Determining and Maintaining Pay Per Click Strategies

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Determining and Maintaining Effecting Pay Per Click Strategies.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you define a “PPC Strategy”?

  • Strategy is overall plan to improve a company’s core metrics (top line and bottom line). It’s not about tactics. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
    • IDK, I can see tactics (remarketing, display, extensions) being part of strategy. Value props, competitive landscape etc. – Chris Kostecki
  • High level plan to achieve business goals through PPC. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • KPIs, Target Themes/Structure, Testing Scenarios, Promo Schedule, Seasonality. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • This is tough. a strategy is an optimization schedule that will allow you to achieve business objectives. – Stephen Hall (@SteveOneClick)
  • Strategy is overall plan 2 improve companys core metrics (top line & bottom line). Its not abt tactics. – Jeff Tincher (@JeffTincher)
    • How can a strategy not have tactics? – Stephen Hall
      • A strategy can use tactics, but it is disctinct from tactics. Many people confuse the two. – Jeremy Brown
      • Strategy and tactics are two different things. you have strategy and tactics are what’s used to implement strategy. And Ionly retweeted that original comment. as overall strategy for any channel is to improve the company. – Jeff Tincher
        • A strategy without tactics is useless. Lets buy search traffic is a strategy without tactics. I would agree that tactics alone don’t make a strategy, but a strategy needs to include tactics if its worth anything. – Chris Kostecki
        • To me it feels like a strategy w/o tactics is just an idea. – Stephen Hall
      • Never said you don’t have tactics; just that they aren’t your strategy. – Jeremy Brown
  • The actions/optimizations made to meet and exceed the Paid Search goals of a client. – Logical Media Group (@LogicalMediaGr)
  • Determining long-term PPC goals & objectives, courses of action & allocation of resources necessary for carrying out goals. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Simply put – A PPC strategy is the plan you will utilize to show your client the desired results. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Ideally the PPC strategy aligns with other media strategy also. – Luke Alley
  • ######Tactical strategies are a sub component of the overall strategy in my mind. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • Strategy & tactics are often confused. However, most PPC’s are “in the trenches”, so separating them not particularly useful. – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
  • Strategy is done above the shoulders, tactics are done below the shoulders — and yes, both of course are necessary. Strategy first. – Jeff Tincher
  • Strategy is determined by the end result. Once you know your target, you can back into actionable items and timeline goals. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • A PPC strategy is how you apply pay-per-click mediums (and some impression based) to clients goals. – Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
  • Tactical strategies are a sub component of the overall strategy. As soon as you open up a new adwords account the theoretical strategy is complete and you better have some tactics in mind. – Chris Kostecki
    • Your strategy guides your tactics. You do different things when trying to grow flat out vs. cutting back heavily. – Jeremy Brown
    • Depends on your audience. HIPPO’s just want the overall strategy, everyone under them need the nuts & bolts. – Heather Cooan
      • Yup, nothing worse than fake HIPPOs that think you don’t know what your talking about. – Gil Hong
  • Strategy = An action plan to be unique with measurable objectives, sufficient means, and specific scope. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Strategy – define measurable objectives, identify potential paths & build the supporting “legs” (tactics) to get you there. – Theresa Zook

Q2: What strategy deliverable (if any) do you provide to a client at the beginning of a program? What does this deliverable entail?

  • Strategy is often very collaborative so I don’t have a deliverable I just hand them one time. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Most of my engagements are audits. They get a deck of missed opportunities that directly address goals and challenges. – Heather Cooan
  • Typically (as I bet most do) deliver an outline of highlevel strategy as it pertains to the business as well as basic tactics. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Layout the general strategy around types of keywords, structure, messaging, etc. Detail depends on clients knowledge. – Luke Alley
  • We have several, but the main one we run through with the client on the phone after we get more input from them. – Jeremy Brown
  • I provide an initial 4-6 week strategy document that outlines to-do items: conv tracking, research, builds, optimizations, etc. – Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
  • Opportunities. Website changes, etc. Then a summary describing how those will contribute to end-goal objectives. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • The deliverable entails what keywords, geo targets, devices, ppc mediums, we recommend with an appropriate budget. – Gil Hong
  • I used to deliver a structure, hopefully aligned with the site navigation/product hierarchy, detailing why I segmented as such. – Chris Kostecki
  • The deliverable is a high-level objective: more conversions. The tactics to get there is the meat. – Stephen Hall
  • Start with low hanging fruit. Usually account cleanup / negative KWs. Then start with highest cost KWs and test, test, test. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Deliver a high level understanding of the types of tactics that will benefit a client’s account – keywords, ad text, targeting. – Logical Media Group
  • Weekly / monthly check in calls to make sure volume and spend is where they need it to be for ROI. No spend surprises. – Jesse Semchuck
  • I avoid getting into too much detail around kw & stuff w/clients. Want to keep them focused on the big picture. – Theresa Zook
    • Agreed. Talking to them about bid changes and KW specific items is a waste. Better to focus on end result. – Jesse Semchuck
    • I have had them challenge my overall strategy, and having the nuts & bolts to reference has been a lifesaver. – Chris Kostecki
  • Depends on client, but we try to relate all of our strategy & deliverables back to how the effect ROI and clients bottome line. – Noah Brooks (@noahbrooks)
  • Typically an audit – outlining my findings, areas for improvement and high level description of first phases of optimizations. – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)

Q3: At the beginning of a new program, is it worthwhile to share traffic and cost per click estimates with clients? Why or why not?

  • Estimates are good, but always with a caveat! – Rojer Suggett (@roj_suggs)
  • Estimates, yes. But give no guarantees. Share traffic can change a lot when establishing your keyword base. – Gil Hong
  • Best estimates I’ve seen are from Google and they are always far off. Clients want it, but not helpful IMO. – Luke Alley
  • I never do. The Google tool is usually grossly inaccurate. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Not diving into tactics, regardless of audience puts too much trust in networks, Google has left me high & dry too many times. – Chris Kostecki
  • Yes, but include megacaveats. “Google says you COULD spend based on HISTORICAL data.” Not a crystal ball. – Aaron Levy
  • Woah, playing with fire here. I try not to share projections that lead to cost in any way if I can avoid it. – Heather Cooan
  • I like to share that data initially. It helps clients understand that you have handle on the real money going out the door. – Stephen Hall
    • I agree. Gives them some confidence. Not that helpful still, I never look back at those numbers once data is there. – Luke Alley
  • Only to give the roughest ballpark estimates. – Logan Durant
  • Not always exact numbers (since Google’s projections aren’t exact), but you have to set expectations. Client will be unhappy if they expect $.30 CPCs and they really are in the $3 range. – Jeremy Brown
  • I tell clients in the kickoff meeting that we’re building the foundation of your house. – Jesse Semchuck
  • If client starts worrying abt ppc costs going up 5 cents, they’ve lost track of what matters–are they running at a profit? – Theresa Zook
  • No, unless you plan on under-promising and over-delivering. Otherwise you are set up for failure. – Nicole Mintiens
  • I generally stay away from providing estimates or any data that is likely to be inaccurate. – George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
  • You have to provide estimates, but with all the changes taking place its dangerous to put too much stock in it. – Chris Kostecki
  • No, absolutely not. Traffic and CPC’s are purely tactical, just a means to an end. – Martin Rottgerdin (@bloomarty)
  • If clients ask I will provide, but generally I don’t share because it opens up a can of worms (from past experience). – Matt Umbro
  • No, because these are dependent on so many factors. Give an idea of volumes/costs but figures will only be disproved. – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Estimates are great as long as the expectations are set correctly. Industry insights & experience help to make them realistic. – Cassie Allinger (@CassieAllinger)
  • Yeah definitely don’t talk projections, but demonstrate a firm understanding of where the money is going, re: KWs/AGs, etc. – Stephen Hall
  • Usually they have a number in their head they want to spend. It’s my job to hit that or talk them into a new one. – Jesse Semchuck
  • No harm in showing Google’s projections. Make sure the client understands what that means specific to their audience. – Logical Media Group
  • Depends on expectations. If they think theyll rank 1st for $0.01 cpc Ill give more realistic #’s but dont like estimates in general. – Noah Brooks
  • Estimates…people forget they are not “real” data. – Robert Brady
  • To me, these estimates are for novice PPC-ers, the advanced specialists will find ways to get the traffic at lower costs. – Matt Umbro
    • I’d handle that in pre-account research & educate client abt cost of market before we got to this point. – Theresa Zook
    • Can you predict it though, or do you apply a factor to the Google. – Chris Kostecki
      • I’ll look at historical numbers in their account and let them know what we might expect and how our new tactics. – Matt Umbro
    • And that will result in you exceeding their expectations, which is generally a good thing. – Cassie Allinger
    • Let me rephrase, the advanced specialist will get the most relevant traffic at the lowest CPC using ethical tactics will allow us to get more relevant traffic at hopefully lower CPCs. With some industries you know the cost per click is always going to be high (ie: software, layers, etc) but that doesn’t mean you can’t get more relevant traffic at lower cost per clicks (even if the cost is just a little bit lower). – Matt Umbro
      • Sometimes just that little bit lower is enough to cover your monthly management fee. – Jesse Semchuck
      • I’d be concerned with overselling if I told the client what I think I can actually get it at: padding padding padding. – Chris Kostecki
        • Can be a good opportunity to underestimate and over deliver. – Sean Evanko
        • I don’t give specific numbers, but rather talk about my experience with tactics that have worked. – Matt Umbro
          • Without provide specific expectations its hard to ask for a specific budget. – Chris Kostecki
            • I still think you can set a general budget. – Matt Umbro
            • There’s always a bit of salesmanship involved with asking for budgets or selling your recommendations. – Gil Hong
        • Yes, plus you always have to leave room for the marketplace to make a sudden shift. – Theresa Zook
      • “Little bit lower” makes sense. You can’t turn $25 CPCs into $.50 CPCs. Have to set realistic expectations. – Jeremy Brown
        • Exactly…even changing a setting can lower cost per clicks. – Matt Umbro
  • What’s worse is when a new competitor comes in and blows you out of the water with their spend. “But you said”¦” – Jesse Semchuck
  • Estimates help set expectations. If you don’t set them, someone else will, so you might as well take control. – Cassie Allinger
  • As a client, I want to know what type skin I have to put in the game to go after a new target. – Chris Kostecki
  • The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay. – Chris Haleua
  • It is important to let clients know that strategy and spend will constantly evolve as the competitive landscape does. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Sometimes I want to say you have to pay to play, so put your big boy pants on and get your wallet out. But I like my job. – Noah Brooks
  • Historical account data can be great help in setting expectations as can referencing clients in the same vertical. – Sean Evanko (@sevanko)
  • Also working on the conversion side of the equation often = more revenue with flat or even lower spend. – Julie Bacchini
  • Est. for a sample of keywords, yes. but stress CTR, competition, conv. rate ultimately determine & we must est. own baseline. – Leslie Drechsler

Q4: As time goes by, how do you ensure that you are being proactive with your PPC strategy instead of reactive?

  • Keep up with the client, probe them to find out what is on the horizon in their business. SQ reports will give early indicators. – Chris Kostecki
  • Annual competitive landscape reviews. Can’t make big decisions in a vacuum. – Julie Bacchini
  • Staying on top of industry/competition changes, as well as meeting and updating client goals. – Gil Hong
  • That’s hard. I try to turn my “routine” on its head every other month, so I don’t wind up on auto-pilot & as I read about new tactics or ways of looking at data, I go back & eval each acct. Keeps me looking at it in different ways.. – Theresa Zook
  • Constant learning…make sure you are always up to date with PPC happenings so you can test/implement with your clients. – Matt Umbro
  • You’ve got to step back from the tactical for a moment. Get a new perspective. – Robert Brady
  • As PPC folks it’s our job to be proactive. If search was a set it and forget it tool, no jobs for us. – Aaron levy
  • Number of ways. Sometimes higher level oversight, sometimes fresh eyes on an account, internal audits, etc. – Jeremy Brown
  • Account reviews need to be done regardless of client calls. See the account objectively. Forest for the trees. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Improving processes w/ managing routine maintenance to free up time for proactive optimization, education & analysis. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Have regular interaction with the client. Often times it helps to have a different set of eyes comb through the account. – Logical Media Group
  • Account reviews need to be done regardless of client calls. See the account objectively. Forest for the trees. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Take good notes! Record seasonal/competitive changes and be ready to act on them in the future. – Stephen Hall
  • It’s easy to get caught in the trenches, but monthly reports really help. Makes me take a step back each time. – Luke Alley
  • As proactive as I am, sadly forced to “reactive” when clients don’t listen to me & want me to make changes counter to my advice. – Leslie Drechsler
  • Having someone else look at a client’s campaigns from time to time is a good source for fresh ideas. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Setting specific goals. Testing client successes with other accounts. – Sean Evanko
  • Constantly learning, reading and chatting about PPC helps to stay on top of changes & get new ideas as well. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Comparing data longterm (ideally year-over-year) helps put big pic in perspective and see what effects changes had over time. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Right now I’ve been reaching out to my Adwords and Bing reps more often and really making them work a little harder. – Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
  • Test new ad copy, targeting strategies, keywords, etc. Identify areas for expansion using SQ reports. – Logan Durant
  • Remember SEs will continually change the rules; likely, what’s working today won’t forever. – Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)

Q5: To what extent does your ongoing strategy involve other media outlets, site updates, etc?

  • We’re definitely going to do more landing-page testing with high iterations as a result of our strategy. – Stephen Hall
  • Continuous bleed. – Heather Cooan
  • Often. PPC does not operate in a vacuum. You need to be aware of what’s going on elsewhere in a client’s business. – Jeremy Brown
  • We ask for all clients marketing/pr calendars. Any big appearance could = big increase in volume & copy testing. – Aaron Levy
  • Ideally, trying to plan out landing page offers (and accompanying graphic/text ad messaging) months in advance. – Timothy Jensen
  • For some clients we have our in-house conversion specialist look at their site and give general recs for improving conv funnel. – Logan Durant
  • Customer must know up front that their PPC results are only as good as the sites we’re sending the traffic to. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Search is a channel, and knowing what other channels are doing and when they are doing them can only help. – Chris Kostecki
  • Depends on the client. For some, quite a bit. For others, not at all. – Theresa Zook
  • We proactively make on-site recommendations. Getting them implemented is a completely different story. – George Gilmer


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Cassie Allinger (@CassieAllinger)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
• Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
• George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
• Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jeff Tincher (@JeffTincher)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
• Logical Media Group (@LogicalMediaGr)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Martin Rottgerdin (@bloomarty)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Nathan Kilen (@nathankilen)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• Noah Brooks (@noahbrooks)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rojer Suggett (@roj_suggs)
• Sean Evanko (@sevanko)
• Stephen Hall (@SteveOneClick)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Maintaining Streamcaps Week After Week

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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