A PPC manager is a digital marketing specialist who launches, manages, and optimizes PPC campaigns. The most successful PPC managers work with multiple PPC channels, manage big ad budgets, and analyze data with expert proficiency.

The right pay-per-click (PPC) manager can transform your ad campaigns to bring you serious clicks, leads, traffic, and revenue. You’ll want to pick one with a solid blend of experience, skills, and industry know-how. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a leaky pipeline and wasted ad spend.

We chatted with Angela Cuadros, HawkSEM’s talent acquisition strategist, who focuses her recruitment strategies on relationship building. She shares the inside scoop on what distinguishes a successful PPC manager, key skills to look for, and how to measure their impact.

HawSEM - 7 Traits Every PPC Manager Should Have

For certain companies, understanding CRM and marketing software tools like Salesforce and HubSpot will be vital. (Image: Unsplash)

What is a PPC manager?

A PPC manager is a marketing professional who oversees all advertising tasks that surround PPC campaigns, including creative design, audience targeting, metrics monitoring, and optimization. They often work for full-service digital marketing agencies (like ours), independently as consultants and freelancers, or in-house for various brands’ marketing teams.

Some PPC managers specialize in search engine PPC channels (like Google Ads and Bing Ads), while others might focus on social media PPC channels (like Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads). But Cuadros says the best PPC managers prioritize strategies that embody all PPC channels:

“[What sets apart a great PPC manager is] an omnichannel and growth-marketing approach to accounts,” explains Cuadros. “Not just looking at immediate PPC results but also how these results can help with long-term business growth.”

She also says the most experienced PPC managers showcase the following:

  1. Industry: Experience with a variety of different industries versus just one (finance, education, tech, retail — just peep HawkSEM’s diverse clientele)
  2. Business model: DTC/ecommerce, B2B lead generation, B2C lead generation, enterprise accounts
  3. Digital marketing strategies: Versed in implementing adaptable strategies to continuously improve and apply the latest and greatest practices in digital marketing
  4. Budgets: Experience with various sizes of budgets; there are different challenges with a $1,000 monthly budget versus a $1 million monthly budget.

So, what does a day in the life of a PPC manager look like?

PPC manager: job description and technical skills

Think of everything that goes into your Google Ads (previously Google AdWords) campaign. You organize the account structure, A/B test different landing pages, and spend hours on keyword research. But guess what? That’s the tip of the iceberg for PPC managers.

So, what are the typical duties involved?

Research and consult on keywords

PPC managers will conduct audience research to identify relevant search terms and create high-intent keyword lists accordingly. Similarly, they must also identify negative keywords to avoid in campaigns and prevent wasted PPC ad spend.

Once a PPC manager has a list to work with, they’ll test out different keyword combinations and bid adjustments on each campaign.

Most PPC managers have access to search engine optimization (SEO) tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to identify keywords with high conversion potential via metrics like volume, competition, difficulty, and intent.

Audit campaigns

How did that last promotional campaign go for your brand?

It’s your PPC manager’s job to know the results down to the last click. They’ll audit your brand’s existing ad campaigns to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Manage campaigns

Campaign management involves the set-up, expansion, and improvement of existing and new campaigns. PPC managers don’t just set up PPC account structures for one campaign and call it a day.

They can have multiple ad groups and campaigns running just on one channel. From bid adjustments to smart bidding and audience targeting to metrics monitoring, campaigns demand a ton of attention and organization from a PPC manager.

A/B test campaigns

A/B testing is a must in the PPC world. It involves testing two ads with one variant component, like a different keyword, landing page visual, or bid.

PPC managers know what to test, how long to test it, and how to turn A/B testing results into valuable insights that direct your brand’s campaign strategy.

Write compelling ad copy

PPC campaigns aren’t just about clicks and conversions (though that’s the goal). The path to success lies in an expertly crafted tagline and description, also known as your coveted ad copy.

PPC managers must use audience research, marketing knowledge, and their writing chops to create compelling ad copy that engages audiences and entices them to move further down the funnel.

Create optimized landing pages and image ads

Landing pages take your target audience from interested to converted. And this is an art form. You need highly persuasive ad copy paired with the right branding, graphics, and lead form to succeed.

According to HubSpot, 10% is a good benchmark for conversion rates. But what if you had a skilled PPC partner in your corner?

HawkSEM clients see higher conversion rates that amount to an average of 4.5X ROI across our campaigns. Just look at our collaboration with California State University – Northridge, where we doubled its conversion rate.

Track conversions and optimize conversion rate

Think of your ad as a piggy bank. Every click is like tossing in a penny, and they all count. But conversions are the Benjamin Franklins that your PPC manager really cares about.

They’ll meticulously track conversions and create an overarching online advertising strategy that prioritizes conversion rate optimization, which means increasing the conversion rate for your campaigns over time.

Keywords, A/B testing, audience research, and tracking results, too? That’s a hefty list. What’ll it cost you?

HawSEM - 7 Traits to Look for in a PPC Manager

Ask if your potential PPC manager has case studies they can provide you with, or the contact info of a reference you can connect with. (Image: Unsplash)

PPC manager salaries

The average PPC manager’s annual salary is about $68,000 in the U.S. That’s what you’ll pay a mid-level PPC manager if you hire one in-house.

If you look at managers with decades of experience or niche campaign-type expertise, that figure can shoot as high as $110,000 annually.

The downside of hiring in-house? You’re not really paying for results, which means a dip in campaign performance won’t minimize your payroll. This is why partnering with a PPC agency like HawkSEM is the smart move. But what makes an agency an ideal choice?

Cuadros says it’s more about gaining invaluable time and resources:

“An agency is more likely to already have the appropriate resources to manage PPC efforts, like keyword research tools, automation tools, reporting platforms, etc.,” says Cuadros.

“Agencies also may have more time and resources to invest in continuous education to maintain best practices than a sole person could find on their own.”

So, how can you make sure you get the best return on your investment when you work with a PPC manager?

What to consider when hiring a PPC manager

Time to get your ad campaigns back on track. Now let’s cover how to find PPC talent that ticks all the right boxes.

PPC manager credentials

You want your PPC manager to have experience. Of course, they should be familiar with the big players like Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. Ideally, they’re also well-versed in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Merchant Center.

For certain companies, understanding customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing software tools (like Salesforce and HubSpot) will also be vital. Being an expert in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets isn’t necessary, but a basic understanding of those programs will make things easier.

How about professional degrees?

Let’s say one PPC manager candidate has a bachelor’s in digital marketing, and the other has a six-month boot camp certificate. Is the former more suitable than the latter?

Not always, according to Cuadros:

“Schooling is not necessary, but a degree can be a good sign of a candidate’s work ethic. Many universities now also offer digital marketing boot camps that can be a valuable experience to look for even if the candidate doesn’t have a standard bachelor’s degree,” says Cuadros.

The best education on a PPC channel comes from the people behind that channel themselves. Cuadros says to look for platform-specific certifications over general degrees:

“Certifications like Google Ads and Meta Blueprint, etc. are a great way to verify if a candidate has hands-on experience in the PPC platform of choice,” explains Cuadros. “It’s a good idea to look for certifications that come directly from the ad platforms as they are more challenging to attain.”

Guess what? HawkSEM is a Google Premier Partner and Meta Business Partner.

The credentials might be the recipe, but proven experience is the chef’s kiss.

Demonstrated, relevant experience and results

The credentials cover the theoretical, but with ad campaigns, practical experience is everything. How would a PPC marketing manager know when to remarket to an ecommerce audience, manage a million-dollar budget, or target the right career niches on LinkedIn?

Successful PPC is all about results, and you want a manager who can get them. Ideally, your PPC manager should bolster your strategy with stats, testimonials, and other proof demonstrating prior successes for their clients. This way, you know your investment is in the right hands.

A great way to assess results and experience is to examine a PPC agency’s case studies. As for what metrics you should look for, Cuadros says saved marketing dollars are most telling:

“While growth in clicks and leads is valuable, the best PPC managers speak in results and talk of their successes in lowering cost per click (CPC), increasing return on ad spend (ROAS), etc,” says Cuadros.

If you’re an ecommerce brand, you might want a PPC manager that doubled ROAS for their online swimsuit client.

If you’re a B2B SaaS brand, look for results like decreased cost per acquisition (CPA) by 80% for a company that sells enterprise management SaaS.

Long story short: the numbers have to show a worthwhile ROI. Wouldn’t you want the same for your ad campaigns? Cuadros continues:

“Look for experience working with sizeable budgets in the thousands, and experience with the right ad platforms that your brand will gain the most return from (an agency can help you figure this out!)” says Cuadros.

Now, let’s look at the bridge between credentials and results: skills.

PPC manager skills

Earlier, we touched on some of the technical competencies that PPC managers need for success (like keyword research, A/B testing, and niche expertise from Google Ads). However, it’s the soft skills that really piece everything together.

Here are some skills HawkSEM looks for in our PPC strategist candidates:

Analytical skills with an emphasis on data

The best PPC managers are analytical thinkers and numbers-minded problem solvers. These traits are ideal in this field, since the more thorough your PPC manager is, the less likely they are to make mistakes (or repeat them).

Cuadros says your PPC manager should be able to analyze and present performance reports in a digestible manner. This could look like clear, accessible summaries and bullet points, reporting dashboards, or intuitive charts to measure performance.

At HawkSEM, performance analysis is our bread and butter. The head baker?

ConversionIQ, our unique proprietary tech that compiles thousands of audience and campaign data points across all your PPC and web channels for actionable insights. Every HawkSEM client gains access to ConversionIQ’s dashboards, making tracking ROI a piece of cake.

Strong organization skills

PPC campaigns, and digital marketing in general, involve many moving parts. Experienced pros know the best campaigns are tested, analyzed, tweaked, and tested again.

Because of this, you want to trust that the person managing your search ads is highly organized. Being able to track changes they’ve made, especially big ones, is also important.

You could consider creating calendar reminders for two weeks, a month, three months, and so on, to touch base on any changes that arise after each campaign launch.

If you’re repeatedly getting responses like, “Oh right, I forgot we discussed that,” or “Whoops, meant to send that earlier!,” you may want to have a conversation with your PPC manager about what their organization process looks like and whether that aligns with your expectations.

Communication skills

We know that communication is key in all aspects of business. Your PPC manager should be no different. Communication is especially crucial in this role, whether you’re working with someone in-house or at an agency.

Your manager should not only be well-spoken but well-written too. Cuadros says experience writing compelling ad copy is a must for a successful PPC manager. If not, you can probably expect low click-through rates or worse, a bad impression of your brand.

Imagine reading an ad that had multiple typos and poor grammar — you probably wouldn’t click it. Plus, you might avoid that company because you perceive them as unprofessional.

two women discussing ppc service

Whether it’s a percentage of your overall marketing budget or based on past ad spend, you should have a ballpark in mind for what you can spend with a PPC service agency.(Image: Unsplash)

Questions to ask a PPC manager

So you gathered a solid list of contenders with niche experience and demonstrated ROI. Sweet! Now it’s time to put them to the test.

Together with Cuadros, we rounded up a few of HawkSEM’s top interview questions for potential PPC managers:

  • What client industries have you worked with? If you’re an ecommerce biz and the candidate exclusively serves fintechs? They might still be a solid contender, but PPC managers with your industry experience will likely be a more promising and aligned fit.
  • What campaign types are you experienced with (Google Search, Display Network, Shopping, Video, Performance Max)? Consider the ad formats your brand uses and make sure your PPC manager candidate has demonstrated experience with them.
  • What monthly budgets are you comfortable managing? This is a big one because large ad budgets can dwindle quickly with an inexperienced PPC manager. Contenders should have experience working with budget ranges that feel aligned with yours.
  • What is a recent change within Google Ads (for example) that you like or dislike? This shows if they’re keeping up to date with the latest developments.
  • How do you communicate? Think Teams meetings, emails, regular phone calls — and how frequent? You should ensure your communication style and expectations are aligned.
  • What tools do you use to stay organized? Does the PPC manager use Excel, frequent touch-base meetings, project management software, or a combination? Find out how they keep things from slipping through the cracks.
  • How do you track and analyze data, and measure success? Look for KPIs like conversion rate and ROAS, and success benchmarks that align with your goals.

Red flags to look out for when hiring a PPC manager

Like what you hear in the interview? It’s easy to gush with excitement as a candidate promises a 500% increase in your ROAS. After all, they have the industry know-how and campaign-type knowledge, right?

Not so fast.

Cuadros says if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be:

“One common red flag in the PPC world is overpromising. While PPC advertising is a relatively quick digital marketing strategy compared to SEO, for example, it’s not foolproof and it’s not always profitable for every company,” explains Cuadros.

“Fluctuations happen and it’s important not to overestimate the ROI you may provide your client or employer.”

A few more red flags include:

  • Short stints at various agencies: This shows that a PPC manager might not have invested time growing with client brands’ campaigns and marketing strategies.
  • Limited case studies or references: Credentials and work experience are only as powerful as the results a PPC manager can deliver.
  • Vagueness: Can you understand the PPC manager’s strategy or how they see a particular campaign? You should feel crystal clear in how they communicate their activities to you.

So, what’s the green flag equivalent? Realistic results. HawkSEM promises those through our in-depth audits of prospective clients to ensure we set the right expectations.

The takeaway

As with any partnership, professional or personal, it can take time to find the right person. But once you know what to look for in your PPC manager, you can better discern who’s the perfect fit for your brand and business goals.

Just remember your non-negotiables: proven results that speak to ROI, experience with budgets like yours, and masterful data skills.

And if you partner with HawkSEM’s seasoned PPC experts? Toss in an average of 4.5X ROI, unparalleled data insights from ConversionIQ, and a sizzling dose of SEO to take your online presence to new revenue heights.

Your audience is waiting — let’s capture and convert them with expert PPC management services.

This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2020.

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon is an entrepreneur and writer from sunny SoCal. She leads Lyon Content, a tight-knit team of bold creatives, and crafts engaging written content that helps brands sparkle and scale.