Over the years I’ve explained what I do hundreds of times. At first I told people that I did internet marketing. It sounds cool, but it’s so vague. So either the person politely accepts your answer while having no idea what you actually do, or they ask a follow up question to get more specific.
I’ve also tried answering the question by saying something humorous like “I’m the guy who puts ads on search engine results.” They usually reply with something like “Ooohhhh, you’re that guy” with an obviously derogatory emphasis on “that”. Like I’m some kind of con man/used car salesman.
However, at a very core level PPC is about getting people to a website where they’ll “convert” by making a purchase, signing up for something, etc. It really is that simple, but somehow it’s not simple. My clients pay me a lot of money to help them do it well. For consulting projects I get paid a healthy hourly rate. I read comments on blog posts from people lamenting how much money they’ve spent on PPC with little to no results. So how is something so fundamentally simple so hard?
Overthinking & Underthinking
Some people overthink. They chase keywords that are only tangentially relevant when they could be spending more budget, time, and effort on highly relevant keywords. They write ads that hint at what they offer instead of telling the benefit a user would receive by clicking their ad. Curiosity is powerful, but shouldn’t your benefits be more powerful?
On the other side of the coin, some people underthink. I put vanity keywords in this category because people don’t think about the keyword performance as much as they are responding to an emotional impulse. I also include ads that talk all about the company (“We’re the #1 in X”) and not about the benefit to the user.
I’ve written a whole series of posts on the 13 Deadly Sins of PPC and most of them come down to underthinking or overthinking.
However, I think that we can dig deeper. Get more to the core of this. And at the core is another seemingly simple concept – Execution.
Execution Determines Winners & Losers
PPC is an industry/profession defined by execution because the process is pretty much the same on every PPC platform.
- Determine your product/service you want to advertise
- Establish your targeting (keyword, interests, demographics, etc.)
- Create ads (text, image, video, interactive, etc.)
- Set bids
- Monitor performance
You can add lots of other steps and split hairs in a lot of places, but this is the flow for all the PPC platforms I’m currently managing (and most of the ones I’ve worked with in the past). It’s more trial & error (which we smartly refer to as “testing”) than rocket science. So execution is how you separate the winners from the losers.
How To Execute Like A Champion
The hardest battle in execution is consistency and persistence. Consider this fictional scenario:
Company 1 sells running shoes for marathon runners. He starts an AdWords campaign with “running shoes” as the only keyword, set to broad match. He writes a couple good ads, sets the recommended first page bid and turns his AdWords campaign on.
Anticipated Result: DISASTER!
One keyword? Broad match? Recommended first page bid? This is what PPC nightmares are made of!
However, lets say he takes the following steps:
- Reviews his SQRs regularly and ads negatives for unrelated queries
- Adjusts bids to optimize his ROI
- Consistently monitors ad tests, getting rid of losers and testing new copy
Over time his ads will show on fewer and fewer irrelevant queries. Ad copy testing will improve CTR and QS, which leads to lower CPC & CPA. As his CPC goes down in current positions he can either improve his ROI or increase his bids to get better position for the same price. This leads to more volume and increased profit. Not bad for a really simple campaign and some consistent execution.
My point here is that consistent, correct execution of fundamental principles leads to success. Sure this company could have launched with well researched keyword lists that were grouped into tightly themed ad groups with preloaded negatives on a bid management platform and it could have gotten them great results sooner or more quickly, but I want to emphasize that they weren’t necessarily a prerequisite to success. And frankly, the campaign could still fail.
As we enter a new year, take some time to think about how you execute in your PPC efforts. Instead of adding bells & whistles, consider how you might be more consistent. Instead of reacting to every crisis, consider how you might proactively avoid the crisis in the first place.