Welcome to PPC Boot Camp with Matt and Mona

[This post is our continuining coverage of SES Chicago 2008] Proper execution of the basic, proven and successful models is necessary for success in any business endeavor. Search Marketing is no different. After spending the past 3 days listening to excellent people extol us to further develop and exceed current practices and performances, it was time to stop for a moment and “Get back to the basics.”

Search Advertising 101 was just the elixir and this baby was a cool tall drink. Covering basic tenets and language surrounding keywords, online ad creative, placement and campaign management processes provided an accelerated  learning curve.

Moderator Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner and Founder of Beyond Ink did a great job setting the pace and handing over the podium to Matt Van Wagner, President of Find Me Faster and Mona Elesseily, Director of Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media.

Retail took center stage with Matt’s presentation. With my background in offline media, his demeanor and delivery were familiar. The audience ate it up. He was one of the most entertaining and well spoken presenters I had seen all week.

It’s simple, “Paid Placement is Search advertising that provides a top ranking in return for payment.” All major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo) offer paid placement programs. Mr. Wagner loves PPC for four main reasons:

1. Targetability. Geographic and demographic. Incredible control through language and placement to find and attract only those consumers that you want. No other medium comes close.

2. Analytics to prove and support campaigns. Investment in PPC programs is instantly measurable to prove ROI. What offline media can claim that?

3. PPC & SEO are complimentary to each other. Because of the symbiosis, it is quick to implement/test/track/test/predict and retool when necessary. Constant monitoring of your PPC and SEO campaigns is key to making the necessary small adjustments for long term success.

4. PPC allows more control of messaging. The ability to adjust and manipulate add text will allow for greater control and determine which landing page the consumers first land on

Successful PPC campaigns require a full team effort and strong communication. Get better every day. PPC is not a “set it and forget it” process.

*Establish clear goals and processes. It’s about all aspects not just keywords. PPC and SEO should work hand in hand where possible. Be disciplined.

*Use “System level” strategies. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

*Track, test, track and test some more. Be consistent and patient. Good data is very valuable from one campaign and client to the next. But don’t over do it and get analysis paralysis. Leave some room for the gut.

“To gain a sustainable advantage you don’t need to be the best today…but you do need to be    the best tomorrow.” In the end it is still about driving revenue.

Mr. Wagoner next wrangled with the issue of “Where do your PPC ads show?” “Every jerk has an opinion about this (ad placement)…and every jerk is right. Get it right on Google first, that is what you will live and die by. Google has over 68% share of the US search engine pie.”

There are 2 basic types of PPC ads to develop:
Search engine ads– User types in a query directly

Content Network ads– User encounters your ad while doing something else
Manage them differently

As far as position goes, the higher your ad appears on the page, the more clicks you will get and the more you will pay. Simple enough but this is when things started to get dicey. Mr. Wagner took a deep breath and with the aid of numerous colorful slides he proceeded with the following set of questions….

“What’s the best position for your ads?”
“Does the highest bid always get the top spot?”
“How much will I pay? (Max CPC vs. Avg. CPC)”
“What’s all this crap about Quality Score?”

Quality score + bid = position

Quality score (“You need to know it, going forward this is very important”) is comprised of 2 things:
1. Relevancy- Quality of your keywords in relation to your ads and landing pages.

2. Historical Performance and Click through rate (CTR)

Clear enough. But then Mr. Wagoner dropped this nugget on the class. “Forget everything you just learned about Ad Rank. Please remember only that Ad Rank exists. Concentrate on creating great PPC Campaigns. Sorry.” Great content remains king and will always give your campaigns a leg up.

Mona Elesseily tackled the issues surrounding Ad Copy tips and Conversion tracking.

Here are 6 tips she provided:
1. Include keywords in your ad copy. Conversion is proven to increase with this technique. Use tight ad groups. Gear ad copy to specific terms. Break out strong categories separate of each other.

2. Use appropriate tone in ads. B2B and B2C ads require very different language. Always keep in mind the type of company and the type of audience you are trying to reach.

3. Filtering clicks is good practice (the right ads to the right people)

4. Consider many different buyer motivations. Factor them in.  Price, Reassurances (official site/2 hour phone support), Deals (offer ending soon, Hurry today).

5. Buy Cycle ads. Where are your targets in the purchase continuum model? Towards the beginning of the cycle people are looking to gather information, towards the end of a cycle they are looking to convert.

6. Test Ads continuously.

Mona also dove into the very important topic of Conversion Tracking. “Determine what it is you are trying to accomplish as a company, and then link it to the appropriate metrics.”

Set the right goals. This will frame ROI and give a clear set of Metrics for measurement, testing and the validation of ROI. Remember that there are Primary and Secondary conversions in your account. Focus on the Primary conversions. They hold the more solid ROI and are a better use of resources.

Matt was asked to comment on Match types. A heavy silence fell over the room (Fear? Anticipation? Hard to tell) as Mr. Wagner approached the podium once more. He had the look of an individual who held the deepest secrets of the Universe and could dispense (or not) at his whimsy.

“Match types are  simply this” …..(Paraphrased for effect) “Use Broad match when you want lots of clicks, Phrase match for less clicks and Exact match every other time”.  A perfect ending to a valuable lesson in search.

At 11:30 am on 12/10/08 I reentered the offline marketing civilian ranks with a much better sense of what the base techniques and principals that guide PPC and SEO. Matt Wagner and Mona Esseiley, the new soldiers of search who were in this “Boot Camp” owe you one.

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