Today we would like to share an interview with Joseph Kerschbaum, Vice President of Clix Marketing. Joseph has been working in the SEM industry since 2006, and is one of the industry’s foremost PPC experts.  Enjoy the video below and learn more about Joseph and his thoughts on PPC, the Display Network, and Landing Pages!


Laura: Hi, I’m Laura Johnston, Marketing Coordinator for Hanapin Marketing, and we’re delighted to have Joe Kerschbaum with us today. He’s going to be speaking at Hero Conf 2012. Hero Conf will be a paid search only conference, hosted in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 16 and 17 of this coming spring. Joe, it’s a pleasure to have you here with us this morning.

Joe: Thanks for having me.

Laura: Thank you. To begin with, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself.

Joe: Sure, sure. Well you already said my name, Joe Kerschbaum, and I am Vice President with Clix Marketing. We are a search and social PPC firm. So we help clients optimize their AdWords, adCenter, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. You pay for it, we can help you optimize it.

I also have written for PPC Hero, and I’m also a regular columnist with Search Engine Watch, Website Magazine, Visibility Magazine, the adCenter Blog. I write in many places. I am also the co-author of “PPC SEM An Hour A Day,” published by Wiley/Sybex last year. So, very busy.

Laura: That is great. How did you get started in PPC?

Joe: Actually, I was doing in-house PPC for a company actually in Bloomington. It was a publishing company. I had worked with Patrick East, the founder of Hanapin. I was doing in-house PPC, and then he asked me to come work for Hanapin doing it full time. So that’s how I kind of made the leap from doing it quarter time to full time.

Laura: Nice. That’s really interesting. So what’s your favorite part of PPC?

Joe: Well, I would say it’s two pronged in the sense that with PPC I like that it is an industry that is continually changing. I am a person that, if you ever talk to me more than once, you’ll realize I am a person who tends to like to stay on top of things. I like to stay busy. I like to stay a student. I like to be continuously learning, and especially in the world of PPC and SEM that is not a problem because something’s always changing. There’s always some new algorithm, some new feature, something is different every day. So that actually some people might find that challenging, I find it exciting to try to stay on top of all of it.

So that’s part of it and then also the community. The SEM community is just filled with super, awesome, intelligent, friendly people, and I love meeting everybody face to face and knowing people online and then eventually meeting them face to face because just everybody is really helpful, really insightful, and just offering a helping hand if you ever need anything.

So I would say continuous education and the community are two of the things that I really like about being in this industry.

Laura: In your opinion, what is the most important component in running a successful PPC campaign?

Joe: There are just so many components that go into managing a successful PPC campaign. So I would say the big one that I would carve out, which is somewhat nebulous, is relevancy, because somebody comes to a search engine, they have a very specific reason for being there. If you’re browsing CNN or you’re browsing Facebook or you’re browsing Twitter, you’re inactive. You’re just kind of looking around. When you go to Google, all you have to do, aside from Google+ and all the other social stuff they have on there now, if you just go to and type in something, you have a purpose.

So you have to make sure that you have relevant keywords, a relevant ad, and a relevant landing page. Now, what that means for every campaign, what that means for every keyword is very different. But relevancy also, I guess the best way to sum it up may not be like A, number one, the most important thing ever, but if you don’t have that, everything else is going to fall apart.

Laura: In your opinion what . . . well, we’ve heard a lot debate about Display Network, whether it’s worth the money or not to invest in it, so in your opinion what do you think about Display Network? Is it worth it?

Joe: Sure, I’ll end that debate. The debate is over because the Display Network is absolutely worth the time, and it’s absolutely worth the money, and it’s absolutely worth the optimization of it.

However though, with me saying that the Google Display Network absolutely works, it absolutely works for certain advertisers. There are going to be advertisers that maybe the ROI or the profit margins on the Display Network aren’t as good as search, but that’s something that a search marketer needs to determine for themselves. You just can’t blacklist the Display Network and never use it.

You need to test it for every client and then realize, “Okay, this channel doesn’t work.” You just can’t have it as a policy that the Display Network doesn’t work. So I would say for every advertiser, obviously they’re going to be running search, test the Display Network and see if it works.

Now, like I said, for every advertiser it doesn’t work. So what we have found at least the most success have been for advertisers on the Display Network is usually with a softer conversion action, such as a white paper, lead generation, things like that. A sign-up newsletter, sign up, things like that, that tends to be because it’s lower impact rather than requesting a credit card and an actual purchase.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. We make sales all day long on the Display Network. So I would say that you just have to figure out client by client if the Display Network works for you and then optimize.

But then also realize it’s okay to cut it if it doesn’t work. But you should at least try it and not have like a . . . don’t be scared of it. It’s there to help you. But it is a big beast and it needs a lot of optimization. But it’s worth the time.

Laura: Switching topics a little bit back towards Hero Conf, as we mentioned you’ll be doing a landing page clinic. What are some of the most common mistakes you run across when looking at landing pages?

Joe: Sure. Well, it’s tough because every landing page is different. So it’s hard to say that there’s like a common mistake that I see on every landing page because they’re all different, they all have different objectives, and they’re all doing something different.

So I would say that, in general, what I often see is a landing page that just doesn’t have a clear purpose. When somebody gets to the landing page, they’re not exactly certain what they need to do. Now whatever that is, that’s why I’m keeping it somewhat high level, is up to every advertiser. But just take a look at your landing page and just make sure when somebody arrives they know exactly what you want them to do, whether it be a purchase, a newsletter sign-up, even a like us on Facebook, whatever. Just make it so you can’t miss it.

I think that’s a big problem that people tend to have with their landing pages is just really making sure that it’s action focused. Because let’s face it, if you paid to get a click and to get somebody there, you’ve got to get something out of it. The click is not the mission accomplished. It’s the conversion or whatever you want them to do.

But I would say in regards to editorial policy, that is one thing I can say concretely is to make sure that you have your privacy policy and things of that nature at the bottom, all those editorial things that Google looks for, because if you don’t, you will get dinged editorially and your ads will get rejected.

Laura: At Hero Conf is there anything in particular you’re really looking forward to learning or experiencing there?

Joe: Yeah. I mean, again it’s kind of two-fold. I look forward to, first of all the experience in the sense that meeting with a lot of the people that are going to be there. I’m friends with a lot of the speakers, and then I’ve actually known a number of the speakers and people who are attending online for years and I’ve never met them face to face. So I’m actually looking forward to just the experience of catching up with some old friends and meeting some people that I’ve known online for a long time.

In regards to learning and education, like I said, I always want to be a forever student. So what I always look for at conferences, in all honesty, every once in a while there’s that huge revelation that changes the way you see everything. But more often I get those little nuggets of wisdom that may change how I see small things, which is great. I mean that’s even almost more helpful where maybe you learn a new tactic with headlines or a new tactic with ad extensions or something like that, and it either will change the way you see it or just change your course a little bit. So I just look forward to those little nuggets, learning a number of them. So that’s what I look forward to.

Laura: That’s great. Well, we’re definitely looking forward to having you there with us. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Joe: Thank you.

Laura: Hero Conf, as we mentioned, will be on April 16 and 17, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you would like to register or hear more information, you can visit our website at, and we look forward to seeing you there. Thank you for joining us today.

Joseph Kerschbaum is Vice President and Managing Partner for search and social advertising agency Clix Marketing. Joseph is a regular speaker at search and advertising conferences such as SES and SMX. His writing on the SEM industry appears in his regular Search Engine Watch column, and in his columns in Website Magazine and Visibility Magazine. Joseph is coauthor of the Wiley/Sybex book, “Pay-Per-Click SEM : One Hour a Day.”

Follow on Twitter @JoeKerschbaum

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