My first stint as a PPC manager began in 2005 while taking a hiatus from professional marketing work. I had become ordained as a nondenominational minister and was promoting my wedding officiant services. I stepped behind the wheel of the Google ad platform, and even with 20 years’ experience in direct marketing, I was completely clueless!
I taught myself enough of the basics to succeed in making Google Ads (it was called Adwords back in the day) one of my best sources for new business. But I will never forget how confused I was at first by the platform. I imagine that’s what it’s like for many business owners today who have Google campaigns in play. While some of the clients we work with have run their own campaigns, more clients prefer to be hands off and not look under the hood.
So, if you’re not experienced with the Google ad platform, how can you tell if your PPC manager is leveraging the features to produce the best possible results?
The role of your PPC manager
Let’s start by talking about the responsibilities you assign anyone managing your PPC campaigns.
As the manager of your ad spend budget, your PPC manager has a fiduciary responsibility to you. A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with one or more other parties. In other words, their job is to act in your best interests in handling the investment of your marketing funds. Therefore, careful oversight comes with their job description. I’ll get into that more as we delve deeper.
Training and experience need
There was absolutely no way that I would ever have thought to offer PPC management services when I was as green as I was running my wedding officiant ads. It was my money at stake if I messed up. The last thing I wanted was to be on the hook for someone else’s budget.
That’s the mentality you should expect from your PPC manager. Have she or he received training to assure you fiduciary responsibility? Have they received Google certification in Search? You can check the licenses & certifications section of their LinkedIn profile which will contain a link to the certificate awarded by Google if they have.
A strong PPC manager must have a knack for data and whiz around Excel like it’s second nature. You see, you’ve got to be able to dig deep to recognize trends over time and uncover the strategies and assets that are delivering the green. This involves tons of report exporting and sorting columns of data. Not everyone is into this!
Deadly PPC Management Habits
Let’s look now at areas on the ad platform that can show signs of neglect or outright ignorance to the strategies needed to be successful.
The optimization score, which ranges from 0% to 100%, is a projection of how well your Google account is set to perform. A score of 100% means that the account is completely optimized. A 70% score indicates that there is room for a 30% improvement.
The optimization score is displayed to the right of the Recommendations tab on the left sidebar.
The optimization score comes with recommendations for steps that can be taken to improve account performance. The recommendations can be applied or dismissed. Whether they are applied or dismissed, the optimization score improves. Simply ignoring the recommendations keeps the optimization score at its current level.
I view the optimization score as a huge clue as to how closely the oversight has been on the account and how motivated the PPC manager is to keep it optimized. I believe that a score of less than 70% is a clue that the account may be in “set it and forget it” mode.
Okay, I should preface this by saying that manual bidding in of itself is not bad. It’s just no longer the most efficient way to bid. Google’s automated bid strategies—called Smart Bidding—use machine learning to optimize performance in every auction. Machine learning algorithms help to make more accurate predictions about the performance impact of different bid amounts than a single person or team could compute.
This is not to say that Smart Bidding is on autopilot. Your PPC manager still needs to oversee and make appropriate adjustments.
No negative keywords
Negative keywords let you exclude search terms whose intent are not relevant to what you are offering in your ads. If your campaigns are utilizing broad keyword matching strategies, it is likely that your ads will be delivered to search terms that are broader than your target. Why use broad matching strategies? To increase your reach to potential productive search terms that would not be targeted with a tighter matching algorithm.
For example, we have a client offering information for a specific disease. Our broad match keywords often target search terms for other diseases that are not relevant. We constantly review the search term reports and have an ever-growing list of negative keywords to maintain a relevant focus.
Inadequate conversion tracking
The purpose of your PPC campaigns is to inspire prospects to take an action that you have defined as valuable to your business. These actions are called conversion goals. Making an online purchase, booking an appointment, and submitting a contact form are just some examples of conversion goals.
The Google Ads platform provides a tool for PPC Managers to measure conversions by source. You can track conversions that were generated from your website, over the phone, or from wherever the desired action took place.
Conversion tracking enables your PPC manager to see what elements are most productive in achieving your conversion goals. What specific keywords are influencing positive results? Which ads are the best producers? Are there particular times in the day that stand out?
When conversion tracking is set up adequately, you can begin to see a roadmap to follow to get more leads most efficiently. Without such a roadmap, you’re flying in the dark.
Where do you find conversion tracking? Log into your account and go to the top grey menu bar. Click Tools and settings. Click Conversions. You will then see a summary of the activity of all your conversion actions.
Lack of Testing
Very early on in my marketing career I had a mentor who drilled the words, “always be testing” into my brain. The point is that while something may be performing well, you won’t find something that produces even better results unless you try.
Along with keyword targeting, testing is also important for ad copy. Even subtle word changes can have a significant impact. Google recommends there be at least two ad versions enabled for every active ad group.
Are You Ready to Evaluate Your PPC Manager’s Management Habits?
Maybe everything looks great. Your PPC ads are producing new leads and converting to new business. But how do you know if your campaigns are as successful as they can and should be if you are simply taking the word of your PPC manager?
It’s your money. You’re paying a premium for keywords and continually supporting ad budgets that give your business the best possible opportunity to be seen. And it’s also your money you are paying your PPC manager to do the job at the highest level possible.
If you don’t know, you don’t know. Stop guessing and apply these principles when evaluating your PPC manager.
If you benefit from these tips, let me know. Contact me at 415-485-6961 and let’s discuss what you’ve discovered and how I can help you take the next step to full transparency.