Pay Per Click Client Personas

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “PPC Client Personas.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What are the most common frustrations you hear from clients during sales and/or inquiry calls?

  • Why aren’t we getting more leads/sales? – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • They’ve spent $xx,000 on adwords and it doesn’t work. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • Lack of good results is always a big one, but more so that the relationship is failing in some way. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • During sales calls – “no one clicks on those ads” – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Most frustrations commonly seem from misunderstandings of the industry & countless acronyms. “Paperclip Advertising” huh? – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • “Can you explain this report, I don’t know what the numbers mean” – Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
  • Depends on if they’ve done PPC before. If so, unhappy w/results; if not; lack of understanding of how PPC works. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • We’ve had an AdWords account for X years and we don’t know what it’s doing for us. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Why are we spending $ for brand keywords if we already own the organic SERPS? – PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
  • I want to make more but spend less. – Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
  • Lack of full understanding. Pitched by Google as taking 5 minutes and easy, but PPC isn’t. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
    • That’s the problem too – it DOES take 5 mins – not going to work like that – but it can be done. – Steve Cameron
      • It takes 5 minutes to set up an account, put in your credit card details, and give Google money. Not to do well. – Jeremy Brown
        • Works for Google! – Steve Cameron
  • One of the most common frustrations I hear is “that our current agency is on autopilot” – Matt Umbro
  • “You’re saying what I’ve heard from everybody else – why will I get different results with you?” – David Szetela (@Szetela)
  • “Why aren’t our ads in position 1?” – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • Just searched a term why is my ad not showing right this second. – Ryan Nguyen (@RyanKNguyen)
  • You can provide great results, but if the relationship isn’t there clients will ultimately leave. – Matt Umbro
  • "New” clients often complain about not being pushed. Assuming they won’t like a beta or test without even asking. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
    • Agreed…part of the pitch SHOULD be that you’ll work to get them into new betas and try new ideas. – Matt Umbro
  • I work in house so do not really have many of these issues. Usually i have people calling and trying to sell me. – Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
  • They’ve already “tried” PPC and it didn’t work for them, so what will I do different. – Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
  • Why doesn’t my website show up for searches on X. – Larry Kim (@larrykim)

Q2: Do you create definitive PPC client personas to determine if potential clients will be a fit? How do you create these personas?

  • Not really something something for in-house, but have to do a situational persona to determine if they are more B2C than B2B. – Brian Gaspar
  • Persona 1: Easy maintenance; Persona 2: PITA hard maintenance. – Gil Hong
  • Not “definitive,” no. It’s more an intuitive combination of their needs & the personality mix. – Theresa Zook
  • Create personas through your client experiences. Learn from both the clients that leave and the ones you produce great results. – Matt Umbro
  • Not really personas, but theres nothing worse than a disengaged/disinterested client. Gotta weed those out early on. – Aaron Levy
  • Not really. But I do make sure a potential client is totally on board with the strategy and understands the pros and cons. – Mark Kennedy
  • Loose personas, every business needs a target. Must have characteristics checklist and a red flags checklist does the trick. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • Each client is different, but there are some obvious groups. Small B2B, large ecommerce. etc. – Jeremy Brown
  • We have 9 customer personas. criteria includes experience, job focus, goals of PPC, etc. – Larry Kim
  • Also if they’re jerks to our biz dev, they’re gonna be jerks to our team. – Aaron Levy
  • Personas often take shape during initial comversations and keyword research. – James Svoboda
  • Working with SMB clients, defining personas early on helps them understand ppc strategy much better. – Nefer Lopez (@Nefer_L)
  • The persona is ‘Do the client’s core needs fit our core specializations? – Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
  • Following up, what type of client do you tend to stay away from? Why?
    • Unrealistic expectations, no $ but huge goals, disengaged clients (won’t take calls) – all of these are red flags. – Melissa Mackey
    • “Desperate CEO” – biz is tanking overall, wants PPC to save it. – David Szetela
    • Affiliate marketers are the worst. – Larry Kim
    • Low-spend-high-maintenance clients (i.e. squeaky wheels) are less-preferred. – Nicole Mintiens
    • I steer clear of unreasonable expectations/timelines & client-side disorganization and turmoil. Aint no body got time for dat. – Heather Cooan
    • If they have no goals but just want to do PPC because they heard it was cool – run the other way. – Melissa Mackey
    • Marketing Directors who don’t and won’t define measurable goals or KPIs that merge PPC with Marketing Plans. – Mark Jensen
    • “I just want to test this PPC stuff with a low initial budget – we’ll give it a month.” – David Szetela
    • Clients who have a lot of internal turnover that require reexplaining strategy and even some PPC 101 to new client contacts. – Brian Gaspar
    • Stay away from people you aren’t pround of doing business with. – Jeremy Brown
    • Stay away from clients that have bad websites and aren’t willing to make updates. – Matt Umbro
      • We don’t discriminate against crap websites in our personas. – Larry Kim
        • Crap websites are one thing; unwillingness to change them is another. – Melissa Mackey
        • I always stress to clients that getting the click is only half the equation. – Matt Umbro
    • More of what everyone else says, small budget but want the earth for it. – Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
    • We have porn clients no kidding – nice clients but just shady business. – Larry Kim
    • “I see you setup this campaign yesterday and it’s spending but not converting. I’ve gone in and turned it off.” – Brian Gaspar
    • “Why did you pause this (ppcchatcussword, poor performing) KW? I turned it back on." – Melissa Mackey
    • Stay away from clients with no patience in measuring results of account changes applied. – Nefer Lopez
    • Worst is when they adjust bids, pause keywords/ads, make other changes counter to your efforts – based on their “gut” not data. – Leslie Drechsler
    • I like this caveat ‘If it seems like it’s everyone, it’s probably you’. Sometimes it comes down to how we define expectations. Low barrier to business models with razor thin margins, no client biz experience, no funding. – Mark Jensen
    • I just try and find out if potential clients are the sort to email at 10am freaking out over no sales. Then stay away. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)

Q3: How do expectations differ between clients who are more intermediate in their PPC knowledge vs. ones that are not? Why?

  • Stay away from clients who “think” they know PPC. they are the most dangerous. – Dan Roche (@danroche27)
  • Clients w/ intermediate knowledge can be better to work with. They understand some concepts & they hold you more accountable. – Neil Sorenson
  • Often the more knowledgeable clients are the toughest. A little knowledge is dangerous. That said, it is frequently more fun to work w/clients who “get it.” – Melissa Mackey
  • More upfront handholding for new ppc client, vs more details & tests for intermediate. But results loved by both. – Mark Kennedy
  • Intermediate experience know it will work, but takes time. They give you a shot as you iron out the wrinkles. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • You’d think it’d be better if they knew more, but the barriers are much harder to overcome and there is more questions & doubts. – Brian Gaspar
  • Expectations can be all over the place. Even somewhat knowledgable people can have unreasonable goals. – Jeremy Brown
  • In my experience, intermediate knowledge can be even more dangerous! They’ll know the metrics, but not the implementation/work. – Gil Hong
  • Intermediate clients more likely to understand that changes to the website will be needed – lading pages, A/B test, etc. – Steve Cameron
  • Clients with good PPC knowledge are more realistic and allow for more time to see results. – Dan Roche
  • Often those claiming to understand PPC, simply knows enough to be dangerous. – Leslie Drechsler
  • Personas in A2 are generally fueled by corporate culture. If that culture isn’t updated, experience doesn’t make much impact. – Mark Jensen
  • I find it easier to talk with those that have had experience. They know how difficult the playing field can be. – Ashley Balstad (@AshleyBalstad)
  • Often “more knowledgeable” means “slightly versed”. Usually have to debunk and break bad habits. – James Svoboda
  • Wouldn’t work on PPC as silo–if there is no buy in for the whole shebang (backend fulfillment opt, site opt, CRM, CRO, etc). – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
  • Those with real knowledge, not just assumed can be great to work with, and challenge you to do your best. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • I think more intermediate clients sometimes allow you to focus on building up the account and performance at a reasonable pace. – Matt Umbro
  • Those with intermed knowledge can try to make you manage the way they did. Selling them on starting from scratch would be tough. – Brian Gaspar
  • I prefer working with junior intermediate PPC marketers personally – more experienced ones are crusty (eg; enhanced campaigns). – Larry Kim
  • Clients who “know” ppc seem to do 2 things: 1.) be more patient with changes 2.) nit pick at stats like CPC, CTR, etc. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
    • #2 is especially bad when they don’t even have seasonality data and compare on a month to month basis. – Gil Hong
  • Knowledge or no knowledge, being transparent with clients will ensure a good relationship, success can then be built. – Dan Roche
  • Our intermediate clients tend to be more realistic & have more faith in what we say because they understand it. – Katie Saxon
  • It seems to me that personality is better predictor of relationship than knowledge level. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
    • I’d say that is true to some extent. But if knowledge is assumed and not accurate it can make expectations difficult. – Bryant Garvin
  • Clients w/ PPC wisdom hopefully understand the time it takes to show continual improvement. Others = educational opportunities. – Nicole Mintiens
  • More focus on post click metrics, attribution, margins, etc. Advanced clients will put in the dev work for clean data. – Heather Cooan
  • But intermediate need read-only access, so they don’t undo your work on a whim. – Mark Kennedy
  • I will say though those who know more will be more apt to giving you more resources (i.e. web dev, landing page creation, tagging). – Brian Gaspar
  • I also believe that intermediate clients better understand that it takes both parties to produce great PPC results. – Matt Umbro
  • Agree that more savvy clients are more likely to understand the need for LPO, testing, increase in budget, etc. – Melissa Mackey
  • If clients with less knowledge though are humble enough you can educate them into the perfect client. – Bryant Garvin

Q4: Aside from performance, what are the key factors that drive a great PPC Specialist/client relationship?

  • Communication – Mark Kennedy, Gil Hong, Melissa Mackey
  • Mutual respect. – David Szetela
  • Listening. – James Svoboda
  • Clear expectations, defined metrics & a lot of trust. – Robert Brady
  • Understanding that the ppc specialist works on other accounts and not everything can be done right away. – Ryan Nguyen
  • Complete transparency & patience to understand results take time. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Forming a personal relationship with them. My best clients are those I might call friends. – Bryant Garvin
  • Transparency again. If there is a problem flag it up, don’t wait for the client to spot it. – Dan Roche
  • I would also emphasize PROACTIVE communication – email/call clients frequently to share updates, new betas, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • Proactive on both sides: agency and client. Hate going to a client site to find pages changed, gone, etc. – Melissa Mackey
  • Also togetherness, don’t try and pick holes, help each other. – Dan Roche
  • Mutual “we’re in this together” attitude. – David Szetela
  • Mind-reading. But since that’s hard: clear and open communication. Have to be on the same page. – Jeremy Brown
  • Ensuring an open/sharing environment that allows for pushing ideas/betas as long as they justify the business and ensure return. – Brian Gaspar
  • Bidirectional participation, clear scope/expectations, clear KPI’s, clear and regular communication. – Heather Cooan
  • A top-notch handshake. – Mark Jensen
  • Anticipation of what matters to client. – PPC Associates
  • Trust built by transparency & communication… and gifts of bags of money. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Those who understand success in PPC comes as much from the company culture and site as it does from keywords and bids. – Bryant Garvin
  • Get to know them a little. It’s harder to fire someone you like. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • For in-house, support for PPC resource through training and development, taking part in awesome events like heroconf and PPCChat. – Brian Gaspar
  • Finding a balance between giving a client what they want and giving them what your experience says they need. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)
  • Keep throwing in new ideas, never make that stop. Reaffirms why client recruited an outside expert in the 1st place. – Chris Gutknecht (@ChrisGutknecht)

Q5: Aside from performance, what are the key factors that drive a poor PPC Specialist/client relationship?

  • Lack of integrity on either side. – David Szetela
  • Distrust and Assumption-making. – Gil Hong
  • Lack of trust has to be the top factor. – Melissa Mackey
  • Expecting us to work in a vacuum. – Steve Cameron
  • Lack of clear definitive goals. – Mark Jensen
  • Not showing the value of your work. – Luke Alley
  • Promises unkept. – David Szetela
  • Lack of communicating how success will be judged. – Timothy Jensen
  • Low prioritization of project plan activities, lack of communication in promotional/marketing updates to website. – Brian Gaspar
  • Lack of transparency. Nobody likes a black box. – Jeremy Brown
  • Something as simple as not answering emails or returning phone calls. – Matt Umbro
  • Not having full access to data & to influence all of the pieces to the puzzle, Landing pages, Analytics, Offline data etc. – Bryant Garvin
  • Reports with clicks as the only metric. No cost or analysis or other metrics. – Mark Kennedy
  • Negative attitude/pessimism. – Robert Brady
  • Communication breakdown or middlemen muddying up the information waters. – Nicole Mintiens
  • I also find that having no conversions identified makes it hard in the long run. Clicks as a goal = a poor goal. – Melissa Mackey
  • Not to mention not attending regularly scheduled calls. – Brian Gaspar
  • Having no concern for the time or workload of the other (this can go both ways). – Bryant Garvin
  • Not bringing new metrics or new ideas to improve performance. – Ryan Nguyen
  • Client not paying their bills. – Jordan McClements (@PPCNI)
  • Getting a inexperience or zero person to run a client’s campaign > which is a big no no. – Deric Loh (@dericloh)

Q6: What is the number one lesson you’ve learned from dealing with clients, positive or negative?

  • Avoid affiliate marketers. – Larry Kim
  • Trust your gut. I can usually pick out which clients will last & which won’t within the first couple calls. – Melissa Mackey
  • Clients care less about PPC tactics than they do about profit, volume and/or expense. – David Szetela
  • Make sure everything is documented. Phone calls are important, but overall strategy and results need to be documented. – Mark Kennedy
  • Don’t assume that silence is a good thing. Keep the dialogue going. – PPC Associates
  • Don’t take it personally. Not all business relationships work out & there’s not always a “fault” you can identify. – Theresa Zook
  • Number one lesson is that its VITAL to go over goals/expectations/understanding of PPC. This diffuses many potential blowups. – Gil Hong
  • This isn’t even a PPC thing. It’s overall thing. Know expectations, deliver bad news early with a solution, and don’t surprise. – Brian Gaspar
  • Always get a sizeable up front deposit. – Jordan McCelements
  • Most clients are great and why I’m in this business, but don’t let the bad apples spoil things. Ok to fire them. – Jeremy Brown
  • Be proactive in your communication. – Matt Umbro
  • When it’s time to let go, it’s time to let go and it pays to be selective. – Heather Cooan
  • Don’t ignore “that feeling” at the beginning of a relationship. Talk it out. – Robert Brady
  • Help them Grow $$ & Save $$ = Business win = agency win. – Deric Loh
  • Do your best for clients and they’ll love you. – Luke Alley
  • Always be honest. If things suck, tell them, but tell them how we will go about attacking the issues. – Nicole Mintiens
  • In the end we are all trying to make a living. Be personable, but also actionable and have your actions be measurable. – Brian Gaspar
  • Be Transparent Totally, Take Total Responsibility & Ownership = Partner to help your clients. – Deric Loh
  • Clients don’t want to listen to reason, excuses, or BS. Only how things are going and what the results are. – James Svoboda
  • A client with no goals is as unhappy as a client with goals not being met. – Mark Jensen


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)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Ashley Balstad (@AshleyBalstad)
• Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris Gutknecht (@ChrisGutknecht)
• Dan Roche (@danroche27)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• David Szetela (@Szetela)
• Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
• Deric Loh (@dericloh)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Gil Hong (@ghong_af)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jordan McClements (@PPCNI)
• Katie Saxon (@ksaxoninternet)
• Larry Kim (@larrykim)
• Leslie Drechsler (@ppcbuyers)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Jensen (@Just_Markus)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nefer Lopez (@Nefer_L)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• PPC Associates (@PPCAssociates)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Ryan Nguyen (@RyanKNguyen)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Persona Streamcap Creator

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to Pay Per Click Client Personas

  1. Thanks Paul for doing this. I am going to come check these out more often. What a time saver! I just got an hour worth of PPC Chat goodness consumed in about 5 minutes.

  2. Paul Kragthorpe says:

    My pleasure, Stu!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Tweets

I am speaking at SMX East was rated one of the Best PPC Blogs by Boost CTR