I still hear of situations where agencies or in-house teams are told days (or even hours) beforehand of a site change -- whether it's a page moving, new product launch or worse, lots of changes. Sometimes they find out only when performance drops.
This never ceases to surprise -- search has been around long enough for many marketers to know that on-site changes have an impact on campaigns and sales figures often suffer as a result.
Let everybody know about a likely change, even if it's not signed off, so they can plan resources, assess any impact on performance, and provide feedback that might improve performance even further (especially in terms of SEO and AdWords quality score optimization). A "mundane" change might be the opportunity to use technical resource already secured to make additional changes that will have a positive impact.
Go Beyond The Click
Many brands give their experts the scope to significantly boost their traffic and achieve their KPIs -- but don't involve them formally in what happens post-click.
Optimizing landing pages can significantly improve quality score and aid SEO -- that's a given. Perhaps more significantly for the bottom line and senior management, combining this with optimizing all the steps to sale can create a further step-change across all traffic sources, not just search.
Recently, I helped a client's internal team go from a 2 percent to 9 percent conversion rate in one redesign, which helped them exceed targets and invest more budget.
Optimizing pages and the path to conversion, as well as campaigns, creates a positive feedback loop; as every dollar spent on traffic works harder because the site works harder, so keywords or placements that were previously ruled out on a performance basis can come back into reach -- exposing the brand to more consumers and potentially increasing market share.
Google knows this -- hence Google Optimizer being provided for free.
PPC can become extremely time consuming -- especially if inventory changes on the website a lot, whether in terms of stock levels or prices.
Feeds are a perfect way to automate much of the change required, and some paid search tools can work with them to automate this work. Yet many brands don't have adequate feeds in terms of content, quality, or frequency of update.
A scenario I've encountered many times:
- Campaign starts.
- Initial data is used to optimize, changing average positions.
- Client's boss phones up and angrily asks "Why aren't we number one for keyword X?"
- Agency receives a worried or irate phone call or e-mail.
- Agency diverts time to answering this with a presentation for the boss, meaning they have less time to make the client money by further optimizing campaigns.
This doesn't need to happen. Much of this time can be saved by educating upwards.
Explain to senior stakeholder that positions are based on achieving targets, not ego building. This is a fundamental step in managing expectations -- and yet so often, doesn't happen and PPC experts find themselves under largely unnecessary pressure born of misunderstanding.
After the initial launch period, it's easy for campaign reporting and meetings to become repetitive and even stale. Challenge the teams -- asking what they would do in perfect world of unlimited budget and resource (within reason!) can kick start interesting conversations and ideas -- especially if you throw the doors open to other digital channels, the website itself, and business processes.
A client recently started a meeting with several agencies by saying "There are no sacred cows -- everything is up for discussion and change today." I wholeheartedly agree.
I doubt there's a single PPC team that doesn't have a mental wish list of three or four things they would fix if they were in control -- tap into that. Your sales figures may well thank you.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!