Managing paid search campaigns requires a mixture of science and art. The scale probably tips more toward the scientific elements when it comes to optimizing your performance. However, in order to create a successful, well-balanced campaign, you can’t completely disregard either end of the spectrum.
Here are some skills/traits that you need to manage your PPC campaign effectively:
Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection, analysis, interpretation or explanation, and presentation of data (according Wikipedia). This is the main driver behind PPC analysis and optimization. Having a thorough knowledge on how to collect and interpret data within your account is mission critical.
You also need to understand how to present this information as well. This presentation of data could be within your team or, even more importantly, to clients. Your clients (or upper management) are not in the accounts every day and they don’t have as clear of a picture as you do in regards to the direction of your campaign. Providing the right statistics in the easiest way possible is a must.
I know what the standard definition of information architecture is but I like this phrase so I’m going to re-appropriate it for my own usage. This skill/trait refers to the logical categorization of similar search terms into themed groups. Or other in terms, creating awesome PPC account structures.
You have to be able to find themes, patterns, and parallel user intent within disparate phrases in order to create an account structure that is likely to generate excellent results as well as enhance your AdWords Quality Score.
Psychology (Human information behavior)
The psychological element is the middle ground between science and art. As paid search marketers, we need to understand the thought patterns and intentions of our search engine audience. What are they thinking? What are they looking for? How can they be convinced that I have what they’re looking for? When conducting keyword research, creating account structures, writing ad copy, and optimizing landing pages, these are the questions we’re trying to answer.
You need statistics to give you some great insight to answering these questions. This is why ad text testing and landing optimization are so important. However, from trying to understand the online buying cycle to determining why a certain ad has a higher click-through rate involves understanding the mindset of your audience as well as hard-fast stats.
Now we’re getting to the artistic end of the spectrum. Writing great PPC ad texts requires a certain finesse that goes above and beyond ordinary copywriting skills. This is because you only have 70 characters to tell someone who you are, what you have to have offer, why they can trust you, and why they should disregard everything else on the SERP and click on your ad.
This requires tapping into your creative side. You need make bold, convincing statements within a very, very small amount of space. When every character counts (literally!), you need to have a strong command of the English language (or whatever language in which you write PPC ads) in order to truncate a great deal of information into a few brief phrases.
This where your landing page optimization comes in (and this is an artsy skill). Yes, you need data in order to tell you how your landing pages are performing. And performance data can tell you what is appealing best to your audience. However, you need analytical and artistic skills in order interpret this information and turn it into images, copy, and an overall design that engage your visitors.
As you can see, successful paid search management requires a blend of scientific and artistic skills. This is what makes our industry so interesting! And there are many more skills that are helpful to generate great PPC results, but hopefully this list will get you thinking about your strengths and weakness. Where can you improve?