3 Enterprise SEM Challenges & Solutions

Managing SEM campaigns can be challenging for any agency, in-house expert, or consultant. These challenges tend to be compounded as the budgets increase and the organization gets bigger. Complexities arise with reporting, politics, competiveness, and tracking.

Here are a few key challenges to managing enterprise SEM campaigns and some thoughts on how to overcome them.

1. Massive Account Confusion

Numerous accounts, hundreds of campaigns, thousands of ad groups, millions of keywords – it’s a lot to handle. On top of this, there are usually multiple departments with multiple contacts, all of which have varying agendas, motives, and goals.

Potential Solutions

  • One point-of-contact. Having one person coordinating all parties will improve efficiency, reduce errors, and delegate tasks appropriately. Utilizing project management software to assign clear task responsibilities and deadlines can be very helpful. An ongoing rhythm of meetings is also useful: Weekly, bi-weekly and even daily calls between an agency and client can help keep everyone on the same page.
  • Prioritize which tasks on the to-do list will make the biggest impact. Then, delegate tasks to appropriate people. An enterprise PPC account requires multiple “eyeballs” on it. There’s way too much for one person to do in a given day, and the account needs a system of checks-and-balances in order to ensure proper support.
  • Agendas and accountability are critical to ensure everyone is getting the job done. Provide summaries of your regular meetings with action items, due dates, and clear responsibilities.
  • Solid naming structures allow everyone involved to have a clear understanding of what the account, campaign and ad groups represent. Having such a structure also makes integrating reports into executive briefs much easier and creates better understanding of data for non-essential PPC staff.
  • Automated Bidding: Automated bidding rules through platforms like Marin, Kenshoo, and SearchForce create management efficiences and can improve overall return on advertising spend. We create automated bidding rules around our clients most important key performance indicators (KPIs) such as cost per acquisition, return on advertising spend, or margin goals for e-commerce clients. In addition, we can create bidding rules to show up in the top spot for branded or mobile campaigns or automatically increase bids if they are below first page bid estimates.
  • Campaign Structuring: Well done campaign structures breath life into SEM campaigns. Here are a few tips:
    • At a minimum, break down keywords into relevant ad groups with relavant ad copy.
    • Create separate accounts for each domain.
    • Keep adgroups to no more than 10-20 keywords.
    • Create separate campaigns for non-brand and branded keywords.
    • Campaigns should be very specific to help utlize Google sitelinks. Sitelinks are only at the campaign level, so it’s important to have very granular campaigns to allow for specific sitelinks.

enterprise-sem-client-structure

2. Implementation Roadblocks

Large organizations tend to have an added level of roadblocks to getting things accomplished. Challenges associated with political battles, tech queues, bureaucracy, and resistance to change are just a few areas that get more difficult as the company gets bigger. This sacrifice in agility can negatively manifest itself in the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.

Potential Solutions

  • Maintain a “get it done” attitude. Your job is to disrupt the status quo. If you’re not getting things done, the responsibility sits on your shoulders regardless of where the bottleneck resides.
  • Find or create your internal champion. Have someone on the inside that can help navigate the politics, tech queues, and push changes through. If that person doesn’t exist, create one. Tie the inevitable success of your efforts to their well-being. Promote your PPC wins through their organizational visibly. For example, if you’ve hit an all-time high in leads or increased the conversion rate – showcase how your internal champion helped make that happen.
  • Make it easy: Get as much of the legwork accomplished on the agency end. If you need code changes, write the code yourself. If there isn’t a process for adding new landing pages, write one. If you’re waiting on marketing to contact the tech team to implement changes – see if you can contact them yourself. If not, write the email for your client outlining what needs to get done.
  • Follow up: Don’t assume things are being done on the client side. No offense to the clients, but often they’re not. And it’s not their fault. Their plates are full and have a million other priorities to worry about. Follow up on all action items and don’t settle for the wishy-washy. Make it clear what needs done and by when. Call it out when it’s not.
  • Utilize Politics: Get a clear understanding of the organizational landscape and use the politics to your advantage. Simply knowing the right person and who reports into who can go a long way with getting tasks pushed through. For example, adding a simple cc to an email can help get things pushed to the top of a priority list. However, use caution with politics. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to alienate or “throw someone under the bus.”

3. Budget Changes

Often with large accounts, budgets can shift on the turn of a dime. “Hey, agency, I just found 1 million dollars. Go spend it.” Yes, this actually happens and it happens frequently!

Potential Solutions

  • Low-hanging fruit. Are there any campaigns converting well that are limited by budget? Can campaigns be copied over from Google to Bing Ads? Perhaps there’s a product or service you’re under-promoting or a new Google beta you can sign up for. How about advertising on alternative engines? You can also increase aggressiveness with display, retargeting, and mobile.
  • Have overflow campaigns on standby. Create a series of campaigns that can be turned on and off at a moment’s notice.
  • Have overflow staffing procedures. Have a clear protocol in place with go-to people for quick campaign creation. Make sure the procedures are clear and the standby team is prepped on the account before they’re needed.
  • Display. Agencies like Fathom form partnerships to create a network that serves up billions of display ad impressions. Using predictive modeling, you can determine profiles of people that are similar to those who have purchased from you recently and serve them display advertisements.
  • Experiment outside the Big 3 search engines. We’ve seen success across a few third tier search engines, such as AdMarketplace.com and 7search.com. Don’t get us wrong, third tier search engines won't generate similar traffic to Google/Yahoo/Bing. However; many enterprise SEM campaigns can generate a similar (or even better) cost per action than the Big 3 search engines.

About the author

Brad Miller serves as Director of Business Development for Fathom and has more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing with expertise in search, social, analytics and lead generation. He has worked in multiple capacities throughout his career including roles in production, management, consulting, and sales. His experience brings a first-hand multi-dimensional understanding of business to the hundreds of organizations he’s worked with. Brad currently leads Fathom’s strategic partnership efforts.