As a primarily organic marketer, working for an ad tech brand has been one of the most amazing phases of my career.
When I joined Optmyzr just over two years ago, I had no idea I would learn so much about PPC advertising in such a short time.
Between our clients, my colleagues, and the paid search community that has welcomed me with open arms, I’ve been more involved with PPC in the past two years than the rest of my career combined.
Like any smart trader, I listened carefully and took notes.
Between that and running my own campaigns, I’ve accumulated a relative wealth of PPC knowledge.
These are the five most important lessons from my time as head of marketing for a seeded PPC ad tech brand.
1. Treat your advertising budget like your investment budget
Walled gardens, monopolies, platforms – whatever you call them, the different places businesses can advertise aren’t known to work well together.
Between low data visibility and changing controls, true omnichannel advertising isn’t really a viable approach.
But just because each platform’s campaigns are closed doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to rely totally or excessively on a single advertising platform:
- New features (such as changes to Google performance max and keyword match type) can disrupt your entire advertising program.
- You are missing out on potential customers who are blocking/skipping ads on your platform or don’t use it in the first place.
- External influences such as the market economy and regulatory changes can do everything to drive up costs to render an entire platform pointless.
Between platform-side automation and increasingly demanding online audiences, it’s important to diversify your PPC mix if you haven’t already.
2. Don’t bite more than you can chew
In an effort to spread your budget across multiple channels, don’t rush to the other extreme by investing in too many different channels.
Not only will you end up with campaigns that don’t have enough money behind them, but you risk pushing your team too hard.
Since I joined Optmyzr as our first marketing recruit, we have grown our team at a healthy rate for our revenue rate.
No one on the team is expected to work 60-hour weeks, own 10 different chains, or push themselves beyond their physical and mental limits.
As a result, we went into advertising (and marketing in general) knowing that we don’t have the muscle of a heavily funded organization.
For example, if your entire marketing team is made up of three people, it doesn’t make sense to advertise on half a dozen channels.
You compromise your testing and campaign efforts, while neglecting the added cost of other marketing needs.
Internal teams should start by testing everything and then move to a 1-2-1 approach:
- 1 main platform that gives you the best results and asks for the bulk of your budget (e.g. Google Ads across multiple inventory types).
- 2 secondary platforms for a niche audience or goals (for example, YouTube to grow your video audience and Twitter to grow your email list).
- 1 experimental platform to test new ideas (e.g. running Instagram stories ads).
Then, as you grow your team, complete each level from top to bottom.
3. Brand matters, even in PPC
I know a lot of PPC specialists think otherwise, but I’ve always been a fan of branded search terms for several reasons:
- Already a certain level of intention towards your product.
- Claim space that your competitors can no longer.
- Room to test different offers and messages.
Branded search traffic is cheap, easy to earn, and allows you to capitalize on a range of business opportunities.
I’ve used branded terms to take advantage of traffic spikes after high-profile events, tailor offers to specific queries (like those including “reviews” or “rates”), and lower the cost of acquisition customers by shortening the time from discovery to conversion.
4. Focus on offering, targeting, and creating in that order
I earned my marketing stripes as a creative (specifically a copywriter with an art director partner), so I’ve always placed a premium on well-crafted ads.
But the longer I worked as a strategist, the more I realized that the offer was a priority.
The offerings include both messaging and positioning aspects, and most often manifest themselves in the form of copywriting – whether it’s a headline, dialogue or voice-over.
It’s what allows you to occupy a specific place in the minds of your ideal customers and play to your unique strengths rather than the weaknesses of your competitors.
As for the creatives themselves, the longer I work in marketing, the less I expect ads to follow brand guidelines or even look like ads.
Customers become defensive as soon as they feel like they’re being sold, so pattern interruptions can be positively disarming.
I’ve seen unconventional ad formats like customer testimonial videos win battles that perfectly “on-brand” stills couldn’t.
Without a strong offer and precise targeting, even the most magnificent creatives will struggle to convert.
In my experience, getting these three things right is easier said than done, but critical to PPC success.
Good offers can still succeed with average creations, complicated account structures, and less than perfect targeting.
This is rarely the case for weak offers presented as attractive advertisements in well-constructed accounts and campaigns.
5. There’s more to advertising than Google and Meta
Both platforms offer a level of reach and variety that most advertisers find hard to ignore.
Google’s inventory covers search, email, YouTube, and many other most visited properties on the Internet; Meta’s network includes some of the world’s most popular apps on Facebook and Instagram.
But there is a whole world of advertising options beyond these two networks:
- Microsoft Ads provides much of the visibility and control that advertisers miss about Google.
- Amazon is a Marketplace You Can’t Just Ignore if you are retailing a physical product.
- TikTok and Snapchat are great ways to reach younger audiences.
- Spotify lets you play with audio in a way that few other digital channels allow.
- Sponsoring a Newsletter or Community Delivers Consistently Higher User Intent even if it’s not strictly PPC advertising.
Several years ago, I was part of a team that advertised on a channel for a limited market.
Once we exhausted the available audience on this platform, all future leads were people who had converted in the past or were marked as closed-lost.
Moving to a second channel meant starting from scratch and learning the nuances of a whole new advertising platform, while delivering a quantity and quality of leads well below expectations.
The Most Valuable Trait in PPC and Marketing
Sometimes I remember what digital marketing and PPC advertising looked like in 2010 when I started my career, and realize that no one back then could have predicted what it looks like today.
Almost all of the best practices – many of which focused on achieving goals and nothing else – gave way to others more focused on automation, user experience, and accessibility.
If you had told me in 2012 that closing a blog would be a bad day, he would have laughed.
With how quickly our industry is changing, adaptability is the most important trait to cultivate.
Being tied to a single advertising platform, format, technique, strategy, or mindset can stagnate your progress as a marketer without you even realizing it.
Then one day you realize that everything around you has changed and everyone but you has turned the tables in their favor.
In all of my conversations with PPC strategists and account managers – agency and in-house – this is perhaps the one piece of advice I hear consistently and repeatedly: adapt or be replaced.
Featured Image: NFstock/Shutterstock