Your PPC Strengths & Weaknesses

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) interviewed every PPCChatter, or so it seemed with the chat titled “Your PPC Strengths & Weaknesses.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What do you believe to be your best PPC strength? Why?

  • Knowledge. I think it’s our #1 asset. – Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
  • Data driven mindset because counter-intuitive findings are common in ppc advertising. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • I believe the analytic thought process, Data is only a part of the story. – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • Experience and a meticulous, detail-oriented mindset. – Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
  • I personally believe that I am efficient. I can create quality campaigns in a quick manner. – Matt Umbro
  • Detail-oriented, on an OCD-like level. – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • Discipline: it is too easy to let things slide, not put in the time to improve it, and address client concerns. – Michael Erickson (@SearchSciMike)
  • Landing page optimization. You can significantly improve some accounts by not touching AdWords at all. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • A maths and direct marketing background. (As well as finance, programming, and a bunch of other jobs). – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Providing targeted & personalized experiences to potential customers, based on the data @ the keyword/ad level & Website convs. – Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
  • Staying organized. – Sam Gordon (@SamGordonPPC)
  • Curiosity. Always wondering “why” makes for good, thorough analysis. Thorough analysis breeds good planning. – Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
  • Staying organized and prioritizing client requests vs. efficiency/growth optimizations. – Amanda Brown (@AmandaBrown_SEM)
  • The drive to keep learning and becoming better. – David Prochaska (@DavidProHQ)
  • Adaptability (and a sense of humor as a close second). – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Analytical, organised and creative. All together together do a good job in advertising. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • Understanding the mind of the customer. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • Curiosity? Persistence? Analytical? – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Being an organized data junky with a never ending thirst for more PPC knowledge. – Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
  • I’d have to say ability to be creative/flexible/think-outside-the-box; not a one-size-fits-all approach to every single client. – Sarah Danks (@bernier)
  • Negative Keyword exploration is always a best part of the week…. anytime you need to smile, start looking for more negatives. – Maria Corcoran
  • I also believe sharing of information & communication to be a strength for our industry as a whole. – Dave Rosborough
  • Our top asset is most likely attention to detail, something I personally am constantly working to improve upon. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)
  • Also, when there is a change or new feature in the PPC world I feel like I’m on top if it & can intelligently speak to it. – Matt Umbro
  • Years of experience. – Melissa Mackey
  • Attention to detail. Not only in reporting to clients but also in management of campaigns. – Kristina Nette (@KristinaNette)
  • I’m also very good at understanding the business driving PPC-use, and using that to find unique sources of traffic in display, etc. – Max Fink
  • Seeing things from the customers’ perspective. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Advanced analysis. Ive been fortunate to work with powerful tools to show difference between boring reporting & real insight. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Data mining and a/b testing. Drives most, if not all, campaign changes. – Jake Waldrop (@Jakew1541)
  • Experience, knowing AdWords/Bing in and out, coming up with creative ways to structure campaings and always innivating. – Megan Archer (@megs_archer)
  • I’me really good at putting together all the pieces to the puzzle. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)

Q2: What do you believe to be your number one PPC weakness/area for improvement? Why?

  • Client communication. Sometimes they don’t know just how much I do for them. – Michael Fleming
  • Because we’re all B2B, shopping campaigns. Big gap for me personally. – Melissa Mackey
    • I’m in the same boat. Went back to a B2B agency. My focus on Shopping has decreased a lot. – Joe Martinez
  • I can improve on the technical side of managing a google merchant feed. – Harris Neifield
  • Patience…with platforms, with tools, with clients. – Robert Brady
  • Communication & Properly setting stakeholder/client expectations. – Maria Corcoran
  • Working for a services industry shopping campaigns are a weakness. – Jake Waldrop
  • Can be hard to keep up with changes, yet keep the core central. Temptation to get sucked into new things & ignore basics. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Holistic optimization. I have my tricks that involve a lot of excel & bidding. Need to focus more on ad testing, LPO, & CRO. – Chris Haleua
  • I’m not great at presenting information- I can do the work fine but it’s showcasing what and how I’m doing it that is difficult. – Matt Umbro
    • Agreed, getting all that lovable data into something a CMO or biz owner can understand can be a struggle. – Kirk Williams
  • AdWords Scripts & automation. Need to up my coding language knowledge. – Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
  • Creating more “separation” between home & the office. – Dave Rosborough
  • Utilizing a tool. I’ve always done mgmt and optimization manually. I love it! But also want experience using a tool. – Megan Archer
  • Adscripts and using api’s can be very powerful… I’ve been studying up on both. – Olin Downs
  • Patience, sometimes reacting too fast – and not letting changes sink in to see the real results. – Juan Restrepo
  • Google products. – Kristina Nette
  • With the constant changes in the PPC world, I can sometimes find myself scatterbrained. Organization is key for me. – Sam Gordon
  • Keeping a running log of a/b tests so new team members can learn from past experiences. – Michael Erickson
  • My biggest weakness is I have too much sympathy for my minions. – Bryant Garvin
  • APIs. I get what they are, but they are full of black magic for me right now. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • Limits on post-conversion tracking & attribution. CPA is nice, but I want query-level Rev & ROI by channel. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • Assuming for too long I can feed my family and call myself an advertising expert just with search. Must expand to real display. – Chris Haleua
  • Video advertising – limited exposure. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Attribution – both putting it in perspective of a client’s business and being able to tell a client the value of it. – Amanda Brown
  • I feel like this is a part 2 from last week in a way. Implementation I’m good. Presenting I can always use some work. – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
  • Conversion tracking for lead gen campaigns. It’s near impossible to get the exact number of leads that came from PPC. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)

Q3: What is keeping you from improving your area of weakness(es)? Why?

  • Time. Have too many clients to manage to do everything perfectly. – Michael Fleming
  • Time. There’s always something else more pressing. – Amanda Brown
  • Time. (I always MEAN to get started, but get busy doing ‘regular work’ & run out of time.) – Theresa Zook
  • Client mix. No ecommerce clients = no shopping learning. – Melissa Mackey
  • It seems like finding the time to attach weaknesses can be hard with so much going on. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
  • Keeping track of a/b changes is time consuming, and I haven’t found a great tool to make this an efficient process. – Michael Erickson
  • If it’s not lack of time it’s procrastination of course. – Roxana Hassel
  • I’m actually working on my reporting weakness this week. Researching reporting tools & convos with clients. – Kirk Williams
  • It’s somewhat on purpose, I accept that I’m better at certain things than others. Instead of being good at many things I try to be great in a few areas and outsource where I need help. – Matt Umbro
  • Cost of possible tracking options/even finding a solution to every possible tracking need. – John Budzynski
  • Nothing. I came into PPC as a newbie, and haven’t stopped reading, discussing, and learning every day. – Sam Gordon
  • Prioritization and trying to get everything done at the same time. – Maria Corcoran
  • Mainly time & resources I guess. – Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
  • Sometimes you just focus on what you’re good at and avoid the “bad”. – Matthew Lloyd
  • Otherwise, same as with any weakness. Fall into slumps & can be difficult to change habits/thought processes. – Kirk Williams
  • Work-wise? We do things the way we do; I do my part & hand it off. Patience-wise? Been battling that since I was Terribly 2. – Sarah Danks
  • Nothing. I’m learning to program. – Harris Neifield
  • It’s the PPC weaknesses we don’t know about that should really scare us. Which is the importance of rubbing shoulders with colleagues at work/online to help identify those blindspots. – Kirk Williams
  • Fear. Comfortable to feel like an SEM expert. Scary to overcome another sea of 99 display acronyms. Must not gag on lumacape. – Chris Haleua
  • Time. Too much on the plate to get to self-improvement stuff. Though, less of an issue after going in-house. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • About 3 other departments. If I was concentrated more on PPC, I’d be stronger, but weaker in SEO, Social and Analytics. – Elizabeth Marsten
    • Exactly, I want to really excel at PPC, thus, I’m willing to forgo knowledge in other areas. – Matt Umbro
      • I’ve found the reverse can also be true. Too much emphasis on learning new things can hurt those I excel at. – Tyler Purcell
  • The ever changing online marketing environment – it requires time to keep up to date! – Juan Restrepo
  • Letting go of what I can’t control, or at least right now has been one of my hardest challenges. – Bryant Garvin
  • Often clients/work takes priority over PPC self-improvement. It’s a difficult balance. – John Ellis
    • Yeah, I try to do 1 hour of study for every 1 hour of work, but it can be hard. – Michael Fleming

Q4: How do you prioritize what is most important to learn? Why?

  • What needs to be implemented into accounts in a timely fashion takes priority – new features, etc. – Michael Fleming
  • Who is saying it? How important do those I trust feel this is? Is it keeping me from doing my job as best as I can? – Kirk Williams
  • What’s most important for our clients that I might need to learn about/improve? – Sarah Danks
  • Current client needs. I learn what I need to know, as I go. – Theresa Zook
  • Most important skills have the biggest ROI boost. Like adding Bing PLA’s instead of a simple adwords ad copy change. – Michael Erickson
  • Either by what’s going to impact sales the most or what’s going to impact my personal growth the most. – Matthew Lloyd
  • Whatever task can help my clients the most gets first prioritization. Trickle down from there. ROI from the advertiser side. – Joe Martinez
  • What I think will make the biggest impact on my campaigns + awareness on all new features. Followed by what I consider cool. – Roxana Hassel
  • Whatever has the most potential to be beneficial to our clients, our team, or myself. – Francis Shovlin
  • Marketing strategy/CRO – these increase visitor value, which is the biggest lever in PPC. – Steve Gibson
  • InsideAdWords & other Engine-specific blogs > Rimm Kaufman > SEWatch – If it’s on one of those, I’m likely learning about it. – Dave Rosborough
  • As an in-house account manager, I prioritize based on what appears to be the lowest-hanging fruit in the account. – Sam Gordon
  • 1st prioritize my goals then will go through the needed learning process. We need to know what we need to learn first. – Farzin Espahani
  • What others have said: stuff clients can benefit from first, stuff I want to learn a distant second. – Melissa Mackey
  • Keeping on top of news is number one and then what’s important for my clients that I need to learn/improve. – Amanda Brown
  • Tough question,since all online marketing initiatives overlap & aid each other. I would say depending on your field of expertise. – Juan Restrepo
  • New platforms/adtypes/extenstions/ways to push your accounts into additional channels for potential ROI. Always be exploring. – Maria Corcoran
  • Learning about current events in the PPC world seems as important as gaining any particular skill. – Sam Gordon
  • Focus on a subject / own it. Talk/Write/Speak/Read about it, Find experts in those other missing areas. – John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
  • “Will this make me better at something highly valuable?” – Matt Vaillancourt
  • Find heroes inside & outside of team. Share why your respect them. Connect with them as mentors. Many will be happy to teach. – Chris Haleua
  • Dig deeper into what impacts accts now, but be aware of what is happening generally so not blindsided by client questions. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Anything new with the tools I use daily or directly relating to my client’s market come first. – John Budzynski
  • I tend to weigh it against other “things” happening. Alignment with SEO, business trends- where the money is going to be. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • I’m a sucker for anything new but keep my feet firmly grounded in marketing fundamentals. Often overlooked in favor of new! – Mona Elesseily (@webmona)
  • What has the best risk/benefit ratio? Pick items that will have largest impacts to the accts, start learning there. – Maria Corcoran
  • Mostly it’s about clients’ needs, but I try to take an hour/wk to learn what I’m interested that may be leveraged in future. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • I also like to focus on areas that everyone else ignores CRO isn’t PPC but it has a huge impact and so many don’t get it. – Bryant Garvin

Q5: What do you believe is the biggest threat to your status as a PPC professional? In other words, why might you be replaceable?

  • Google is getting better at automation. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
    • Better yes, but I don’t believe automation will fully ever replace a PPC pro. – Matt Umbro
      • But there might be fewer of us. Who knows which side of the cut I’ll be on? – Richard Fergie
    • Even with Google automations, human factor to make unique adjustments (i.e. ad copies, landing pages, etc.) stay. – Farzin Espahani
      • Can’t argue with that. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be fewer PPC practicioners. – Richard Fergie
  • If someone or something else learns faster than me. – Robert Brady
  • Being even better at something else & having The Boss move me to that area. – Sarah Danks
  • Dunno. Improved automation tools? Someday there will be a tool with a brain. – Theresa Zook
  • Misinformation. i.e. running a PPC campaign is a ‘set it and forget’. – Michael Erickson
  • Falling behind in knowledge or becoming complacent. – Matthew Lloyd
  • Not being able to adapt. You have to adjust your strategy as the market and tools dictate. – Matt Umbro
  • Failing to adapt with the future channel changes we don’t even know about yet. Like… interactive holo-ads. – Kirk Wiliams
  • I don’t see PPC going away any time soon. I could see SEO dying off as organic becomes less valuable though. More competition. – Sam Gordon
  • Biggest threat is living in a siloed world. PPC should not stand alone. Must know CRO, Display, Email etc work together. – Maria Corcoran
  • Google has been trying to eliminate PPC managers from the equation. They want no keywords and full control for Google. – Steven Gibson
  • Getting stuck in my ways and forgetting to keep changing as the industry changes. – Amanda Brown
  • Some places are paying more attention to certification than others, no matter how many years exp. one has. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Competition. I worry someday CPCs will be so high nobody can afford PPC. – Matt Vaillancourt
    • But that’s kind of like saying a stock price will be so high that no one will buy it. The price has to come down. – Michael Fleming
  • My smart mouth is eventually going to cause some sort of legal action. I’ll have to go back to being a temp receptionist. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Marginal return on advanced tactics is low. So, for the type of client I can reach (as a sole freelancer). – Richard Fergie
  • Diligent students can learn 95% of of SEM in <3 years. What have I learned of other channels for the past 4 to justify myself? – Chris Haleua
  • Cheaper/junior competitors can get 90% of the results at lower cost to the client. – Richard Fergie
  • Frankly, I don’t care. I’ll do copywriting, CRO & marketing strategy instead. Can’t make direct marketers obsolete. – Steve Gibson
  • 2 Keyword-less search is also something to consider, but I think we’re still years away from that. – Amanda Brown
  • Relying too much on automation and not providing the human/creative element and strategy in PPC. Also tunnel-channel vision. – Lisa Sanner
  • Even within “Search Only” world, figure out SEO, PPC, SiteSearch combination marketing strategies & deploy them. – Maria Corcoran
    • Perfect! Failing to understand the whole picture of how PPC affects all channels will hinder the full potential. – Joe Martinez
  • Nothing can replace a creative PPC pro. Creativity, innovation and being brave to test new things are the keys. – Farzin Espahani
  • With only doing PPC, in a matter of years people newer to the industry will cover most of what you know. Or at least employers/clients will think so. – Roxana Hassel
  • Old plan was to learn Analytics -> Paid Search -> SEO -> Social. New plan is Analytics -> Paid Search -> Display -> Video. – Chris Haleua
  • Those who focus only on tactics and not strategy will get left behind. – Melissa Mackey
    • Strategy is huge. Especially for personal growth and advancement in our field. – Matthew Lloyd
  • Can’t ever replace true marketing skills. I’m a marketer who uses PPC for marketing. – Mona Elesseily

Q6: How does networking/speaking with other PPC professionals help you personally (if it does at all)? Why?

  • It validates what I’m doing as being correct, or shows me a better way. – Michael Fleming
  • Networking, learning, bouncing ideas, consolidating thoughts so others can understand. – Melissa Maackey
  • I go to conferences now to almost exclusively network. It’s where you gain the real knowledge & learn what others are doing. – Matthew Lloyd
  • Beyond obvious of meeting some truly fantastic people, learning how others think & do things is so huge! – Julie Bacchini
  • Reminds me there’s always better way. – Amanda Brown
  • Passing down (& up!) best practices from generation to generation. – Dave Rosborough
  • Favorite saying of mine, “A wise man learns from his mistakes.A wiser man learns from the mistakes of others." – Robert Brady
  • Helps personally AND professionally: swapping tactics, ideas, stories. Just commiserating! – Sarah Danks
  • You can prevent this by structuring campaigns etc in such a way as to make it harder for G’s algos to work with. – Richard Fergie
  • My networking is limited to Twitter discussion, but it’s nice to know that everyone in PPC is always learning, as I am. – Sam Gordon
  • Almost every dollar I make is because of events (networking, speaking, breakfast). Reputation is everything. – John Ellis
  • It’s nice to know that someone else has been through what you’re going through. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Finding others w/ similar clients will help overcome road blocks much faster. Can’t find another industry as helpful as SEM. – Joe Martinez
  • I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating here – the PPC community is special in this way. Other disciplines not as much. – Julie Bacchini
  • I’m a late adopter – as a time management strategy. So, basically, I treat you guys like my unpaid beta tester lackeys. – Steve Gibson
  • Camaraderie, friendship, humor/laughter, help from other pro’s, makes this crazy world smaller. – Lisa Sanner
  • Helps bring me out of my comfort zone and connects me with others. – Bryant Garvin
  • Helps to identify blindspots, guide thinking, and keep up on industry trends/best practices. Also, can help build credibility. – Kirk Williams
  • I love knowing what other folks are working on & what they think about bigger issues like attribution, privacy, etc. – Mona Elesseily
  • It’s just nice to talk PPC with other people – I always get new ideas and tests to try. – Matt Umbro
  • Building an in-house team now, so PPCChat is one of my few remaining methods to quickly “ping” agency folks with deep experience. – Matt Vaillancourt
  • PPCChat is my favorite type of networking. Instead of kissing butt to potentially get a job/deal referral, it’s all about real teaching. – Chris Haleua
  • I’ve said this before, but being an independent operator, PPCChat are my daily colleagues for necessary learning & laughing. – Kirk Williams
  • Our team meetings are essentially skill-shares. “What is the most impactful thing you learned in the past 30 days”. – Michael Erickson
  • Like minded people share the same skills. Spark new ideas/strategies. The power of cooperation and collaboration. – Farzin Espahani

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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)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amanda Brown (@AmandaBrown_SEM)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• David Prochaska (@DavidProHQ)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Farzin Espahani (@FarzinOja)
• Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
• Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
• Jake Waldrop (@Jakew1541)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• John Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kristina Nette (@KristinaNette)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
• Matt Vaillancourt (@SEM_PPC_MattV)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Max Fink (@maxfink_SEM)
• Megan Archer (@megs_archer)
• Michael Erickson (@SearchSciMike)
• Michael Fleming (@SEMFlem)
• Mona Elesseily (@webmona)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
• Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Sam Gordon (@SamGordonPPC)
• Sarah Danks (@bernier)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Preparing Streamcaps For All the Conceited (and rightly so) PPCChatters

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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