PPC prioritization: Knowing where to focus efforts to make the biggest impact
Learn how to refocus your time and energy on the most important facets of PPC management right now and in the future.
Maria Corcoran has been at Microsoft for about a year and a half. Before that, she was part of the in-house team at Adobe. In her SMX Next 2022 session, she discussed the evolution of paid search and what that means for advertisers and brands.
New tools and technology.
Technological advancements have led to the creation of third-party tools that have bidding algorithms and the ability to advertise on multiple search engines such as Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, etc. Those tools have replaced the manual processes of bidding and campaign optimization, allowing paid search managers to focus on more meaningful tasks.
However, the question arises on how to trust the bidding algorithms and the data being uploaded, as well as the automation being done by the tools. This has led to the need for paid search managers to find new ways to add value to the company and prove their worth.
High impact, high value
One area where paid search managers can add value is by spending their time on high-impact items and deeper analysis to drive insights that other channels cannot provide. This includes understanding the keywords and phrases people are searching for and using that analysis to help the business focus its efforts.
Testing is another area where paid search managers can add value by determining the impact of tests on the bottom line and prioritizing them among other channels.
Testing at Microsoft
A testing planning sheet was devised at Microsoft to prioritize tests based on their impact on the bottom line. The sheet included information about the quarter in which the test will be run, the channel it will run in, the test and learning categories, a description of the test, the type of approval needed, the reporting timing, the expected performance impact, an estimated budget, and a test theme.
Corcoran says this type of information was presented to stakeholders to ensure that the testing approach is well thought out and considers the impact on the bottom line. They developed a testing planning sheet that helps to find the right balance across all proposed tests and channels. The focus is on providing a comprehensive understanding of the test, including the business opportunity and the expected impact, rather than just a hypothesis.
Impact and outcome
In the session, Corcoran explains that the expected impact is a crucial aspect of testing. In this case, the expected impact of running a test for free in Excel is to drive users to test the free version, convert them to active monthly users, and eventually upsell them to the paid version.
The approach for the test involves laying out the keywords, ads, landing pages, and deployment strategies. The campaign information includes the exact campaigns that will be run, the flight dates, keyword themes, device types, markets, and landing page. It is important to be specific about the targeting and to consider regional holidays, promos, and localization when laying out the test approach.
Finally, the measurement approach is crucial, as it outlines the primary KPI for success, the optimization metric, and the goals of the test. The optimization metric should align with the KPI goal and be something that can be ingested into the bidding algorithms. The primary KPI for success should be identified, but it is okay if it is not met, as this goes into the learning questions bucket.
Corcoran continues explaining that the success of the test needs to be defined and any potential roadblocks or considerations should be taken into account. The reporting cadence is also crucial and should be clearly communicated to stakeholders. The stakeholders should be provided with regular reports that include the KPIs, trending data, and historical data.
Wrapping it up
At the end of the test, a wrap-up report should be provided to the stakeholders that include the primary goal and whether it was achieved. If not, why not, and what were the unexpected results? The report should also include insights, such as which engine outperformed the others, which device type performed better, and which keyword or product theme had better results.
In case of a test that did not meet its success goals, the team can evaluate the data and determine how to move forward, such as turning the test into an evergreen campaign or adjusting the KPI reporting to reduce delays. The team should also be provided with information about the ads, verbiage, and landing page being used in the test. The presentation will also touch upon various new ad types, including Performance Max.
Corcoran discusses various other strategies and considerations for ad testing in the digital marketing world.
- Performance Max is a type of ad that can be run across multiple channels (e.g., YouTube, display, Gmail, maps) but raises questions about tracking and cross-channel implications.
- Responsive Search Ads (RSA) and the importance of considering company branding and ad copy testing when creating campaigns.
- Landing page testing: It’s important to make clear and significant changes to landing pages rather than just minor adjustments.
It is also important to always take into account the performance of other channels. Has a landing page test already been conducted, and does this have any relevance to paid media? While it may be performing well on the web, paid traffic might only require one click to make a purchase. This is especially true for bottom funnel tactics.
In terms of campaign maintenance, it is important to ensure that messaging is aligned and there are opportunities for quarterly expansion. To do this, one should outline their business objectives, funding source, target audience, campaign types, keyword themes, messaging, landing pages, and KPIs. This will help to ensure that the strategy is clear and concise, and will aid in running the campaigns.
Consistency is key
It is also important to ensure that all campaigns are consistent and that the same bidding strategies, site links, and other elements are used globally. This can be done by creating a keyword matrix, which outlines the general brand keywords, messaging, landing pages, and KPIs.
In addition, teams should ensure that they are looking at the same data and that the data source is trustworthy. The data should also be reported and optimized correctly, and there should not be any delays between reporting and optimization.
When looking at data, it is important to consider the impact of:
- Different markets
- Product themes
This can be done by looking at sales funnel metrics such as demand generation, conversion, and post-sale, and by examining the impact of data slicing on these metrics.
For example, you can analyze the performance of different product themes year over year to identify growth and decline opportunities. The same can be done for funnel intent, such as conversion, consideration, and awareness, and this information can then be used to optimize and categorize different intentions.
Watch the session
Did you miss Maria Corcoran’s session at SMX Next 2022? You can still watch. Register here and watch free.
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