9 Years As A PPC Ninja

Back in May of 2005 – a little less than a year out of high school – I took a job in an industry I knew nothing about. This was going to be my first “grown up job” and I was stoked. At the time, I had no idea that I would grow to love this exciting and rapidly growing industry. It quickly morphed into my calling; my career and mark on the world, PPC Advertising.

It started slow – first I was a sales person (which didn’t last long), then a customer service representative for a short time. Once I started actually managing PPC accounts, I knew I’d be doing this for a while. It was fun – I had to find creative solutions to help customers, while using problem solving skills and knowledge. It was and still can be challenging sometimes, but that is why I love it!

As I approach my first year anniversary at In2itive Search (June 5th), I find myself reflecting on the last 9 years of my career. In this article I’m going to discuss the top 3 things I have learned in this industry.

1. The Internet Landscape is Always Changing

The biggest take away from working in the PPC and SEM field is the constant evolution. We have made some giant leaps between 2005 and 2014. As an internet marketer, it is my job to stay on top of new search engine releases, updates and guidelines so that I can provide the best PPC management possible.

The search engines aren’t the only things that have been changing, consumerism and the way people interact with the internet is changing as well. Smart phones didn’t take the world by storm until 2007 – so back when I started, the world was searching on laptops and desktops. Nowadays, people use mobile devices (tablets and phones) as their primary search source. This changed everything; more recently voice search, with the help of personal digital assistants (like Siri), have caused people to use longer tail and more specific searches.

This means that, essentially, folks in the SEM industry need to constantly stay up to date on everything. It’s not easy and can be pretty daunting; especially when you’re having a bad day and just want to go into a work routine on autopilot. You cannot do this with PPC/SEM, you really  need to learn something new, practically everyday just to keep up. If you don’t evolve your knowledge along with the internet landscape, you’ll become obsolete and left in the proverbial dust.  I’m not complaining, it’s one of the reasons I love my job. By always learning we keep our brains and perspectives fresh!

2. No Such Thing as One Size Fits All

The second thing I have learned in my tenure is that no two accounts will ever be the same. Sure you can use the same type of techniques, but you can’t duplicate a successful campaign to a different company. I learned this the hard way several years ago. At the previous agencyI worked at, we had signed up several window installation companies within a short amount of time. I had created the perfect storm in one of the accounts; it was a huge success. So I had the genius idea to duplicate our efforts into the other accounts. We quickly realized that this method was not working for the other companies.

The main reason for this, I realized, was because of the smallest of details. Even though the services were the same, users interacted with the websites in a completely different way. The successful company had the most pertinent info above the fold on the landing page, while the others did not. “Energy efficient” was a great selling point in Seattle, but the same ad used in Texas didn’t hold as much water.

It was then that I decided to never make that kind of mistake again, even though we only used up a small portion of the customers budget; each account needed a fresh approach. There is not one solution that can be spread across multiple different accounts.

3. No Conversion Tracking? You’re Wasting Money

This one has held as true throughout my career. If you don’t have a way of tracking sales, signups or leads – you might as well just take your money and go on a shopping spree (you’ll get more out of it). In fact, don’t even start advertising with PPC until you have a tracking method ready to go. And please, oh please for the love of Pete, be sure this information is easily accessible by your internet marketing company. I’ve had clients in the past (of course, not In2itive’s partners who are the best) that refuse to give  access to their conversion data info. This makes our jobs nearly impossible, as we can’t see what is or isn’t working.

Account data over time can be very deceiving. An account can have mostly 9/10 or 10/10 quality scores and an awesome click through rate, but still somehow generate no inquiries or sales. At which point we need to make changes to the keywords, ads, website or landing pages, etc. If you don’t have conversion tracking – we would look at the account and say “well it looks pretty successful” even though it isn’t. Without conversion data, we are running the ads to the best of our ability and hoping for the best. SEM and PPC specialists should not be comfortable with this, and if they are, run for the hills!

9 years have gone by pretty quickly, I guess time flies when you’re having fun. Not many 28 year olds can say they’ve been doing anything for 9 years, let alone a job. But I love my career, and working at In2itive Search has made me love it even more.

“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at.” – True Detective

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