How do you set yourself apart in PPC when Google and Microsoft are continually adding more automated capabilities that effectively level the playing field? We believe there are a few critical factors that can tip the scales back to your advantage: Better strategy and better execution, tied together with an awesome process.
On the surface, these factors may seem like common sense, “Business 101” tactics, but the real challenge comes into play when businesses attempt to build the processes that closely tie strategy to execution. We believe that companies with a great process will be the ones best positioned to deliver successful results. When your process enables you to be nimble and adapt to new strategies quickly, and you can quickly get your whole team to shift into execution mode on the new strategy without dropping balls left and right, that’s when you win.
Business case study: Why process matters
Before we share how to do this specifically in search marketing and PPC, let’s take a look at a company outside our industry that exemplifies these principles: Starbucks. Nobody can argue the fact that Starbucks is the world’s most successful coffee chain. But few would argue that Starbucks has the world’s best coffee. So how did they turn an average product into a roaring success?
Beyond creating memorable experiences, Starbucks has orchestrated precise, repeatable processes that make people want to come back time and again.
Starbucks even shaped the way customers specified their orders, right down to the cadence and actual sequence of how people verbalize their order. Whether you are at a Starbucks in Seattle or Singapore or Sydney, the many individual tasks and processes from sourcing and distribution to how customers place orders to how baristas make and serve the coffee have been carefully crafted and perfected. Every task defined, assigned, and perfected for flawless repeatability.
Now let’s apply some of these principles to our own industry.
Two ways to win: Spend more time or stick to a process
First, let’s get something out of the way. If you want the absolute best PPC results, and you never want your ad shown for a query of dubious relevance due to a weird close variant, it will take a LOT of time. If you are fortunate enough to have hours of free time every week, you can probably stop reading now. But if you’re like most of us, you need to balance time with performance. A good strategy with a solid execution (even if neither is the best), can still produce superior results compared to a scenario where there is a disconnect between the two elements and the best strategy is poorly executed, or a bad strategy is executed flawlessly.
Problems that prevent success in PPC
There are a few common issues we see that hamper PPC campaigns from delivering their full potential:
- Strategies are too rigid, forcing you to continue down a path you know is no longer the best one. It’s a bit like knowing you are running toward a cliff, but can’t do anything about it.
- You build the wrong foundation and, as a result, find yourself unable to build on it when needed. Instead you’re forced to rebuild, which leads to wasted time and cost.
- Account management and optimization are haphazard. Distributed teams didn’t read the memo or simply decide to branch off from what the PPC lead at the main office decided.
Let’s address each of these pitfalls and some ways to address them. Hint, if you’re short on time, Optmyzr has a solution called Account Blueprints and our team would be happy to walk you through how it works.
Strategies need to evolve
Digital marketing is one of the fastest evolving industries around. Google Ads alone launched 79 new changes in 2019. And that’s not counting all the changes from Microsoft Advertising, Facebook Ads, or Amazon Ads. With every change, PPC pros must quickly recalibrate strategy.
True, some changes like updates to the Ads Editor simply allow advertisers to be more efficient when implementing existing strategies. But the majority of changes Google mentions on its launch blog are the kind that ask us to take stock of our performance and decide whether we need to try something new, such as a new ad extension, new ad format, or new bidding strategy.
Experimentation can be easiest if you’re a solo account manager, but it becomes more problematic when you need to make a decision on behalf of an entire team. Aligning multiple team members is critical when they are expected to change how they manage accounts virtually overnight.
Our advice is to build your team structure and your management process with the expectation that strategies will need to be changed several times each year.
If you use a PPC tool like Optmyzr that allows you to productize your own strategy (through our Rule Engine for example), you’ll find yourself more likely to quickly adapt newer and better strategies when you know your team will be able to follow them to a “T.”
A blueprint ensures the right foundation
In the construction business, blueprints are the foundational tool that allow builders to deal with massive projects subject to major changes and instructions that need to be followed. If everyone follows the blueprint, a great building results. If everyone builds from memory, you’ll likely find stairs leading nowhere and doors that open onto drop offs.
Optmyzr has now created Account Blueprints for PPC accounts. An Account Blueprint contains tasks that include owners and due dates. Rather than being a generic project management tool, it is deeply integrated with Optmyzr’s capabilities for optimization, insights, and reports. In addition, it can also include a wide range of tasks usually done outside Optmyzr.
Just as in architecture, a blueprint in PPC allows the creation of a great account that is well structured, and follows the principles of the agreed-upon strategy.
If you’re an agency, multiple Account Blueprints will likely be essential. An ecommerce account is much different than a lead gen account, for example. But there’s also going to be a difference between a tier-1 client who spends a large amount of money with your agency and a tier-3 client who has bought your lowest retainer package. The tier-1 client’s account will likely be more elaborate, because you’ll have the resources (time and tools) to work with a more complex account structure compared to a resource-constrained account. The latter is better served with a simpler structure.
A key benefit in Optmyzr’s Account Blueprints is the ability to create as many blueprints as needed for the types of accounts you manage and then dynamically assign these to new accounts that are onboarded.
A maintenance schedule keeps things in shape
The final issue that prevents some PPC teams from delivering the best results is inconsistent maintenance and optimization after the account has been created with the perfect blueprint.
Here are some typical tasks confronting PPC pros on a daily basis:
- Monitoring budgets to identify accounts that are overspending or underspending.
- Auditing PPC accounts to understand how to win more traffic, where to test ads, etc.
- Analyzing search queries to add new keywords and negative keywords.
- Reducing bids on keywords with high CPA but no conversions via manual bidding.
- Optimizing ad group-level targets for CPA and ROAS when using Smart Bidding.
- Improving quality score and allocating budgets to high-performing campaigns.
- Adding granular bid adjustments based on time of day, geography, and other variables.
Even the most spectacular and complex buildings need a tremendous amount of upkeep to stay that way. It’s no different with PPC accounts, especially when we again consider that the best strategy may be evolving all the time.
Account Blueprints from Optmyzr enable teams to consistently deliver the work related to account upkeep. Tasks can be set to be recurring. And task owners are defined through account roles, which means it’s easy to reassign tasks while a team member is on vacation or after they leave the team.
Starbucks architected its groundbreaking success with extraordinary precision and adherence to process. Their strength in strategy and execution made it possible to change the way millions of people consumed their daily beverage of choice. Others have since effectively mimicked Starbucks’ general blueprint for success to stake their own claims in the coffee wars.
Optmyzr Blueprints can do the same for your business. Design your success. Drive repeatable processes. Be strategic, put the plan into an Account Blueprint, and feel secure that the tactical work will be taken care of by the right people at the right time.
Of course, we’re available to talk about how Blueprints can help drive your success when you are ready to architect your own breakthrough. Having the right tools at your disposal to drive exceptional search marketing programs can help turn challenging times into opportunity for 2020 and beyond.
To help you with account management during COVID-19, we’ve created a downloadable post-lockdown PPC checklist featuring action items to help you plan, optimize, and track campaigns as businesses reopen.
Get the post-covid lockdown PPC checklist from Optmyzr here.
All of these items can be planned and automated through Optmyzr and Account Blueprints. If we can be of help, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be delighted to assist you.