Entering Unfamiliar Markets In PPC

This week Luke Alley (@LukeAlley) fills in for Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosting PPCChat with a great question set titled “Entering Unfamiliar Markets In PPC.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you determine strategy for keywords, ads, landing page, etc. when entering a new industry?

  • Work closely with SEO side on KWs, evaluate competition. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • Client input is a must. You need to know the audience, competition, and current industry landscape. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • It’s always good to know what your competitors are doing. You can learn a lot from then both good and bad. – Travis Johnson (@PPCSuperSaiyan)
  • Convos with client to understand biz, competitor research, data from GA/past campaigns if available, kw tool research. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Start with the client – see where their research is. Then move to competitors. Lots of copy testing for IDing real pain points. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • Take time to research and talk to your client. Get to know their business if you’re unfamiliar. – Gil Hong (@_GilHong)
  • Hope they’ve got GA and giggle if also got Search Console. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • I start by asking the client what allowable cost per conversion is, then compare that to est click costs, & likely conv rate. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • The challenge is that a lot of clients are – to be crude – deluded about their position in the market. Very few know their USP. – Doug Thomas
    • Too true. They may understand their biz but need help understanding marketing, especially online. – Timothy Jensen
  • Lots of research with the client and application of best practices. – Jacob Baadsgaard (@jakebaadsgaard)
  • Client gives a good starting point, then move to what competitors are doing. Typically a lot to learn from clients spending $$$. – Luke Alley
  • Asking a lot of discovery questions re: clients business, challenges. And being a good listener without being a know it all. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
    • 2nd point is crucial here to gain respect. Biz relationship is about communication, not just your expertise. – Timothy Jensen
  • Speak to clients then justify strategy with data. It’s our job to find the disconnect and close the gap. – Dallas Stevens (@DDP_PPC)
  • Starts with session creating customer avatar & look to see what others in industry are doing. – Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)

Q2: How do you balance your PPC knowledge with a clients industry knowledge to make a winning formula?

  • I always make it clear that we’re a team – they know their product/industry, I know search. Together we have an advantage. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Making sure priority/high-impact items get the most attention vs. going off on tangents. – Gil Hong
  • They know the industry we know how to apply knowledge. Let them give you a starting point then apply your strategy. – Travis Johnson
  • You ask many, many questions to the client. Listen, learn lots. Then implement utilizing your PPC knowledge. Ongoing process. – Kirk Williams
  • Balance cannot happen without clear communication channels. Both parties can’t be afraid to ask questions. – Joe Martinez
  • Approach it like any partnership. Respect, transparency, communication, perspective taking. We know ppc, they know their biz. – Lisa Sanner
  • Be aware of self fulfilling prophecies. Client knowledge can sometimes be limiting and push us to segment early. – Steve Cameron
  • Any good analyst can see trends in data and make decisions based upon numbers. Knowing industry trends is the client’s advantage. – J. Prentice Parton (@tracknicholson)
  • Talk to the client, check search terms and use visitor playback tools to check lp experience. – Arnout Hellemans (@hellemans)
  • Lots of listening . Must get feeling for customer persona, touchpts, buyer journey and client’s KPIs. – Scott Clark (@scottclark)
  • Sometimes, the missing piece w/ inconsistent data nuances are answered by the “seasonality trends” that the client knows best. – J. Prentice Parton
  • Absorb their industry knowledge, become almost an employee, then I can implement ppc knowledge effectively w/ winning strategy. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Q2.1 How about times when you find data that contradicts what a client is saying? They say ___ KW is terrible, data says otherwise.
    • Had a time when a client pushed back on KWs we were targeting (can be helpful). Dug in & discovered was new opp area for them. On the flip side, had clients push back and be right on my “best practices” in PPC as well. Communication. – Kirk Williams
    • Make sure you’re doing your due diligence on lead quality/return rates/refunds on the conversions. – Gil Hong
    • You have to present the conflicting data. Usually you can change their mind; if not you’re probably stuck. – Melissa Mackey
    • Usually ends up being a quality issue. Leads are affordable, but don’t convert down-funnel. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
    • I say “don’t bring opinion to a data fight, y’all” – I just ease into showing data & sympathize it can be hard to see. – Scott Clark
    • Turn your clients knowledge into an online business strategy. Our goals should match. Our bottom line isn’t PPC, it’s business. – Dallas Stevens
    • Occasionally. A lot of times it’s a tracking/attribution issue.Telling clients they are wrong ain’t easy, but very necessary. – Lisa Sanner

Q3: How do you set expectations with the client/boss when starting with a fresh account?

  • Have a rollout plan in place that’s agreed upon for launch, data collection, reporting expansion, etc. – Gil Hong
    • A plan and a timeline. “We aren’t worried if it takes a few weeks to get things ramped up." – Kyle Crocker
  • By walking them through the numbers: click cost, expected conv rate v allowable cost per conversion. – Steve Gibson
    • How do you determine expected conv. rate if it’s a new market? – Luke Alley
  • Start by listening to get a sense of what they think is going to happen… and ask about other advertising they’ve been doing. – Steve Cameron
  • The first 3 months are the worst months – we’ll be doing a lot of learning and testing which is a base for future opt. – Melissa Mackey
  • Look at current lp performance, and go a little above that. And give it some time to find the sweet spot. – Arnout Hellemans
  • Personally a big fan of “underpromise, over deliver.” Hard 2 predict hiccups you’ll run into, so manage expectations early. – Sean Murphy (@PPC_Sean)
  • Spell it out launch timeline, keep it tight, set it up for success, triple check your tracking, and tell people to be patient. – Lisa Sanner
  • I also explain that the first spend is for “market research” – like the old focus groups they happily spent so much on. – Steve Cameron
  • Ask them what a goal is worth to them and and agree on a test budget. – Arnout Hellemans
  • Based on the keywords bid and monthly budget. Assuming conversion rate according to the industry. – Kaushik Mukherjee (@kaushikppc)
  • I say “realistically” because I see too many agencies promising the moon to get the account, and not delivering in the reports. – J. Prentice Parton
    • And there’s the rub – Because their reports are awesome. Because a conversion might be a visit to the LP. – Steve Cameron

Q4: What type of competitive research do you do when starting in a new PPC industry?

  • I ask the client and I run some incognito searches. SEMRush also helps. – Steve Cameron
  • Client input for competitors in Paid vs. Organic vs. Brick&Mortar. Google alerts for main industry terms and competitor news. – Gil Hong
  • Look at who shows up for SQs. Then try to find differences in product to make my keywords more specific. Also try and see what value messages competitors are using to try and position our ad message better than them. – Joe Martinez
  • Most insightful are competitive LPs & offers. Clients often don’t realize they have to compete on those offers. Good starting point. – Luke Alley
  • Try to establish overall market demand online and if strong, how sophisticated are the competitors’ response? – Scott Clark
  • Lots of searches. Try to follow other domains across different queries/devices and see how customized they are. – Sean Murphy
  • Depends on the competitiveness of the industry. For competitive industries. I reverse engineer the competitors. – Steve Gibson
  • Competitor audit. We like SEMrush. – Melisa Mackey
  • Checking the Auction Insights report early and often is also good for seeing who you missed in initial research. – Kyle Crocker
  • Nothing serves as a better resource than the client’s own website. Search tools and incognito searches for competition. – J. Prentice Parton
  • Find market research on the consumer segment to understand purchase drivers. Use Spyfu to research competitors paid & organic. – Rachel King (@rachelking237)
  • Not just their PPC account, but USPs, offers, products, upsells, backends, copy points. – Steve Gibson
  • Website analysis, keywords ideation, incognito search, competition tools also helps here. – Kaushik Mukherjee

Q5: How much weight do you give competitors strategies when entering a new market? i.e. What if they are taking the wrong approach? How can you tell?

  • 20% (arbitrary number alert). I have seen too many crappy accounts to care too terribly much about the “other guy”’s strategy. Doesn’t mean there’s not value in being aware of certain things, especially ad text or Landing Page/CTA ideas. – Kirk Williams
  • Some things to pay attention to: competitors bidding on your brand & what their ads & LPs say! – Melissa Mackey
  • If they’re doing RCS then more weight, but ultimately your client should be able to sell for who they are (USPs). – Gil Hong
  • I didn’t make it through school by looking at the work of the kid beside me. – J. Prentice Parton
  • I look at the competitive landscape & identify common tactics – usually a signal that something works. – Roger Sikes (@rogersikes)
  • Minimal. No businesses are going to perform the same. Most of your focus should be on your clients business. – Dallas Stevens
  • Depends on the market. If it’s a weak market, not so much. In competitive markets, I pay a lot of attention. – Steve Gibson
  • Unless you have the competitors revenue & profit data I don’t put much weight behind their visible strategies. – Robert Brady
  • 10%-15%. Often I do the opposite! I do research competitive capabilities, talents, etc to re: how stiff the competition is. – Rachel King
  • Use competitors to research brand/message positioning. If I copy their strategy I won’t stand out. Now bidding on their name. – Joe Martinez
  • Its good to learn from your competitors not be your competitors. Don’t copy them but learn for what they are doing. – Travis Johnson
  • Sniff out reports on spyfu & semrush – Lots of tell-tale signs of weak (or strong) PPC will emerge. – Scott Clark
  • I’ll wait for my competitors to follow me. – J. Prentice Parton

Q6: How long does it take to see success (however you define it) in a new market, on average?

  • I generally tell clients a minimum of 3 months, but can vary by industry and spend. – Timothy Jensen
  • To clarify on my answer, it’s imperative to stand out but understanding the landscape can set the campaign up for success. – Roger Sikes
  • Definitely need to set clear expectations on the time needed to gather data & optimize campaigns. – Timothy Jensen
  • Never as soon as you’d like. Usually month 2 or 3 by the time you can collect enough data to do solid opt. – Lisa Sanner
  • Depends on the complexity of the market: in particular how well initial ads/lp/product fit what the market wants. – Steve Gibson
  • I think 3 months is an average I see. Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes it’s longer. Depends a lot on vertical/spend/etc. – Kirk Williams
  • I like the 3 month window, but also have to consider seasonality, client promotions, etc. – Kyle Crocker
  • Many are critical of long-term contracts, this is why we have 6 month min. Takes time, iterations, hypothesis, etc. – Luke Alley
  • 3 weeks if they have obvious overloaded adgroups to split & poor neg keywords. Other stuff can take a couple months. – Scott Clark
  • Also depends on spend. If you get the same amount of data in 1 months or 6 months it will take less or more time. – Steve Cameron
  • Also depends on the selling cycle for the client – how long before they will see/feel more business. – Kyle Crocker
  • In general i give 3 months as an expectation for gaining ground. But I am always adding to that as we go and see more data. – Dallas Stevens
  • Let’s say “It’s based on goals”. Brand awareness/ push efforts may show results quicker than ROAS or eComm based efforts. – J. Prentice Parton
  • I think this has a lot to do with time to conversion as well. – Dallas Stevens

Q7: What your favorite competitive research tool and why?

  • I don’t cycle through clients rapidly so I don’t want to pay monthly for a comp tool. I like using Fiverr for one-time reports. – Kirk Williams
  • Auction insights. Why not? – J. Prentice Parton
  • Google. Also, spyfu, and archive.org. – Steve Gibson
  • We’re Spyfu fans over here. Best for KW research. – Luke Alley
  • Auction Insights and Spyfu. – Kaushik Mukherjee
  • Google – Sean Murphy

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Compiling Unfamiliar Streamcaps

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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