Online Marketing Tips To Close Out 2012

Nov. 27

Today marks my 300th post here on PPC Ian. Thank you so much for reading, I truly appreciate it! We’re heading into year end, can you believe it? As we close out 2012 and head into 2013, there are some important tasks you will want to complete as a professional online marketer. Today’s post is geared towards those who work in the corporate world of SEM. I hope you find this year end checklist helpful.

Getting Ready For 2013

  • Make sure to request your budget for 2013. Perform several models – top down, bottom up – to truly understand the right amount. Get as granular as possible. Understand how your budget request fits into your overall company’s goals.
  • Plan out your team’s initiatives for 2013. Understand how they fit into your company’s strategic goals. Make the process interactive. Work closely with everyone on your team and solicit ideas. Maybe even create a mini offsite for 2013 planning.
  • Think through new media channels (such as display advertising, email marketing, and remarketing) in addition to new product lines. Do you want to expand your online advertising campaigns to more lines of business? Factor such decisions into your budget and plan.
  • Audit your resources for 2013. Do you have enough people on your team? Do you want to hire someone new? If you will be making new hires, make sure it’s accounted for in your company’s budget. Think through internal employees and also consultants/agencies.
  • At the end of 2012, not only is it the end of Q4 but it’s the end of an entire year. Make sure to get your finance department an accurate picture of your Q4 expenses. They will be working hard to close out an entire fiscal year. PPC is typically a big cost marketing channel so the more details you can provide the better.
  • Take a serious look at your technology needs. Are you currently leveraging an SEM platform? Do you want to stick with it or change to a new one? SEM platforms cost money and the competitive evaluation can take some time. Make sure to start the process early and budget sufficient funds. And, get out there and audition awesome technologies such as InsideVault and Acquisio.
  • Take some time to reflect and perform a 2012 recap. Create a PowerPoint and send it out to the executive team. It’s truly important to send out regular updates and discuss progress. It’s amazing how much we all accomplish and I cannot underscore this step enough.
  • Don’t forget to send out holiday cards (and gifts too). Pay per click is truly a team effort. I don’t know what I’d do without help from search engines and partners. Make sure to thank them for everything. Cards and gifts can take some time, but it’s truly worth it.

Thanks everyone for reading, and I hope these tips help you close out an amazing 2012 and prepare for an even better 2013!

Image of 2013 © GRAZVYDAS

Happy Thanksgiving From PPC Ian

Nov. 22

Can you believe it? It’s already Thanksgiving. This has been such an amazing year and I am truly thankful for so much. Today, I wanted to take a quick moment to say thanks. The list below just covers a few highlights. I am thankful for so much more, so if I missed you on this list please know that I am still truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving

  • I am so incredibly thankful for my amazing wife, Nicole! I am truly the luckiest man around. The past 3+ years of marriage have been the best years of my life.
  • I am so thankful for my wonderful parents and family. I cannot imagine being in the fortunate position I am today without the coaching and upbringing from my amazing parents!
  • I’m truly thankful to work at a company that I love. I just hit my 3-year milestone in October and got promoted to VP this year, my lifelong goal. I have the best team ever and it’s an honor to come into work each and every day. I work at a company that is truly making a difference in people’s lives.
  • I’m thankful I got into this industry. I majored in Computer Science and minored in Economics. I had no idea what PPC was when I started. I’m so thankful I randomly found this career path, right when the industry was starting out. What a fun adventure it has been!
  • I’m very thankful for my friends within the online marketing industry. I write a lot here about networking. I view everyone in my network as a personal friend and have learned so much from everyone. I’m especially thankful for my mentors, I’m now doing everything I can to give back and mentor others. Special thanks goes out to The Free COO.
  • I’m thankful for my health and great quality of life. The online marketing industry has allowed my wife and I to accomplish so much, and to enjoy a super quality of life. We are very fortunate.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to give back. Whether it’s mentoring others in this industry or donating money to charities, I have made a conscious effort to raise the bar this year. I find that the more I give back, the more I get.
  • I’m thankful for Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and all other search engines. You guys built am amazing industry. There would be no search engine marketing without the search engines. I’m especially thankful for the amazing customer service teams / account reps at the search engines. You guys are the ones making it happen!
  • I’m thankful for my blog, PPC Ian, and for all of my readers (you)! This blog has provided an amazing vehicle for sharpening my skills, sharing my opinions, and enjoying my passion for writing. I get so much out of the blogging process and can’t thank you enough for reading.
  • I’m truly thankful for my sponsors such as AdMedia Online Ad Network and Rocket Clicks SEM Agency. Running PPC Ian costs money. My sponsors help compensate for the bills and are the ones that truly keep the lights on. Thank you to all my amazing sponsors.
  • I’m amazingly thankful for online marketing automation. I’m talking about platforms like Kenshoo. Without automation, our days as pay per click marketers would be filled with an endless amount of manual work.
  • I’m thankful for rap / hip hop music. I’m a true connoisseur of rap music, it keeps me going. I’m also very thankful for jazz music. I’m most thankful for those for the visionaries that combine rap with jazz.
  • I’m thankful for my sources of inspiration. Here’s where I’m Finding My Inspiration Online. Thanks for keeping my going!
  • I’m thankful for investing and the stock market. I have so much fun following the market, analyzing opportunities, and formulating strategy.
  • I’m thankful for the opportunities that have been provided to me. I do not take my responsibilities lightly. It is an honor to live this life and I am always looking for ways to give back!

Thanks so much for reading and I’m wishing you and your family a truly amazing Thanksgiving and holiday season! I hope your weekend is fun and relaxing and that you enjoy tons of time with your friends and family.

Image in this post © iStockPhoto – Moncherie

Great Online Marketing Networking Tips

Nov. 18

I’m a huge fan of search marketing careers. In this business, networking is super important. Just a few months back, I wrote about PPC Networking Tips. Today’s post is a continuation of the networking theme and offers some fresh and new online marketing networking tips. I hope these tips help take your networking to the next level.

PPC Ian Yahoo Lunch

Lunch at Cascal, Mountain View With Yahoo!

  • Invest time in high-leverage relationships. Relationships in any business have different levels of leverage. Some partners are super busy and don’t have as much time to network. This is totally ok, as we all get busy. Other partners, however, are all about networking. You really want to invest where you will get the most leverage (and this may change over time depending on people’s schedules and ability to network). I have always viewed Yahoo!, for example, as an amazingly high leverage partnership. When it comes to partnerships, they are the best of the best. They always make so much effort to help their partners in any way possible. As such, this is a relationship that is always top of mind for this online marketing professional.
  • Attend happy hours and company events. Online marketing is truly a cross-functional career. As SEM professionals, we work with so many different departments (literally all departments). As such, I try to make all possible happy hours. This is a fun way to truly get to know others in your company. It’s a great way to learn how you can work together as a team to achieve amazing results.
  • Travel to different office locations. Do you work at a large company that has multiple offices? Try to visit them all! This tip really ties into the last one. As a cross-functional discipline, it’s all about building solid relationships throughout your company. Visit different locations in-person and you will build amazing relationships.
  • Host events for search engines and partners. We are truly blessed in online marketing. We get to go to so many fun events planned by our friends at search engines. In just the past few weeks, I enjoyed amazing events with Google, Yahoo!, and other partners. Recently, I have been thinking about ways to give back. Why not give back and host the events for a change? Your partners will truly thank you!
  • Plan team events such as hikes and community service. We all work so hard, and it can truly help break things up by taking off some fun time for team events. Networking with partners and other departments is truly important. Networking with your own team is paramount.
  • Plan team offsites. This tip is really a continuation of the last one, it’s all about networking with your own team. However, you can also make team offsites about networking with key partners. Consider inviting key partners to your offsite for the ultimate networking opportunity!
  • Leverage social media to build key relationships. I mentioned LinkedIn in my last post about networking, and today I wanted to highlight Quora. I wrote a post a while back about how I’m Answering Online Marketing Questions On Quora. I have found Quora to be a super social network for building true relationships within your industry.
  • Send holiday cards and gifts. I wrote a post last holiday season about how Online Marketing Holiday Gifts Rule. Gifts truly do rule and they are critical for networking. Even if you don’t have a huge budget, it’s the thought that counts. With the holiday season on its way, make sure you get cards and gifts for your most important partners.

Image of Lunch With Yahoo © PPCIan.com

Getting Your SEM Program Ready For The Holidays

Nov. 15

Can you believe it? The holidays are upon us. When you’re managing a large scale SEM program, the holiday season is always important. It’s typically the time of the year that can either make or break your entire year. Today, I’m thrilled to share some awesome tips that are sure to help your SEM campaigns thrive during the upcoming holiday season.

Tip 1: Develop Your Bidding Strategy Now

Winter Landscape

During the holidays, it’s all about seasonality. You will see your conversion rate change over time. Certain days will have high conversion rates. Others will have low conversion rates. Also, volume will change over time. Certain days will not matter too much. Others (such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday) will comprise a tremendous amount of conversions. Here’s the great thing about seasonality: It’s like clockwork. If you’ve been in business for a while, take a look at trends from past years. Leverage past data to forecast the future. And, bid accordingly!

If you have an automated bidding platform in place, such as InsideVault, you are in luck. If you don’t, you may want to move quickly and get one in place immediately. During the holidays, it’s all about precision in bidding. It’s all about dialing in your campaigns and making quick changes. Take advantage of advanced bid management technologies to get the most out of your SEM campaigns during the holidays.

During the holidays, you will in the weeds, you will not have a ton of time for strategy. My closing tip on bidding is to get your playbook ready now so you can focus on execution during the holiday season.

Tip 2: Coordinate An SEM Team Holiday Schedule

Online marketing is like trading stocks except the market never closes. It’s a 7-day, 24-hour marketplace. During the holidays, people take time off. It’s the holidays, after all! You want to take time off and you want your team to take time off. We all work hard these days and it’s important to make a conscious effort to keep the balance. That said, it’s critical to have one person on call at all times. You never know what will happen. It’s not worth the risk. Make sure to coordinate a holiday calendar so there’s always someone covering the campaigns!

Bonus tip: Coordinate the holiday schedule of your search engine reps too! Make sure to understand the best way to contact everyone (I suggest mobile phone) so it’s easy to get in touch.

Tip 3: Plan Out Innovative Holiday Marketing Strategies

The best part part of the holidays is they offer a plethora of opportunities for fancy marketing campaigns. I’m talking about special seasonal offers, custom landing pages, holiday ad copy, and more. The holidays are an amazing time to innovate and take your SEM campaigns to the next level. Get your team together and brainstorm strategies. Get all of the hard work done before the holidays. Then, when the holidays arrive, execute upon your seasonal marketing strategies.

Tip 4: Manage Your SEM Budgets Closely

This tip ties into the first one. The holidays offer so many opportunities. The last thing you want to do is cap out of budget towards the end of December. Make sure to manage your budget closely. Consider turning off (or throttling back) your campaigns on low performing days. Save your budget for the most important days.

Bonus tip: Double check all of your IOs before the holidays. Make sure they do not expire in Q4. If they do, be proactive and renew your contracts before it’s too late. The last thing you want is an IO expiring during the holiday season.

Tip 5: QA Everything Consistently

QA your ads, your landing pages, your campaign settings, and even your site. You never know what might go wrong. What you do know is that you cannot afford any downtime during your most important days of the year. If you do all of your strategy and planning before the holidays, you’re only left with execution and QA. Make sure to QA everything so you can sleep at night.

I hope this tips help out and I’m wishing you (and your SEM campaigns) and amazing holiday season!

Image of Winter Landscape © iStockPhoto – borchee

Getting The Most Out of Your PPC Agency

Nov. 11

Do you work with a PPC agency? How about multiple agencies? In my opinion, managing an SEM agency is just like managing an employee on your team. To get the most out of your agency, you need to be a great agency manager. Today, I’m thrilled to share some of my favorite tips for getting the most out of your agency.

Tip 1: Regular Calls (Weekly or Bi-Weekly) Are Key

Agency

When you’re managing a PPC agency, it’s all about frequent touch points. There’s nothing like regular calls. I try to have weekly calls and sometimes bi-weekly calls (when the queue is super busy). Make sure to follow an agenda during your calls. Stick to the topic at hand. Cover results/numbers, successes, challenges, and projects in the queue. Calls with your agency are just like 1-on-1s you hold with in-house employees.

If you work with a local agency, try to have in-person meetings too. Perhaps you could meet for lunch and then go back to the office after for a meeting. I’m a firm believer that SEM is a team sport. You cannot have a solid team without regular communication and touch points. Leverage calls and in-person meetings to manage your agency as part of your team. The results will be so much better as a result of your efforts!

Tip 2: Manage Your Agency’s Queue of Work Closely

I typically get the best results as a manager when I clearly understand the queue of work on each employee’s plate. I’m talking about the projects, the estimated upside, the ETAs, and the current status updates. Why? When I understand the queue of work, I can contribute projects/ideas, provide assistance, manage expectations upward, and make sure wires do not cross. I’m a huge fan of collaborative goal setting. The best goal lists are created as a team effort between manager, employee, and team. I highly recommend leveraging this philosophy when managing your agency. More work will get done, everyone will be more empowered, and the results will be awesome!

Tip 3: Leverage Your Agency’s Perspective For Optimal Results

I absolutely love working with SEM agencies because they have an amazing perspective. They work with many clients across many verticals. All they do is online marketing. SEM agencies can bring substantial value to the table in terms of cutting edge ideas. Make sure to leverage your agency for their expertise. Regularly ask them questions such as, “What are your other clients seeing?” Of course, you don’t need (nor want) specifics. You want high level guidance around the latest and greatest trends.

So there you have it: A few great tips for getting the most out of your PPC agency. Looking for a PPC agency? I highly recommend reaching out to my friends over at PPC Associates and Rocket Clicks.

Image of Agency © iStockPhoto – kondyukandrey