The Advertiser Interview: How To Surface Key Goals

Last week’s lesson drove home that the most important defining factor of a new PPC account is to understand the goals of the advertiser. Whether it’s sales, leads, downloads, page views, quality traffic to the website or a combination of objectives, a clear understanding of all important goals will help drive key decisions throughout the life of the account. Now we’re at the next part of the immersion phase, which is to gather the rest of the information you will need to move on to the research and the build phases.

You will probably have to talk with the advertiser, their web production people, product managers, marketing team, etc. to get the answers to some of these questions. First of all, you need to get the account specifics such as budget level, start dates and so on. Also, you’re going to gather some intelligence on their business, their competitors, and an initial keyword set. Most importantly, though, you should walk away from this interview with a better understanding of the advertiser’s needs and expectations for this entire process.

To do great search marketing, the only way you will truly make your advertiser comfortable is by understanding how they work and adapt your process similarly. Some advertisers are going to need more attention than others. Some will want more charts and graphs. Some will want to know everything you’re doing and others will just be looking at the bottom line and the Return on Investment (ROI).

Interviewing your advertiser to understand key goals

Before you do anything else, sit down and ask your advertiser a series of questions. By the end of this interview, you will have the answers you need to get started researching and building their paid search account.

Why paid search? This may seem like a dumb question, but don’t interrupt and let the advertiser fully speak to this, perhaps shedding some very revealing aspects about their motives that will help you better manage their account. What is it about paid search that’s drawing their interest right now? Have they done it before and had great results so they’re just looking for someone to continue that approach? Have they had so-so or poor results in the past but feel it’s important enough to revisit? If they haven’t ever done paid search, why now?

What are their expectations with how you will handle their account? This is a very important question. Whether you’re in an in-house SEMer or outside agency, how your boss thinks this will work (and setting up proper expectations early) will be key to the success of this working relationship. Do they expect amazing results early? Do they think this account will go live tomorrow? Do they understand how much analysis and optimization is needed to truly reap the rewards of paid search? What about reporting? Do they want you to check in daily or will a weekly (or even a monthly) reporting schedule work for them?

What is the long term outlook of this account? Does the advertiser think this is just a seasonal push or are they committed to an “always on” methodology? Will the account budget grow if good results are garnered? This won’t really change how you build or manage the account, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into.

Who makes the final decisions? Very often, new advertisers to paid search will “unleash” the entire team onto the search engine marketer. Each of these people may have different ideas about what is important, how the account should be handled and so on. It’s important to coach the advertiser that a single voice is needed to direct your efforts. If you don’t set this expectation before the account starts, you may end up wasting countless hours chasing your tail because of the counter concerns of the committee approach. Let them work out details internally and then have your single contact let you know the final decisions.

I should note that sometimes you will be dealing with multiple contacts on the same account if their business is organized that way, such as a business that is running paid search for different product categories. That’s pretty common, especially with larger companies. Just make sure that each group has their own budgets and are tied to the final decisions for the other groups.

Tell me more about your business. Once again, just let the advertiser talk. You’re going to uncover some crucial points here that may contradict some of your initial assumptions. For example, your advertiser may be a computer retailer but they don’t make much profit from desktop systems. Rather, it’s the laptops they really want to push. Or maybe, like many companies, half of their business is generated during the end of the year holiday season. They may be launching a huge new product soon that could completely change how you approach the advertising campaign. Just let them talk and talk and talk—it will be worth it in the long run.

What’s the budget? Be upfront with the advertiser and let them know that the answer to this question may dramatically affect how the account is initially set up. I never like to use dollar amounts to qualify advertisers, but frankly, there is a huge difference to what you’ll be able to even do with a $100/day PPC account, a $1000/day PPC account, and a $10,000/day PPC account.

If they don’t have a lot to spend, you’ll probably keep the account smaller so it can be managed easily. The medium advertiser deserves a fully-blown out account with all best practices in place. You will probably be a multi-person team so each of you can focus on developing different aspects of the account. After launch, you can continually test and add new elements as needed. For the large, enterprise level advertiser, this is a much more intense process. There will be larger teams and more on the line in terms of risk with a big budget. You may start with testing at a lower level so that you can bring in more spend once the account has gone through an optimization process.

What are the technical logistics? What website or sites will this account encompass? Was there a previous PPC account utilized? Has analytics tracking been implemented? Do they have access to any third party research sites that could help with the account build or provide competitive intelligence? Find out everything you can in terms of resources and get logins to these systems. Check them out thoroughly so that you have a good overview of what you have to work with.

What are your top keywords? Always keep in mind, your advertiser knows more about your business than anyone else and they are your top source of good information for the account. You’re not looking to discover every keyword here, but the advertiser is going to give you a great head start on how you approach the account. Chances are, the keywords they tell you will be some of the most important terms you’ll need.

Who are your competitors? And more importantly, who do they think is “doing it right?” In many cases, some of your best intelligence is going to come from competitors. From them you may find new terms to add to the account, what kinds of ad messages are working, and what kind of tactics (bids, positions, etc) you may want to test. You’d be surprised that even top notch competitive tools may not reveal some of the competitors your advertiser thinks you should research.

Finally, make sure you’re introduced to anyone you’ll need to work with on the account. That includes not only the advertiser’s team, but their partners, tool vendors, etc. A simple email with both parties included that outlines who you are and your level of access should be good enough. Set up an introductory call or meeting with those you’ll be working with on a regular basis so that you start this project off on a good foot.

Next week, we will start diving into the research phase of paid search. This will amount to four or five posts learning how to set yourself up for success in the build phase.

This week’s question: “What are some red flags you should look for during the advertiser interview that may drastically change how you manage this account?” Please post your responses in the comments section below.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | PPC Academy


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • zankhana

    I believe the level of access we are going to get on the site is also important. There are people who would not want to give appropriate access of the site. Also I do believe that the communication chain also is an important factor.

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