Growing Pay Per Click Accounts

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

Q1: Do you believe that PPC accounts can be too efficient, essentially hurting campaign growth?

  • Absolutely yes. I’ve over-optimized myself. It’s sad and painful. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Just focusing on exact match and broad modified keywords can make a account unable to move forward. – David Wilkinson (@DavidW_Bloc)
    • Also using too many negatives to begin with. – Matt Umbro
      • Yeah, you never know what’s going to convert. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • Being too conservative can hurt you long term. You have to be aggressive and take some risks to make big impacts. – Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
    • Yes, and always be ready for damage control! – Heather Cooan
  •  Definitely. This is especially so because you can’t measure 100% of impact. Impressions, deleted cookies, etc. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Yes. If CPL/ROAS is below profitable levels, then you’re turning down profitable ad opportunities by raising CPL. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • Yes. Max profit is a balance of efficiency & volume. It doesnt matter if a hybrid gets high MPG if you need to tow something. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Yes, it can restrict budgets for other necessary testing like betas, new platforms, or new keywords to explore. – Gil Hong (@ghong_ssm)
  • Efficiency includes results. If your set up hinders growth, you aren’t being efficient. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
  • No. It’s possible to use wrong metrics to manage. But, IMO, that’s not the same thing as “too efficient”. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
    • That’s an interesting way of looking at it, definitely have to dance between metrics to keep growing. – Heather Cooan
  •  I think it’s OK to get to the most efficient point, but then you need to realize that growth is necessary. – Matt Umbro
  • Not to mention the organic evolution of the medium…always changing. We have to leave things open just enough. – Heather Cooan
    • Big reason I love Dynamic Search Ads when used to capture incremental traffic. – Matt Umbro
  • Never can be efficient enough. What hurts campaign growth is client hesitation to move 4ward & invest add funds to grow. – Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
  • Absolutely, you can get stuck with your pool of “what works” and possibly missing whole sets of valuable keywords. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Yes, but you need to keep in context some of the keywords, ads and targeting that you are doing that may not be perfect. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)

Q2: How does social PPC play into your PPC growth strategies?

  • Great way to feed re-targeting lists, test new audiences, find new ops…we dig social here. – Heather Cooan
  • Something that’s discussed as a long term thing until we clear up issues in the short term. – Brian Gaspar
  • When it’s appropriate, it frustrates me that it’s still such a fuzzy, disorganized field. – Theresa Zook
  • Mostly brand awareness building and content promotion. Some direct lead & sales generation, but not always. – James Svoboda
    • Yes, great way to feed brand search volume! – Heather Cooan
  • When appropriate, it can be valuable. But many people spend too much time chasing the new shiny. – Jeremy Brown
  • Creates demand when you’ve exhausted search volume for your audience. Plus, builds those remarketing lists! – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • I love the idea of social, but my clients want to see immediate revenue…not as concerned about brand awareness. – Matt Umbro
    • True. It’s hard to “sell” the concept of the buying pipeline to some clients. – Theresa Zook
      • Not that brand awareness isn’t important in the long run, but tough to see the return right away. – Matt Umbro
      • It’s almost like Social PPC has an SEO feel to it. – Brian Gaspar
    • They should be. It helps conversion rates in the long run which lifts sales and revenue. – James Svoboda
      • No doubt, but with smaller budgets and ROI as primary metric brand awareness is tough to stomach. – Matt Umbro
        • Eh, just have to reinforce that it’s push marketing, not pull. It’s a well-targeted display network w/ diff context. – Aaron Levy
          • No doubt, just looking strictly from the ROI standpoint…but something that can always be tested. – Matt Umbro
        • Yes, it doesn’t provide a tidy list of revenue stream figures. – Theresa Zook
    • It really is something to explore with the bigger to Enterprise sized clients rather than the SMB most of us deal with. – Brian Gaspar
      • Not always, some of the SMB’s I’ve worked with have been super successful at hitting the segment of the segment on social. – Heather Cooan
        • There’s a benefit to the cost. But client has to have the budget to take that chance. If not, you park for now. – Brian Gaspar
  • Definitely not the focus (outside of retargeting), but time should be spent strengthening brand awareness through it. – Gil Hong
  • I’ve seen Social PPC hit custom communities better than and AdWords display targeting. – Harris Neifield
  • FBX fit the “social PPC” category? have seen some direct leads/revenue there. – Timothy Jensen
  • I’ve had a lot of success RMKTing on FBX. But, that is to be expected. – Andrew Bethel
  • Our agency manages social media for some clients that also do PPC, so overlaps to help promote reach. – Timothy Jensen

Q3: For ecomm accounts, how effective are Dynamic Search Ads for campaign growth

  • Good question, I’m curious what others have to say. I’m still not really using these due to lack of control. – Heather Cooan
    • A nice addition to accounts that are already well built out. – Matt Umbro
      • Maybe they’ll be worth a try after I recover from EC migration margin losses. – Heather Cooan
  • Sadly not that much. It’s broken even for the most part, but not worth it in managements eyes to keep moving forward. – Brian Gaspar
  • I’ve never found DSA to be a source of incremental growth. I’ve only found it to cannibalize. Interested if others have seen better. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Tested DSA’s for one client… yuck. Rather than grabbing niche kwds we missed, they just grabbed everything. – Aaron Levy
  • Had some success, but then the signal/junk ratio became too high. Might test again. – Jeremy Brown
  • I don’t really find they provide a good revenue stream for a good cost. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? – Theresa Zook
  • I set very low bids with DSAs and use negative liberally…conversion rate tends to be lower but cost per conversion is good. – Matt Umbro
    • Seemed to me like the amount of time putting in negs could’ve been better used just manually building kwds instead. – Aaron Levy
      • But that’s the point. The negative KW list should be easy to create because you grab the root term in each campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • I’m still learning the ropes for ecomm, but we recently implemented this for an account. – Gil Hong
  • I’ve never added so many negative keywords to a campaign based on SQR data before dealing with Dynamic Search Ads. – Neil Sorenson
  • I think people misinterpret DSAs…they are meant to garner incremental traffic, not act as a regular text ad campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • For campaign growth DSA has limited use, at least for well built accounts. We keep em mainly for the occasional cheap conversion. – Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
  • More trouble than they’re worth. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • I tend to get all the crazy difficult accounts, DSA’s would probably get me fired! – Heather Cooan
  • I only ever use these to find new keywords. So negatives for everything already covered. Low bids. Lots of query report mining even then, I find it’s quite disappointing how few good ideas I get from them. – Steve Gibson
  • I’ve also found DSA headlines go up to 40 characters…giving me great symmetry between headline and LP headline. – Matt Umbro
  • Saw about 1/3 the conversion rate with DSA’s compared to other campaigns. – Jeff Nogaj (@jeffnogaj)
  • Don’t get me wrong, DSAs can (and are often) used incorrectly…done the right way they show conversions you may not have received. – Matt Umbro
  • I also think they’re better for service businesses than ecommerce as ec sites tend to be more “order takers”. – Steve Gibson
  • By the way, we’ve tried out sku targets with DSA. Google interpreted targeted URLs like broad match – unreliable. – Martin Rottgerding

Q4: Do you believe there is a point where PPC accounts cannot profitably grow any more?

  • Sure, diminishing returns are always a possibility. Especially for very specialized businesses. Also in cases where there are roadblocks…usually in dev resources. – Heather Cooan
    • Market saturation is less common than client-instituted roadblocks, IMO. – Theresa Zook
  • There are always new opportunities. New Betas, New Placements, New Segments. – Andrew Bethel
  • I think PPC itself can only do so much heavy lifting. After a point, biggest gains come from improving offer, web site etc. – Steve Gibson
    • Agreed, and to that point what you do on the CRO side can improve your PPC efforts down the road. – Brian Gaspar
  • Depends on the niche of the market, but you can always trim the fat somewhere and improve your CPA & ROAS. – Brian Gaspar
    • Yes, increased visitor value = opportunity to increase bids. Esp important if ads on RH side. – Steve Gibson
  • No, always new/evolving searches, display network, ad formats, etc. Way too much to test & grow into to stop. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • There is a point where ppc growth slows to general economic/industry growth. – Harris Neifield
  • Usually some growth, BUT industries and spaces change. Especially CPCs and competitor behavior. There are businesses that were profitable 3 years ago that now have to cut to be profitable. – Jeremy Brown
  • In the conventional sense, yes, but then again things change up all the time in this industry: betas, platforms, trends. – Gil Hong
  • Sure, especially in niche markets. There can be a complete “run out of volume” point. – Aaron Levy
  • Yes, at least in theory. But then Google comes along with some new feature. – Martin Rottgerding
  • No, but it sure gets harder. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • The operative & subjective word is “profitably.” Every company must define that metric. If it’s strict, then there is a cap. – Neil Sorenson
  • If you include CRO, landing pages, etc., into PPC (which I do) then there’s always room to grow or improve an account. – Luke Alley
  • Even a highly optimized account still needs management & adjustment for a changing environment. – Theresa Zook
    • Right. As far as traffic it can become more difficult, but I think there is always another angle to look at KW opps. – Luke Alley
  • May not “grow” due to volume, but still can maintain current profitability and improve ROI. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • And there’s no standing still in PPC. Your competitors aren’t standing still. – Steve Gibson
  • Without on site changes you can pint yourself into a corner. Need to get clients onboard. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • The “field” of PPC will not cease to expand, but some accounts/markets might. – Theresa Zook

Q5: Aside from everything we’ve discussed today, what are some other ways you have grown your accounts?

  • Retargeting using other marketing mediums to build lists…TV, Radio, Outdoor, etc. – Heather Cooan
  • Seems like I’m always fighting inadquate PPC budgets. “Growing” is not in the client’s mind–saving $$ is. – Theresa Zook
  • Innovation usually comes from a client looking for a direct solution or trying to test something. So client chats are key. – Mark Kennedy
  • I’ve had clients translate keywords/ad copy/landing pages into other languages. – Matt Umbro
  • Adding more display inventory via third parties. – Heather Cooan
  • Segmenting campaigns out more (by location, finer intents, etc). Also segmenting audience lists more as they grow. – Gil Hong
  • One word “Logistics”. Taken compet advantage and areas served by ship location & spoke about value rather than the price. – Brian Gaspar
  • Solve other biz needs. Hiring, branding, test messaging/markets. Can learn a lot cheap with data on everything. – Aaron Levy
  • Competitive research: On-site content. Any aspects they’re pushing we’re not? Any industries they’re targeting we’re not? etc. – Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
  • I talk a lot about trying to expand territory or converting offline actions online. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • Targeting users whose browsers’ language is set to Spanish, but searching in English. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
    • Funny enough my AdWords rep advised me to do that. Saw a nice lift in traffic and overall performance as a result. – Brian Gaspar
  • New keywords, new countries, competitor keywords, Display, YouTube, increase Impression Share, etc. – Jeremy Brown
  • I take the view, the higher the conv rate, higher the $ per sale, the higher we can bid. Ad pos is #1 predictor of ctr. – Steve Gibson
  • Broader reach into other marketing areas: developing personas, review gathering, site structure, content hubs. – Elizabeth Marsten
    • Going to say (publicly) that I don’t/can’t invest that kind of time unless I have reason to think client will take action. – Theresa Zook
    • Personas are one of the biggest ways to expand. Figure out a broad view of who your customer is and segment from there. I create banners / landing pages with special language, images, and pitches to the target persona. – Jesse Semchuck
      • Also, sometimes people use stuff the way it wasn’t intended. Find out what. New audience. – Elizabeth Marsten

Q6: What do you find to be the biggest hurdle (internally or externally) to growing PPC accounts?

  • External…everything is a negotiation! – Heather Cooan
  • A lot of times budget is a hurdle. – Mark Kennedy
  • Budget. Even when you can show profitability, some departments still have strict budgets. – Robert Brady
  • Client expectations can definitely be a large pain to deal with, even after you brief them. – Gil Hong
  • Internally Access to Beta’s. Externally getting client OK to explore Beta’s once granted. – Brian Gaspar
  • Budget. Getting client to invest in trying new ideas (or even completely servicing what we’re already testing) is impossible. – Theresa Zook
  • Those who have worked for agencies know the hurdles externally. Internally? Ideas. Need more of them. Always. – Neil Sorenson
  • Client micro-management. You are the expert in PPC, so need freedom to do it the best way you can, even if not clear to them. – Kirk Williams
  • Bandwidth…may have a ton of ideas, but lots of clients and lots of priorities. – Matt Umbro
  • For me, it’s just me. I have to spend my time where the best return might be. – Theresa Zook
  • Active landing page testing can be a huge hurdle. – Jeff Nogaj
    • Anything involving dev can be hard. – Heather Cooan
  • Getting clients to develop the website to exploit trends we identify in the traffic. – Steve Cameron
  • AdWords is so multi-faceted now. Yrs ago there were 2 types of camps: Search & GDN. W/ so many options ideas are our biggest asset. – Neil Sorenson
  • Getting the silos to work together. It is really impossible when all the different marketing channels are on a different page. – Kayla Hiller (@Kayla_Hiller)
  • For longer sales cycles it’s usually budget. For ecommerce it is often estalishing a solid CPA then building from there. – James Svoboda
  • Budget, too strict a view of goals would be the big 2. – Jeremy Brown
  • Also, when site changes are made and PPC’ers aren’t notified right away. – Mark Kennedy


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)
• Andrew Bethel (@abethelga)
• Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• David Wilkinson (@DavidW_Bloc)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Gil Hong (@ghong_ssm)
• Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• Jeff Nogaj (@jeffnogaj)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Kayla Hiller (@Kayla_Hiller)
• Kirk William (@KECreate)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Growing the PPC Streamcaps

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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