Tag Archives: PPC Management

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 14 , 2021

Working with a winning PPC agency can help increase your search results visibility, boost your ROI, and more. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Steps for partnering with a PPC agency
  • What questions to ask during the vetting process
  • Red flags to watch for from agencies
  • What qualities make up a good agency

Paid search is an ever-changing field. For marketing professionals whose time is already at a premium, finding the time to stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and nuances can be challenging.

New to the SEM field, feel under-experienced to be running campaigns, or just not seeing the results you want? Hiring a PPC agency may be the best way to boost ROI and free up your time for other channels.

Agencies understand that to remain effective, their teams must stay on top of the latest trends and tactics. Account representatives are experts in their field, and they typically have access to systems that help them increase effectiveness for clients.

In the same way that no single marketing strategy fits all companies, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for PPC management. These tips will help you choose the right PPC service agency for your business and what to expect if this is your first time working with a PPC agency

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 via Unsplash)

1. Have a list of goals and objectives

Before you begin your agency search, make sure you know what you want to achieve, whether it’s building brand awareness, fueling your pipeline, launching a new product or service, increasing conversions, or improving online revenue.

The more specific you can be about your objectives, the better chance you have of partnering with a PPC service agency successfully. Goals are crucial for ensuring the strategies developed and tactics used are in line with your business needs.

2. Identify which services you need

Perhaps you want to run paid search ads or add content to boost your SEO ranking. When making the list of agencies to contact, make sure they have experience with the services you need.

You may want to screen out any that only focus on one area, such as SEO. A PPC company that integrates paid search with other online marketing services can work with you to a higher degree and help you understand customer behavior across various digital channels. Over time this can improve campaign results and increase ROI.

Services that paid search agencies typically offer, include the following:

  • Paid search (SEM, PPC)
  • Content marketing
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • SEO
  • Social media advertising/paid social
  • Shopping feeds
  • Display advertising
  • Remarketing/retargeting

3. Establish a budget

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. 

Questions you can ask a potential agency regarding budget to determine if they’re a fit include:

  • Is the budget adequate to obtain our objectives? 
  • Is PPC the best solution for our goals? 
  • Will our funds be better spent on different channels? 
  • Are there more effective solutions that align with our budget while increasing ROI? 

If they don’t think you’re budgeting enough to achieve your goals, make sure they fully explain their reasoning. 

4. Know the PPC agency’s fee structure 

When it comes to pricing, the terms should meet your budgetary requirements. There are several options to consider, such as:

  • Flat monthly fee
  • Percentage of the advertising spend
  • Hybrid approach

There are pros and cons to each. But what deliverables are included in the services you’re signing up for? Are there any hidden fees? Will you need to hire additional resources to get the job done? Discussing questions like this with each PPC agency you interview can help you decide which will work best for your business.

5. Identify the qualities you want in a PPC service agency

No two PPC agencies are exactly alike. And while you can’t predict how a partnership will turn out, your intuition should be able to help you discern which agency reps you will and won’t mesh well with. 

Knowing what qualities to look for when you’re vetting PPC agencies will help you more easily weed out who’s not a good fit. Some qualities to look for include:

  • A history of meeting (and exceeding) expectations
  • Frequent communication
  • Industry expertise
  • Proactive ideas and vision
  • A long-term focus rather than buzzwords and numbers without context
woman walking and talking on the phone at ppc agency

Before partnering with a PPC service agency, you should discuss what your expectations are in terms of communication. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Determine if an agency will be a good culture fit for your team

Finding the right culture fit is essential for the success of your relationship with an agency. This is because not only will they work with you or your in-house team on some aspects of the campaigns, but a shared perspective enables effective collaboration.

Even if it looks good on paper, if you don’t share similar values, the teams may not mesh and work well together, which can affect productivity. You want a firm that is motivated and passionate about what they do and takes pride in the quality of work they provide.

7. Research the PPC agencies and ask for proof points

Any PPC agency will work to put their best face forward when meeting with you. However, doing your own research before the meeting can save you time. Aim to get an idea of their online reputation. Check out review sites to read what other customers have to say. (Just remember to take reviews with a grain of salt, since you don’t know the full story behind each client experience). 

It’s also worth checking out the agency’s own site to see what kind of testimonials or case studies they’ve published that could be relevant to your industry or goals. If they don’t have anything published, you can request to speak to a referral or past client for more information. 

8. Get to know their communication style

Before partnering with a PPC service agency, you should discuss what your expectations are in terms of communication. Is receiving a weekly email with updates enough, or do you prefer a phone call? Do you want specific information in the reports?

The firm should also make their preferences regarding communication clear. Do they recommend regularly scheduled meetings and updates? Is the whole team involved, or just the account manager?

You should also discuss what the agency needs from you and their expectations. Will they be partnering with you to strategize and execute, or simply providing recommendations for your team to carry out? When both sides communicate clearly, the partnership can proceed more smoothly.

9. Prepare strategic questions to ask potential PPC agencies

When you schedule a virtual or in-person interview with a PPC service agency, make the best use of time by having a handful of specific questions ready. The more pointed your questions, the less opportunity they’ll have to be vague or broad. 

Questions you can consider asking include:

  • How would you make sure our leads are resulting in revenue for the company?
  • On what level is the structure and experience of the team we’d be assigned?
  • What successes have you had in our industry before?
  • What is your long-term plan to drive value for us?
  • How would you report on monthly or quarterly results?

While this is a good general list, it’s wise to also include questions focusing on your company’s specific goals. 

10. Understand their experience and expertise

When discussing the possibility of retaining an SEM agency, find out who will connect with you regularly and learn more about who will be working directly on your account. The agency you hire must be able to navigate today’s complex landscape and have the chops to make your PPC campaigns successful.

Some agencies will have senior managers who own several roles, while others may use junior talent. It’s important to understand the level of expertise you’re getting so you can determine whether it’s commensurate with the fee.

Another factor to consider when choosing an agency is whether they’re Google Ad certified or a Google Premier Partner. This accreditation is earned by those who attend training and demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of Google Ads features.

team discussing ppc agency

There are certain red flags that you should pay attention to during your PPC agency search. (Image via Rawpixel)

11. Ensure you own your data

In the future, you may decide to find a new agency or build an in-house team to work alongside or in place of your agency. Prepare for that in advance by ensuring that things like the Google Ads accounts, landing pages, and creative assets are all yours.

A PPC service agency will not only bring experienced PPC management to the table, but your creative assets should also build. Because of that, you want to make sure the account is set up using your email account. You should also have full access to any paid ad accounts, but grant the agency full access so they can create and manage campaigns as needed.

Having historical data is crucial to optimizing your campaigns. If the Google Ads information isn’t yours, you’ll have to start over again, which wastes valuable resources. When the partnership with the firm ends, you should be able to take everything with you.

12. Watch for any red flags

While you should feel like an agency’s No. 1 client, you should understand that they’re likely juggling dozens (or even hundreds) more. While no business is perfect, there are certain red flags that you should pay attention to during your search. Let these serve as warning signs that you may not want to continue discussions with this particular service agency.

  • Lack of communication: Barring holidays, it’s not a great sign if you go days without receiving a response to a voicemail or email when you’re trying to find out more about working with the agency. 
  • Making vague claims: If an agency isn’t forthcoming about backing up its claim with facts or numbers, you may have trouble establishing trust. 
  • Overpromising results: Especially if they don’t have the data or sourcing to back up their estimations. 
  • History of unhappy clients: If you find tons of reviews from unhappy clients, it may be a warning sign that there are underlying issues at the company. 

Other red flags to look out for? Poor retention, a sub-par or disjointed online presence, and any results or rates that sound too good to be true, given the company’s size and bandwidth. 

13. Look for transparency

Reporting results can be subject to interpretation. The paid search agency you hire should be willing to share the complete, unaltered information related to your KPIs.

In addition, the reports they design should match your internal metrics so that you can get a consistent view of performance. The data they contain should be detailed and up-to-date, not weeks old.

The takeaway

Deciding to work with a PPC service agency could do wonders to enhance your paid search efforts. 

For best results, don’t pick an agency swiftly or in a panic to fix your ad accounts. Rather, treat your agency as an ally. Sometimes new clients treat agency managers adversarially like they have something to prove.

Go into your new venture with an open mind, defined goals, and a clear communication plan to help ensure the relationship is successful and lasting. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in July 2019.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Steve Dang on Mar 2 , 2021

Check off these boxes to ensure your PPC marketing strategies are on the right track for your SaaS brand.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Dos and don’ts when it comes to PPC for SaaS brands
  • How to make your assets work for you
  • Why retargeting (the right way) is key
  • Tips for optimizing your SaaS landing pages

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies have always faced a unique set of marketing obstacles, with long sales cycles and an emphasis on demos. Then 2020 happened, and things got even more difficult.

Many businesses had to make major shifts in their strategies and operations. The sudden changes in routines affected everything, including digital marketing. 

While website traffic and searches experienced a surge, the competition and cost of paid ads took a downward trend, according to Search Engine Watch. In 2021, customer wants and needs are still changing. Luckily, most SaaS teams are more than familiar with ever-changing goal posts.

As one of the most effective digital marketing tactics in terms of ROI, pay-per-click (also known as PPC or paid search) ads can help ensure your SaaS company is set up to weather the next unexpected storm. 

Here are 12 ways you can make PPC work for your SaaS brand.

1. Focus on credibility to convert visitors to leads

It’s especially key for SaaS brands to establish credibility from the beginning. If people are finding you through a search engine, they may not be acquainted with your company. (Unless they’re searching through a brand term, of course).

You want to make it clear that your company is legit right off the bat. One effective way of doing this is by aligning your brand with well-known clients.

If you have Fortune 500 clients in your roster, explore how you could leverage that through marketing, such as including their logos on your landing page (with permission). 

Even better: Create a case study that highlights your partnership with that brand and how they found success through working with you. This establishes credibility and helps people understand your offering on a deeper level.

HawkSEM: PPC Tips for SaaS Brands

OverOps uses brand logos and testimonials to illustrate their credibility.

You can also establish credibility through showcasing:

  • Awards
  • Press mentions
  • Client testimonials
  • Seller ratings

2. Always qualify your leads

Plenty of SaaS brands think they’re covering all the bases. They’ve got a customer relationship management (CRM) tool in place, and they properly store and track their leads. But if you’re not following up on those leads and taking advantage of lead scoring, you could miss out on helpful insights. 

There are two ways to score leads. The first is quantitative, which scores leads from 1 to 10, zero to 100, or something in between, depending on how granular you want to get. The other way is qualitative. For this, you can score with metrics like low, medium, or high probability. (Here’s how to use lead scoring in Salesforce.)

Once you decide how to score your leads, the next step is to optimize your campaigns for qualified leads. You don’t want to fall into the trap of seeing the conversion data inside of Google Analytics and simply optimizing for those conversions. 

Once you score your leads, it’s wise to connect them back to the originating campaigns, ad groups, keywords, segments, and devices. It’s tempting to rely on intuition when you’re optimizing campaigns, but the data won’t steer you wrong.

3. Know how to properly use CLV

Many SaaS marketing agencies focus a ton on lead volume. But, especially with the longer sales cycles that tend to come with SaaS, it’s also crucial to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV). This figure can be used to make critical decisions, such as how much you pay for user acquisition and how your target through paid search ads. 

HubSpot explains you can determine lifetime value by calculating the average purchase value, average purchase frequency rate, customer value, and average customer lifespan. Ultimately, multiplying customer value by the average customer lifespan should give you your CLV.

Once you have an accurate number, compare that with your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to make sure you’re getting the ROI you want. 

4. Understand what constitutes quality conversions

Speaking of CLV, your goal should always be to create clients for life. The more clients you keep, the less it’ll cost you (no surprise there). Plus, an increase in client volume coupled with a decrease in cost per acquisition (CPA) can save you serious money.

This mindset can help you market with the long game in mind. Big players and key clients will sometimes visit your website or contact you with questions multiple times before making a purchase, but that type of client can be more lucrative in the long run. 

SaaS PPC

Sometimes all you need is a display campaign targeted to a very narrow audience to start attracting the right kind of clients. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Put your best foot forward with landing pages

For SaaS companies in particular, your landing page is often the first step of the buyer’s journey for potential customers. So, it’s wise to prioritize ensuring your landing pages are as compelling and effective as possible.

As a guiding principle, make sure your landing page has a clear purpose. Each page element should work together to get the user to convert by filling out a form or performing some other desired call to action (CTA). You also want to entice visitors to scroll down through the entire page, if applicable, so the page shouldn’t be too long.

Extra features, like a chatbot, can also be quite useful in a landing page. They allow you to engage with your audience, reduce your bounce rate, and get a conversation started right then and there. You can also address any particular pain points they might have while the lead is warm.

Pro tip: Don’t let your landing pages go stale. You should consistently be testing them and optimizing accordingly.

6. Study your ideal client and current clients

If your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy is underperforming, you may have misread what matters to your target audience. Especially for technical and niche businesses, keyword targeting is crucial.

Due to the hyper-focused nature of the lingo in some of these industries, one keyword may have multiple meanings, some of which may not apply to your business. (For example, event planning software for businesses offers something different than a ticketed event platform). It can be helpful to go back through and make some of the following changes:

  • Adjust display times
  • Switch up keywords
  • Refresh your ad copy
  • Tailor by language and location
  • Add negative keywords to your campaigns

Sometimes all you need is a display campaign targeted to a very narrow audience to start attracting the right kind of clients. When you choose to go this route, however, pick your placements carefully and make sure they’re on relevant sites.

7. Nurture cross-channel alignment

Another common issue we see when it comes to PPC for SaaS is that various channels are too siloed and separate. This can result in miscommunication, unnecessary or repetitive efforts, and missed opportunities.

Synchronizing your channels can keep everyone working towards the same goal with a cohesive vision. When aligning on an element like your copy, you’ll know that you’re speaking to your target audience with a consistent voice and tone, whether it’s a followup email or a landing page.

Remedying this issue can be as simple as a weekly video sync or phone call with all the necessary team members to review and discuss current projects.

8. Take advantage of long-tail keywords

When it comes to paid search marketing, longer search terms often mean higher intent. Think of it this way: someone searches “blender,” and someone else searches “Vitamix black 5200 standard high performance blender.” Who do you think is more inclined to make a purchase?

The same concept can be applied to PPC for SaaS. Going after more relevant long-tail keywords targets those with higher intent and snags those potentially in the “research” stage of the funnel, which can be just as valuable.

Long-tail keywords are effective for SaaS brands because they help bring in better leads with PPC campaigns. This often results in more affordable leads that are highly qualified.

In the SaaS space, keeping low acquisition costs and sticking to budget are often major concerns. Focusing on long-tail keywords is a way to achieve desired results with these concerns in mind. To find the right long-tail keywords for your company:

  • Know your unique selling proposition and use that information in your keywords to highlight what makes you stand out 
  • Conduct keyword research to ensure your long-tail keywords are the same words customer would use in a query
  • Use keyword research tools to find ideal long-tail keywords for your market
  • Never use long-tail keywords that aren’t a good fit for your software or product, regardless of how easy they may be to rank for
  • Include questions in your long-tail keywords

9. Leverage all of your assets

It’s common for companies to generate a hefty amount of assets in their lifetime. But what good are assets that get lost in the shuffle or can’t easily be found?

SaaS marketing relies heavily on audience education — assets play a key part in that. In the past, keeping premium content gated was the best practice. Nowadays, it’s better to keep this content ungated to improve the chances of converting the lead instead of, as Search Engine Stream explains, possibly increasing your website’s bounce rates.

Whitepapers, insightful research, templates, and other similar content are excellent assets to educate and nurture your audience. Plus, having assets covering each buyer’s journey stage is an easy way to target the right person with the right content at the right time.

Pro tip: Keep your assets organized in a spreadsheet — preferably a cloud-based doc that your team can access, such as Google Sheets. It can include things like links to each piece, what stage of the buyer’s journey it addresses, and the type of content it is.

10. Avoid ad fatigue

With the lengthy sales cycle for SaaS brands, you can almost bet that leads will see the same ads over and over as they perform similar searches during their “research” phase. Eventually, this can cause ad fatigue with your target audience, and they may begin to ignore the ads.

This not only hurts your click-through rates and results in higher PPC costs, but it can also reduce the chances of a lead coming back to you when they’re ready to purchase. 

The best way to avoid ad fatigue is to cycle out ads regularly. Changing out your ads every month or so will likely result in better campaign and conversion results. 

11. Look beyond Google Ads

While Google is a major player in the search engine game, others, like Microsoft’s Bing, shouldn’t be ignored. 

Microsoft Advertising makes it easy to export your Google Ads campaigns to their platform. Plus, you could see even better results with a lower average cost per click (CPC) and have your ad spend budget go further. Depending on your target audience, you may find less competition on the Microsoft Ad platform, which includes those searching on the Bing, Yahoo, and AOL platforms. 

12. Consider retargeting

When it comes to PPC for Saas, retargeting can be a game-changer. This type of ad connects your SaaS offering with people who have already visited your site or mobile app. 

Google Ads is set up so that the default audience is generally set at 30 days. But this is often not enough time for the SaaS sales cycle, which can end up being three or six months out.

Once you determine a rough estimate for how many days it takes your leads to convert, you can tailor your campaigns accordingly, as long as it follows the platforms’ rules and is within the maximum membership duration. 

A lot of educating can take place during the buyer’s journey. If you’re serving white papers or other content campaigns that last longer than 30 days, your retargeting should do the same.

Lastly, don’t just retarget your entire audience. Make sure different audiences are getting different tailored messages when possible.

Pro tip: Platforms like Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn all have their own retargeting tags, so make sure you’re placing each retargeting tag properly.

Speaking of LinkedIn, here’s a bonus video tip taken from our webinar all about PPC for SaaS:

 

 

 

The takeaway

PPC for SaaS brands often isn’t a straight-line path from A to B. Rather, it’s about different campaign types working together, nurturing your audience with education, and serving up various resources that ultimately get them to convert. 

As you talk through your digital marketing goals and strategies, you may find that a SaaS marketing agency is what you need to take your program to the next level and leverage ideas you might not have thought of before. 

Whether you partner with pros or keep things in-house, the above best practices will set you up to craft winning paid search campaigns for your SaaS company. Want even more PPC for SaaS tips? Check out this webinar recording.

This post has been updated and was originally published in August 2019.

Steve Dang

Steve Dang

    Steve Dang is Director of Digital Marketing & Strategy at HawkSEM. He's got more than 10 years of experience leading digital teams and revenue growth, working with clients in SaaS, FinTech, E-commerce, higher education, financial services, and more. In his spare time, Steve enjoys long runs, long swims, and long books.

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    Facts and figures to help you better understand the current PPC landscape

    Here you’ll learn:

    • Recent pay-per-click (PPC) statistics 
    • Important Google PPC stats
    • Key mobile PPC and paid social numbers
    • Things to consider when planning your PPC strategy in 2021

    Paid search (or PPC) is often the driving force behind a solid marketing campaign. While the way you approach PPC tactics depends on your company’s goals and budget, marketing pros know that implementing them is integral when it comes to boosting ROI.

    But, just like any marketing technique, the paid search landscape is also changing regularly. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s wise for marketing teams to know the latest PPC data so they can adjust efforts accordingly. That’s why we compiled the below paid search statistics — to provide valuable insights into what this digital marketing type looks like today.

    ppc management stats

    The Google Display Network (GDN) serves display ads to more than 90% of people on the internet and works across 2 million websites. (Image via Unsplash)

    General PPC stats

    Keeping these stats in mind when designing your 2021 marketing strategy can help you stay competitive and at the top of your game.

    • By 2021, companies around the world are slated to spend 137 billion on paid search advertising.
    • 45% of small businesses invest in PPC advertising.
    • Traffic that comes in through paid search advertising drives 50% more conversions than traffic from organic advertising.
    • Paid search advertising accounts for about 39% of advertising budgets.
    • 60% of companies plan to spend more money on paid advertising on Amazon in the future. 
    • More than two-thirds of consumers are sure that they can recognize paid search ads.
    • People are more likely to click on text PPC ads than on shopping listing ads and video ads.
    • 41% of clicks on Google searches go to the top three sponsored ads.
    • 75% of people believe that paid search ads make it easier to find products they’re looking for when browsing websites or using various search engines. 

    Valuable Google PPC stats

    While paid search advertising is hardly limited to Google Ads, the search engine giant maintains the majority of the population’s attention — which doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

    • The Google Display Network (GDN) serves display ads to more than 90% of people on the internet and works across 2 million websites.
    • Almost 4 times as many consumers are more inclined to click on a paid search ad on Google than on other search engines like Amazon, YouTube, or Bing. 
    • The lowest average cost per click (CPC) for GDN, $0.44, belongs to the “travel and hospitality” advertising categories, while the highest, $1.49, belongs to “dating and personal.”
    • 98% of advertisers consider Google the most trustworthy digital ad channel.
    • In the United States, Google generates 62% of all core search queries. 
    • Google Ads and Facebook PPC ads are the key players in the digital advertising market, with 38.2% and 21.8% of the market share, respectively.
    • In a Marin Software survey, 84% of respondents who use paid search already use or plan to implement Google’s responsive search ads. 
    • In 2021, Google’s ad search revenue share in the U.S. is estimated to be 70% of total ad spending.
    • 63% of people have clicked on a Google Ad at least once.
    • Google Ads can potentially deliver $8 for every $1 spent, generating an 800% ROI.
    • The average conversion rate for GDN ads is .46%.
    • 49% of consumers say that they often turn to Google to find a new product.
    PPC management data

    27% of internet users say that they find new products and services through social media ads. (Image via Unsplash)

    Predominant mobile PPC stats

    Increasingly, internet users across the globe are turning to their mobile devices for everything from searching and scrolling to making purchases. With this in mind, adjusting your PPC strategy to meet their demands can help you reach a significant segment of your target audience.

    • 52% of internet traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices.
    • 68% of our m-commerce survey respondents have purchased something they discovered through a mobile ad on their smartphone.
    • 53% of clicks on PPC ads are made from mobile devices.
    • Google attracts 96% of all mobile engine traffic in the U.S.
    • Prices for mobile search ads in 2019 were lower than they were for desktop ads.
    • More than 70% of search ad clicks and impressions occur on mobile devices.
    • 60% of consumers click a mobile ad at least once a week. 
    • Since the COVID-19 outbreak, 45% of consumers say they shopped more via their mobile phones than in the past. 
    • In 2019, 94% of Facebook advertising revenue was generated by mobile users.

    Want to learn more about PPC advertising in 2021 and beyond? We’re here to help.

    Important social media PPC stats

    From paid ads to brand awareness, the key social media platforms — think Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn — are often important pillars of your marketing strategy’s overall success. These stats can help you understand how to look at social media when crafting your plans for 2021.

    • 32% of survey respondents say that video ads are a highly effective social ad format, followed by image ads (26%).
    • Many marketers allocate around 18% of their advertising budget on paid social.
    • 27% of internet users say that they find new products and services through social media ads.
    • An average Facebook user clicks approximately 12 ads in 30 days.
    • By the end of 2020, ad spending on social media advertising is expected to reach nearly $99 million.
    • In 2021, annual Instagram ad revenue is expected to reach $18.16 billion.

    The takeaway

    While you shouldn’t hinge your entire marketing strategy on a handful of statistics, we can find plenty of helpful insights through analyzing the latest PPC management data. This info demonstrates the growing importance of paid ads across various channels. It also shows that more companies plan to increase their PPC budgets in 2021.

    Amid the pandemic, more and more people are using their smartphones for searching and shopping. Because of this, mobile optimization remains another important part of effective paid search marketing campaigns. 

    As far as platforms, Google Ads and Facebook remain key players in the digital advertising market. Knowing the latest reports, trends, and numbers surrounding PPC can help you be better armed to optimize your program and gain a competitive edge.

    Sam Yadegar

    Sam Yadegar

    Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

    Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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    Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 10 , 2020

    Before partnering with a pay-per-click (PPC) manager, here’s what you need to know.

    Here, you’ll find:

    • Key PPC manager personality traits
    • Questions to ask a potential PPC manager
    • Red flags to look out for
    • Why enthusiasm matters

    Finding the right PPC manager can be transformative for your business. This partnership can lead to better ads, more clicks, and increased sales. On the other hand, if you pick the wrong person, you might find yourself with a leaky pipeline and wasted ad spend. 

    While there’s no way to predict if a partnership will end up being a perfect fit, we’ve highlighted a few important factors that’ll help you make the right decision when it comes to who you want managing your PPC. 

    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 via Unsplash)

    1. Proper experience and certifications

    It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: 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 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 having a basic understanding of those programs will make things easier.

    Bonus points if your PPC manager is a certified partner with these big search engines, whether personally or through their agency. Partners often get to beta test new products and are the first to hear about imminent updates. 

    2. A personality conducive to the field

    “A good PPC manager needs to have a good balance of open-mindedness and discipline,” says Matt Monroe, an account manager here at HawkSEM. “Experimenting with new ideas and being willing to try new things is incredibly important.” He adds that a good PPC manager will also make sure things are being done efficiently — and with good reason.

    Patience is another characteristic that Matt says gets overlooked sometimes. “After making changes in a campaign or ad group,” he explains, “being able to see if those changes impacted the ad, ad group, or campaign positively or negatively is important,” which can take time. “Giving the change enough time and exposure is the only way to properly do this, so holding off on other changes that may alter the original change’s impact is crucial.”

    Lastly, Matt emphasized confidence. “If they’re not confident, they may hesitate when they should be taking action, which could prevent growth and future understanding of what works and doesn’t.”

    A lack of confidence may mean the relationship requires more hand-holding, which usually proves to be an inefficient use of time on the company’s end. The key, it seems, is a balance between independence and being a team player who works well with others.

    3. Strong communication skills

    We know that communication is key in basically 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. 

    Matt explains that your manager should not only be well-spoken, but well-written too. If not, “you can probably expect poor ad copy, which will lead to low click-through rates or even worse: a bad impression of the company,” he says.

    “Imagine reading an ad that had multiple typos and poor grammar — you wouldn’t click on it, but you also might avoid that company and think they’re kind of sloppy.” 

    Questions to ask: How do you best communicate? How often do you think we should touch base? Can you provide examples of successful PPC campaigns you worked on in the past?

    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 via Unsplash)

    4. Satisfied past customers

    Successful PPC is all about results, and you want a manager who can get them. Ideally, your PPC manager should be able to provide you with stats, testimonials, or other proof showing past client success, so you know you’re in good hands.

    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. Even if they’re not in your exact industry, knowing there are satisfied past customers can help you feel confident in the person you’re trusting with your campaigns — and your ad budget.

    5. Strong organization skills

    PPC campaigns — and digital marketing campaigns in general — often have a lot of moving parts. After all, you don’t want a PPC manager who’s going to set up your campaigns, have them run, and not touch them again. 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 PPC 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 2 weeks, a month, 3 months, et cetera, to touch base on any changes after a campaign has launched. 

    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 matches up with your expectations.

    Questions to ask: What tools do you use to stay organized? How do you keep things from slipping through the cracks?

    6. An emphasis on data

    The best PPC managers are often 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). 

    Your manager should be able to pull data reports and translate them into meaningful takeaways. This is another place communication comes in. The most successful PPC managers can distill all the data insights and explain them in a way that’s clear and informative, so you’re always on the same page.

    Questions to ask: What KPIs do you typically find most important to measuring PPC success? How do you track and analyze data?

    HawSEM - 7 Traits to Look for in a PPC Manager

    As with any partnership, professional or personal, it can take time to find the right person. (Image via Unsplash)

    7. Enthusiasm about the industry — and your brand

    Your PPC manager is going to be working with you to promote your product or service (and spending money doing it). Because of that, it helps for them to be excited and enthusiastic, instead of feeling like they dread working with your brand.

    This is another reason why aligning personalities and communication styles is no necessary. For example, if your company has a “quirky” voice and brand aesthetic, finding a PPC manager that has experience working with a similarly voice company will make the onboarding process smoother and will help them quickly acclimate to your overall tone. The result? More authentic, well-received PPC ads.

    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 from your PPC manager, you can better discern who might be a good fit.

    As long as communication lines are open, expectations are clear, and results being achieved, you can feel confident that you and your PPC manager make a good team.

    In the market for a PPC manager? We’d love to chat.

    Caroline Cox

    Caroline Cox

    Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

    Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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    Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 22 , 2019

    Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a highly effective tool for getting your business in front of the right people, at the right time.

    Here, you’ll find:

    • What PPC marketing is
    • How to properly manage a PPC campaign
    • What makes PPC ads successful
    • The latest PPC stats

    Ah, the ever-changing algorithm. Many a marketer wishes they knew the magic words to instantly land them at the top of search engine results, but we all know it’s not nearly that simple.

    And that’s too bad, because we also know that approximately three-fourths of users don’t read past the first page of search results. That’s where pay-per-click (PPC) ads come in.

    Also referred to as paid search marketing, PPC marketing falls under the category of search engine marketing. PPC ads are the hyperlinked results at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) above the organic, search engine optimized (SEO) results. They look similar to the organic results, except with a little green box denoting “ad” next to it.

    The good news: According to a survey by Clutch, 75% of people say paid search ads make it easier to find the info they’re searching for online.

    PPC can be a highly effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal, whether your industry is SaaS, financial services, higher education, insurance, or anything in between. It can help connect you with potential clients through eye-catching copy that provides context and a hyperlink taking them straight to a targeted landing page on your site.

    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    PPC ads look similar to organic search results, except with a little box denoting “ad” next to it.

    What is PPC marketing?

    Paid search and PPC are defined as a type of online advertising that allows marketers to have their brand’s display ads show up on in the sponsored results section of a SERP. And because of the pay-per-click nature of these ads, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.

    Getting the clicks — that’s the tricky part. To create the most effective PPC campaigns, you want your ads to appear in front of the right audience searching for the right keywords that makes sense for your product or service.

    From there, you place your bid to say how much you think a click is worth. When your ad shows up and gets clicked on, you’re charged a fee (that can vary greatly depending on industry, competition, keywords, quality score, and more).

    PPC vs. paid social ads

    Social media advertising is a great way to meet your target audience where they are while also subverting pesky platform algorithms that can keep your content from showing up in feeds.

    But unlike PPC ads, you pay a flat rate for the ad space — rates don’t change depending on impressions or engagement. This often translates into social ads being more expensive than PPC.

    PPC vs. display ads

    Display ads are ads that show up on almost every revenue-generating site across the web. These are the ads you see on the top, side, or bottom of website you visit, a mobile app you use, or a video you watch.

    Display ads are known for their high visibility rates. Ads created via the Google Display Network reportedly reach more than 90% of people on the Internet. Because of their prevalence, display ads often don’t have as high of a click-through rate (CTR) as PPC ads.

    Most often, these ad types are used for branding, so you stay top of mind after someone visits your site, in conjunction with your PPC efforts.

    What are the components of a PPC ad?

    Let’s start with Google PPC ads. These can contain:

    • 1-3 headlines
    • A display URL
    • A description up to 90 characters long
    • Ad extensions
    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    Google allows up to three headlines in a PPC ad.

    Headlines

    Recently, Google upped the ante by allowing up to three headlines in a PPC ad, separated by a “|” or pipe symbol. Your headlines are where you have the opportunity to catch someone’s attention and highlight a product or service while being direct about what you offer.

    When brainstorming PPC ad headlines, consider elements like:

    • Including keywords
    • Highlighting a common problem and/or solution
    • Getting as close to character limits as possible
    • Asking questions
    • Using concise, to-the-point language

    Display URL

    Your display URL can be your site’s homepage or a simple, clean URL that relates to the keywords and ad copy (such as hawksem.com/ppc). This clean display URL is simply what appears to users within your ad.

    Ideally, though, the URL links to a targeted landing page on your site. The landing page should closely match with the look, feel, and verbiage of the ad, with a clearly defined CTA so the person knows what action to take next.

    For example, if HawkSEM was creating a PPC ad that offered a free PPC audit, the display URL could be something like hawksem.com/free-ppc-audit. This way the offer is clearly matched with the ad itself. The link might then route to a more complex URL like hawksem.com/ppc-audit/?utm_source=ppc&utm_medium=google-ads&utm_campaign=ppc-audit for tracking purposes.

    Descriptions

    You’ve got a limited number of characters to work with for your PPC ad’s description — make them count! Your description should speak specifically to your target audience, highlight benefits for them (vs. just talking about how great your offering is), and have a strong call to action (CTA).

    Descriptions are most effective when they’re tangible, i.e. offering “25% off” instead of simply saying “we’re the best!” Plus, Google now allows for 2 descriptions, doubling your character count to 180.

    Ad extensions

    Ad extensions are no-cost additional lines of text that can help improve your CTR by adding more info and context to your ad (as well as more real estate on the SERP). As Google explains, ad extensions can include:

    • More text
    • Call buttons
    • Location info
    • Additional links to your website
    • Star ratings

    Your extensions aren’t guaranteed to show up with your ad, but if your ranking is high enough and the extension is likely to improve performance, it will.

    Suspect your PPC program might be broken? We’ve got a guide for that.

    What are Microsoft Advertising PPC ads?

    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) function and look similar to Google Ads.

    Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) function and look similar to Google Ads. They feature the “ad” box next to the result, and include a headline, URL, and description. As you can see above, some ads include additional links and descriptions as well.

    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

    What are shopping PPC ads?

    For e-commerce brands and those who sell products online, shopping ads can be a great way to get someone to “add to cart.” Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

    Shopping ads are automated based on data you send to the search engines. That’s why it’s crucial to fully optimize the product pages on your website. To set up your product to be included in the results feed, you’ve got to format your product information to be compatible with the Shopping feed’s ad platform.

    Once you submit your product data to the search engine in the proper format, you’ll be primed to show up on the SERP’s ad section. The approval process can take 24-72 hours. Merchant centers for Google and Bing have their own breakdowns to ensure you’re following the proper steps.

    What are some stats on PPC marketing?

    • One-third (33%) of respondents in a Clutch survey said they click on a paid search ad because it directly answers their search query.
    • The first PPC ad spaces were reportedly created in 1996 by Planet Oasis and Google as a research project at Stanford University.
    • Microsoft’s search network Bing attracts 116 million unique desktop searchers a year.
    • Between 40 and 60 billion Google searches take place each month in the U.S.
    • In 2018, Google ad spending grew by 23%.
    • Bing users spend 35% more online when shopping from their desktop computers than average internet searchers.
    • People are most likely to click on text paid search ads (49%) vs. shopping or product listing ads (31%) and video ads (16%).
    • Sponsored ads account for 2 out of 3 clicks on the first page of Google results.

    What are the benefits of creating PPC marketing ads?

    With PPC marketing ads, you don’t have to fight against the algorithm to show up at the top of a SERP listing. These ads put your business in front of the right people at the right time — when they’re searching for something similar to have you have to offer.

    Gone are the days of buying ads and crossing your fingers that they’re seen by enough interested people to be worth their price. By using keyword planner tools to target your audience by preference, region, and more — only paying for the clicks you actually get — you have much greater chances of turning that click into a successful conversion.

    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    It’s up to you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. Essentially, you’re deciding how much each click is worth.

    How does bidding work?

    You likely know how auctions work — there’s an item (or, in this case, a rank placement), and different people try to outbid each other to be the one who scores.

    That’s how PPC bidding works, more or less. When someone enters a query into their chosen search engine, there’s an auction. The built-in algorithm picks what they determine as the most relevant paid and organic search results, and that’s what the user sees.

    It’s up to you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. Essentially, you’re deciding how much each click is worth. What makes this tricky is that, unlike in a public auction, you don’t know how much your competitors are bidding on each keyword compared to yours.

    If another advertiser outbids you, their ad is the one that’ll get shown. If you bid too high, you may get more clicks, but you can also go through your budget in a snap. To find the happy medium, it takes time and attention, whether that means you, a team member, or a digital marketing agency.

    Keep an eye on your click volume and the types of clicks you’re getting — are they qualified leads or are they junk? These insights will help you modify both your bidding and your ad content accordingly.

    What is a quality score?

    Along with your bid, your quality score also factors into your ad ranking. Google decides on your overall quality score (on a scale from 1, which is not great, to 10, which is excellent).

    This can be viewed in the keywords section of your Google Ads account. The better your quality score, the more you’ll rise through the ranks of results and the better cost-per-click (CPC) rate you’re likely to get.

    HawkSEM - PPC marketing

    Your PPC ad’s ranking at the top of a SERP depends on factors like the keywords you’re bidding on, the competition for those keywords, your bid amount, and your quality score.

    What affects an ad’s ranking?

    Your PPC marketing ad’s ranking at the top of a SERP depends on a few factors. These include which keywords you’re bidding on, the amount of competition for those keywords, the amount of your bid, and your quality score.

    The formula looks something like this:

    The ad ranked below you
    ———————————- + $0.01 = actual CPC
    Your quality score

    The higher your ranking, the greater your chances are of getting a click — pretty simple. If you want to up your ranking without increasing your spending, make sure your ads are compelling, accurate, and in line with the hyper-focused landing pages connected to them.

    You also want to be mindful of who you’re targeting, when you’re targeting them, and where you’re targeting (from region to the search engine itself).

    What is PPC lead scoring?

    Generating leads is one thing — but knowing the value of the leads being generated is another altogether. When you know the true value of the leads coming in through lead scoring,you can better prioritize and iterate your PPC marketing strategies. This helps you drive more of the kind of leads you want in the future.

    You can determine your lead value by setting up a lead-scoring system that connects your quality leads to the amount spent on each lead.

    ValueTrack parameters can be added to landing page URLs that gather info about who is clicking your ads. From there, you can pull this PPC marketing campaign data into your CRM to connect with lifetime value and lead score. This helps determine which campaigns are driving the best leads and value (and it’s part of ConversionIQ, our smart approach to marketing).

    Armed with this info, you can better analyze your PPC campaigns and keywords to maximize your ROI.

    How do you calculate PPC marketing ROI?

    Put simply, you can calculate revenue per lead using the following formula:

    Total Revenue Generated / Total Number of Leads = Average Revenue Per Lead

    However, this doesn’t paint the whole picture. There are other factors at play as well, including your average sales cycle length, site traffic, customer relationship management (CRM) data, and lead scoring to determine your high-quality leads.

    Ensure you’re properly measuring your PPC ROI by:

    • Setting up lead scoring
    • Tracking your leads and conversions properly
    • Adding in subjective data regarding experiences with the lead
    • Calculating anticipated ROI before anticipated site traffic

    How can you optimize your search engine marketing (SEM) plan for PPC success?

    You can have the best PPC ads around — but if the rest of your online presence is lackluster, you still risk those clicks turning into dead ends instead of closed deals.

    Take another look at your SEM program. Are you leveraging the right keywords? Have you planned out your ROI goals? Is your site fully optimized? Being able to answer “yes” to all of these questions will give you and your team the peace of mind that you’re doing all you can when it comes to search engine marketing.

    Plenty of companies make the mistake of letting conversion tracking fall by the wayside. Some set it up improperly, and some aren’t tracking this at all. Conversion tracking is crucial for giving you insight into performance while providing you with insightful data about customer actions.

    A step-by-step plan for an ROI-driven PPC campaign

    Think you’ve got the ROI-driven PPC thing down? Make sure you’re taking all of these steps when crafting your campaign:

    • Determine your campaign’s goals
    • Identify, prioritize, and categorize the right keywords for your campaign
    • Write out your ad copy
    • Set up your ads within your chosen ad platform
    • Determine the desired CTA
    • Make sure your landing pages are targeted, consistent, and optimized
    • Have tracking set up (properly! More than 70% of our PPC audits turn up incorrect or with improper tracking.)

    How to find the right PPC agency for you

    Whether you’re not seeing the PPC results you want or just don’t have the time and resources to manage it all, partnering with an agency can be hugely beneficial. (OK, so maybe we’re a little biased.)

    When you’re vetting out the agencies you potentially want to work with, it’s a good idea to prepare by:

    • Having a list of goals and objectives
    • Deciding which services you need
    • Having a budget in mind
    • Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs)

    Once you decide which agencies you want to actually connect with in-person or via phone, make sure you get an understanding of their fee structure, company culture, and communication style. You also want to make sure the team you’re working with is knowledgeable and experienced. (Think all PPC agencies are the same? Think again.)

    The takeaway

    PPC ads have proven to be a way to reach your targeted audience and turn search engine users into customers. Not only can paid search ads boost awareness of your brand by 80%, but they can expand your reach, bring you more traffic, and, ultimately, make you more money.

    Ready to take your PPC game to the next level? Let’s chat.

    Caroline Cox

    Caroline Cox

    Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

    Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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