So what it was a short month?  Having two fewer calendar days doesn’t mean that the staff of PPC Hero didn’t come away with life changing lessons and insights.  We now present to you the best things that we began implementing in our accounts this month in hopes that it’ll make February that much more meaningful for you.

This month was all about betas for me. I had a phone call with my Google rep and got a handful of accounts opted into several different beta programs. I can’t talk about them, specifically, being that they are all top secret still. But the important thing I wanted to share was to be communicating with your Google rep about available beta programs all the time. It makes you look super slick to your client/boss and gives you an advantage over your competitors!

This month I was able to engage both sides of my brain in devising an elaborate template for ad testing, using Labels to pace the whole thing. I was able to create ad copy with ever-so-slight variations, a la the Ad Testing Matrix, and then a detailed plan for testing them, that is not a little bit neurotic.

As a Lover of Labels, I tagged my campaigns (and their ads) as Tiers 1, 2, or 3, based on their impact on the account. I then filled in the dates on the test schedule template, alternating between the tiers as to avoid shaking things up too much in too short a time period. Tiers 1 & 2 are my main drivers and they alternate by 2 week periods, and poor Tier 3 are the little guys with much less traffic. They simply get what the Tier 1 tests deem to be the best ad.

And finally, I attach to this timeline a spreadsheet to track the weekly data tier-by-tier, throughout the whole process. This gives concrete data for you to consider when wrapping ad tests or when starting new tests down the road. This whole effort is great when you want serious organization. It’s a useful tool when collaborating on an account with another account manager, as they can jump in any time and know right where you are in the process. I also love having this to show clients as they get to see the way-creative ads I’ve written (for new ideas, check out Kayla’s post), and the beautifully-planned timeline for the tests!

(Ed. note: Welcome to the blog, Carrie!)

I learned this important tidbit regarding Enhanced Campaigns: You’re unable to set any kind of specific bid modifier for Mobile devices when you’ve opted in to Conversion Optimizer. This makes some sense, as CPA bidding utilizes an algorithm based on your conversion data to determine optimal bids at the time of a query. However, it came as quite a surprise when I learned that your only option for Mobile in a CPA campaign is a binary On/Off switch. Keep that in mind as you migrate your campaigns over. It’s a big change, and not to be taken lightly.

I never knew I was a control freak until this month. As I have begun to get more comfortable in my role as Director of Paid Search I am working in accounts and in the tiny details less and am shifting my focus to working on the department as whole. This has been difficult as I feel myself clamping down everytime something doesn’t go perfectly. This lesson applies to PPC accounts as well because sometimes we get so caught up on daily performance, bids or the other nitty gritty aspects of an account that we forget to step back and work on the larger picture and understand how all the peices come together. The bigger picture is: how is the account trending overall, is everything that is being tested in alignment (or are tests competing with each other), and are all the new tools and features at your disposal being implemented?

My biggest win from this last month wasn’t necessarily implemented in a PPC account directly, but rather was more of a client relationship change. We’ve been managing this particular account for a very long time and were frequently having conversations with the client about total sales from PPC-produced leads and whether the bulk of those sales were domestic (US) or international. The client’s stance was that international leads drove revenue, both from a sheer dollar and total account volume basis. After some thorough discussion and segmented tracking/reporting, the data we were seeing in the AdWords interface for international leads (which was bad – high CPL, low conversion rate) persuaded the client to go back and segment their product sales by our same geotargets to show us that we needed to keep those campaigns and leads enabled (because again, those were of highest value as they were interpreting things). Turns out, after years of believing international leads drove sales, the client saw that international and domestic sales were nearly 50/50 over the last year and over 75% of total new accounts for them in that same time frame were domestic, as well. The client completes all sales through a handful of salespeople over the phone only and on a case-by-case contract basis, so getting this point was a huge success and is now allowing us to work even closer with the client toward goals and increase revenue and ad spend budget!

The most important thing I did in February was import and use Google Analytics metrics to help judge my account performance. Some of my clients have issues with conversion tracking, which can make optimizing ads and bids pretty tricky. By making this fairly simple fix in my accounts I can now easily look at things like bounce rate and average time on site by keyword to find value. In campaigns with conversion tracking it also helps me to be able to look into keywords that don’t historically convert well and see where site engagement is good or bad. For example, when pausing or cutting keywords, I can start with ones where time on site is low, rather than by randomly cutting everything. This still leaves users who engage with the product and get some branding value.

We’ve written about the label feature in AdWords before and I’ve used them plenty since their launch. This month I’ve really taken it to the next level, though. It’s a pretty basic tip, one that I wished that I’ve been taking advantage of for longer. Label your campaigns for their lead quality/ROAS and set yourself up to make budgetary changes in a flash. Every month I run profitibility reports on my different campaigns to see how they’re trending. This month, though, I’ve used that info to label each campaign as High/Med/Low/No ROAS so that I know where I want to push my impression share/spend. It’s a basic concept, but something that I’m very glad to have incorporated into my accounts.

How about you, readers? Is there anything that has changed your approach or way of thinking during February?