Organization: An Under Valued Key of Long Term PPC Success

I’ve been in the PPC industry for about 7 years now. (Yikes!) Although that’s not a lot of time in most industries, it’s a lifetime in ours. Over that time I’ve gone through what I’ve come to see as numerous rounds of maturation. At first, everything was new and it was all I could do to just get through a day without having to look something up in the help sections. Fast forward to understanding retargeting strategy, to social, to all the things that come with multi-channel campaigns, etc.

My most recent round, and probably least PPC-related, involves how current you sets up future you for success. More plainly, organization. Back in the day, I would build things without thinking about how I would have to revisit them later. Was I set up well for optimization? Tracking? Reporting? Could I even remember what “Campaign #2” was?

Of course not.

But this doesn’t just apply to your campaign names (though I will talk about that). It applies to nearly everything you do in PPC. If you’re in it for the long haul, whether in a certain account or just as your career on the whole, don’t be lazy. Set future you up for success by thinking through your organization a little more today. Below are just four examples of the role organization can play in your PPC strategy. Hopefully these will lead you to think about other areas that could benefit from organization to improve your long term success.

Naming Convention

This is something I’ve written about in the past. It applies to campaign names, ad groups, audiences, ad variants, landing page variants, labels, everything. Don’t just slap a name on something so you can move onto the next step. Take at least 2 seconds to think about what you’re naming and be purposeful.

My challenge to myself before naming something is this: “Could someone else get the gist of this campaign by simply looking at the name?”. It doesn’t have to mean they know every fine detail, but they could give a quick summary simply by the name. If yes, then my job is done. If not, then I need to figure something else out. Granted, each account is different and requires different descriptors for naming convention, but if someone else can’t figure out what’s going on by the name, then you haven’t given it a good enough name.

Ad Copy Testing

This is a more recent one for me, but I’m starting to like it quite a bit. At SMX West, I was able to listen in on Brad Geddes’ talk about ad testing strategies. Outside of some good overall wisdom, he talked about having an ad testing spreadsheet to track each test, the hypothesis, where you tested, the outcome, and any number of other things that you would need based on that account.

I love this idea because it forces you to think through not only how you’re setting up a test but why. What do you expect to get from this test? Are you writing this just because you need a new variant or do you actually think this is a better option? What channels are you running this in? And more in depth, why aren’t you running it in others?

Although it might take some time to fill out this sheet, I think it’s completely valuable and really forces you to be purposeful in what you’re doing so you don’t look back after 6 months and have no idea what messaging works best for you. Here’s a link to his full presentation. Slide 16 is the strategy I’m referring to here.

Tracking Parameters

I was recently discussing our proposed strategy with a potential client. We went through the normal stages talking about how we could reach their audience in a given set of channels and we were moving into the more intricate pieces. As the company is B2B with a reasonably long sales cycle, I began to talk about how over time we can use UTM parameters to track how our leads would move through the sales funnel and at what rate they would turn into customers.

As this point, I was stopped and told that this was step 497 when their strategy was really only on step 6. There was too much to do before we even thought about comparing leads to customers. Now, while I understand where this comment came from, I think we could have the best of both worlds.

If we are strategic and tag everything in a meaningful way now, as we’re ramping up strategy, then once we check off item 496 from the “to do” list, we won’t have to say, “OK, we’re ready to track our sales funnel activity. Let’s tag those ads!”. We’ll already have the data in there and ready to go! Granted, it might need to be taken with a grain of salt depending on how much strategy changed over time, but something is better than nothing. If we’re purposeful when we get started, we won’t find ourselves waiting another 6 months before we have data.

Strategy & Campaign Alignment

I’ve recently had a client completely change their pricing structure for their product. Nothing else is changing, simply the way they make money. That said, the new model will more than likely have a large impact on what our account performance will be. So we were met with the question of how to we accommodate this in our campaign strategy. We’re going to target the same people, the same keywords, use nearly all the same campaign settings with only the call to action changing. But in this case, that change is big enough to potentially drive a 20% difference in CPA. So what are we to do?

If you answered “duplicate the current campaigns, pause the current version, and update the new copies to match our needs”, you’d be right.

But why go to all of that trouble?

There are a couple of reasons. First and foremost, with such a large change in performance bordering on imminent, we wanted to have a clear line drawn between the old strategy and new. Now when future Clix looks back at the accounts, we’ll easily be able to differentiate between performance and strategy simply by looking at different sets of campaigns rather than digging through change history or guessing date ranges as to when our new CTA started getting impressions. Second, there’s a chance, though slight, that we might need to revert back to the old strategy. So instead of doing work, then undoing it later, we’ll simply need to pause campaigns and reactivate the old ones. Easy.

This list certainly isn’t comprehensive of all the ways organization can help make your PPC strategy a success. What organization strategies have you found to improve your performance? What tips do you have that would be a good addition to this list? Share with us in the comments!