Search Engine Relationship Management Tips

Mar. 30

I’m really excited about today’s post because it covers an important component of the pay per click career path that sometimes gets overlooked: Search engine relationship management. Specifically, I’ll be discussing a few tips to get the most out of your relationships with Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. At the end of the day, it’s all about leverage. Manage your search engine relationships efficiently and your profits will skyrocket!

Tip 1: Your Search Engine Reps Are Part of Your Extended Team

Business Space

My first tip is really simple, yet extremely powerful. It’s easy: View your search engine reps as if they are part of your internal team sitting just a few cubes away! Thinking of your reps this way is very powerful. Let’s say your internal team is comprised of three people, one for each first tier search engine. Now, let’s say you have three search engine reps, again one for each search engine. Rather than having three team members, you actually have six! Now, just think how much work six hard working individuals can accomplish, it’s very powerful stuff.

In reality, this tip is not completely true because your reps are not exclusively dedicated to your account. Even if you’re one of the largest spenders out there, your reps will still have a handful of clients. At the same time, if you are a large spender, your reps will have extra support on their end making the relationship quite powerful.

Tip 2: Your Reps Are Resources – Keep Their Queue Full

So now that we’ve established that your reps are part of your search marketing team, we’ll discuss some great ways to manage these "new" team members. First and foremost, would you ever have your internal team sitting around without any projects to work on? Of course not! Pay per clickers are very expensive and valuable resources. As such, you want to manage your reps just like your internal team and keep them working on the highest leverage projects possible at all times.

From my experience, most reps will go the extra mile. Some projects you may want to consider assigning your reps: keyword generation (both positive and negative), keyword review, keyword categorization, content match suggestions, account growth opportunities, and advanced intelligence. From my experience, those teams that invest sweat equity really do win the PPC game. Sometimes, however, you really need to divide the manual work on the keyword generation, review, and categorization side of things. Involving your reps in the process (in addition to your internal team) is the perfect way to gain scale on those valuable sweat equity type projects, helping the divide the work!

Tip 3: Leverage Search Engine Reps For Advanced Intelligence

What can your reps do that you’re not able to internally? They can provide advanced intelligence around your overall market, search engine trends, and most importantly what your competitors are doing. Therefore, I always like to have at least one intelligence style project in the queue. Now, here’s a word of advice: If you’re always looking at the market and competition, you’re looking backwards. For that reason, I’m always focused on setting new trends. I want the competitors to be following me. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of the market, just don’t spend too much time or else you may lose your first place position.

Tip 4: Manage It All With Weekly (or Bi-Weekly) Calls

The cornerstone of my personal management style hinges around weekly 1-on-1s with my reports. The 1-on-1 provides the perfect opportunity to dive into projects and also career progression. Now, you’re not going to dive into career progression with your reps, but you’ll definitely want to stay on top of their queue. How will you do this? Weekly (or bi-weekly) calls are essential. You’ll want to take close notes, get ETAs, and really stay on top of your reps just like you would with our internal team. Execute on all of this properly and you’ll ensure great productivity!

Now, let me flip this the other way. Excitingly, many reps will bring up great new ideas that you never thought of! They will help drive your priorities. I also like to view these weekly 1-on-1s as a status check on your own work, the work that is being driven by your reps. It’s a great two way street and a reality check for your own progress as well.

Tip 5: In-Person Meetings Are Key

Something I’ve learned over the years: Personal connection is critical in building great business relationships. You really need to know your reps on a personal level and meet them in person for the optimal relationship. It’s easy if you’re in San Francisco like me and can hop on over to Google’s office in a matter of minutes. However, if you’re out of town, I strongly encourage you to make the trip. It will really impress your account management team and will take your search engine relationships to the next level!

As a closing thought: I’m a huge proponent of beta tests. Build strong relationships with your reps (and add as much value for them as they are for you) and you’ll get included in beta tests. This can be a tremendous way to advance your business while being the first mover on new and innovative products before they’re released to the general market.

Image of Business Space © iStockPhoto – jsmith

Three Different PPC Career Paths

Mar. 22

As you know, I’m a huge fan of the corporate pay per click career path. This career path has been extremely rewarding for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. PPC may sound like an extremely focused discipline and it is. At the same time, there do exist multiple career paths within pay per click (and online marketing in general). Today, I’m looking forward to discussing three of my favorite career opportunities and my thoughts around their strengths and weaknesses.

PPC Career Path 1: The Agency Route

Careers Achievers

A few weeks ago, I attended SMX West. If you’ve been to SMX or another search marketing conference such as SES or ad:tech, I’m sure you’ve noticed the huge number of search marketing agencies. Put simply, agencies such as iProspect are big business and are only getting bigger. So now that we’ve established that agencies are a huge force within online marketing, let’s discuss a few of the pros and cons of the agency career path.

The biggest pro of the agency career path, in my opinion, is the ability to work with a variety of clients. In the agency world, you’ll typically get several accounts across a variety of verticals and business models. Moreover, these accounts change over time! In my opinion, this puts the search marketer on the fast track to accumulating a very deep knowledge of online marketing. Another benefit of the PPC agency career path: You get serious client face time. If you enjoy the human side of things as much as crunching the numbers, the agency career path can give you that optimal mix.

So, everything sounds perfect, right? Of course not! There are pros and cons with all decisions in life. There’s one big con that comes to mind with the agency path. As an external party, you are one step removed from the core business operations. This typically equates to less day-to-day financial visibility and responsibility. Agency teams are given volume and CPA goals, but it’s sometimes not the same as living and breathing the numbers like an internal team. This isn’t the agency’s fault, it’s a data integration thing. Just think about it: As an agency, you’re not going to be hooked into all of the client’s back end data. An internal team, however, often has access to more intimate data which often equates to more precise financial responsibility.

Pay Per Click Career Path 2: The Startup

Another popular career path in pay per click is the startup route. Let’s start with the pros again. First and foremost, startups offer the ability to grow quickly. When I say grow, I actually mean growing several things: your skills, responsibilities, title, salary, and wealth (via stock options). It’s essentially a case of risk and reward. Startups are the riskiest career path because of their volatile nature (most startups fail). However, if you’re able to join a successful startup (like I did), the benefits can be tremendous! Startups, especially earlier in your career, can be the fast track to rapid pay per click career growth. Moreover, if you leave a startup at a senior title and are able to earn the same title (or even higher) at a more established pay per click organization, you are absolutely golden.

Of course, there also exist several cons with the startup career path. First and foremost, it’s much more challenging to launch brand new pay per click campaigns versus growing and maintaining existing ones (like many of us do at larger companies). This is a good challenge in the sense that you can master PPC much quicker launching a business from scratch. At the same time, it’s a con because campaign launches can fail. If the business model isn’t perfected, your pay per click campaigns could very well lose money for an extended period of time. Moreover, as the pay per click manager, you may get blamed for these losses even if they are not under your direct control. This is definitely pressure that you want to be ready to handle!

The second big con of startups: You may be on your own. Unless you’re rather senior, pay per click is a team sport. Startups, however, have limited budget and often have a pay per click team of one. If you’re super independent, this may be a great route for you. If you prefer a team, however, a larger company may make a lot more sense.

PPC Career Path 3: The Mid To Large Sized Direct Advertiser

All career paths presented here are awesome! However, if I had to rank them, I’d tie the first two as the (very close) runner up and I’d make the mid to large sized direct advertiser the clear winner. Let’s start with the pros of the mid to large sized direct advertiser. Remember in the agency section when I talked about data issues? This is rarely a problem at a large direct advertiser. You can hook directly into your organization’s immense data and leverage it for complex bidding decisions! This alone is the biggest advantage of the direct advertiser: incredible statistical maturity and opportunity.

Now, let’s talk about resources. At the agency, you’re typically working at a company that’s very biased towards one skill set: online marketing. At the startup, you typically have individuals spanning a variety of disciplines but rarely have access to them because everyone is very resource constrained. Now, at the mid to large sized direct advertiser, you frequently have the ability to work with legal, finance, engineering, sales, and product management. In my opinion, this cross-functional nature makes the mid to large sized company a stellar candidate. I said it before: PPC is a team sport. It’s not only a team sport in terms of having a team of PPC managers, it’s also a team sport in terms of working with the broader organization on landing page tests, site tests, ad copy tests, keyword generation ideas and more.

Moreover, let’s not forget budgets! Agencies are often given a fixed budget dictated by the client. Startups are typically budget constrained. Mid to large sized direct advertisers, however, will frequently have unlimited budgets as long as campaigns meet a profitability threshold. You want to be managing budgets in the multi-millions, right? Let’s also talk about budget for hiring and PPC automation. You’re going to have a lot more of it at the mid to large sized organization.

As said earlier, there are cons to every career path – no single path is perfect! In terms of this path, I’d say the largest obstacle can be speed. Let’s face it: The larger the company, the more checks and balances. You can’t just test any ad copy you’d like. You need to get full legal approval and your manager’s buy-in. Another con: Sometimes, career progression can be slower at very large companies. You’re just one person in a sea of many. You really need to stand out if you want to grow rapidly. At the same point, I’m confident that you will stand out if you’re taking the time to read this post!

Image of Careers Achievers © iStockPhoto – rjmiz

Leveraging ccTLD Domain Names In PPC

Mar. 15

I started domaining back in 2007, but really caught the domaining bug in 2009. Over the last year, I have been absorbing pretty much any information I can get my hands on regarding the domain industry. A big turning point in my domaining education: Attending T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas.

Global Flags

Lately, ccTLDs have been getting a ton of buzz. What the heck is a ccTLD, you ask? ccTLDs are country code top level domains. Some of the really popular ones are dot us (United States), dot me (Montenegro), dot in (India), dot de (Germany), and dot mx (Mexico). In fact, according to Ron Jackson, ccTLDs sales are now outpacing gTLD sales (global top level domains such as dot com, dot net, and dot org). So why am I talking all about ccTLDs on this pay per click search engine marketing blog? Simple: I’m here to pose a test (slash challenge) to all of you. My challenge: I propose that ccTLDs will become an important part of pay per click online marketing within the US over the coming years. The remainder of this post will explain why!

ccTLDs are Cheap Right Now

I’m going to start off with a freebie for all of you loyal PPC Ian readers. Here it is: Right now (as of 11:44 PM pacific on 3/15/2010) the domain Degrees.mx is available to hand register for only $49.99 on GoDaddy! I’m serious. If I wanted to go out and buy Degrees.com on the aftermarket, I’m probably going to be out anywhere between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 depending on how good I am at negotiating.

Why is Degrees.mx a great domain name? This is obvious to anyone in the education vertical. Education is one of the most lucrative and competitive verticals on the Internet. With a domain like Degrees.mx, you can have great display URLs in your pay per click campaigns like Accounting.Degrees.mx and Business.Degrees.mx.

The challenge here: Users aren’t as used to seeing the dot mx ccTLD. My hypothesis: I think it will work as a PPC display URL in the US. Will it perform as well as the dot com, dot net, dot org, or even dot us? Most likely not. Is it going to beat a long, convoluted domains like so many of us use? Quite possibly, in my opinion, definitely worth a test! Now, I don’t have the time or resources to test this, but would love to hear if one of you does. Could be some money on the table here. Because of their cheapness, I view ccTLDs as a great option, one that we’ll see more of in the US and global pay per click landscape over the coming years.

The Meaning of ccTLDs Transcends Their Country

One of my personal favorite ccTLDs: dot me. I have been accumulating a portfolio of dot me domains since the first day they launched several years back. While dot me is the official ccTLD of Montenegro, it has been marketed as a global TLD. In my opinion, it makes total sense: dot me is all about "me."

Let’s take another really popular category: mortgage refinance. Imagine if you bought the domain Refinance.me. In my opinion, this is an awesome pay per click domain. It flows really well and is personal. The Internet keeps getting more and more personal. If you don’t reach out to your users on a personal basis, you’re not going to get the conversion. Dot me ccTLD makes the personal connection easy.

Another great ccTLD: dot co. Dot co is the official ccTLD of Colombia but it’s being marketed as the next huge global TLD. It makes sense: What do you think of when you hear dot co? I think of company and commerce, very similar to dot com. For that reason, there’s a lot of opportunity here. Currently, GoDaddy is taking pre-orders for the dot co ccTLD (to be released to the public later this year) so it’s a great time to start thinking about investing in a few for your PPC future!

PPC Organizations Are Becoming More Global

Let’s go back to my first hypothesis, that one can successfully leverage generic sounding gTLDs in the US AdWords market. Let’s say I’m wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time! I love testing and embrace my failures because they only mean I’m one step closer to success. If I fail every week, I know I’m doing my job and pushing the boundaries. In this case, I’d like to argue that these generic gTLDs are still very useful in paid search. Why? The industry is becoming a lot more global. A lot of the easy money in the US is gone. However, when I look at other countries, we’re just getting started. Buy your domains now so that you can leverage them in the future.

One nuance: Degrees.mx is unlikely to work in Mexico because it’s an English word. However, if you choose countries where English is very prevalent, especially in the business world, you’re golden. One example: Degrees.in. I imagine this would do well in India.

As a closing point, make sure to research before buying domain names. Some countries have restrictions. A good example is Canada. Unless you’re a Canadian business or citizen, there are some restrictions that you’d want to become very familiar with before registering dot ca domains. There are ways to make this happen, but I’ve been sticking to the basics myself: Registering domains that don’t have restrictions such as my beloved dot me!

Image of Global Flags © iStockPhoto – yesfoto

PPC Ian Featured On Teen Domainer

Mar. 11

Hey Everyone,
Today’s another exciting day! Shortly after getting interviewed by Jonathan Volk and getting featured on John Chow, today I’m featured on Teen Domainer. For those of you that don’t know, Teen Domainer is one of the best domaining blogs on the Internet!

Guest Post

As you may know from my 2010 goals, domaining is a focus for me this year. Specifically, I wanted to develop at least six domain names and attend at least one major domaining conference. I’m excited to announce that I recently crossed both of these off my list. I have six new 5-page minisites live and also attended T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas back in January. I’m really excited that I’ve learned so much and now feel like an advanced domainer (a great compliment to my pay per click background).

One thing that has really surprised me is the fact that the pay per click world knows very little about domaining. Similarly, I have found that the domaining world has a lot to learn about pay per click. It makes perfect sense to me: Both subjects are extremely complex. If you master just one of them, you definitely have my respect. However, I truly see huge value in mastering both. There are great synergies in leveraging domain strategies in pay per click and vice versa. To that end, I decided to focus on pay per click search engine marketing strategies for domainers in my guest article on Teen Domainer.

Please check out my guest article on Teen Domainer and let me know what you think! I wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Brian from Teen Domainer for featuring my guest post. It’s a true honor to be featured on such a prestigious and awesome blog, one of my personal favorites!

Sincerely,
PPC Ian (Ian Lopuch)

Image of Guest Tag © iStockPhoto – wragg

Video: Landing Your PPC Dream Job

Mar. 08

Hello Everyone,
Today I’m super excited to present PPC Ian’s third video. My first two videos, Who Is PPC Ian? and PPC Automation: Build Vs. Buy were huge hits! The first video now has over 350 views and the second over 125. I’m especially excited about today’s video because it features one of my favorite topics of all time: Landing Your PPC Dream Job.

PPC Networking Meeting

One of the most popular articles on PPC Ian is Growing Your PPC Career With LinkedIn. This is one of the longer posts on my site and highlights in great detail my passive PPC job "application" techniques leveraging LinkedIn networking. Excitingly, last week at SMX West Santa Clara I met with a PPC Ian reader who implemented the tips in this post and subsequently received four PPC job offers. How cool is that!

Today’s video is based on my pay per click LinkedIn tips. I discuss several advanced strategies for landing your PPC dream job the passive way, leveraging both LinkedIn and your network in general to your advantage. Networking has been one of my personal strengths and has paid tremendous dividends over the years. I truly hope I can assist in your pay per click job hunt. Thanks so much for visiting PPC Ian and I hope you enjoy this video.

All the best,
PPC Ian (Ian Lopuch)



Video "Landing Your PPC Dream Job" © PPCIan.com (An IJL Productions LLC Website)
Image of Networking Meeting © iStockPhoto – francisblack