23 Pay-Per-Click Lessons from Marketing Masterminds

25 Words of PPC Wisdom from Marketing Masterminds
Read these posts, and you’ll be the King of PPC! (Image Source)

Have you noticed that in the marketing community, people either love or hate Pay-Per-click? Here’s what I’ve seen on both ends of the spectrum:

Hi, my name is ________, and I’m part of the Pay-Per-click Forever Cult.”


Why pay for it when you can get it for free? Pay-Per-click is a waste of money.”

Pay-Per-click campaigns are power tools for customer acquisition, but if you don’t play your cards right, you’re going to lose a lot of money. I remember the day I lost my first $10,000 (yes, that many zeroes). It hurt. I thought I was going to get fired. I also remember the day I made my first $20. I felt like I won the lotto. And when when I made my first $100,000? You can’t even imagine.

The golden rule of PPC is to never waste your own money, even for the sake of a learning curve. Learn from the wisdom of others who’ve weathered the bid war storms. So here you go, my favorite words of Pay-Per-Click lessons:

Click-Through-Rate & Quality Score

1. CTRs are relative

Post by PPC Hero

Our favorite PPC hero hears this question time and time again. “What’s a good CTR?” The answer is no answer. A good CTR is one that is continuously improving and being optimized.

2. Invest in your Google quality score

Post by PPC Hero

A solid quality score can bump down your CPCs, saving your company time and money. Here’s a quick and dirty trick to make more out of your already-awesome keyword campaigns.

3. Improving your CTR takes time but is worth the effort

Post by Joanna Xu on HasOffers

Higher CTRs equate to higher traffic volumes, higher quality scores, and lower CPCs. Put forth the effort with these four techniques for getting your CTR back up to where it should be.

4. Know how Quality Score is made

Post by Google AdWords

Quality score has come up quite a few times in this post. As a marketer, you should probably know the recipe. Google recently announced that they’re revamping the calculations behind this metric, focusing on factors such as expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. In other words, you need to maintain a great UX. Google isn’t changing the way quality score is calculated, but you may definitely see some differences.

5. And know why it matters

Post by Ginny Marvin on Search Engine Land

So Google changed their quality score calculations. So what? Exactly. If you’re a marketer, you need a strong understanding of what you should expect to see. Let’s go back to our sausage analogy from #7. You probably want to know how your sausage is going to taste before you commit to cooking and eating it. This marketer suspects that new quality scores will be much more stringent. We’ll see more 5s and 6s instead of 7s and 8s.

Mobile & Google Enhanced Campaigns

6.  Despite growing pains, marketers believe in Google Enhanced Campaigns

Post by David Moth on Econsultancy

The marketing community felt taken aback when Google rolled out Enhanced Campaigns across AdWords. In a nutshell, this upgrade removes the ability for marketers to target campaigns against specific devices. Now, you can still target mobile and tablet traffic, but the process is a little different. Basically, you keep your keywords in one campaign and then change your targeting options from there. This change scared some marketers (according to Econsultancy’s survey), but a good proportion believe that the decision, in the long-term, was for the better. The majority of those surveyed, however, are not sure what to expect or anticipate in terms of changes.

7. When in doubt, go straight to the source

Post by Google AdWords

If you’re not sure what to think of Enhanced Campaigns, go straight to Google for the intel you need. Here is what happened on 7/22, the day when these changes rolled out.

8. But don’t be afraid to ask for help

Post by Larry Kim on HubSpot

Start by understanding user context and why this concept is important to your marketing initiatives. We live in a device agnostic world. When users come to your site on the computer, they’re probably at work or taking their evening brain break. When they’re mobile, they’re likely on a train, waiting at the doctor’s office, or eating lunch alone. Context can help you build more profitable AdWords campaigns. Here’s a run-through of how to do it.

Linked-In Performance Marketing

9. Find workarounds to things that annoy you

Post by Merry Morud on aimClear

This marketer has a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn ads. Love? The robust user acquisition capabilities. Hate? The platform. If you’ve been frustrated with incessant log-in features, bottomless drill-downs, wacky sorting, and endless process to duplicating campaigns, here are some quick tips to help oil your engine to keep you up, running, and totally (almost) sane.

10. Controversy is inevitable

Post by Laura Stampler on Business Insider

LinkedIn came under scrutiny after rejecting an ad that featured a beautiful Argentinean engineer. A small developer platform is accusing LinkedIn of ‘extreme sexism’ for rejecting ads with beautiful engineers. The reason? LinkedIn users started complaining about the ad. And I digress: This is all totally weird — why were users complaining? After the company went public with its accusation, LinkedIn issued a public apology.

11. If you’re going to advertise on LinkedIn, do it right

Post by Kristi Hines on Unbounce

Kristi Hines walks us through a seamless and highly informative step-by-step guide to advertising on LinkedIn. Start with a plan and define your ideal customer. One of the amazing things about LinkedIn is that you can reach users by job title or group membership. Kristi Hines will walk you through her process for making the most out of your campaigns.

12. And check out LinkedIn’s sponsored updates while you’re at it

Post by Andy Au on HootSuite

LinkedIn recently released a new advertising product for content marketers called Sponsored Updates. According to this blog post’s author, the platform is valuable in helping B2B marketers align with core audiences. HootSuite was able to use it to generate leads via precise targeting, native advertising, and ease of use. User intent is also a key factor here.

Big Picture PPC Wisdom

13. Be on the defense

Post by Joseph Kerschbaum on SearchEngineWatch

The Pay-Per-click landscape is perpetually changing. Whatever happens will be totally out of your control. You need to be on guard to keep your campaigns safe. It’s an understatement to say that PPC is a competitive space. You can’t always be on the offense, however. In times of flux, you need to hold down the fort and keep performance as strong as possible. This post will help you withstand 7 types of disaster.

14. Make the most out of limited time

Post by Melissa Mackey on SearchEngineWatch

We all have days that drive us crazy. When you’re slammed with meetings and client calls, it’s easy to push your PPC campaigns to the back burner. Do yourself a favor, and don’t do it. In this post, Melissa Mackey explains why you do have time and breaks down a 10 minute game plan for those days that you just want to, well, break down.

15. Know your audience

Post by Yahoo! Advertising Solutions

I’m a 26-year-old female, a small business owner, spend most of my time in front of the computer, and live in San Francisco. If somebody showed me an ad with over-the-top outdoorsy gear, I would probably click out of sheer awe and disbelief. That’s a wasted click on an ad for a product that I would never buy. To effectively reach consumers via PPC, you need to target the right user segments. Know your audience. Here is Yahoo’s perspective on the four types of digital shoppers.

16. Always start with goals

Post by Don Sturgill on WordStream

As a marketer, you’re well aware that your campaigns need goals. Duh. Hello obvious. But the big question you’re facing is how. How do you choose PPC specific goals? Focus on the steps that translate back into sales including lead generation, free trial sign-ups, and return visits back to your site.

17. Customer acquisition is the end result of all marketing campaigns

Post by Onboardly

The team at Onboardly put together a list of 25 customer acquisition declarations. Here are the points that really stand out for PPC: (1) best practices aren’t universal truths, so test for yourself; (2) your customers are asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ so make the answer obvious; (3) you can’t master every acquisition tactic out there, so be great at just a few.

18. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch

Post by Phil Frost on KISSmetrics

If you’re not sure where to get started, this post is an absolute must-read for navigating those tumultuous PPC waters. Thank you (or if you prefer the cheesy sailing analogy, aye-aye) to the author for putting this step-by-step guide together.

The Little PPC Details

19. Train the next generation of PPC affictionaos

Post by Elizabeth Marsten on Portent

Remember when you were a kid? Could you have ever imagined that PPC would be your profession? Not a chance. But today’s youth is a different story. They’re the next generation of PPC masterminds. Whether you’re helping your kids (or little siblings) find a new career path or looking for a switch yourself, here are the skills that every new PPC manager should have.

20. Overthrow the tyranny of paid search budgets

Post by George Michie on Search Engine Land

This post’s author eloquently points out that budgets are a fact of life for many PPC managers. The thing is, they shouldn’t be. If your program is producing ROI (like it should), your marketing program should be uncapped. It makes sense right? Spend more to get more. Here’s one argument as to why paid search budgets are completely illogical.

21. Know the other side of the equation

Post by Jeff Bullas

There are multiple sides to every PPC campaign story, and a big one is Google, the ‘middle man.’ As you are probably well aware, Google makes the majority of its revenue via advertising. Here is an infographic that shows you exactly how Google Advertising works from a bottom line down perspective.

22. Listen to the skeptics, but don’t let them hold you back

Post by eZanga

Recently, eBay claimed that SEM is ineffective. As you would expect, Google begs to differ. Ezanga’s perspective is that eBay is guilty of something called dynamic keyword insertion abuse — in other words, generating campaigns that are really easy to make, with minimal effort. To be effective, SEM needs to be personalized. Here’s why.

23. Whatever you do, make technology a part of it

Post by Adam Kreitman on CrazyEgg

Adam Kreitman makes the astute comment that the PPC world is incredibly cutthroat. That’s an understatement. At any given moment, small businesses are competing with the Fortunate 500 and their 7-figure marketing budgets. Technology will put you in the position to make smarter choices. Here are 9 tools for getting started.

Do you have any more awesome PPC resources or words of advice that will help our readers become PPC Masterminds? Jump in and share them in the comments section.

— Ritika Puri

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About Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri is a Los Angeles based marketing and business blogger who writes about trends in data, internet culture, and entrepreneurship. She's inspired by the intersection between technology and sociology.
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