PPC Streamcap – Dealing With PPC Struggles

This week, our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) explored “Dealing with PPC Struggles.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What proactive measures do you take to ensure client satisfaction when results are less than satisfactory?

  • Full disclousre. What you are doing, why you are doing it, and what adjustments need to be made. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Speaking to the client about the metrics, explaining what’s going on, and giving solutions before they ask. – Claire Remmetter (@cremmetter)
  • Make ALL recommendations possible. Never want to make excuses, or have a client wonder what they’re paying me for. – Aaron Levy – (@bigalittlea)
  • Communication & offering tons of next steps & recommendations to take performance beyond satisfactory. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • Be up front and honest with them and tell them what you’re going to do to fix the problem. – PurePPCCom (@pureppccom)
  • Provide Actionable Findings, Optimization Plan, and Manage Expectations. – Emily Las (@emlas) +
  • Always looking to try new things and adjust strategy. Client needs to know you are on top of things. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Explain what didn’t work and why it didn’t. Keep them looped in. Give them a plan for steps moving forward. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem) +
  • Let them know before they let you know. And a full understanding of why its happening. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos) +++
  • Transparency & managing expectation levels from the off means normally it isn’t an issue. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
  • Keep in mind holiday, seasonal, and event related trends that may be affecting campaign performance. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Managed expectations is huge. They need to know that it’s all trial and error. If everything worked, they could do it themselves. – Michelle Morgan
    • In terms of preemptive, this cannot be said enough! – Chris Kostecki +
    • Agreed, maybe this could have been avoided by agreeing on targets up front? – Michael Flemming (@mflem25)
  • Always keep them in the loop on what we are doing. Make sure they know our game plan to help them out. – Luke Alley
  • Also need to let them know what their competitors are doing. Ex: competitor might sell product for $100 less. – Matt Umbro
    • Good call. Other market influences might skew “your” results. – Michelle Morgan
      • Seen it before, especially when CTR is high and conversion rate is low. – Matt Umbro
    • The competitive landscape should be known out of the gate, and business vulnerabilities documented. – Chris Kostecki
  • Always be transparent through data. Full disclosure is a must for PPC. – James Svoboda
  • What Not to Do: Don’t blame Google (they talk to your clients too), Don’t blame your tracking solution. – Emily Las
  • Explaining to a client what went wrong without an action plan to the solution is just bad business IMO. – (@gladue) ++++
  • Stay on top of it. If YOU tell THEM there’s a problem before they see it themselves, it gives them confidence. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer) +
    • Yes! and also tell them why the problem occurred. They accept mistakes better when admitted quickly/emphatically. – Michael Flemming +
  • Problem solve and offer solutions. – James Svoboda
  • Issue is – in my experience, 80% of the time when PPC goes bad, it’s the client’s website that’s failing. – Theresa Zook
    • To be fair this should be flagged before you activate the account. – Andrew Baker
  • If something unexpected/surprising in results occurs, be honest & say so, & what you will do next. Be direct. Build trust. – Lisa Sanner
  • Sometimes seasonal downturns are masking y/y growth. Its important they understand gains made, even if they aren’t immidiate. – Chris Kostecki

Q2: What has been your primary reason for losing PPC clients?

  • Some clients aren’t ready for PPC just yet. We test first and sometimes the tests can tell you that for small biz. – Mark Kennedy
  • Unwillingness to adjust to the market, or invest in high quality traffic. – Chris Kostecki
  • Not being 100% transparent. Honesty is key to the relationship. – Eric Farmer (@click_eric)
  • Mostly lost clients for business reasons. I.E. We tried everything and PPC just didn’t work. Also, some take in house. – Aaron Levy +
  • Low budgets, not willing to make landing pages or try offers good for the web. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Lack of budget or deciding to consolidate agencies. – Lerna Terpanjian (@Lerna)
  • Unwilling to commit (communication, budget, etc). Think they can get same results for cheaper. – Andy Groller +
  • Not cost effective… low conversions + high spend. It often has to do with how client’s site converts more than anything. – James Svoboda +
  • Failure in communication both from client and myself, which is a big thing I’ve worked on over the years. – Matt Umbro
    • True. Communication = Time. The more time you invest the better the relationship. – Luke Alley +
  • Touch wood… never happened yet. I’ve run limited discovery accounts for SEO, but all my ROI clients are still with me. – Andrew Baker
  • Often clients simply want to pause PPC while they focus money & resources elsewhere, and then return when they feel “ready.” – Cassie Allinger (@_CassieLee_)
    • That is the worst. they need a 101 on Quality Score. Nothing worse than losing momentum. – Emily Las
      • True … but when that pause allows the client to afford a brand new, well converting website, it can be worth it. – Cassie Allinger
  • Also, I have lost small fish due to focusing on big fish. Sometimes have to prioritize client load. – Chris Kostecki +
  • The business of servicing clients in a fast-paced industry like PPC is not easy. – Emily Las
    • Can be tough and makes for a good learning experience. – Matt Umbro
  • Budget. (People continue to expect to reap $1M in annual sales for a $2/day investment.). – Theresa Zook
  • Some clients bring their PPC in-house after we are completely transparent, they think they are experts all of a sudden. – Eric Farmer +
  • Small budgets can and have been PPC killers. Sometimes you just can’t do enough that needs to be done with a small budget. – James Svoboda

Q3: Should we as PPC managers be more selective in the accounts we accept in order provide the best results? In other words, should we accept accounts that we know have poor website conversion funnels, little budget, etc?

  • Yes. – Andrew Baker
  • Yes!!! The worst thing you can do in PPC (and all business) is to set both parties up for failure. – Aaron Levy
  • It’s a question of business needs: if you can hand select clients you have the revenue stream to do so. – Andy Groller
  • PPC is fluid, can easily adjust course…i’ve kept struggling accounts for a while w expectations right around the bend. – Chris Kostecki
  • In theory it would be ideal to be more selective, but this isn’t always the case. – Matt Umbro
  • Depending on the site/product PPC is not always the way to go. I think it’s important to give clients alternatives. – (@bassovita)
  • Also, who doesn’t like the challenge of overcoming those obstacles that appear to be a fail waiting to happen? – Andy Groller
  • Yes, be selective, some just won’t work: Small budget, super expensive CPC. – Eric Farmer
  • Yes, need to be more selective. Sometimes it just won’t work if the effort is there on their end. – Mark Kennedy
  • I don’t know, to a certain point yes, also have to challenge ourselves & not leave money on the table. Like brand kws, good but not growing. – Chris Kostecki
  • Maybe we should. Maybe we set them up to fail because we want the new acct. Hard to say no to a new client. – Theresa Zook
  • Just to add, if I see potential in a product/market & client is willing to make sig changes I will work with them. – Andrew Baker
  • More selective? Yes. Turn down an acct just b/c it looks destined for failure? Not necessarily. Those can be the best successes. – Cassie Allinger
  • This all goes back to managing expectations. – Eric Farmer
  • Yes and No. Sometimes you need get the horse to water first before it will realize it’s thirsty. – James Svoboda
  • Solve site issues first before paying to send people there. No sense in sending someone to a restaurant with crap food. – Aaron Levy ++
    • Sometimes you need to spend some money to send a little traffic there to solve the issues first. – Andrew Baker
      • Of course, but it goes back to setting expectations. If the goal is to find out what’s borked, say so up from. – Aaron Levy
    • Trying that w/our client (unusually open to making chages) and am hoping it’s a recipe for success. – Theresa Zook
  • But when you’re building your business–how do you turn down a new client? – Theresa Zook ++
  • Hard to turn down the DINERO when you are in need of clients. – Luke Alley +
  • Also hard to take on a client who has the budget but whose website is terrible to just turn around in 4 months & say PPC is failing. – Matt Umbro
  • If you do a good job of teaching the potential client, rather than just “selling them,” they’ll make the right decision. – Stu Draper (@GetFoundFirst)
  • It definitely depends. If the brand is flexible & willing to make changes, it can be rewarding for both parties. – Lerna Terpanjian
  • Selective based on budget, client expectations, client effort, not as much on difficulty. – Mark Kennedy
  • Selectivity is important! The bad experience the client may have, will hurt you in the end. – Bonnie Schwartz (@bonnieschwartz) +
  • One of my fav lessons as an agency…while tough, was that i must learn to say “no” to truly grow. – James Zolman (@jameszol) +++
  • How many of us buy different domain names & put up special landing pages to overcome client website issues? – Theresa Zook
  • Need to be sizable account (media spend) to afford professional agency mgmt fees. If not, we refer to contractors who we trust. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • You aren’t just selling PPC to a client, but rather conversion optimization, landing page development, lead tracking, etc. – Matt Umbro +++
    • You’re selling a relationship based on your expertise, so you want it to work. – Mark Kennedy
    • Agree, but there is value in those other services that we sometimes give away when managing ppc. – Chris Kostecki
  • If you can’t agree on initial goals and tactics (goal = conversion, tactic = landing pages), then decline. – Michael Flemming
  • PPC isn’t about just getting the click which I believe too many managers only take into account. – Matt Umbro ++
  • I’m hearing it more and more from other internet marketers, sometimes you should turn away clients for business growth, etc. – Luke Alley
    • It’s tough (especially when you need $)but it’s worth it. Build relationships & biz will grow accordingly. – Aaron Levy
  • Here’s a metric – Estimated Business Value – we’ve taken accounts where this ended up negative in the end, now we know the signs. (expected business value = my made up metric for whether or not expected value of taking on a client will be positive) – Michael Flemming

Q4: How do you get through to clients who don’t seem to understand PPC and its implications no matter what you say?

  • Reports. Let the numbers do the talking. – Stu Draper ++
  • Conversions are the Universal PPC Language. Everyone understands them. – James Svoboda
  • Don’t understand its benefits…? I’d show them a little thing called return on ad spend. – @bassovita
  • Graphs & data. If you show how PPC is directly impacting their ROI you’ll have a better chance of getting through. – Andy Groller
  • Move on, if they are that thick headed then it will be a constant struggle. Move on to the one that wants to work w you! – Chris Kostecki
    • Can’t “move on.” A surprising number of business still don’t “get” most of the internet, much less PPC. – Theresa Zook
      • Cost of Traffic<Value of Traffic, if they cant get that then its a waste of time. – Chris Kostecki
  • Run a test. you build a campaign, they build a campaign, and split the traffic. – Claire Remmetter
  • Try (as best you can) to explain it simple terms and how it will impact their bottom line. – Mark Kennedy
  • Get results then they will listen. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • This is where trust & relationships really comes into play. – Cassie Allinger +
  • Talk only about the money. This is easier for PPC as cash is trackable and almost speaks for itself if you guide and give time. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • I can’t say I’ve had that experience, most of my clients are pretty clued up with PPC, they get it, that’s why they’re in it. – Andrew Baker
  • Show them how it works, just start clicking on their ads like crazy! – Eric Farmer +++
  • Its such a basic concept, if they don’t get it, someone above them will. – Chris Kostecki
  • We have all data evar. Worst comes to worst, you can prove ROI with just a few numbers from client side. – Aaron Levy
  • I try to focus on expected ROI, then work backwards to explain (without jargon) how we’ll try to get there. – Theresa Zook
  • How about the clients that trust you and are happy with the results, but always want to know more, which can be very time consuming? – Matt Umbro
    • Perhaps a monthly seminar/training session similar to PPCChat – @bassovita
    • Gently explain that time for more talk takes away from improving performance even more in most cases. – Andy Groller +
    • I’m suspicious that “overly eager to learn the details” clients are wanting to glean as much as possible before going inhouse. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
      • Or they are responsible business people who are just trying to make sure that you are doing a good job? – Cassie Allinger
    • You need to know where to draw the line, but often that little bit of extra invested time pays off in loyal clients. – Cassie Allinger
    • Put an optional coaching component in all proposals. If not accepted first go around but ??? later, point to coaching component. Educating becomes profitable that way and clients appreciate the time imo. – James Zolman
    • Education does take time but it pays off, usually gets to the point where they have more trust in what we do. – Chris Kostecki
      • Shows that you know what you’re doing as well. – James Svoboda
  • If they understand the value of sales, leads, and/or traffic to their website – They’ll get it. The numbers speak for themselves. – Cassie Allinger
    • That’s certainly possible..but I’ve had more than a few clients squeeze us for as much info as possible before bailing. – Neil Sorenson
      • Might as well help. Chances are that if they were that determined, they would have figured it out with or without your help. – Cassie Allinger
  • Sometimes client blame PPC for all their business woes. So much is out of our control. Google Insights help show this sometimes. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • When client is not convinced, I harp on “low risk, high return” – give us proper amt of time: results will speak for themselves. – Emily Las
  • Work hard on their account, tell them how great everything is looking, and move on. Better to avoid details sometimes! – Lerna Terpanjian
  • Yes. Tough to explain to a client that you can either improve their campaign OR talk to them 3 times a week–but no time to do both. – Theresa Zook

Q5: Is there an industry to which you have had little success? Why do you think this is?

  • Low priced niche items can be hard. – Mark Kennedy
  • Biggest challenge is being small fish in a big pond. Not industry specific, but low $ + expensive space = hard! – Aaron Levy ++
  • Some really high tech audiences, w/ limited audiences have been a struggle. – Bonnie Schwartz +
  • Health/Fitness, mortgage, jewelry…off the top of my head. Too competitive. Too many idiots want to make a buck, drive up costs. – Neil Sorenson
  • Not like “No Success” but definitely very tough time – Web Hosting – reason – CRAZY competition. Anyone else too? – Sergey Smirnov (@Smirnovi4)
  • I’m of the opinion that one can always back into profitability in any industry…just depends on how big the bankroll is, to get there. sometimes it can take months of losses to “get it right” in tough spaces. – James Zolman
    • You’re right. It can take months, the hard part is finding those clients that have the budget, patience, & understanding. – Stu Draper
  • Ecommerce is tough. Clients want direct ROI (sales) and often do not understand/account for multi-channel funnels. – James Svoboda +
  • Not so much industry, but category: very niche/new products that have nearly no awareness behind them. Tough going early on. – Andy Groller +
  • Bespoke s/w, took a lot longer to optimise the account, nearly gave in, kept at it but now cooking w/ gas. – Andrew Baker
  • Also, products/industries without a ton of name recognition. If nobody knows what to search for, what do you adv. on? – Aaron Levy
    • True! Sometime you have to build awareness 1st, which search is not for. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • Health care. – Theresa Zook
  • People who want $5 leads. They think $5 leads grow on PPC trees. – Neil Sorenson ++
  • In general I would say the IT industry, keywords cost lots of $ and often sales cycle is very long. – Matt Umbro +
    • Contracts are generally HUGE. One sale can cover whole engagement. – Aaron Levy
      • 100% agree, and Ive been in the position where I keep pestering clients about leads, that’s the tricky part. – Matt Umbro
    • SalesForce is a god send for IT clients. – Andy Groller
      • Yes it is, but often times salesforce to PPC manager relationship gets lost in translation. – Matt Umbro
  • Local services, insurance, mlm, tech software, furniture. Drop shippers with 10-20% margins. – Chris Kostecki
  • Always found travel a touch category…easy to get leads, tougher to get customers. IT also hugely competitive; feel like I have little control over it. – Peter Hughes (@hughespjh)
  • Loan industry is SUPER hard. Impossible to get QS of 10 there. – Luke Alley
  • Also a lot of B2B niches dont search on Google/Binghoo, need to find other areas where the market congregates. – Chris Kostecki
  • Best? SAAS model companies are great because lead to customer is a more direct reflection on the product experience (lead = trial). – Peter Hughes
  • I’ve had a challenge in plumbing. Every keyword starts with QS 2-4 it seems. – Michael Flemming
    • Yes I’ve seen consistent low QS’s in the plumbing/ac industry – That’s where QS becomes very relative to your comps. – Cassie Allinger

Q6: What management advice would you give your fellow ppcchat-ers to help ensure good client relations and/or performance?

  • Be honest about your skills and the extent of your capabilities! – Nate Schubert (@NateSchubert)
  • Be open and honest. Your clients will respect and trust you if you treat them with trust and respect. – Michelle Morgan
  • Good customer service. I’ve inherited many accounts due to poor cust serv from other agencies. – Mark Kennedy
  • Above all, Manage Expectations & Be Solution-Oriented. – Emily Las
  • Be honest, be proactive, learn as much as you can (with #ppcchat) and WORK HARD. – Aaron Levy
  • Implement Call Tracking. If you don’t you’re loosing PPC Conversions to other channels. – James Svoboda
  • We are Basecamp fanatics over here. – Bonnie Schwartz
  • Do the hard nitty-gritty work, ad testing, neg. kw research, etc. – Luke Alley
  • Yes manage expectations, honesty, transparency, communication. – Andrew Baker
  • Show why you are good at what you do! Show how PPC fits into wider marketing mix & that you aren’t just obsessed with your silo. – Peter Hughes
  • Be honest. Be confident. Be professional. Be the expert. – Eric Farmer
  • Set expectations on day one–and set them about 5% lower than you think you can actually achieve. – Theresa Zook
  • Show why you’re better than the rest. Help with a product feed, ask lots of questions, inquire about overall sales, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • If you make a mistake, & it costs them money, EAT IT! Admit your mistake, even if they may not notice. Honesty = best policy. – Stu Draper
  • Never hide from bad performance…be honest and show how it can be fixed. – Peter Hughes
  • Honest & transparent, proactive communication, and account diligence. Just because it looks easy, it isn’t! – Chris Kostecki
  • Communication, realistic expectations & BHAGs too, honesty, transparency… the list goes on. – Andy Groller


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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Eden Prairie, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap putterer togetherer, rarely an seo blogger, SEO Padawan, Tweeterer @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er PaulKragthorpe.

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4 Responses to PPC Streamcap – Dealing With PPC Struggles

  1. Emily Las says:

    Thanks for posting this Matt, Paul & co.!!

  2. thanks for this post Matt, really informative

  3. […] PPC Streamcap – Dealing With PPC Struggles by Matthew Umbro […]

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