Achieving Balance In Your PPC Career

Jan. 20

The online marketing career path is an intense one. There’s no doubt about it! It’s a career that involves true dedication, long hours, and an unbelievable level of responsibility. Of course, with intensity comes true opportunity and rewards. I wouldn’t want to be in any other career than this one!

Recently, my friend PPCknight asked some really great questions about achieving balance and longevity in one’s PPC career. Google AdWords and Bing Ads are 24/7 marketplaces. When you’re working long hours and have so much responsibility, are there any hacks and optimizations to make things a bit easier? Today’s post is all about achieving balance in your PPC career. From someone who’s thrived over the long run (8+ years in this great industry), I hope the following tips help!


  • Rely on your team. Paid search is a true 24/7 marketplace. It’s like Wall Street, except trading never stops. It’s impossible to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As such, it’s all about covering for each other. PPC is not a one-person sport, it’s all about working as a team. If you do not have budget to hire a team internally, check out some of the tips below.
  • Rely on your agency. Do you have an SEM agency? I recommend looking into SEM agencies, even if you have an in-house team. SEM agencies are always on call and can help you out 24/7 when you are in a true pinch.
  • Hire help on oDesk. If you don’t have budget to hire an internal team, you can always consider getting help on oDesk (or another outsourced marketplace such as Trada). The more talent on your side, the more you can divide the work and function as a true team!
  • View your search engine reps as an extension of your team. Search engine reps are amazing. Yahoo! and also Google are truly going above and beyond these days. They keep upping their game, and if you ever need help with anything, make sure to relay on your search engine reps.
  • Hire interns. The theme of this tip ties into the last few. It’s all about building out that team.
  • Automate and improve manual tasks with SEM software. I’m a huge fan of SEM automation platforms such as Kenshoo and InsideVault. Not only can they be huge time savers but they can also take your SEM operations to the next level. If you’re not using an SEM platform, chances are you will be working much longer hours for the same (or worse) results.
  • Get smarter and more efficient. Are there any tasks you work on that can be crossed off the list? Are there any components of your day that are consuming extra time? Sometimes it all comes down to efficiency. The advanced online marketing professional is looking for ways each and every day to improve efficiency.
  • Consider changing your location. In the world of SEM, it’s all about productivity. Don’t just sit at your desk all day. Visit Starbucks, travel between your offices (if your company has multiple offices), break up the days with work/meetings, and make sure to enjoy industry conferences. The more you break things up, the ore productive you will be.
  • Remember to take time off. I’m talking about vacations, staycations, and random days off here and there. It’s super important to recharge your batteries in the world of SEM. If you forget to take time off, you will not last the test of time.
  • Avoid making changes on Fridays and weekends. Also, avoid making too many major changes at one time. SEM can be quite unpredictable when you are not able to watch changes closely. Make sure to phase tests and changes for maximum ease of management.
  • Work at a world-class company. I cannot stress this point enough. SEM is so much more fun and powerful when you have an incredible product and team behind your marketing. It’s so much more fun and exciting to market a product that truly changes lives. Get behind something great! Marketing is difficult. Make sure to stack the cards in your favor as much as possible by picking a world-class organization.
  • Focus on your health. It’s all about exercising, eating well, and getting enough rest. If you push yourself too hard, you will not stand the test of time in the PPC industry. You have to pace yourself, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Bonus tip: If you’re ill, make sure to stay home and get proper rest.
  • Love what you do. PPC is an intense career path so you’ve got to love it. Make sure to do a sanity check from time to time, make sure you love what you’re doing.

Image of Balance © iStockPhoto – malerapaso

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

Longevity: Your PPC Career Secret Weapon

Nov. 01

This is one of my favorite articles because I’m all about getting more done with less, the power of leverage. (Side note: Leverage is also one of the main teachings of my favorite author in the world, Robert Kiyosaki.) If you haven’t realized it already, time is your most valuable resource, far more valuable than money or anything else. With enough time, you can do anything. To that end, I’m always looking for ways to gain more leverage and growth, while saving time. Today, I’m going to talk all about longevity and its effect in putting your PPC career into overdrive, all while giving you huge time leverage.

Longevity Will Accelerate Your Pay Per Click Career

Internet URL Bar Close Up

I’ll cut right to the point. While it’s simple, the power is very understated. Let’s say you’re at a company with three pay per click campaign associates and a team lead managing all of you. You’re not the team lead, but are one of the three campaign associates. You want to be the team lead one day, but everything seems daunting because you’re competing with three other people and your boss already has the position you’d like with no signs of going anywhere fast. Seem familiar? From my experience, this situation is very common!

Now, let me get right to the point: Attrition is rampant in PPC. I’ve seen teams of 10 go down to 1. I’m not kidding, I lived it! PPC houses some of the brightest people in the world. They’re great at keeping their cards close and playing the game, right to the very last minute. You never know they’re interviewing or thinking of leaving, but then, all of the sudden, everyone is gone! In the story above, I mentioned that things seem “daunting” for the associate looking to become the team lead. However, let’s reframe that: This case is never daunting in pay per click for the simple fact that attrition is rampant.

My thesis: If you’re at an early stage in your SEM career (not managing people), longevity is your single highest leverage point. Seriously! If you’re an associate and want to end up leading the team, all you need to do is stick around! It may take a long time, possibly two to three years, but it will happen. Eventually, everyone will end up leaving the team or even company. It’s sad to see your teammates leave and I hate it. My personal charter as a people manager is to never lose an employee. If I do, I’m not doing my job correctly. However, with most managers, attrition in PPC is a real issue, one that can put you in the position of team lead much faster than hopping around to different companies. Hopping does have its place when it strategically makes sense, but I highly urge you to stick around if you’re early in your career and not yet managing the team. Once you’re managing the team, you’ll have far more opportunities to transition to a more favorable company and career, if that makes sense.

Pay Per Click Is A Core Operational Competency

Let’s look at the theory behind it form the company’s perspective. Often times, pay per click is the highest revenue per employee division in the company. The team is driving millions and millions of dollars of revenue (and margin), but there are only a handful of employees on the team. Now, let’s say everyone leaves except one employee. That’s a true risk for the company and a case that every people manager dreads. You never want such a large portion of your revenue hinged on just one (or a few) remaining employees. So, what does the company do? They quickly put the remaining person in a position of power. They allow them to take on more responsibility. If they prove that they can grow and handle the added responsibility, they are promoted and rewarded over time. In parallel, the company starts interviewing and hiring replacements. Who’s going to train all of the replacements? The person who’s left! Not only are you now taking on more responsibility, but you’re functioning as a first level manager, training and grooming the new SEM team. Moreover, you’re most likely now reporting to a VP or even C-level executive, yet another super opportunity to accelerate your growth path.

Let’s Keep Everything In Perspective

Now, let me take a step back. Nothing happens overnight. This if for very good reason. If you get promoted officially before you’re ready, it’s very risky for your career, your manager’s career, and the overall company. It’s very bad! You will get more responsibility overnight if you’re in this position, but it will take a bit more time to get promoted on paper. You need to function consistently and predictably at the higher level to prove to your manager and company that you’re ready to get promoted. This is better for everyone, trust me!

Work Through The Difficult Times In SEM

I hope this article helps give you a little extra incentive to stick it out when times get rough. Whether you’re in PPC or engineering, a startup or a publicly traded company, at the associate level or CEO level, there are always challenges. There are always times when you start questioning your ability to make it through. My suggestion to you (especially if you’re newer in your career): Stick it out. You will build character, strength, and judgment. The amount you learn will be tremendous. Moreover, people who might not have your perspective will leave. They won’t have what it takes to make it. When they do, an opportunity opens to grow your career rapidly. Again, I hate to see people leave, but that’s a fact of life. With a little bit of passion, you’ll be able to stick out the difficult times and emerge from it as a true industry leader. This, in my opinion, is the single easiest path to grow from associate to pay per click director in five years.

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