My #HeroConf 2016 Takeaway: Peel the Onion

HeroConf - Big ScreenHeroConf has grown up quite a bit since I attended the first one held in Indianapolis in 2012 and so has my list of takeaways.  The first HeroConf left me with a huge list of specific strategies to execute in my accounts that I’d never heard of before. Wonderful! And honestly, this year was no different on that front. The content was fantastic and always got me thinking about my client’s specific accounts.

But there is one key difference this year I found while reflecting on the show as a whole. After thinking about common themes amongst a number of the sessions, I found a larger takeaway that I think is a product of our industry growing up a bit over the last few years.

Go further.

Peel the onion.

Look below the surface.

Ask why.

Whatever you want to call it. I think this is a theme that couldn’t be more important. PPC is a very detail driven job. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day of “I need to review ad copy here”, “I need to build a new campaign over there”, etc. Although these things need to get done, there’s also a point where we have to step back, stop working just to check things off a task list, and peel the onion. Below are a list of sessions that got me thinking about the next layer beyond the surface. Although my takeaways might not be something the speaker specifically called out in the session, this is eventually where I got to and what I think was most important.

Chris Goward – Conversion Optimization

We’re all familiar with conversion optimization and know the process is integral to the success of PPC campaigns. Chris talked about his LIFT Model and how it should help inform your next test. But something I took away and felt was even more important, was a set of questions to ask for any given test:

  •  Should I test this?
  • What impact will it have on my client’s business goals?
  • Why is this variant winning the test?
  • What does it say about my client’s business to customer match that this variant is winning?
  • Are we impacting the ultimate business goal or simply the front end conversion rate?

Rather than simply being satisfied with the conversion rate in your campaigns going up or down, go below the surface and ask why one variant is performing better than another. Determine whether this increased conversion rate also means higher AOV’s or better lead quality, or if you’re simply filling the funnel with junk. What you find may influence your next test.

Chris Haleua – Bidding Strategies

As usual, Chris did an amazing job blowing everyone’s mind using his 3×3 bidding grid. But what his discussion seemed to focus on what the idea of the Pareto Principle and how even though 20% of your keywords will most likely lead to 80% of performance, that doesn’t mean you should forget about the other 80%.

Whether they’re loss leaders or just keyword that need to be given a shot with a decent Avg Position, don’t ignore the keywords not driving revenue. Give at least some attention to the rest of your account and make sure you’re not giving away budget or missing out on potential sales simply because those keywords haven’t cracked the top 20% to date.

Brad Geddes – Best Practices

This has to have been one of my favorite keynotes I’ve ever seen. There has been discussion in our industry about the idea of best practices and how they might not always be right for you, but Brad’s session articulated it so freaking well that I hope everyone gets a chance to review the deck. Essentially, there are 3 times where best practices might not be best:

  • Simplifying Complex Problems
  • Resource constraints
  • Exceptions

It’s not always comfortable to go against common best practices in an account, but in some instances, it’s worth taking a step back and asking, “Is this really right for this account? Should I be going against best practices to get better success here?”

Efficiency Increases – When to Invest Up Front

My last instance of going further focuses on our day-to-day as account managers and how we do our job rather than the job itself. Two sessions I sat in on did a great job calling out why we need to be more efficient and when to make the investment to be more efficient.

Amy Bishop – Excel Tools

Excel is a crazy powerful tool and everyone knows that. But just because you know the formulas doesn’t mean you’re being as efficient as you should be. There are a number of ways PPC pros can use Excel to impact their day to day, but what happens when one day requires the same heavy Excel lifting as another? Or if you’re doing the same reports/analysis 2 or 3 times a month or a quarter? Yes, you’re being efficient to some degree, but isn’t there a bigger success to be gained here? Absolutely. Don’t be shy about building an actual tool in Excel, potentially even using macros, so you don’t have the same set up time every time you do that task. A little investment up front leads to a lot of time saved later on.

Steve Hammer – Advanced Scripts

I’ll be honest, there was a decent amount of this session that went right over my head. But I left with a sense of, “I really need to look into Scripts to save me time in accounts”. And that couldn’t be more true. One of the follow up questions was about when to write a script. Basically, similar to building an Excel tool above, if you’re doing something at least 3-4 times and potentially more in the future for other accounts, you should start writing a script.

Even if you didn’t attend HeroConf this year, it’s time to start evaluating your day to day and peel the onion. Take a look at what you do on a daily basis. How can it be improved? What can you do differently to save you time?

Look at your client accounts. Are you doing what’s best for that client or just following best practices? What are the conversion optimization test results telling you about the end customer’s experience? Are you ignoring a large amount of keywords in your accounts simply because they’re not part of the top 20%?

Don’t settle.

Go further.

Be better.