For the last several years, I’ve been heavily involved in digital marketing. I’ve written copy for landing pages, experimented with email marketing, got myself knee-deep in the content marketing arena, and got to do plenty of SEO work. But my first and biggest passion in digital marketing was always pay-per-click and paid search advertising.
I just always loved the idea of being able to go into an account in real-time, test various concepts and theories, and see how they play out in the real world. With the right execution, planning, and set up, the results are worth their weight in gold.
For example, I’ve been working with a prominent client on their paid advertising. A gratifying experience for sure. While I’ve always maintained an interest in PPC, working on this account helped me go the next level and strengthen my knowledge in remarketing, retargeting, and display advertising.
Regardless of your budget, you always need to be checking these accounts like a hawk each day. PPC never stops. It’s an endeavor you have to be willing to give 100%, even on holidays. There were many days where I’d be so obsessed that I couldn’t stop checking it from my tablet, phone, and computer. The Google Ads Android app makes PPC management even more fun and convenient. I can be out walking or going for a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s. I sometimes leap for joy when I see a conversion come in from where I am.
Today, I’d like to help out some aspiring and up and coming PPC managers with my experience. I’ve been able to learn from the soft skill side, which is vastly overlooked but will save your career from ruin. By understanding how to communicate with people and present your ideas in a clear, concise way, you will have a better, bigger impact on whatever organization, client, or firm you work with. A lot of this I learned the hard way, so hopefully, you’ll be able to save yourself time by taking a hint or two from my experience.
The Lowdown: PPC is Never About Setting It and Forgetting It
Some people make it seem that paid search is super easy all the time once you understand the fundamentals. Not exactly true. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to think outside of the box to solve the problem.
Specifically, I tested ad scheduling on one of the campaigns I ran for a business. Recognizing that they were a national business serving clients from all over the US, I had to think fast to troubleshoot the account, remove the ad scheduling, and that solved a lot of initial hurdles with getting enough impressions and data over the next few months.
What I’m saying is that even if you do all this planning, you still need to take an active approach to make sure the ROI is being met. Look at the big picture and what it means for the organization or clients you work with.
What are their biggest goals they’re looking to meet as a result of whatever paid campaign you’re running? Do they want more sign-ups on the website, or maybe they want to improve brand awareness?
Every company is different, and it’s essential to come in, ask as many relevant questions as possible, and most of all, listen, listen, and listen. You will save yourself so much time if you are attentive from the beginning and can see the situation from the perspective of your team and higher-ups as well as your experience and intuition.
Being Wrong is Okay: Have Some Humility
Part of being a great PPC specialist is accepting the fact that you’re going to be wrong sometimes. Be ready to accept any criticism as well. In the beginning, I’ve made plenty of assumptions about how much a campaign would cost versus how it played out in reality. On occasion, I’ve even surprised myself with how much I could get out of something so seemingly little, like a $500 a month budget.
There are other times where you need to give things a couple of weeks and then decide whether that campaign is profitable or not. I was working on a campaign targeting the keywords from competitors. While it seemed like a salvageable idea, I quickly realized that a lot of those keywords and their bids would be way too high no matter what was done to improve the pages or ad copy. In that situation, I admitted to myself that it was better to focus on the other campaigns that were bringing in more paid traffic at a far lower cost.
This was a campaign I had on for at least a month before I pulled the plug on it and made that move, and it worked out quite well in my favor.
Same goes for keyword research, which I’ve come to realize is going to be an ongoing process, no matter how well that side is planned. Content audits too. You have to be willing to listen to different perspectives from the team you’re working with to double-check that what you’re doing is going to have the best, favorable impact on the bottom line.
Otherwise, it’s so easy to make a mistake here and cost a company hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The minute I saw that I had overestimated on some bids, I immediately turned another campaign off, went back to the drawing board, and was relentless in my ability to test every variable out until I started to see results.
The Proof is in the Presentation: Less is More
Sometimes as Paid Search Managers, we can get so into working on these campaigns and having a lot of fun with testing that we can forget who we’re going to explain the data to. I haven’t always been the best at PowerPoints admittedly (although they are quite fun to make. I’m still very proud of an SEO presentation I did for Home Depot a while back), but after stumbling a couple of times and learning from earlier mistakes, I’ve figured out what can work better when sharing your results with a whole team.
To get your points across most effectively as a marketer, you have to understand that “less is more.” This concept also ties into the idea of KISS, or keep it simple stupid. Not many people have time to go through a ton of PowerPoint slides with data or really long sentences.
When you do any presentation, start out by planning an outline of what you want to say. Review that outline several times and cull away anything redundant. Set a limit for how much you want to say. Always think about the big picture of who this presentation is for.
Is it for the CEO of the company? The business developer? A fellow marketer? These are all factors you need to consider. They have different priorities on their mind, and it’s all about making sure you’ve done your job in making all this gobbledygook make sense for them too, not just yourself.
They aren’t going to always know about all the fancy jargon of PPC like “target ROAS” or “cost-per acquisition strategy.” ou have to explain these things in a way that even a middle schooler can even understand. Your meetings with these individuals won’t take as long, and they will massively thank you for your efforts.
By making sure you get to the point quicker, your recommendations will be implemented much faster. More straightforward presentation equals less confusion and more time to get into taking the right actions to improve campaign performance.
Having the Right Attitude & Being Your Own Advocate
This idea is something you have to learn over time. Many excellent books go into this in much more detail than I can, but you are what you think about. If you want to have more confidence in yourself as a PPC Specialist, you have to remain positive and not give up in the face of adversity.
You will have some bad days, but always remember your greatest achievements as a marketer. Think about how much you were able to bring down the CPCs of an out-of-control, runaway campaign. Understand what impact you’re having on the businesses you’re helping. Then, recognize the fact that you’re coming in with a skill a lot of others don’t have or have the time to figure out for themselves.
Don’t be afraid to let your ideas be known, even if they’re controversial or sound stupid to you. It’s better to start a conversation and make people think than to just come in every day and act passively and have no one notice what you’re doing. You never know if that one “crazy” idea is what saves a company thousands of dollars, even if there’s some resistance or second doubts at the beginning. Be prepared to back up your points with evidence, logic, and reasoning.
Moving Forward: Don’t Stay Stuck in the Past
Being a good PPC manager involves learning from the past, but you shouldn’t stay stuck in it either. There’s a huge difference. You learn from all the mistakes you make, and you should be prepared to accept this kind of failure. It’s the only way that you can grow as a marketer in the long run.
Don’t think about how well you did your work yesterday or what the future is going to hold tomorrow. Focus on today and doing today’s work well, as Wallace Wattles once wrote in his incredible book The Science of Getting Rich. I highly recommend anyone serious about marketing or entrepreneurship read this book at least several times. I have it on Audible and still listen to it every once in a while to remind myself why I’m doing PPC and other things related to marketing.
PPC is a fantastic facet of digital marketing, and I can’t get enough of it. I feel I can be so heavily involved in accounts from early morning to even late at night much of the time. That’s how fun and addicting it can be for someone like me. But, that’s not all you do as a PPC guy or girl at all. The soft skills I discuss in this post will turn you into a more powerful asset for any company.
I understand too if you’re more introverted, this stuff will take some time to get used to, but never let that limit your ability to have the impact you want. I’ve known introverts and others who have made it big as digital marketers and PPC professionals who didn’t let their disadvantages hold them back, but instead, step up to the plate and continuously improve. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can be introverted too, but bring so much to the table in my persistence and willingness to keep learning.
No matter what industry or niche or vertical you work with and how much of the fundamentals and strategies you have nailed, the soft skills are going to carry you the farthest. This same advice goes for SEOs and developers too.