PPC Goal Setting

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

Q1: Do you consider goals to be more of a guideline or the be all end all in an account? Why?

  • I view goals the same way the client views those goals. Otherwise we’ll have issues. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
    • Agreed, so it varies depending on the client perspective. – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
  • There are always a variety of factors in play when asking this question. ie: are goals realistic? are clients steadfast about these goals? will these goals greatly impact account performance? – Matt Umbro
  • Goals are a guideline. We don’t know exactly what will happen when a campaign goes live. That said, set budget caps. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • As long as the goals don’t exceed the scope of work there shouldn’t be much problems. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • Depends on how tightly the client wants to/has to hold to them. Often then evolve as the campaign does. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • This depends on the goal and how realistic it is. Some clients say they want 10 quality scores – this is unrealistic. – Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
    • If client wants all 10 Quality Scores, just delete the keywords less than 10. – James Svoboda
      • I disagree, just because the quality score is not 10, does not mean it’s not a great keyword. – Margot da Cunha
  • Depends on what the client wants. If it’s more revenue, that could be the end all. If awareness, your goals might be indicators. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Some goals (transactions) more meaningful than others (engagement) so, sadly – it depends. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • In my experience you set ROI goals, but it’s always a bit of a moving target. – Jesse Semchuck
  • I’m going to say it first, if you don’t have goals, then what’s the point? – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
    • Goals can simply be defined as improving performance, ie: more conversions, higher revenue. In other words, the most basic goal is to make the account perform better. – Matt Umbro
  • It’s good to have agreed upon expectations, which are just that and then also some stretch goals. – Amy Bishop
  • Goals are something we work towards, account performance is another thing. We keep evolving the strategies as per the goals. – Ashwin Chandra (@ashwin_chandra)
  • Whether the campaign is new, or ongoing, is also a factor as to how concrete goals are. – Amy Bishop
  • If the client has a hard ROI, you have to be much more conservative with your early spend and optimize along the way. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Interesting distinction between goals and performance in Q1. Performance *should* only be understandable in terms of goals. But realistically I have my own sense of when an account is good or bad apart from client goals. Things like “meeting potential” – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
    • Good point, regardless of goals you know when an account is doing well or not. – Matt Umbro
      • I think it shouldn’t be like that. But I’ve never worked on an account where the client goals told the whole story. – Richard Fergie
        • Exactly, you can slice and dice a campaign 100 different ways to showcase performance. – Matt Umbro
  • I get asked that question by clients as to why they need to consider goals at all when starting up. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Realistic goals: I take as set in stone. Unrealistic goals: try to give context and create realistic goals together. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)

Q2: How do you approach clients with unrealistic goals?

  • Not sarcastically, not rudely, not arrogantly. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Give context, strategies to improve toward goals, and work with them to develop new, realistic goals based on vertical. – Michelle Morgan
  • Some goals make little sense, like increase revenue by 10% – always steer towards more revenue anyway, wont stop at 10%. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
  • Existing client – major “oh shit” moment. New client – better opportunity for discussion. – Richard Fergie
  • Trendlines, YoY, seasonality, changes in strategic direction — things like that help provide context. – Amy Bishop
  • Case studies, Education, Counseling, in that order. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Tell them they’re unrealistic and why. Back this up by review previous performance data. – Daniel Humphreys (@DanHumphreys88)
  • Quietly from behind, so I can knock some sense into them before they put up their defenses. – Robert Brady
  • With the numbers, they don’t lie and most clients can get their head around them. – Steve Cameron
  • Show past examples from other clients on how our step by step process got from points A to B w/ results. Not always immediate. – Joe Martinez
  • Sometimes it is drives you to perform better, it stretches you and perhaps gives more learnings. Another way to look at it. – Ashwin Chandra
  • It needs to be treated as an educational moment. If they’re unwiling to listen, then that’s a major red flag. – Gil Hong
    • Once again, building a mutually trusting relationship is far more important than sending all the “perfect” reports. – Kirk Williams
  • First off, don’t sugarcoat around the issue, be adamant up front that the goal is unrealistic. – Matt Umbro
    • he sooner, the better. Don’t wait until the end of the month and catch them by surprise. – Amy Bishop
  • Patient is key and knowledge is power so showing case studies from similar industries, etc. – Margot da Cunha
  • Happens so often–I still haven’t found a good way. I try to explain logically, but people don’t listen logically. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
    • Totally true. Sometimes, there’s no changing their expectations. Then I just do my best. – Michelle Morgan
  • I set a goal for them. Nothing worse than them saying “Keep making me money and the budget is unlimited.” It never really is. – Jesse Semchuck
    • Especially when most have not taken into supply chain issues, inventory costs etc. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
      • Whatever margin they give, subtract 20-30% from it. There’s your real goal. – Jesse Semchuck
  • Goals should also be meaningful. I inherited account where only goal was a visit to the LP. 100% conversion = meaningless. – Steve Cameron
  • If you can, always dispel unrealistic goals from the sales process. Another reason it’s imperative to ask for goals! – Matt Umbro
  • Every goal has a cost to reach. Framing as cost vs. benefit, that can help greatly. Also, data breaks opinion ties. – James Svoboda
    • That would certainly help with the “I want to be position 1 for everything” goals. – Daniel Humphreys
  • To ths point, I think sales guys should spend some days with PPC managers. They’d learn a lot and it would help sales. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)

Q3: How in depth are your account goals (ie: by campaign, keyword, etc)?

  • Depend’s on the client’s products/services. By account at least, sometimes by campaign or campaign group. Still, even if we don’t have hard and fast goals, the aim is to improve each campaign vs. it’s previous YoY/MoM performance. – Amy Bishop
  • Client goals given are typically pretty high level. More sales, more traffic, etc. Then it’s my job to drill down. – Margot da Cunha
  • Usually just at the overall account level. Optimize for certain products, but the portfolio is the biggest goal. – Michelle Morgan
  • Account level, could be further broken down into Search, display, PLA etc goals. Some clients even have goals based on Geo. – Aswin Chandra
  • Marketing Campaing (not AdWords campaign) level usually. Keywords are too micro of a level for most goals. – James Svoboda
  • I usually go with an account goal. Leaves me more wiggle room to make up testing losses. – Jesse Semchuck
  • It depends on the client. Some like account wide goals and don’t care for how it’s done. Other times have various diff goals. – Daniel Humphreys
  • I like to focus on ad group level goals. My AGs are sorted by landing page so I can easily see where I need to focus. – Joe Martinez
    • Interesting..but why not LP at a Campaign level instead and break down the ad groups into more fine grain structure? – Ashwin Chandra
      • Certain accounts are at the campaign level. It all depends on how we want to break out the budget and targeting. I also work with a lot of smaller, B2B clients so that AG level breakout isn’t as complex as it seems. – Joe Martinez
  • Mostly high level. Minimizes competing goals. Easier to report on & grasp. – Robert Brady
  • I tend toward campaign-level goals but track CPA on hi-traffic kw or vertical. – Theresa Zook
  • In general, I do think goals should be distinguished between brand terms and non-brand terms. – Matt Umbro
  • Non-brand terms will also have a higher cost per conversion, but brand will always lower overall account cost per conversion. – Matt Umbro
  • Account level and sometimes promotional specific based. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • Mostly account level goals. Sometimes brand/non-brand. Lower level than that tends to be quite informal. Eg: Client will say “sell more of that” or “we think this will be big” or similar. Kind of a goal but really more of a nudge. – Richard Fergie
  • Very dependent on client needs. Focusing on Account wide goals means that there are many ways to achieve those goals. – Loz Jones (@HomeOfJones)
  • Totally – Incremental is hard to determine on Brand, but non-brand new visits are often truly growth. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
    • Exactly, and if non-brand is growing then theoretically brand should be as well. – Matt Umbro
  • For in depth goals you need to work more closely with social (campaigns), SEO (keywords), and others. – Rohan Ayyar

Q4: What are some uncommon goals that your clients want to achieve Why?

  • Maybe not uncmmon but lots of convos explaining why being #1 fore very term is not always the best ROI. – Mark Kennedy
  • Specific number of leads and/or Lead quality from the search engines! – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • I’ve worked with clients who are interested in their ad to revenue ratio, ie: spent $10K to make $50K, ad to revenue is 20%. – Matt Umbro
  • # of page views without understanding that attribution. – Ira Kates (@IraKates)
  • My favorite client goal was “to buy a bigger boat”. – Margot da Cunha
  • In a start up environment or a new company entering a marketplace sometimes they are willing to “break even” – Bryant Garvin
  • Sometimes clients ask for ‘input’ goals like “add x number of KWs” rather than ‘output’ goals. Not common and not very useful. – Daniel Humphreys
    • Daniel, they fail to understand that the number of keywords is irrelevant if they are non-performing. – Juan Restrepo
  • Almost any goal associated with a Google Grants account. – Robert Brady
  • In lead gen, not just showing conversions but closing the gap to show what % of conversions actually turn into revenue. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • My problems are more around things like clients wanting to achieve a certain avg ad pos, instead of focusing on CPA. – Theresa Zook
  • Not really a goal but on PLA the client wanted to show only 1 product ad and not use the rest of the ad space. – Ashwin Chandra
  • We’ve prolly all had the clients that just want to get back on adwords after the Google Banhammer was dropped on them. – Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
  • Sometimes Impression Share is a tertiary goal, just to try to maintain the lion’s share of relevant impressions. – Amy Bishop
  • Even impression split between remarketing ads. – James Svoboda
  • Nothing super weird, but a lot of Dr’s who really want to see their name. Fun when the last name is Smith or Jones. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
    • I always have clients tell me that their friends see their remarketing ads and think they are all over the internet! – Matt Umbro

Q5: How hard do you push clients when they are indifferent about goals?

  • Pretty hard. I try to make them understand that they might as well throw the money away as advertise w/o any goal in mind. – Theresa Zook
  • Sooner or later they’re going to question what they’re paying you for, if you’re not pushing for clear communication of goals. – Timothy Jensen
  • If indifferent, I usually discuss the importance of basic account goals, then make suggestions for realistic goals. – Kirk Williams
  • Not very. Sometimes they just don’t know. I’d rather let the results speak for themselves. – James Svoboda
  • Quite. It’s helpful to have KPIs that allow us to decide how to optimise. Plus, we want an objective view of how PPC’s going. – Daniel Humphreys
  • Use data to show best opportunities and best potential gains. Clear communication/answers will silence all pushback. – Joe Martinez
  • Some sort of goal is mandatory. Fine if they’re indifferent, but they have to AGREE to a goal so there’s a barometer. – Aaron Levy
  • Ask questions that will help expose what their goal is without them saying it directly. And highlight improvements! – Margot da Cunha
  • Try to explain to them, the importance of CPA and that it is directly related to product ROI. – Juan Restrepo
  • I think the key is demonstrating improvement, & strategy at a good ROI. Understanding of value is probably > than goals. – Amy Bishop
  • Cant push them too hard, after all they might not know anything about PPC so to presume knowledge on the matter is bad for you. – Loz Jones
    • I don’t see it needs a knowledge of PPC to have a goal for your advertising? – Theresa Zook
    • Agreed, but our job as professionals is explain to them why we apply specific strategies in PPC. – Juan Restrepo
    • They must have some reason for wanting your service in the first place. That can be shaped into a goal. – Daniel Humphreys
    • They should at least understand why they’re paying for it and how it relates to their business goals. – Timothy Jensen
  • Let the account run for a trial period and then based on the current numbers set the realistic goals again. – Ashwin Chandra
    • Yes, try and improve month on month until you find those benchmarks. – Daniel Humphreys
  • A lot of times we’ll set internal only goals so that at the very least, we can measure ourselves. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • It seems that goal indifference is often a result of ignorance. I’ve found once they understand value of goals, they get on board. I don’t mean ignorance in a “you’re dumb way” but an “oh, I’ve never had to think of that before, that makes sense now” way. – Kirk Williams
  • If client seems indifferent bout goals, I find goals that are inline with their business & after time becomes ‘their’ goals. – Greg Young
  • Clients who are indifferent about “goals” aren’t necessarily so about KPIs. it’s their money after all. probe deeper. – Rohan Ayyar

Q6: How far in advance do you plan goals? For example, do you have 3 month goals, 6 months goals, 2 year goals, etc?

  • No, don’t think about it that way except when the client is running sale/special offer. All goals are ongoing. – Theresa Zook
  • Never really had goals being further out than a year. – Richard Fergie
  • Depends on the client and how robust/seasonal the account is, as well as how early they provide budgets. – Amy Bishop
  • I think it’s important to look at goals 2 – 3 years in advance to at least determine where you want to be. – Matt Umbro
  • That’s more of an ecomm issue IMO. – Steve Cameron
    • For seasonal/sale goals, so often clients tell me the day before it starts. So hard to plan. – Theresa Zook
  • Depends on sales cycle. A 3 month goal doesn’t make sense for a client that takes a year to close leads. – Aaron Levy
  • These goals don’t have to be the end all, but they provide a good framework of growth. – Matt Umbro
  • Have used the 30-60-90 rule for internal goals to map out strategies. Client goals all depends on their urgency/needs. – Joe Martinez
  • 3 months works best for flexibility and relevance. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Monthly goals and year on year improvements if the data is available. Some specific duration goals for isolated events. – Daniel Humphreys
  • We do plan for 3 months goals in advance but that are mostly for budgets.What client are mostly interested in are monthly goals. – Ashwin Chandra
  • A lot of clients don’t set deadlines on their PPC Goals, its often: Just hit this CPA/ROI/CPC… (as soon as you can). – Greg Young
  • Anywhere from 30seconds to an hour…. or at least that’s what it feels like. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Businesses have longer term goals (or some do) but translating these into long term PPC targets is hard I think. – Richard Fergie
  • I have really granular 3mo goals than several 6mo – 1yr goals and strategies laid out. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
  • I’d think of goals, targets and forecasts, use each responsibly. Long term goals, forecast month to month, hit targets weekly. – Aaron Levy

Q7: We’ve talked about goals in terms of numbers, but do you ever aim to set qualitative or non-metric goals?

  • All the time. Account setups, new buildouts, landing pages. All non-metric but we have goals to have them done by certain date. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Not really. I’m all about the data & the numbers. – Theresa Zook
  • Google ALWAYS seems to want to set a ‘branding’ goal and invites us to double our display budget when the reps come out to visit. – Greg Young
    • Dont forget to increase your spend on youtube. It’s estimated to influence other stuff! – Aaron Levy
  • Google AM’s do that… anyone read more than 2 pages, spent more than 2 mins on the site. Makes poor performance look great. – Steve Cameron
  • I try and set channel goals. For example, let’s plan to try Facebook, then LinkedIn, then more advanced retargeting, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • If we have lead goals, we want to try to make sure that they are translating to sales. – Amy Bishop
  • I have worked on branding campaigns in the past, mostly focusing on CTR, but I doubt goals would be useful without benchmarks. – Juan Restrepo
  • Does moving primarily to PLA from text ads count? – Rohan Ayyar
  • Lot’s of branding goals, but still need SOME sort of metric to establish success. Pageviews, increased brand recognition etc. – Aaron Levy
  • Some clients come in needing account build-outs, restructuring, or even have a goal of truly learning PPC. – Margot da Cunha
  • For clients, I like to try and make them look good/clever. – Richard Fergie

Resources

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.

Participants

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)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Ashwin Chandra (@ashwin_chandra)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Daniel Humphreys (@DanHumphreys88)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Greg Young (@PPCJedi)
• Ira Kates (@IraKates)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Loz Jones (@HomeOfJones)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
 

PPCChat Streamcap Goal Completing

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; he works at WebRanking, an Internet Marketing Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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