Google has always pitched how easy it is to create an AdWords account and get your ad in front of millions of people. They sent out so many vouchers for free advertising that AdWords vouchers became almost as ubiquitous as AOL CDs. Many advertisers took one of those vouchers, created an account, and started advertising on Google. Then what happened?
For many inexperienced advertisers they quickly exhausted the voucher credit and began spending real money. Little did they realize that the clicks they were driving to their website were not converting. They might have bid on poor keywords (I honestly have seen accounts that bid on terms like “wholesale”. Just one word) or they might have sent traffic to a confusing home page. Either way the result was the same: they felt the money was wasted and that AdWords “didn’t work for them.”
In order to enjoy success with PPC you have to be prepared to manage your campaigns, not just create them and go into set-it-and-forget-it mode. This requires both planning and implementation. If you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. Our first habit will discuss how you can proactively take action to manage and optimize your PPC accounts.
Habit #1 – Be Proactive
Definition: controlling a situation by making things happen or by preparing for possible future problems.
This definition emphasizes the need for action, “making things happen”, as well as planning, “preparing for possible future problems.” Don’t misunderstand that immediate actions aren’t guided by planning, because they should be. Both action and planning must occur in tandem to accomplish goals in a methodical way.
For the PPC manager there are many things you can control and many things outside of your control. To borrow from the vernacular of “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen R. Covey, these are represented by the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern.
Circle of Influence
There are many things that you can directly control with your PPC advertising:
- Ad Copy
- Ad Extensions
- Geographic Targeting
- Demographic Targeting
- Landing Page
- User Experience
The list could go on and on, but the point here is that you have control over these elements. You set them initially, you can test them, and you can optimize them according to your success metrics. Effective PPC managers focus their attention on these areas.
However, there are many factors outside your control that can also affect performance. These are you Circle of Concern.
Circle of Concern
Here are some examples of factors that you may worry about, but you can’t directly influence:
- Advertiser Policies (you know what I mean if you advertised HCG, or L-arginine products)
- Competitor Actions (bids, keywords, ad copy, budget, landing pages, placements, targeting, etc.)
- SERP layout
- User perception of “ads”
Again, this list could go on and on, but these are areas you can’t directly influence. You can, and should, observe them so that you are appropriately accounting for them inside your Circle of Influence, but you shouldn’t worry about them or let them paralyze you.
Expanding Your Circle of Influence
Though you’re not worried about areas outside your Circle of Influence, it is possible to expand your Circle of Influence so that it encompasses areas formerly in your Circle of Concern. Consider the following examples:
- Rotate Indefinitely – You may remember when AdWords tried to change the ad rotation setting to last for 30 days, after which they would optimize for you. This set off a small uproar in the community which included a Change.org petition to reinstate the old rotation setting (started by Neil Sorensen). This led to AdWords increasing the time frame from 30 to 90 days and eventually adding a fourth option to rotate ads indefinitely. Because Neil was respected in the PPC community and other practitioners joined him, they were able to get Google to change the policy and restore the desired functionality.
- User Feedback – I recall a tweet from October of last year that went something like this:
— Bing Ads (@BingAds) October 30, 2013
As you can see, BingAds brought in several respected users to aks for feedback on the product. These individuals have expanded their Circle of Influence such that they can get platforms to make changes based on their feedback.
In short, focus on areas inside your Circle of Influence and don’t expend energy on areas in your Circle of Concern.
One Final Thought
As you proactively work inside your Circle of Influence, remember the following:
You’re free to make choices, but you can’t choose the consequences of those choices.
This is a natural law that applies to both good and bad consequences. You’re free to drive a car straight into a brick wall, but you have also chosen the consequences of that decision (damage to the car & the wall as well as serious physical injury or death). With your agency to choose your actions comes the responsibility of choosing wisely so that you reap the positive consequences.
I’ll leave you with the following: