Ready to outsource your paid advertising to an expert pay-per-click (PPC) specialist? Here’s how to partner with the right pros.
Here, you’ll find:
- What a PPC specialist is
- The benefits of working with one
- Skill-sets and qualities to look for when hiring PPC specialists
- How a PPC agency can supercharge your paid search marketing
If you want to get in front of your audience’s eyes, you’ll need rockstar PPC marketing. But aren’t PPC campaigns notoriously expensive and complex? Without the right help, they sure can be.
And whose job is it to keep tabs on bid adjustments and budgets, ensure ad copy engages and leads up to a flawless landing page, and report on ad campaign performance?
As a leading PPC agency partnering with brands like Nike and Microsoft, we help our clients skyrocket conversion rates, traffic, and return on investment with bulletproof PPC marketing. And we also know that it takes a village.
Think of us as your very own marketing team of PPC specialists. So what exactly does that look like?
In this guide, our search engine marketing manager, Ian Dawson, walks us through everything the PPC specialist role entails and the value they bring to your brand.
Ready to move forward armed with a devoted professional in your corner invested in your success? We thought so.
What is a PPC specialist?
A PPC specialist is a marketing professional who focuses on creating, managing, testing, and refining PPC campaigns for search engines and social media platforms.
These skilled pros help clients reach their audience and improve revenue through paid ads and accompanying landing pages.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
PPC marketing experts are adaptable, creative, and ambitious individuals that leverage research, performance tech, and competitive analysis to help their clients excel in PPC marketing.
That’s the short answer. Now let’s dive into the long one elaborating on what PPC specialists do daily.
What are PPC specialist responsibilities?
A PPC specialist’s day-to-day work entails a variety of tasks, from competitor research to monitoring social media activity to analyzing Google Analytics performance metrics, and everything in-between.
The ultimate goal? To drive revenue for their clients through effective PPC advertising. They do this by focusing on five key areas of the PPC pipeline.
1. Conducting PPC audits
A PPC audit helps your specialist get a handle on your existing paid search and social campaigns. They’re looking for insights like:
- What your ads say
- Which keywords you rank for
- Who’s seeing your ads and interacting with your website
An in-depth audit answers all these questions and more, helping PPC specialists assess where a brand’s efforts are generating traffic and revenue, and where they aren’t.
They’ll use these insights to improve existing ad campaigns, or launch entirely new ones for your brand.
But before they can do that? This next step is essential.
2. Researching keywords and competitors
You might have tunnel-vision on what your target audience types into Google. But when was the last time you verified the data? People’s patterns and needs change, which means your keywords will, too.
That’s why a PPC specialist conducts keyword research regularly — to see which ad words will reach your audience and how your ads can shine above your competitors.
Speaking of competitors, they require a specialized task force, but a skilled PPC specialist is well-equipped to handle it. Armed with Google Trends, advertising software, and good ol’ web sleuthing, a PPC specialist helps you determine how your competitors appeal to your unique audience.
Then, they use those insights to inform your strategy.
3. Writing PPC ad copy and landing pages
Do you face writer’s block every time you try to write an ad? You’re not the only one. Despite Google Ads’ small character limits, your ad copy needs to convince, entice, and convert all in one bite-sized, snappy sentence. This is why even professional writers sometimes find long-form blog writing easier than shorter copywriting that packs a punch.
But PPC specialists are equipped for the job, maybe even more so than a writer:
“A PPC specialist can absolutely produce competent ad copy,” said Dawson. “I will often joke with my clients that one of the hardest aspects of ad copy is character limit. The perfectly crafted set of words for a headline will almost be one character too long. That can often create a skill: learning to be very, very concise. Especially when there are long words like ‘manufacturing’ to include!”
Short and sweet takes on a whole new meaning with crafting ad copy.
Next up comes the landing page.
This is the “closer” that takes your ad to the finish line. Landing pages are an art form. They have to engage and persuade your audience in a matter of seconds, and they must be strong enough to incite action, whether that’s through a purchase or sharing personal details for remarketing initiatives.
Of course, ads and landing pages won’t convert your audiences right away.
After the first outing, a PPC specialist will conduct A/B testing to measure results across different keyword combinations, writing styles, landing page types, and combinations to assess what’s working the best for your ROI.
Data steers this machine, and it’s constantly in motion.
4. Building PPC campaigns
Once you craft ad copy and design an accompanying landing page, you’ve got the solid foundation of a new ad campaign. The hard work’s done, right? Not so fast.
Behind the scenes, a PPC specialist bids for keywords. The goal is to be mindful of your budget, keep you in the green, and surpass your competitors on the SERPs.
And that’s just for one campaign. Imagine this level of strategy and finesse across multiple PPC channels, like Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, and Bing.
Your PPC specialist has to have a deep understanding of how each channel’s ad structure works so they can launch the most effective campaigns.
On top of keyword bids, PPC specialists will toggle:
- Location and time-based targeting
- Ad type (shopping, display, etc.)
- Ad groups
- Keyword match type
- Ad extensions
These aren’t just set-it-and-forget-it features. PPC specialists have spent years learning the intricacies required to generate results and avoid wasted ad spend.
A vital component to their technique?
5. Tracking performance and improving strategy
Qualified leads, cost per acquisition (CPA), and clickthrough rates are just a few of the hundreds of metrics a PPC specialist tracks. But ultimately, it depends on the brand and their marketing goals.
For example, PPC specialists track very specific marketing metrics for SaaS brands, including custom acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), and sales qualified leads (SQL), among others.
The motive is to compare how much your ad campaign costs you with revenue and leads generated. And it’s a tedious process to measure all that data without an expert to translate what it all means for your campaigns and goals.
And managing them for countless ad campaigns across different channels? It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
But all of this is possible with the right expert and resources.
For example, we use our comprehensive proprietary tech, ConversionIQ, to lay out all our clients’ historical performance data. With these essential insights, we’re able to pinpoint qualified leads and the tactics that caught their attention in the first place.
From there, we tweak and pivot the strategy to double-down on what’s working and attract even more qualified leads.
But not all PPC specialists have the juice to bring real results. It’s not just about skills and experience; it’s about alignment with your business, proven success, and the agility to tackle multiple campaigns while honoring your budget.
What makes a good PPC specialist?
PPC advertising specialists require a cohesive skillset, industry know-how, specific certifications, and years of field experience to best manage your ad campaigns.
Every PPC specialist — from entry-level to seasoned pros — has their work cut out for them to build successful strategies.
Here’s what you should look for when researching potential candidates:
PPC education and credentials
It’s common to see PPC specialists armed with bachelor’s degrees in digital marketing or communications. Many might have post-grad certificates and master’s degrees as well.
But how does a PPC specialist understand all the tricky algorithms and search factors for each channel?
Dawson says that college degrees don’t hold as much water as relevant experience:
“Certifications from major ad platforms are valuable indicators of a knowledge base that leads to success in paid search. Google Ads offers many different certifications for its platform. These certifications rely on both course review and real knowledge that can help set a specialist apart.”
If you’re hiring a specialist to support your marketing campaign on other channels, look for credentials from those platforms, too.
Search Engine Journal agrees that certifications from Meta, Microsoft Advertising, and Amazon Ads demonstrate knowledge specific to those platforms.
Dawson also cites HubSpot as a reputable source of courses and certifications for today’s PPC specialists.
PPC software access and experience
Your PPC specialist might have a solid resume with credentials, but their tech and software prowess means a lot when it comes to data analysis and reporting.
Dawson says that proficiency in Microsoft Excel is absolutely necessary.
“Reporting can come from multiple sources and it is important to aggregate metrics in a way that properly tells the story of the data.”
PPC strategies are informed by data across many third-party tools, which Dawson says helps specialists to understand industry and marketing trends, along with your performance versus your competitors’.
Here are some examples of tech a PPC specialist should be familiar with:
A must for keyword research, this software is a PPC specialist’s playground. The SaaS platform identifies keywords competitors use that you’re missing, clean versus duplicate and conflicting keywords, and even has a dedicated PLA research for brands with product listings on shopping ads.
Still, Semrush has a learning curve with endless capabilities that adept PPC specialists can leverage.
Intense competition is often the demise of brands in the PPC world. A competent PPC specialist should have a way to assess your competitors’ PPC strategies, and proficiency in SpyFu is a strong factor.
The platform helps PPC specialists identify a competitor’s keyword history, ad variations, ranking data, and domains for the last 16 years.
PPC specialists might even have access to proprietary tech if they work for an agency. For example, HawkSEM’s tech of choice is ConversionIQ — an exclusive marketing platform that captures insights across multiple PPC channels, web pages, and audience behaviors.
If you notice a certain platform or tool you don’t recognize in a PPC specialist’s credentials, look it up to find out what kind of value it could add to your business. Check out our roundup of SaaS marketing tools for more!
PPC specialist skills
Credentials and tech know-how are strong indicators of a PPC specialist’s talents.
But the best PPC specialists have more intuitive traits that set them apart from the rest, such as:
- Analytical skills: Tech can’t replace the mandatory critical analysis required to make decisions on campaign strategies. PPC specialists must have an analytical mind to manage bid adjustments, assess A/B tests, and make sense of data.
- Communication skills: The inner workings of Google Analytics can elude even the most experienced marketing professionals. PPC specialists must have the communication skills to turn data into digestible insights for their clients. What’s more, they should feel confident communicating their process and results to team members in other departments, especially when solidifying an omnichannel marketing strategy.
- Time management: PPC campaigns take a solid three months to show results, and your PPC manager should exhibit impeccable time management to optimize your efforts. Minutes—even seconds—matter in the world of PPC advertising. A specialist should have clear timelines for A/B testing and time management to efficiently accomplish tasks like trend research, bid adjustments, reporting, and more.
- Adaptability: The PPC world, industry trends, audience expectations, and competitors are in constant flux. This means a PPC specialist has to keep up with the latest updates, techniques, and algorithms, and pivot when needed, all while constantly refining and adapting their strategy for optimal results.
When is it time to hire a PPC agency?
Some brands like working with independent professionals. Dealing with one person avoids hierarchical delays — plus, it can feel more intimate. It might be appealing to pay just one PPC specialist instead of an agency.
But ultimately, it’s important to consider that a single specialist won’t have the same firing power as a qualified agency. In the long run, you can save more money and see greater ROI by partnering with an agency.
Agencies have more PPC channel capabilities
Most PPC specialists have a general understanding of the various PPC channels, but they tend to specialize in one. If your brand wants to focus exclusively on Google Ads and you hire a Google Ads PPC specialist, that could be a great move.
But you could be missing out on revenue potential from other PPC channels. Dawson elaborates:
“There will be many shared features [in different PPC channels] like audience creation or remarketing, but also unique challenges, like Google/Bing Ads keyword research or LinkedIn/Instagram content planning. This is where an agency could help a client: an omnichannel approach where a marketing program could involve multiple forms of PPC.”
A PPC agency might also offer search engine optimization (SEO) services to complement your PPC efforts, helping you focus on the long-game of organic marketing.
Prime example? Our dynamic team at HawkSEM comprises a variety of digital marketing specialists with years of experience, meaning we can provide our clients with holistic marketing through PPC and SEO.
Greater capacity leads to greater results
A dedicated PPC manager might have a strong handle on your Google Ads search campaigns.
But what if you had multiple ad managers to manage multiple ad campaigns on multiple channels?
Even a specialist might not have the bandwidth to help your brand realize its true PPC revenue potential — there simply isn’t enough time in the day.
PPC agencies have dedicated account managers for each client, along with a roster of team members to draw on for industry knowledge, PPC experience, and campaign performance monitoring.
You can dream a whole lot bigger if you have an army of PPC specialists working for your brand versus only one.
You’ll get the library effect
If your mind is a book, a group of minds is a library, and that’s the main benefit of working with an agency.
Dawson tells us that PPC agencies can draw on diverse knowledge from staff, whether its one specialist’s Google Ads experience working in-house for a healthcare brand, or another’s experience from a past client in a competitive space:
“A freelance PPC specialist might have resources learned from previous clients, but an agency will often have a rich library of best practices gleaned from many different companies, industries, and use cases. A good agency will leverage one client’s success and help all of its clients succeed.”
A great way to assess this value of abundance is to check out case studies from a PPC agency. If you notice any that sound familiar to your brand’s challenges, then the agency is worth considering.
For example, let’s say you’re a fashion ecommerce business. A case study like ours for apparel brand 686 might resonate with your needs. Or if you’re a financial SaaS business, our experience partnering with TimeWarp Trading offers relevant industry experience.
Don’t underestimate the value of synergy when it comes to working with a PPC specialist, single or plural.
PPC campaigns entail more than ad structure tinkering and performance monitoring. A successful one is a combination of certifications, skill sets, and industry experience gelled together and leveraged by an ambitious PPC specialist (or specialists) if you work with a PPC agency.
At HawkSEM, our expert PPC management specialists have years of experience driving ad revenue for ecommerce and SaaS clients across all verticals, from retail and travel to finance, healthcare and insurance.
On top of our roster of skilled PPC specialists, we’re privy to exclusive data insights from our proprietary tech, ConversionIQ, which helps us fine-tune each client’s strategy and accelerate the path to results.
Start a PPC campaign with us today, and get ready to tap into an evergreen library of PPC specialists.