Breaking Up The Pay Per Click Grind

Jan. 28

If you’re in the corporate PPC world, you definitely know that things can get rather crazy. After enough analysis, keyword generation, keyword deployment, bid changes, ad copy tests, landing page tests, account restructures, product requirements, and executive presentations, your head can really start spinning! I’m here to tell you that it’s all about PPC longevity. After all, longevity has been one of the cornerstones of my early success in the corporate pay per click world. Today, I’d like to take a step back and discuss ways of breaking up the PPC daily grind. Whether you’re an associate or director, I strongly encourage you to take these tips seriously. At the end of the day, they will only increase your employee retention and team morale!

Tip 1: Attend Search Engine Marketing Conferences

Daily Grind

Search engine marketing conferences have been extremely good to me over the years. They’re incredibly beneficial from two angles: First and foremost, conferences present the ultimate networking experience. As someone with well over 500 connections on LinkedIn and a big binder of business cards at home, I cannot say enough about the power of networking. At the end of the day, people are everything in terms of finding long term success in your corporate pay per click career.

Second, conferences are extremely worthwhile in terms of staying up with current trends and sparking innovation. The natural tendency in PPC is to think you know it all. Well, at least that’s my natural tendency. The problem, however, is that things change extremely fast. Even if you know everything today, you won’t necessarily know it all tomorrow. Even if you’re consistently innovating and driving the direction of the industry, a great speaker can totally spark new ideas.

Directors, managers, and team leads: My overall suggestion here is that you get your team full passes to the major conferences such as Search Engine Strategies (SES), Search Marketing Expo (SMX), and ad:tech. I’ve been at companies in the past that have unfortunately been cheap about getting full passes. I definitely suggest pushing for full passes. It’s an extremely small investment in your team’s education and morale, one that will pay huge long-term dividends. From my personal experience, I always come back from conferences extremely energized, full of new ideas, and ready to go! Thinking about things through that lens, conferences are the ideal way to break up the daily PPC grind.

Tip 2: Enjoy PPC Team Activities

I like to compare pay per click campaign managers to Wall Street traders. We’re in the details of a very competitive and focused trade. For that reason, we often forget to take a step back and get away from the computer. From my experience, team activities are always a very welcome break from day to day campaign management. Moreover, the bonds formed during team activities can directly improve teamwork within the office.

My suggestion: Plan a team activity at least once very six months and ideally once per quarter. Some great examples include go-karting, miniature golfing, and bowling. I particularly like team functions that involve actual activity because we’re typically at the computer for so much for our day. The key here is that the team activity is held during the workday and that it concludes right around the time people typically leave the office. That way, the team activity functions as a true reward. Also, team activities are always more rewarding if the company pays for them!

Tip 3: Schedule Regular PPC Team Lunches

This tip is very similar to the last one, but I suggest an increased frequency of perhaps once per month. It’s too easy to rush out of the office and grab a quick lunch, only to come back and start working again right away. From my experience, the time savings from a quick lunch does not add any value. If you actually break up the workday and increase the "fun" factor, the entire team gains immense productivity. For that reason, I highly suggest having PPC team lunches to celebrate milestones, birthdays, or really any reason at all. Another great idea: Invite members of other teams as well, it’s a great way to learn something new!

Tip 4: Proactively Assist Other Departments

One of my absolute favorite things about pay per click search engine marketing is the fact that we’re in the center of it all. PPC is an operationally intensive role, one that involves useful data. For that reason, I enjoy thinking about proactive ways to assist other departments. Some simple examples: Share your PPC keyword list with the SEO team, share your top ads with the design team, send competitive benchmarks to the partnership team. At the end of the day, there exists a plethora of ways you can directly help your coworkers in other departments. Not only will this break up your day a bit, but it will help your overall organization grow. Moreover, I truly believe that the more you give, the more you receive. Next time you need help from someone else, you can rest assured that help will be available immediately.

Tip 5: Give Back To The Paid Search Community

I created this blog to give back. I regularly enjoy acting as a reference for old reports. I thoroughly enjoy writing letters of recommendation. At the end of the day, it’s all about giving back in my opinion. The best managers in the world are your manager for life. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a different company. If someone’s a great manager, they will always support and invest in your career. This is how I view management. Unfortunately, this is against the grain of many managers out there.

My strong advice: Invest in old reports and co-workers. I’ve found this to be a very powerful way to help the community while breaking up my day a bit. Like I said in the last tip: The more you give, the more you will receive. Corporate PPC is a very small but rapidly growing community. Give back today and make a real difference, while keeping things fun and interesting.

Image of Daily Grind © iStockPhoto – BeholdingEye

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2010 Was Awesome

Jan. 24

I’m PPC Ian, the corporate pay per click search engine marketing guru. More than anything, I believe in the power of focusing exclusively on corporate PPC. When you’re dealing with huge budgets and intricate campaigns, often across multiple verticals, focus is everything. However, I’m also a huge proponent learning new things, especially subjects that are related to the world of online marketing. At the end of the day, all of the channels are interconnected and things you learn in the arenas of display, email, SEO, and domaining will only help your PPC efforts. To that end, I decided to attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas domaining conference and just got back. Today, I’m excited to share my experience and key takeaways with you. As someone who wants to see you succeed in the corporate world of pay per click, I want to highlight once again that focus is everything. I strive to spend 10% or less of my time on non-PPC activities (but that 10% is very interesting and high leverage). Let’s talk about T.R.A.F.F.I.C.!

What is Domaining and What Is T.R.A.F.F.I.C.?

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas

I recently wrote an article about why PPC professionals make great domainers and I highly recommend checking it out. To quickly summarize, domaining is the business of buying, selling, and developing domain names. There are two main schools of domainers. The first school are those that buy domains with the goal of selling them for a profit (this is the more traditional side of domaining). The second school are those that buy domains, develop them, and then enjoy passive income.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is one of the largest conferences for those who participate in the domain game for a living. As you may recall, attending a major domaining conference was one of my 2010 goals so I’m excited to have crossed it off the list so early in the year. More than anything I’m excited to walk away with some new perspectives on online marketing.

How Could I Pass Up The Opportunity To Go To Las Vegas?

I have been interested in attending T.R.A.F.F.I.C. for quite some time. However, as someone who’s not a professional domainer for a living and as something that’s outside the core focus of my company, I could never justify the out of pocket expense. However, this time things were different. As a Bido member, I was able to enjoy a half price ticket of only $897.50! Moreover, I was able to get roundtrip Southwest tickets for only $129.20 total. Last, add in the fact that I was able to stay four nights at MGM’s Signature for an unbelievable rate, and the cost of this great learning opportunity finally made sense. Moreover, Las Vegas is one of my absolute favorite places in the world so that definitely made the decision even more enticing because I was able to combine education with recreation.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Day One Overview: It’s All About Networking

TRAFFIC Conference

There are two events during the first day that were truly invaluable. The first was a session where anyone in the conference could go up on stage and introduce themselves to everyone. Being a guy that gets a real rush from public speaking, I decided to speak and discuss my PPC roots. It’s been a good nine months since my last opportunity to speak in front of that many people so I truly appreciated the opportunity. My advice to you: Try to practice your public speaking skills regularly to maintain and grow them. Get a little nervous up on stage? Conquer your fear and go for it!

The second event that really stood out was speed networking. This was a truly great event where you went around the room and had the opportunity to network and exchange business cards with everyone. It was not only an exercise in networking, but a great opportunity to practice my speaking skills. It was truly exciting to meet some amazing professionals within domaining and online marketing. My advice to you: Place yourself in situations where you can meet other professionals in online marketing as great way to expand your knowledge. I’m really looking forward to following up with each and every person I met.

One of my most interesting takeaways from TRAFFIC Day One: I was truly blown away with how few people were familiar with pay per click search engine marketing. While I was totally out of my element (I’m just starting to learn about the world of domaining), the folks I spoke to were equally out of their element in terms of PPC. The result: It was a great opportunity to introduce everyone to the PPC game while learning just as much about the domaining game. While I personally don’t have the time, I think there truly is a business opportunity for a PPC expert to work with domainers in generating more income for generic keyword domain portfolios. At the end of the day, my overall philosophy is a well-rounded one: Combine all the marketing channels for absolute success.

Some Other Interesting Takeaways From Day One:

In 2009, ccTLDs grew at a faster rate than gTLDs. ccTLDs are country code top level domains such as .ca for Canada. gTLDs are generic top level domains such as .com and .net.

Ron Jackson, the official journalist of the domain industry, had a very interesting presentation. He reported $102 million in domain sales in 2009 versus $116.7 million in domain sales for 2008. Most of the difference came from the very top of the market. Add to this fact that some lagging domain sales for 2009 are still being reported, the gap between 2008 and 2009 could be even less. Given the overall rough economy, the fact that domain sales are only down 12.6% is very encouraging for the domain industry.

The largest and most exciting ccTLDs in order of descending interest: .de, .co.uk, .ca, .fr, .es, .mx, .nl, .pl.

A new ccTLD .co is going live this year. Between April and June, owners of .com.co will have first priority to register .co. Between June and July trademark owners will have the ability to capture their .co domain. Then, in July, 2010 the general public will be able to register .co domains. Personally, I was able to pick up some interesting .me domain names when that TLD was first released. I’m personally excited about .co because it’s very similar to .com and could be a very strong TLD in the future.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas Day Two: Great Motivation and Latona’s Live Auction

Latonas Auction

Just like day one, the second day of TRAFFIC was quite interesting. I’d like to share with you the two key events in day two that influenced me the most. The first was the keynote speaker, Joseph McClendon III. I’m a big believer in the power of motivation and motivation is exactly what Joseph McClendon delivered. I’m excited to have left the keynote with new knowledge that will help me be even more productive and powerful in my corporate PPC career, awesome! In my opinion, success in corporate PPC (or any field for that matter) is all about passion, execution, and drive. The tools I learned in the keynote will allow me to be even more effective in my career. My advice to you: Find a source of motivation in your life and leverage that source. If you can consistently arrive at work totally motivated and empowered, at your peak performance, you’re going to win the game!

The second event that I truly enjoyed during day two was Rick Latona’s live domain auction. While the auction had some technical difficulties with online bidding and had to stop early (it resumed on day three), I truly enjoyed the auction while it lasted. This was my first experience ever attending a live auction. It was a true rush! As someone who loves to buy domain names (and stuff in general), I decided not to register as a bidder. I felt that it would not be prudent to bid at my first live auction. So, I decided just to watch and observe. While I didn’t participate in the action, the education around the live domain auction process was invaluable. I especially enjoyed the human element of the auction. As a PPC professional, I’m involved in keyword bidding each and every day. Watching people bid on domain names was a very interesting parallel to my career in trading keywords. I absolutely love the psychology of it all. Whether it’s online or in person, I’m hoping to participate in a future T.R.A.F.F.I.C. live domain auction.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas Day Three: This Is When It All Hit Me

Day three of TRAFFIC Las Vegas was actually the most powerful day for me. This is the day where I finally took a step back and realized that I have a lot to learn about domaining. As a Director of Search Marketing at a large public company, it’s easy to have an elevated ego. Because I’m the best at PPC, I naturally have the tendency to think I’m the best at everything related to online marketing. However, day three really hit home that I have a lot to learn about domaining. At first, this scared me a bit. However, after a while I began getting extremely thrilled that I have yet another media channel and discipline to study over the coming year! My advice to you: Try to stay humble and never stop learning.

There were many specifics that I learned over the course of day three. I started out learning all about parked pages and the 0 click, 1 click, and 2 click models. I was also thrilled to learn that type in traffic converts extremely well (nearly double PPC). I also got a super introduction to the drop name market, a super way to acquire great domain names that I’m currently not leveraging at all.

Perhaps most exciting, I learned that the major parking companies (such as Sedo, Skenzo, and Parked.com) actually have deals with the major search engines (Google and Yahoo). They have feeds with the search engines and will trigger your parked page if the search engine does not have more relevant results to deliver. This absolutely shocked me! As someone who’s always focused on quality score and always been told that those pages of links are bad, this was a real eye opener. Repeat: The search engines approve of parked pages (and have special processes in place to index them) as long as the system is not abused. Go with a quality parking company and you can make money with your parked domains via search engines! This all sounds super simple, but for someone who has been extremely focused on PPC quality score for years and years it really was eye opening.

To close out, I had an amazing time at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2010. It was an energy-packed three days of learning all about domaining. I’m thrilled to now have some new tools in my online marketing toolkit. Moreover, it was really amazing to make some great new friends! I’d like to close out and advise you to closely focus on the core area of your career while always leaving 10% of your time to learn new things. Domaining, in my opinion, is a great compliment to PPC, SEO, display, and email, the most popular corporate online marketing career paths!

All Images In This Post © PPCIan.com

Pay Per Click Automation

Jan. 22

As you may know from my about me page, I majored in computer science at Stanford University. I truly feel like my computer science background prepared me perfectly for the corporate pay per click career path. Why? When you’re dealing with extremely large campaigns (especially across a portfolio of verticals), it’s nearly impossible to scale without automation of some sort. As someone who’s product managed several internal automation tools and who has worked with third party solutions, I’m thrilled to start discussing PPC automation today. I’ll start off with an overview of my automation thoughts and will follow up with a series of in-depth PPC automation articles over the coming months.

Why Automate Corporate Pay Per Click Campaigns?

Automation Gears

What’s the key difference between affiliate marketing and corporate pay per click marketing? There are a few, but the big one is scope. In the affiliate world, you can make quite the decent living by focusing on a very specific niche. However, in the corporate world, it’s all about going big. You’re dealing with millions of keywords, unreal budgets, extremely complex accounts, often across multiple categories.

As a computer science guy at heart, I like to equate manual campaign management to The Mythical Man Month. After a certain point (usually after 5-10 campaign managers), throwing more marketing professionals at your corporation’s campaigns will simply not help. Actually, more people at a certain point can actually slow you down! Here’s where automation comes in: Automation will take your program to the next level. Automation will assist your human team in executing certain aspects of PPC faster and more accurately than possible through manual campaign management. Automation will get you over that plateau your team is facing.

Another critical point: Corporate PPC is an extremely competitive field. You need to assume your competitors are investing in automation. If you’re not, your PPC campaigns will fall behind. You simply cannot keep up without automation. For this reason alone, it’s extremely important to automate aspects of your PPC campaigns to maintain your edge against the competition.

What Aspects of PPC Should You Automate?

I want to be clear from the beginning: I’m not one of those guys that recommends automating all aspects of PPC. In my opinion, that’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen it play out before: You automate everything, the campaigns start trending down, and then a manual manager needs to jump in and fix everything. What I am arguing however is that automation should play an absolutely critical role supporting your human campaign management team. Below are just a few aspects of PPC that are totally worth automating.

Automate PPC Bidding: Biding is perhaps the primary aspect of PPC that should be automated. Bidding is very tedious, it’s totally based on data, and it’s very time consuming. In my experience, it’s very easy for humans to make major mistakes with manual bidding.

Automate PPC Reporting: There’s no doubt about it, reporting is extremely important. Corporate PPC is all about data analysis and data-driven action. If you automate your reporting, your team can spend more time analyzing and driving action versus pulling numbers together.

Automate Keyword Generation: I have mixed feelings on this one because some of the best gains in PPC have been a direct result of creative keyword generation. At the same time, you simply cannot scale your keyword set effectively without automation. In a product shopping vertical? Leverage your catalog to generate keywords as new products are released. Looking to deploy more exact match queries for increased bidding efficiency, targeting, and position? Deploy exact match versions of all raw user queries that drove conversions. Looking to leverage the competitive intelligence of your industry? Pull keyword lists from tools such as Trellian, Wordtracker, and KeyCompete.

Build Versus Buy and a Few Great SEM Platforms

As discussed in the introduction, I’ve both built and bought PPC automation tools during my career. While building was the only option when I first got started (there were simply no tools available on the market for purchase), buying is a lot easier these days (thank goodness).

As a general rule, I’m much more in favor of buying versus building for smaller organizations. Small organizations need to focus on their core business, they simply don’t have the resources to effectively build and maintain automation tools. There’s actually quite a bit of overhead in simply maintaining SEM tools due to search engine API upgrades that happen regularly. Moreover, the tools available on the market these days are absolutely astounding. Two tools that I highly recommend are Marin and Kenshoo.

Now, if you’re at a larger organization, the decision can become a bit more difficult. Because most SEM platforms out there operate on a percentage fee model, buying at a large organization can become very expensive (unless you’re able to negotiate a great deal). There may come a point where building becomes more cost effective than buying. One thing is for sure: SEM automation is very high leverage and should be an important decision that every corporate SEM team considers regularly.

Image of Automation Gears © iStockPhoto – sbayram

PPC Ian Interviewed By Jonathan Volk

Jan. 16

Hi Everyone,
I wanted to take a moment to point out a large milestone in my career: Super affiliate Jonathan Volk interviewed me yesterday! Please make sure to visit Jonathan Volk’s blog and read PPC Ian’s interview. I worked very hard on the interview and it really means a lot to me as someone who has been glued to Jonathan’s blog for a while. For those of you that are new to Jonathan Volk, he is one of the most celebrated affiliate marketers on the Internet and has an extremely well known and useful affiliate marketing blog. As a new blogger, it truly means a lot to me that I am featured on this blog. It is an honor and a milestone in my career.

Results

While we’re on the topic of milestones, I’d also like to celebrate the fact that I now have 50 recommendations on LinkedIn. This is a long-standing goal that I set for myself a while back, one that took countless late nights to achieve. As you may already know I’m a huge proponent of LinkedIn as a great way to build you career in PPC. I even wrote a huge post all about my PPC LinkedIn strategies. I truly encourage you to apply these strategies to your own LinkedIn, you will start getting pay per click search engine marketing job offers daily.

My last milestone for today: I reached my 30th post with my request that all online marketing professionals please help Haiti. If you’ve been around here a while, you know my posts are typically really long (at least 1,000 words) so it’s quite fulfilling to hit the 30 milestone. I’m looking forward to next focusing on the goal of hitting 100 posts!

What milestones have you set for yourself? I would truly love to hear them! I always like to keep raising the bar and enjoy setting milestones (another example being my 2010 goals). In my opinion, having concrete goals, both professionally in your PPC career and personally, is a surefire way to achieve success in life.

Thanks again for your support and please check out my interview with Jonathan Volk!
Sincerely,
PPC Ian

Image of Results © iStockPhoto – gocosmonaut

Online Marketing Professionals, Let’s Help Haiti

Jan. 14

Dear PPC Ian Reader,
Thank you for reading my blog, I truly appreciate it. As online marketing professionals, we are extremely lucky. Taking myself as an example, I have a roof over my head, a stable and amazing PPC job, a beautiful wife, more than enough food, and so much more. Not everyone is so lucky. As you most likely know, Haiti is in serious trouble right now. As current and future leaders of this world, a world that’s becoming more globally interdependent than ever, it’s our duty to give back. I’m asking you to please text HAITI to 90999. This will allow you to donate $10 to the American Red Cross Haiti relief fund. The process only took me 2 minutes and is amazingly simple. I truly believe that every little bit helps out and it’s up to us as online business professionals to give back to those in need. Thanks to my buddy Morgan Linton over at Domainvestors.tv for sharing this with me. I have a banner below that links to the American Red Cross official blog detailing this Haiti relief program and the donations that have been made by state so far.
Sincerely,
Ian Lopuch (PPC Ian)

American Red Cross Haiti Relief