conversion event. Even many of the big companies get it wrong!
There are many ways in which a company could get insight like:
- Deciding to focus on (or highlight) one product or service over another
- Deciding to go with a lower or higher price based on sales numbers and ROI
- Optimizing business process. Although you’d like to generate sales online, your buyers may be more comfortable transacting via phone. With this insight, you decide to hire more inbound sales people to take customer calls.
There are countless other examples. Regardless, good insight from clear apples-to-apples comparisons is key to making key strategic decisions.
2. Use PPC To Form Overall Marketing Strategy
PPC is a platform you can use to understand your consumers better and attempt to craft offerings that resonate well with your target audience. PPC allows you to tweak elements without having to guess if something had an actual impact on your bottom line (like we can see in the offline world).
Among other things, PPC is an awesome way to test different offers, different pricing, customer pain points, value propositions, USPs, etc. One avenue for this learning is rapid feedback from ad creative testing.
Figuring out what resonates well and hitting the “marketing” mark can mean the difference between okay sales and absolutely killer sales. Marketing is a fine dance with many elements that need to be considered. With rapid iteration on many fine-grained elements of campaigns, it’s not uncommon to see conversion rates eventually increase 4xs. I shudder to think what performance must be like in marketing and advertising departments that can work with none of the data feedback we can easily access in PPC!
PPC also helps you to “fail fast.” It provides insight into poor business decisions so quickly that you dramatically limit the drain on time, energy, and resources that blind alleys might otherwise have causes.
Insight is not only useful for PPC marketing strategy. If you’re clever, you can use it to form strategy on your website, in your offline advertising, SEO, remarketing campaigns, email marketing campaigns, etc. I know many VPs of marketing that use PPC to test ideas they use in other contexts (like areas mentioned above). Many use PPC to determine a company’s unique selling proposition, or USP (especially for a new company or one going into a new niche, etc.).
3. Use PPC To Make Data-Driven Decisions
With PPC, we’re super fortunate to be able to access a lot of data. In accounts, I like to try a number of strategies to see what specific type of advertising yields the best result. These days, there are many ways to advertise using PPC. They are:
- Product listing ads (if applicable)
- Retargeting for search ads (now called RLSA)
- Dynamic search ads
- Under the display umbrella: interest categories, demographic targeting
- And more
It’s foolish to place limitations on your advertising at the very beginning of your campaigns, such as choosing only very specific keyword terms or not trying all the types of advertising available to you. With a narrow strategy from the get-go, you’ll never see the full potential of your account.
To get extra bang, enhance new ideas with testing. Testing lends itself well to new ideas. If something didn’t work the first time that does not necessarily mean that it won’t work ever. Ask yourself: what can I change to make this idea produce a better result?
4. Learn To Deal With People (Different Stakeholders)
Working on PPC can give you access to many different stakeholders. As a result, PPC also gives you the ability to work on your skills to deal with many different types of people with many different goals/interests in the account.
It’s not uncommon to have to deal with the client (could be a marketing manager or CMO), your team, the company’s larger online marketing team (which may include SEO, social media, email marketing, etc.), the company’s offline marketing team, the company’s executive team including the CEO and so forth.
All of the above people have different needs and require different types of information. Learning to tailor info to particular audiences is key. And providing them with the info they need in an efficient manner is key to having good relationships with all stakeholders.
5. Hone Your Analytical Skills
As alluded to in previous points, PPC helps you develop super sharp analytical skills. We’re often considering a few data points when assessing whether keywords are working or not working. It’s not uncommon to have to analyze CTR, Quality Scores, impression shares, ad position, cost per conversion, conversion rate, and more.
That’s some serious analytical skills! And that doesn’t even get into the need to decide whether you are most comfortable inside AdWords, using Excel, using other third-party analysis tools, etc., or multiple tools. Your brain will get a workout no matter which tools you choose. And the choosing itself requires higher-order decision-making skill.
Don’t You Feel Smarter?
You’ve made the tough decisions and implemented your marketing strategy and this gives you a solid foundation on which to stand. You’re making data-driven decisions, and this not only gives you more options, it improves your bottom line.
You’ve learned how to deal with all kinds of people and stakeholders, and your marketing programs are thriving. You’ve primed your analytical skills and this opened the door to more conversions and cost savings. Yep, you’ve become super smart — and it’s all from managing your PPC accounts from the ground up. Try not to brag too much at the family reunion, okay?