Our monthly Twitter interviews, Heroviews, are real-time discussions with PPC industry experts. Today’s Heroview featured John Lee (@John_A_Lee). As Director of Client Services at Clix Marketing and a speaker for our upcoming Hero Conf, John will share some tips on PPC task optimization. With so many levers to pull, it’s hard to know what to pull when!

PPC Hero: Thanks for joining us today! To kick things off, tell us how long have you been managing PPC accounts.

John: My pleasure! Thanks for having me. I’ve been managing PPC since 2006, primarily in an agency setting.

PPC Hero: We’re talking about PPC Task Optimization. How do you layout your PPC tasks ahead of time? Monthly? Weekly? Daily?

John: Proactive tasks are based from a loose quarterly plan. Then that is broken down into monthly/weekly tasks. But there are reactive (to performance changes) tasks, too. These tasks are assigned immediately!

PPC Hero: What criteria do you use to determine the frequency of your PPC account maintenance tasks? What are these tasks?

John: I consider ad rotation/writing, search query analysis, placement performance analysis, bid management, landing page review, etc. to be maintenance tasks, among others. Different tasks require different criteria. However, frequency for most of these tasks is based on traffic and conversion volume. The faster that your performance data compiles, the faster you can make meaningful changes!

PPC Hero: How do you avoid making account changes too frequently? Any tips for spacing tasks to truly gauge their effectiveness?

John: Let data help you make decisions. For ad rotation, you can use a stastical validation tool (http://www.chadsummerhill.com/ppc-text-ad-test-statistical-validity/) to determine if you can pause an ad test. For bid changes, make sure that the lookback period is long enough to normalize trends in the data. In short, does the keyword, ad, ad group, campaign, etc. have enough data to show you whether your previous change improved or worsened performance?

PPC Hero: Very Helpful! Gotta trust the data! 😉
How do you monitor your accounts to quickly identify trends that need to be addressed? Any tips on this?

John: I use @acquisio to monitor my accounts. They have a very handy KPI monitoring feature that helps identify trends. I also create basic projection formulas in Excel for showing how specific changes will affect performance. Setting up alerts in AdWords (in MCC), Analytics or a 3rd party tool also goes a long way to flag keywords, ads, or campaigns that need attention. My tips? Be proactive. Project how your accounts will perform over the long term. Use automated alerts when possible. And look at data over time, not just “today.”

PPC Hero: How do you address task management for accounts that have limited time and/or budget?

John: For accounts w/ limited budget, many of the same rules apply. Let data guide your decisions & frequency for tasks. If data accrues to slowly, make aggregate changes. E.g. test ad messages across similar campaigns, use aggregate data to make decision on winner. Not perfect, but moves things along. When time that is alotted for an account is limited, schedule all tasks within allowed time. Of course, react to performance-based needs, but stick to schedule.

PPC Hero: Do you have any tips for increasing task effectiveness, time saving advice you’ve acquired as a tenured PPC manager?

John: 1) Prioritize. Ask yourself, which of these action items will improve my account’s performance the most? You may be surprised at the answer! 2) Plan ahead. Make a schedule and stick to it. 3) Delegate. That is, if you can. 4) Work in a logical order & focus. Don’t switch back and forth between multiple accounts. Review reports for client a, decide on changes for client a, then schedule or execute on said changes!

PPC Hero: Agreed! Sometimes the most basic advice and steps are the most helpful!
What’s the biggest mistake you think PPC account managers make in their account task planning?

John: Too much focus on bids. Bid management is important, yes. But my experience has been that too many PPC managers put bid changes at the top of their priority lists. I would argue that ad testing, landing page optimization/testing, and even keyword research (for expansion and negatives) will yield better results.

PPC Hero: Have you found a sequence of tasks that works best in any given time frame? Any recommended starting points?

John: Sequence of tasks varies from account-to-account, or on an account’s stage of development. Tasks that I do for a brand new account vs. a long term account are very different. But I will use a long term account for example. Use the logic of starting with tasks that have the biggest impact on performance. LP testing. Ad testing. Negative keyword mix. Then bids, etc. I think I’m developing a theme here! 🙂

PPC Hero: Hey, find what works for you and your accounts and run with it!
What tips would you give a PPC account manager for short term PPC task optimization? What strategy do you employ?

John: For short-term PPC tasks, I would stick with the theme of letting data guide your decisions. Prioritize based on potential impact on performance. Execute the task now if need be, or schedule it appropriately for the week/month, so that you are managing your time well. The biggest suggestion I have here is to never freak out and make knee-jerk changes. Look at the data. Put it in perspective. React accordingly.

PPC Hero: What tips would you give a PPC account manager for long term PPC task optimization? Any strategies for success?

John: I would classify long term PPC tasks as major account overhauls, scheduled keyword research, scheduled landing page tests, etc. In my experience, these tasks are easier to deal with because you can create better plans for them. Planning for long term tasks allows you to allot the right personnel, time and resources and execute stress-free. I should say that “stress-free” is the ultimate goal and not guaranteed!

PPC Hero: There is only so much time in a day. How do you find or make time to do everything you need to do in any given account?

John: Well, employees help! Seriously though, it isn’t easy. Working late nights and weekends is often effective at knocking out an account’s task list. More than anything it is the process of planning and scheduling tasks throughout the week/month that gets the job done. Without a plan, I’m useless!

PPC Hero: Well, we’re almost out of time for today, do you have anything else to add, or does anyone have any questions for John?

John: I would add that using task management tools will grease the wheels for all of this. I use Basecamp. It is a lifesaver.

Additional Questions:

Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem): Do you have any suggestions for free task management programs?

  • John: Not sure about free tools. I know there are several individual task apps for iPad, iPhone, Android. Here is one that has a free option for individuals: https://secure.hitask.com/en/signup.
  • Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie): Try @trelloapp

Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner): What’s the first thing you do when you log on in the AM? I look at dashboards for anything unexpected. You too? Cc: PPC Hero

  • John: I have auto-reports sent to my email each day. I look those over first. Then hope into Acquisio for further review. Reports I mentioned are dashboards, broken down for specific needs by account.
  • Lisa: Sounds familiar. Great interview and tips today!
  • PPC Hero: We’re similar! First thing, we look at all accounts to make sure we’re on track. We know how much is needed to spend per day and how many leads are needed to reach our goals. We look at the previous day and compare.
  • Lisa: Yep, I look at WoW comparisons for day or week to date. Depends on volume. Try to avoid John’s described “knee-jerk” actions.

PPC Hero: Thanks so much for joining us today, John! Another successful Heroview.

John: Thanks for having me. Next stop, Hero Conf!

PPC Hero: Yep! We’ll see you, and hopefully all of our followers in Indy in April!

Stay tuned for next month’s Heroview with David Szetela. We will be discussing “The Future of Personal Computing and How it Will Effect PPC.” February 22!

John will be presenting at Hero Conf in April. Visit the Hero Conf website for more information.