Assessing Your PPC Prowess

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosts PPCChat with another great question set titled “Assessing Your PPC Prowess.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What do you believe your strongest tactical and/or client relation skill is? Why?

  • Explaining technical things in ways that non-technical people really understand. – Julie Bacchini (@NeputneMoon)
  • Study skills. We sell knowledge. Sometimes it takes 5 min. to do something, but you have to know WHAT to do. – Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
  • As far as tactical. It’s testing and optimization. As far as clients. Making ppc seem less intimidating. – Mike Crimmins (@mikecrimmins)
  • Experience. There are few situations in PPC or client questions I haven’t heard before. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • I’m confident in my ability to prioritize. I know what optimizations are worth spending time and will make a difference. – Matt Umbro
  • Being able to analyze data and communicate it’s meaning, impact, and make decisions or recs for action. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Telling a story with data. The numbers are meaningless without the insight to tell what’s happening/not happening. – Iliana Cherniz (@ICherniss)
  • Honesty. Its easy to change your KPI each week to make you look good. We all had bad months and being honest about it is key! – Travis Johnson (@PPCSuperSaiyan)
    • Agreed. So many people manipulate data rather than being honest. – Jacob Baagsgaard (@jakebaadsgaard)
  • Honesty. Some take it the wrong way initially but always appreciate it knowing I’m not pulling anything over their heads. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Prioritization is important and spans both tactical & client-facing skills. Gotta know when to fix things & when to report back. – Sean Murphy (@PPC_Sean)
  • Taking the time to work through questions and strategic approach. Helping others understand the approach. The why. – Jason Dodge (@dodgejd)
  • There is such a thing as over-communication. Understanding what doesn’t need to be said is often better than overexplaining. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
    • Had a client tell me “We’re sure SEO is fascinating, but don’t need spend an hour taking about it.” – James Svoboda
  • Aligning PPC w/ other [online & offline] marketing strategies. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • It is so easy to make the data tell what you want it to say. Being honest is needed with clients. – Travis Johnson
  • Clients love when you present solutions to problems that they didn’t know they had, esp if you took over the acct from an agency! – Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
  • Honesty about the data and the future is what the client gets. Some who want a “yes man/woman” end up disliking the truth. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Key is specialization & prioritization. Knowing what you are doing & what to do when builds confidence. Transparency builds trust. – Lisa Sanner
  • Attention to detail & noticing things out of place. – Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
  • Ingenuity. I’ve built a career on creating solutions for seemingly impossible challenges. – Rachel King (@rachelking237)

Q2: What skills/tactics are you trying to improve upon? Why?

  • Want to dig more into learning JavaScript & applying to AdWords Scripts. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Technical skills such as Google tag manager and scripts. I have a mental block on anything that resembles coding. – Melissa Mackey
  • Testing strategies. Being effective AND explaining to client before/during/after. – Kyle Crocker
  • Audience targeting in general – whether through Google, Facebook, or other channels. I’d like to improve upon my understanding. – Matt Umbro
  • Internal communication. Went from small to larger agency with client teams. A different world for sure! – Michael Fleming
  • As a company we’re focusing on becoming better at lesser-used campaigns (GSP) and newer platforms (Twitter, FB, LI). – Jacob Baadsgaard
  • Communication. Always trying to work on better ways to communicate ideas, results, etc. – Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
  • I’m always working on my copywriting. – Steve Gibson
  • Competitor Research. Its good to know what your competitors are going and either duplicating it or making yourself different. – Travis Johnson
  • As someone professionally dedicated to constant & relentless optimization/improvement I find this question difficult to answer. – Neil Sorenson
  • Persuading clients to step up their mobile game, remarketing. Developing and sticking to testing plans. – Lisa Sanner
  • Prioritization. – Larry Cobb (@bonzailarry)
  • Taking remarketing to even more granular levels. And always wanting to do things better AND faster. – Julie Bacchini
  • Social platforms. I don’t keep up with the new features on social as well as I do search/display. – Joe Martinez
  • Tracking conversions from PPC on Apps, especially iOS. – Iliana Cherniss
  • Video is often tough for me to sell. It feels like you’re selling a product and an attribution model at the same time. – Mark Irvine
  • Also have room to learn in my Excel skills. – Timothy Jensen
  • Analytics. – Emma Franks
  • Social ads & understanding attribution better. Bc landscaped has/is shifting for both. – Kirk Williams
  • Attribution. Good one. Always looking for ways to improve here. – Joe Martinez
  • I’d like to better understand cross-device paths and the various user touch points, including non-PPC ones, aka more visibility! – Katie Mullins
  • Scripts Scripts Scripts. Potential to leverage them to do many mundane, repetitive tasks, reporting, etc. – Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
  • Probably JS so writing custom scripts would be easier for me. – Steve Seely (@SteveSeeley)

Q3: What skill(s) would you have liked to learn before starting your PPC career? Why?

  • Domain buying 10-20 years ago. – Neil Sorenson
  • I wish I had been an excel wiz before starting PPC to reduce the learning curve. I could have absorbed so much more! – Katie Mullins
  • Statistical Analysis. – Larry Cobb
  • It sounds counterintuitive because of my last answer, but I would have liked to have done more with Excel in college. – Matt Umbro
  • Easy. More advanced excel. Even as a finance major, I wasn’t completely prepared coming in. – Zachary Dumke (@Zach_ppc)
  • Cliche perhaps, but knowing a lot more Excel than the uber basics. – Julie Bacchini
  • More general JavaScript skills would always be helpful. – Kyle Crocker
  • Oh man. I’d say more programming – but everything has changed so much since 2002 that I really can’t say! – Melissa Mackey
  • More about conversion rate optimization and social media marketing. – Jacob Baadsgaard
  • Deeper coding beyond basic HTML I already knew. I’d love to be able to create my own JavaScript for GTM. – Joe Martinez
  • More on the communications side of education and less on marketing. – Jason Dodge
  • Jumping off the Excel wagon for a sec – core analytics concepts. – Michael Fleming
  • Traditional ad copywriting. TV mediabuying. Design as an art, as opposed to a means to an end. Advanced tomato throwing. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Deeper Excel knowledge. Javascript so I could pick up scripts more quickly. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Anything to do with marketing, even like a 101 course. I often feel like I don’t know the language people are speaking. – Mark Irvine
  • Excel skills, stats refresher, project management, running damn projectors for meetings in the conference rooms. – Lisa Sanner
  • Excel and stats aside, core marketing classes. Like the history of. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • I’d also say marketing psychology. I use it religiously now but when I started I was just focused on blasting keywords. – Joe Martinez
  • More coding, specifically Javascript. – Kurt Henninger
  • HTML and Java. Basics not really sufficient but not enough time to study in depth now. Could probably benefit from Excel too. – Emma Franks
  • Truly understanding trends and being able to forecast seem to be part and parcel of my everyday process. more math. – Larry Cobb
  • I’m shocked people love Excel or want to learn it. Why not use something modern like Google Sheets. – Frederick Vallaeys (@siliconvalaeys)

Q4: What do you believe has been your greatest career accomplishment? Why?

  • Finding a career I love and am good at. I previously had jobs I loved but wasn’t good at, or I was good at but didn’t love. – Melissa Mackey
  • Turning a $30MM program from red to black in under 6 months. Still smile about that one. – Rachel King
  • The work I did on small nonprofits has always been the most rewarding part of my career. – Doug Thomas
  • Getting a PPC Job right out of college. I only took 2 classes on it and so far I have learned a ton! Good accomplishment for me. – Travis Johnson
  • A couple businesses have told me my PPC work helped them expand and grow their business. That’s always fun to hear. – Matt Umbro
  • Any moment when I see that spark of understanding & enthusiasm with a client. It’s never not thrilling. – Julie Bacchini
  • Taking a mature account that had been managed by big agencies and increasing ROI by >600% in 7 months. – Steve Gibson
  • It was great to hear an owner say we helped save his business & people didn’t lose jobs. PPC makes a difference. – Joe Martinez
  • To date: Rebuilding my agencies trust in PPC as a valuable, useful channel. – Kyle Crocker
  • Finding my ying/yang in advt/marketing. Being part of and building a great team at Point It. Love our peeps! – Lisa Sanner
  • Finding a career I was happy at and allowed me the freedom to actually live outside of my work. – Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
  • Finally making more money than my wife. – Michael Fleming
  • Still being in business and happy with what I’m doing. Who’d have guessed? – Neil Sorenson
  • My personal growth in PPC is something I’m very proud of. Like the rest of us in this chat, I invest a lot of time into learning! – Katie Mullins
  • Growing a team that thinks differently about PPC and changing the minds of others about PPC. – Jason Dodge

Q5: Talk about a failure or mistake that helped shape your work for the better?

  • Over-promising without understanding. A rookie mistake we all need to make, methinks. – Jeff Loquist
  • Going at it alone right after I left Google. Finding great cofounders really helped make our business successful. – Frederick Vallaeys
  • Didn’t listen to a client who wanted to push a certain niche for months. Once I “gave in,” we saw extremely low costs per lead. Lesson: shut up and listen for once. Sometimes it’s almost like the client might know their business. – Doug Thomas
  • Make sure you do not add any extra 0’s to your budget. Double check your changes before you make them. – Travis Johnson
  • A broad match keyword slipped through and I learned how important having a defined process for everything is. – Michael Fleming
  • My motto is if you’re going to fail fail spectacularly and learn something. Failures have shaped my career more than successes. – Rachel King
  • My first agency experience was a mess. Taught me how to keep ethics in data manipulation the hard way. – Mark Irvine
  • Being cocky and assumed I could deliver performance with a horrible website. Biggest backfire ever. Shitty pages don’t lie. – Joe Martin
  • Not making the tough decisions sooner because you didn’t want them to be the right ones. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Didn’t setup tracking correctly and having to explain to the client why we were missing this important data. – Matt Umbro
  • Temptations not to be fully transparent in reporting. Always being open is crucial to long-term trust. – Timothy Jensen
  • Didn’t do research taking a job w/ a biz that was a poor fit. Plus I didn’t agree w/ their methods (shady). Left after 3 mos. Lesson learned for me to do my own homework on a company that I’m considering working for. The interview goes both ways. – Neil Sorenson
  • Blindly accepting processes “because that’s how we always do it.” Questioning led to new optimizations and increased efficiency. – Emma Franks
  • Not having budget pacing checks in place. – Lisa Sanner
  • Wished I had learned to delegate sooner, and forgetting to change various ad copies after holidays. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • I once called a client the wrong name on a phone call – I quickly glossed over it. I also saw a client had changed her last name. I asked if she got married. She said she got divorced. – Matt Umbro
  • Any number of times I’ve failed to effectively explain a strategy or results to a client in a way they understand. – Kyle Crocker
  • From a different angle, I think it’s tempting to want to make wide sweeping changes before truly analyzing what’s currently working. – Katie Mullins
  • Once sent a client a picture of Random Task instead of a link to their weekly report. Best call ever. Lesson learned – have fun. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Once, before leaving on a 7-day vacation. I “reduced” budgets from $50/day to $35/day, except I went for $350 instead. Mucho spend. – Neil Sorenson
  • Misunderstanding a geo setting and having the ads run everywhere BUT where we wanted them to. – Julie Bacchini
  • I once made a bid change on set of kws for $15, not 15%. Major error, working too fast. Thank god the results weren’t terrible. – Lisa Sanner
  • General tip – ALWAYS remember anything you put in email can be cut & pasted and/or forwarded on to others. – Julie Bacchini
  • I once deleted an entire campaign instead of pausing because this stupid Remove option. – James Svoboda
  • Thankfully (I think) I worked in law firms before PPC. Now that’s an industry that will scare email triple checks into you. – Elizabeth Marsten

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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)
• Alma Smith (@Alma_Smith)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
• Frederick Vallaeys (@siliconvalaeys)
• Iliana Cherniz (@ICherniss)
• Jacob Baagsgaard (@jakebaadsgaard)
• Jason Dodge (@dodgejd)
• Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeputneMoon)
• Katie Mullins (@katiemuffins)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Larry Cobb (@bonzailarry)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
• Mike Crimmins (@mikecrimmins)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Rachel King (@rachelking237)
• Sean Murphy (@PPC_Sean)
• Steve Seely (@SteveSeeley)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Travis Johnson (@PPCSuperSaiyan)
• Zachary Dumke (@Zach_ppc)

Streamcap Prowess

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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