Do You #ppcchat? Tell Us About Yourself!

As communities grow, it often becomes harder to keep track of who’s new, who’s returning after a hiatus, and the backgrounds of people that you are interacting with. The #ppcchat community is no different. Not only has the audience grown considerably over the past year, but the content and format has become increasingly useful as the “wisdom of the crowds” kicks in. There’s still room for n00bs but it feels like we have reached a critical mass of active contributors.

Since it helps to know who you are talking to, we put together a very brief, informal (read: not scientific) survey of #ppcchat users. We asked a few basic demographic questions and received 30 responses. None of the data below are statistically significant, but there are some interesting nuggets of data that would be interesting to extrapolate to the entire PPC community (whether or not they participate in #ppcchat).

Here’s what we learned…

Geographic Distribution of #ppcchat Contributors

Folks tune in from all over the world! It’s great to see so many countries and continents represented. PPC is different by country, time zone, and across cultural divides. Personally, I’d like to hear from more non U.S. participants, but it seems that there is no easy way to pick a time slot that works for people across time zones.

ppcchat User Locations

#ppcchat User Locations

 

#ppcchat Job Titles

Job titles are nearly impossible to compare across companies, so we didn’t even try. A Director at one company could be a Specialist or Manager at another. The best we could do is a simple word cloud showing the most prominent titles from our survey respondents.

PPC seems to be slightly more prominent than Search, Online, or Digital, and we even have one Anarchist in our midst!

 

ppcchat Job Titles

#ppcchat Job Titles

 

Company Type & Company Size

Perhaps a little more telling about #ppcchat folks are the types and sizes of companies that we come from. Again, this data set is not large enough to draw any significant conclusions, but it does seem pretty clear that most of us are in some sort of PPC or digital marketing agency, with healthy representation from in-house marketers and independent PPC pros.

My hypothesis is that agency folks have a little more leeway in our schedules and incentive to contribute to (and learn from) #ppcchat so we might be over-represented as a percentage of the actual PPC universe.

ppcchat Company Type

#ppcchat Company Type

 

Company size ranges dramatically, but most of us are in small-to-midsize companies (1-100) with a pretty healthy group of large/enterprise PPC’ers. Definitely some different challenges and opportunities in the enterprise space, but the day-to-day PPC tactics are often the same.

ppcchat Company Size

#ppcchat Company Size

 

So, What Did We Learn?

It’s hard to draw a lot of insights from a small sample size, but the #ppcchat contributors are as diverse as any group of data geeks can be. We come from companies large and small, countries far and near, but we all speak the same language.

I am constantly amazed at how helpful and sincere the PPC community is. In a world where we focus so much on competition and out-performing our (or our clients’) competitors, we certainly do share a lot of information. This, in my opinion, is what has helped the #ppcchat community survive and thrive.

Thanks to all who submitted their survey responses, and especially thanks to Matt and James for organizing and MC’ing each week. It has certainly helped our team feel more connected to the PPC world!

The First 6 Things We Load in Google Tag Manager…Every Time

Google Tag Manager

Rarely does a software tool come along that fundamentally changes how we do things across all of our clients at one time. Google Tag Manager is one of those tools, and for good reason. We can quickly and easily update analytics tags, call tracking code snippets, conversion tracking pixels, remarketing audience tags, and A/B testing code without having to cross-train the team as coders or IT specialists.

Rather than re-hash the tutorials on how to implement GTM, I thought it would be more helpful to share the ways we use it as a PPC team.

Here are the 6 things we implement first in Google Tag Manager, each and every time we set it up. Helpful links to tutorials are included, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and try them out!

1. Outbound link clicks & PDF downloads as Google Analytics Events

Many interactions on a website don’t generate a pageview in Google Analytics, such as a click on a link to another site, a PDF download, or a form submission. These types of events are usually ignored, but are extremely valuable for marketers, IT, and sales teams. Google Tag Manager makes it relatively easy to detect and track these occurrences with Google Analytics Event Tracking. It’s a bit complicated at first but well worth the time to learn!

2. Custom Audience  & Remarketing Pixels

Need to paste a remarketing or audience pixel on your site but don’t have sway with the IT guy or gal? We use Custom HTML tags to dynamically build remarketing audiences based on visitors’ interactions on the site. For example, want to create a custom AdWords remarketing segment for your best customers? Create a remarketing pixel in AdWords that only tracks high-value transactions based on a set of rules in GTM.

3. Conversion Tracking Pixels

This is a no-brainer, and possibly the most widely used feature in GTM. Tracking e-commerce transactions, sales leads, or content engagement is hard if you have to hack on code yourself or get stuck between release cycles. We let Tag Manager do its thing so we can do ours. When we need to track Facebook, AdWords, or Google Analytics conversions, we configure tags and rules to make sure we are tracking only the goals we want to track for each advertising platform.

4. Call Tracking Scripts

If you’re familiar with phone call tracking, you know it can be a pain to paste call tracking code on each page. A few months ago (the stone age, in Internet years), dynamic number replacement scripts need to be wrapped around each instance of a phone number.  Ifbyphone has updated their platform to play nice with GTM so we can save time and eliminate the headaches simply by including their script in a container.

5. A/B Testing Snippets

This is a tricky one, but well worth the time to learn and get it right. If you use Optimizely or other A/B testing tools, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to deploy the JavaScript snippets through GTM with some custom configuration. Basically, you’ll want to make sure your snippet fires before the rest of the page loads to minimize the impact on your visitors’ experience and page load times.

6. 404 Error Pages

Is your site bleeding visitors and squandering sales from error pages? These are typically referred to as “404” errors and result in a less-than-gratifying “page not found” message. Talk about a conversion killer! LunaMetrics has a wonderful tip on how to create Google Analytics events for 404 errors so you can identify these holes in your funnel. Taking it a step further, you could apply the same logic to track pages on your site with “out of stock” inventory or missing images.

Bonus! Show Your Work

We need to verify the contents of our GTM containers every time we make an update. Get the Google Tag Assistant extension for Chrome to check your pages in realtime to ensure that your tags are firing properly. Need to preview and debug your tags? Yeah, there’s a tool for that too!

We’ve implemented dozens of other combinations of tags, rules, and macros for outlier scenarios but these are the most common and deserve a spot in your default GTM setup.

 

[Video]: Unbounce & YSA, BFF’s Forever!

Unbounce Shirt

We’ve even been known to wear their shirts on casual days…

It’s no secret that we love the Unbounce landing page testing platform. We’ve been a customer for over 3 years, hosted a user meetup at our office and partnered with them on a case study for a new Dynamic Text Replacement feature.

Without getting too mushy, we have really enjoyed getting to know their team and alpha testing new features (*cough* responsive design).

They really took the relationship to the next level when they asked if they could feature us in a video case study about how a PPC agency uses landing pages to improve our clients’ businesses and our bottom line.

Of course, we said yes!

Dating metaphors aside, we are extremely honored to be featured and help tell the Unbounce story. A huge thanks to Gary and the Unbounce team for making us the stars of their show.

Richmond Unbounce Meetup at YSA

Landing Page Optimization

Get Notified of Future Events
Unbounce LogoAre you using landing pages in your business? Want to show off your best landing page testing skills and learn from other experts in Richmond?

We’re partnering with our friends at Unbounce to host a meetup at our office on Thursday, June 26th at 6:00pm.

Join us! Even the beer is free…

This meetup will be a fun, intimate gathering, complete with tasty treats & casual beverages, where you’ll learn how Unbounce customers & online marketers are marketing online, using landing pages & optimizing their campaigns.

Get Notified of Future Events

Update, With Pics!

The Unbouce meetup was a great success, and definitely worth doing again. We had a great time and met a lot of cool people.

It’s very encouraging to know that there are many other users in #RVA and from as far away as Farmville (Note: for non-Virginians, Farmville is an actual, cool, historic location in Richmond and not a crappy Facebook game).

Want to get on the list for the next meetup? Contact us and we’ll make sure you are the first to know.

We Just Don’t Click Anymore: When PPC Relationships Fall Apart

PPC BreakupBreaking up sucks. We’ve all been there. It hurts, even if you’re the one initiating it. The nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that something just isn’t right. You’re not clicking. The relationship isn’t going anywhere. It has to end.

Just like relationships between people, relationships between PPC agencies and their clients can fall apart. The initial honeymoon period after a new client win can take you to the highest highs while the dreaded, “It’s just not working out” phone call can ruin your week.

If a client doesn’t get what they need from the relationship (i.e. sales, leads, or ROI), they’re going to break up with you.

After 7 years in PPC, I’ve experienced all of this and it is still hard to acknowledge that all good things must come to an end. After a lot of soul searching (and a few cartons of ice cream), I realized there are 3 primary reasons that agencies and clients split up.

Agency Meets Client, Client Meets New Agency

PPC is hard and we don’t always achieve the results we expect for our clients in a reasonable timeframe. I’m not going to lie and pretend like every campaign is a home run. We suffer the occasional strikeout. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually unsatisfied clients will find a hotter agency that can fulfill all of their KPI needs.

I Need My Space

Some of our most disappointing client breakups weren’t over another agency at all. Our clients liked the results and potential so much that they decided to bring PPC in house. We call this, “The Kidney Punch” because things seemed to be going well…until they’re not. We were clicking, you know? Then they decided they didn’t need us after all.

A little bonus – these often turn into “Boomerang” clients that leave briefly then come back when they realize how hard PPC is and how much they need you. We have several former clients that continue to refer high-quality prospects to us. Don’t burn any bridges, ever.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

There’s an often-overlooked (and under-utilized) reverse breakup scenario: agency fires client. Most likely this is due to one of three scenarios:

  1. The scope has exceeded the fee with no room for re-negotiation
  2. Client places unrealistic demands on the PPC agency
  3. Agencies shift course and some clients no longer fit in the roster

I’ve talked with many, many other agency leaders that would fire a few clients if they could. I say you should! There’s no reason to waste time, overload your staff, or sacrifice quality for your other clients. Just like learning to say “No” to new business that might not be a good fit, it’s even harder to walk away from paying clients. Sometimes it has to happen, and I have ended up happier and better off every time we’ve had to exercise our right to terminate a contract.

But it doesn’t have to end on a bad note. Coming soon, check out our next post on How To Gracefully Part Ways With A PPC Client (A Checklist).

CC Photo Credit

Weather-Triggered Lead Generation Campaigns

Home Generator Lead GenerationWe began working with a well-known home services company in Richmond, VA in the spring of 2013. Our initial objective was to drive phone and email leads for HVAC and backup generator installations, through Google Search and Display Ads, and Landing Page Optimization. After a successful first three months, we expanded our relationship to promote their Plumbing, Propane, and Home Security service lines.

While we’ve seen success across all service lines, Home Standby Generators emerged as a top priority for the client.

Strategize

While our existing Search and Display campaigns were bringing in plenty of qualified leads, we knew there was more we could be doing to give the client a competitive edge. Realizing that interest in Generators seemed highest during storms, we created a “Storm Prep” campaign, with banner ads that we could easily activate before and after big storms that routinely knock out power to thousands of Virginians.

Let YSA Work For You

Do your PPC campaigns need a boost? Are you reaching your best prospects with solutions to their problems? Let YSA help your business grow with a customized PPC strategy that will leave your competitors behind and your customers amazed.

Work With Us

4 AdWords Tools For DIY AdWords Managers

Even seasoned SEM managers need help organizing, updating, and analyzing the high volume of data created by their campaigns. It’s simply too much for to handle with spreadsheets alone. Luckily, there are several tools available to help with the mundane tasks and detailed analysis.

AdWords Editor

AdWords Editor

AdWords Editor

AdWords Editor is a free, downloadable Google application for managing large AdWords accounts efficiently on Windows or Mac computers. Download your campaigns, make bulk changes with powerful editing tools, then upload the changes to AdWords.

Filters & Automated Rules

AdWords Automated Rules

AdWords Automated Rules

Filter your account statistics to search for the data that interests you the most, such as keyword text, average cost-per-click (CPC), or impressions. Once you’ve created a filter, you can save it for easy access in the future. Automated Rules allow you to take action based on your filter results. For example, you can raise your CPC bids every Tuesday for keywords with an average Cost Per Lead below your target range. Similarly, you can pause and flag keywords with an unacceptable Cost Per Lead to manually review them before allowing them to run again.

Bulk Edits

AdWords Bulk Edits

AdWords Bulk Edits

A relatively new feature in the AdWords web interface that mimics some of the bulk editing capabilities in AdWords Editor (AE). Need to do a quick “Find and Replace” or “Append Text” function for some keywords or ad copy? Bulk edits make it easy. We still find AE to be more useful for large-scale updates, but Bulk Edits can speed up the monotony of making several minor changes to campaigns, ads, or keywords.

Automated Reporting

AdWords Automated Reports

AdWords Automated Reports

Customize your AdWords reports and have them emailed to you on a regular basis. With automated reporting, you can keep an eye on your most important campaigns, keywords, and ads without the trouble of logging in and re-creating your reports every few days.

Of course, machines can’t completely replace humans (yet), but they can help reduce the monotony and let us focus on the high-level strategies and insights that improve performance and yield more leads.

B2B Leads From Wall Street to Main Street

world mapA B2B client offers sales and management training for corporate clients with a network of over 200 training centers worldwide. The local trainers rely on a steady stream of leads to put their process to work and generate more clients. Your Search Advisor is tasked with increasing qualified sales leads from people searching Google, Yahoo, and Bing at the national and local levels.

Strategize

We set out to lower the average Cost Per Lead compared to previous campaigns run by another agency. In partnership with a team of specialist agency partners, YSA generates leads from content marketing and PDF downloads on dedicated landing pages that we built. Our search campaigns cover a wide spectrum of sales and management training topics to reach prospects at each stage of the B2B decision-making process.

Let YSA Work For You

Do your PPC campaigns need a boost? Are you reaching your best prospects with solutions to their problems? Let YSA help your business grow with a customized PPC strategy that will leave your competitors behind and your customers amazed.

Work With Us

Crafty E-Commerce Shop Seeks Sparkling ROI

blue beadsAn e-commerce retailer in the arts & crafts industry was looking for a strategic partner to manage all of their Pay Per Click advertising across Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, and Facebook. Our objectives are to grow sales volume and total revenue while maintaining a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) within a narrow target to maintain profitability.

Strategize

To keep up with the ever-changing world of e-commerce PPC, Your Search Advisor has helped guide the client through every major change in Google’s shopping campaigns since 2008: Google Base, Froogle, Google Merchant Center, and Product Listing Ads. Google’s new Shopping Campaigns (launched February 2014) provide even more product-level data for deeper analysis.

Let YSA Work For You

Do your PPC campaigns need a boost? Are you reaching your best prospects with solutions to their problems? Let YSA help your business grow with a customized PPC strategy that will leave your competitors behind and your customers amazed.

Work With Us

Turning Leads Into Custom Home Sales

Landing Page OptimizationA custom home builder in Virginia needed more sales leads to ride out the downturn in the housing market. Our objective was to drive qualified leads, at the lowest possible Cost Per Lead. We inherited the AdWords account in 2011, and re-built it from the ground up.

Strategize

After rebuilding the account, we determined that the most effective way to improve our overall Cost Per Lead was to create a thorough Landing Page Testing Strategy. By increasing conversion rates steadily over time, we would be able to continually drop their Cost Per Lead.

In Their Own Words…

What you have been able to do for our company is truly remarkable. Not only have our internet leads tripled year over year, but your detailed reporting and tracking system has allowed us to reduce advertising expenditures in other less lucrative areas.

Scott Sleeme
Mitchell Homes, Richmond, VA

Let YSA Work For You

Do your PPC campaigns need a boost? Are you reaching your best prospects with solutions to their problems? Let YSA help your business grow with a customized PPC strategy that will leave your competitors behind and your customers amazed.

Work With Us