April 18, 2014

PPC Farming – Introduction

Farming Tractor

Farming TractorI grew up on a small farm in Southeast Idaho. School was a vacation and vacations meant it was time to work. Waking up at 6 am to move irrigation pipes was how every day of my summer began. I know farming.

During college I got into PPC. I was excited by how fast PPC moved. You set up a campaign, plugged in some keywords, wrote a couple ads and you saw results within a few hours. While farming was tedious and slow, PPC was fast-paced and exciting. However, speed kills too.

I’ve seen many AdWords and adCenter campaigns fail because of speed. They were set up too quickly and/or corners were cut. The great potential of PPC was lost and often these clients were jaded by the experience. Speaking with these clients I often found myself using farming analogies. The more I thought about it, the better the analogies fit.

How PPC Is Like Farming

Over the next couple weeks I will be writing a series of posts comparing PPC account creation, management and optimization to farming. You’ll learn how to prepare the soil (research), plant (account creation), grow (testing) and harvest (landing pages) your PPC crops. So go buy your Wranglers and straw hats now, because we’re gonna be getting our hands dirty!

Is There a Better Way?

PPC farming

Growing up on a farm in Idaho, I was the son that gave my dad the most grief. Not because I was lazy or didn’t possess the ability to help around the farm, but because I always questioned how we did things on the farm. Here is a fairly typical situation:

  1. Dad tells me to reset a line of sprinkler pipes from one end of the field to the other. Since this particular line is extra long he reminds me to make two trips with the tractor and trailer.
  2. I think to myself, “Two trips? Surely there must be a faster way.”
  3. I therefore load the entire line in one trailer load.
  4. However, there are too many pipes and I end up creating what appears to be a massive game of “Pick-Up Sticks” with 40-foot aluminium pipes.
  5. Lesson? Dad knows what he’s doing because he’s done it many times before.

For most people, this would represent the end of the story. Dad was right, so next time move the line in two trips. However, I knew there had to be a better way. Luckily, many farm tasks don’t require a lot of mental exertion, so I had time to devise a different strategy for next time.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

After analyzing my previous failure I realized that two criteria were pivotal to the problem. First, the trailer was a set width and second, the number of pipes wasn’t going to change. With these constraints I decided that I needed to arrange/stack the pipes more efficiently.

The first row went sprinkler heads down, so pipes with long risers would go on the bottom. Shorter risers on top since a third row would need to be lifted over these risers to slide into the spaces. Another opportunity was the riser plates. If you lined up the pipes evenly the riser plates limited the number of pipes you could fit in a row. By staggering the riser plates I was able to get 2 more pipes on each row. So what happened?

Success!

Yes, I was able to get the line moved in 1 trip. However, the careful arranging did take a little more time (though not as much as a second trip) on loading and unloading. So, why do I tell this story? Because in your business today either you or your employees (or both) are doing repetitive tasks. But is anyone asking the question “Is there a better way?”

The Principle

This very simple question, “Is there a better way?”, relates to many of your efforts. You may be getting good results from your PPC, but could you be getting better results? Your site is earning a positive ROI, but with some conversion optimization, could you be getting a higher ROI? What could you do better? Is someone in your organization asking this question?

Photo by Andrew Stawarz

Google+