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Dominate Paid SERP with 3 Competitive Metrics

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Five Reasons to Repurpose Your Old Blog Posts Right Now

Maintaining visibility in the search engine results pages (SERP) is essential for any advertiser. The SERP is constantly changing with new ads, features, and most importantly, competitors entering all the time, so it’s important to monitor your rankings and adjust your campaigns accordingly.

There are three main competitive metrics that you should be tracking in Google Ads: impression share, impression share lost to budget, and impression share lost to rank.

By understanding and optimizing for these three important search metrics within Google Ads, you can outrank your competitors and reach more customers in paid search results.

When you pair with auction insights, SERP Analysis, and an understanding of search intent, you can easily dominate the SERP and reach more customers in no time.

1) Impression Share

Shorthand: IS, Search Impr. Share

Optimize to: Increase how often your ads show up in the SERP (i.e. 30%, 74%, 95% of the time)

Your impression share is the percentage of impressions that your ad receives in relation to the total number of impressions that could be shown.

This metric can be found under “Auction insights” in your Google Ads account or as an additional column when you modify your view. If you have a low impression share, it means that your ads are not being shown as often as they could be.

There are a number of reasons why this may be the case, but it’s usually because your competitors are outbidding you or their ads are more relevant to the user’s search.

Image 1

Example: In image 1, the first campaign has a 31.75% Search Impression Share for the selected time period.

This means that their ad isn’t showing roughly 68% of the time and they should look at Impression Share Lost to Rank and Impression Share Lost to Budget to see why their ads aren’t showing very often.

Their competitor, on the other hand, might have an impression share of 76% which means they will probably get more traffic and potential customers.

Top Impression Share

Shorthand: Search Top IS, Top IS

“Search top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the top location, or anywhere above the organic search results, compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

Absolute Top Impression Share

Shorthand: Search Abs. Top IS, Abs. Top IS

“Search abs. top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location, or the very first ad above the organic search results, divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

Exact Match Impression Share

Shorthand: Search Exact Match IS, EM IS

Image 2

A percentage is calculated by dividing the number of impressions that your campaign received for searches that exactly matched your keyword by the total estimated number of exact match impressions you were eligible to receive.

2) Impression Share Lost to Budget

Shorthand: IS LTB, Search Lost IS (Budget)

Optimize: Limit how often your ads do not appear in the SERP due to budget (i.e. 30%, 74%, 95% of the time)

The percentage of time your ad didn’t appear because your budget was too low.

You may miss opportunities for impressions. A value of 20% indicates that in 20% of customer searches that matched your keywords, your ad didn’t appear because your budget is too low. 

Image 3

Example: In image 3, the first campaign has a 31.75% Search Impression Share for the selected time period.

When we look at the Search Impression Share Lost to Budget, we can see that they are losing almost half of their Impression Share because of budget.

We can then determine that there is roughly 50% more opportunity to compete for your matching search queries.

You can also calculate how much money you would need to spend to get your IS LTB to 0%.

3) Impression Share Lost to Rank

Shorthand: IS LTR, Search Lost IS (Rank)

Optimize to: Limit how often your ads do not appear in the SERP due to rank (i.e. 30%, 74%, 95% of the time)

Image 4

The percentage of time your ad didn’t appear because of poor ad rank, which is determined by your bid relative to your competitors and by your ad quality.

If you see 20% for this search metric, then in 20% of customer searches that matched your keywords, your ad didn’t appear because of rank.

Example: In image 4, we can see that the first campaign is losing roughly 22% to rank. That means that 22% of the time their competitors are either bidding more aggressively or have more relevant ads.

Auction Insights

Image 5

Auction insights is a competitive tool that can be found under the “Reports” tab in your Google Ads account. It shows you how often your ad appears in relation to your competitors.

This information can help you adjust your bids, improve your ad rank, and even increase your return on ad spend.

Or even see why your cost shot up!

While the search metrics displayed under columns can show you a relative percentage of various KPIs, the auction insights tool will show you exactly who is bidding against you.

Use the time series chart for an easy-to-share and effective visual for clients.

Quick Formulas

IS = Impressions/ Total number of eligible impressions

Top IS = Impressions on top/eligible impressions on top

Abs Top IS = Impressions on absolute top/eligible impressions on top

What is SERP?

SERP stands for search engine results page. A SERP is the web page that a search engine returns with the results of a query.

A SERP feature is any element on a SERP that is not an organic result. Examples of SERP features are ads, local pack listings, image carousels, and featured snippets.

In order to dominate the SERP, you need to have a strong presence in both paid and organic results. Use the three competitive metrics above to outrank your competitors in paid search.

What is SERP analysis?

SERP analysis is the act of analyzing the results of a given SERP in order to better understand how users interact with the search engine results page.

You can check for competition, monetization potential, and most importantly: search intent.

Image 6

In image 6, we can see that the search query “mattress” has quite a few competitors for the same keyword.

Using one of my favorite SEO tools, Ahrefs, we can see that the keyword “mattress” has an average of 325k searches per month and an average 233k clicks with an average cost per click at $8.

When I click on the Casper Mattress ad, we can see that the products range from $1,300-$2,900.

With this quick SERP analysis you can determine that:

  • “Mattress” is a competitive keyword
  • “Mattress” is in demand
  • “Mattress” can be very profitable
Image 7

Search Intent

When paired with a SERP analysis, understanding search intent can help you understand what people and potential customers are looking for when they type in your keyword.

When scrolling through the SERP for this keyword, you can see common themes in the results.

Image 8

For example, we can see a few relevant themes with this keyword that shows what customers may be looking for:

  • Best
  • 2022
  • Online
  • Warehouse/Wholesale
  • Queen

From this list, we can then adjust ad copy and keyword set for relevancy.

Additionally, you can further implement your understanding of search intent by speculating that the keyword “mattress” would not be able to compete on the SERP for relevancy (or rank) with products such as:

  • waterbeds
  • bed frames
  • bed sheets
  • mattress pads

Of course, there is far more nuance for certain products, but if you combine search intent with competitive metrics, you can easily dominate the SERP.

Final Thoughts

SERP analysis is critical for understanding how to dominate the SERP. By using competitive metrics and search intent, you can create a campaign that will outrank your competitors and maintain a strong presence on the SERP.

This way, you can ensure that your product is seen by potential customers and can generate revenue for you or your clients.




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Vad de stora tekniska uppsägningarna betyder för små och medelstora företag och PPC: 8 viktiga takeaways

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What the Big Tech Layoffs Mean for SMBs & PPC: 8 Key Takeaways

Unless you live under a rock (I can say that because I’ve been known to camp out under a pebble or two), there’s no doubt that you’ve been hearing about one thing in the news lately:

Big Tech layoffs.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon.

It even has its own hashtag #layoffs2023.

Mass layoffs of any kind are unsettling no matter how applicable they are to you, but as a small business owner or marketer, you may have some concerns. Yes, this is “Big” Tech, but does this or will this have any implications for small businesses? Many of these companies are also ad platforms, so will this have any impact on PPC?

I’ve taken a dive into the story from this angle to provide you with some key takeaways. Read on to learn:

  • What’s happening in Big Tech?
  • Why are all these layoffs happening?
  • What does it mean for online advertising and small businesses?

What’s happening in Big Tech?

In January of 2023 we saw more layoffs in the Big Tech sector than in any month since the pandemic. To put things in perspective, there were 159,684 tech job cuts in 2022, but in January of 2023 alone, we saw 68,502. That’s more than 43% of what we saw in all of last year.

big tech layoffs 2022 vs 2023

Companies that have conducted mass layoffs in January and recent months include Google, Microsoft, Informatica Salesforce, Amazon, SAP, IBM, Spotify, Wayfair, Coinbase, and Vox Media.

As mentioned earlier, mass layoffs innately are concerning, but the reason why this situation is of particular interest is that not only is it unexpected, but it’s also being called one of the worst contractions in the industry’s history.

And it’s also a little peculiar when you look at it in relation to the labor market. As The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson points out:

  • During the 2010s, the labor market was weak but the tech sector was growing.
  • During the pandemic, the economy had a “flash freeze depression” while tech took off.
  • Today, the labor market is strong but tech is “bleeding.”

So what’s going on here?

Why are all these layoffs happening?

There are multiple factors at play, which Derek’s article does a great job covering. Here’s the rundown:

The expected tech “acceleration” from the pandemic turned out to really just be a “bubble.”

Tech companies, consumers, and investors alike all subscribed to the notion that the surge in remote work, ecommerce, and other online platforms during the pandemic put us on the fast track to the 2030s. But this has not been the case. We never made it there; we’re still just on our way and we’re settling back into the same speed of travel as in 2019. As a result, all of that expansion and investing now is in excess. Hence the contraction.

Inflation caused an advertising slump

Keep in mind that many of these tech companies—Google, Meta, Amazon, etc.— are also advertising platforms. And with inflation reaching its highest levels in 40 years in 2022, many businesses pulled back on advertising as this is often one of the first areas to see cuts during a shaky economy—not to mention the fact that advertising costs increased along with everything else.

Companies are preparing and adjusting

For some companies, the layoffs are happening also as a proactive measure. While inflation appears to be on the mend (it has dropped from 9% to 6.5%), economists, and therefore businesses and consumers are still wary of a recession. If these companies want to maintain profitability and to send the right message to shareholders, they need to prepare for businesses and consumers to continue cutting back on spend even in the new year—which means cutting back on spending themselves.

Of course there are spinoff theories and schools of thought, but these are the core reasons you’ll find woven throughout any coverage on the matter.

What does it mean for small businesses and PPC?

Alright, so now that you have a grasp on what’s happening and why, let’s talk about what this means for small businesses and PPC according to news articles, last week’s PPC chat discussion, and the very PPC experts who contribute to our blog! Here are some key takeaways that feel particularly pertinent:

1. Big tech is not at risk

“Revenue decline” doesn’t necessarily mean that any of these businesses are failing or on their way out. Remember, these aren’t just businesses, they are behemoths. And as Tech Reporter Bobby Allyn’s NPR article cited earlier states, while these changes are historic, they’re still small on a percentage basis.

These companies are still massively wealthy and Big Tech has been on a strong growth trajectory for the past ten years. Microsoft alone made $198 billion in revenue in 2022.

microsoft annual revenue

Bildkälla

These measures aren’t a sign that they’re on the brink of disappearance, but rather course correction in accordance with the post-pandemic story as it unfolds, to get back on that growth trajectory.

2. This is only temporary; digital advertising will still grow

Given the above, it’s not surprising that many PPCers feel this is only temporary and aren’t concerned about there being a further economic downturn or ripple effect on small businesses or advertising in general.

Take digital marketing strategist, author, and speaker Anders Hjorth’s Tweet in #PPCChat, for example:

We also asked Brett McHale, founder of Empiric Marketing, LLC and regular WordStream contributor for his take on the matter and he shared the same sentiment:

“We have seen economic downturns and mass layoff lead to eventual booms/bubbles—what comes to mind is the 2008 economic crisis that eventually gave way to the tech boom of the 2010s. I’m not necessarily saying that is what is going to happen now, just that these economic situations tend to have a cyclical nature to them.”

It’s worth noting also that no one expressed concerns about any one platform in particular other than Twitter, for obvious reasons.

3. It could open up new opportunities

Another perspective that many PPC influencers and practitioners share is that with so many talented people out of work and with time on their hands, there is potential for new opportunities or movements to happen. Paid search manager Sarah Steman Tweeted in #PPCChat:

Mark Irvine, Director of Paid Media at Search Lab Digital and regular WordStream contributor (and former Streamer!), shared this viewpoint:

“The biggest piece to think of is that there are tens of thousands of people with top-quality talent reentering the industry who have years of experience working with large numbers of clients and varied budgets. They’re also well-versed in their former company’s tools and features and have unique insight into the industry from their past roles that many of us don’t have exposure to.”

4. We may see more small consultancies open up

Brett also sees new opportunities arising, more small consultancies in particular:

“I can see many talented professionals in the space making the transition from big brands to independent contract work. Taking on a W2 employee is a massive risk for a company whereas a 1099 employee is a much lower risk, both financially and legally. Talented folks who have lost their jobs might source their talent to multiple companies to create several sources of income for themselves and handle their own health benefits under their own LLCs. “

Navah Hopkins, Brand Evangelist at Optmyzr, regular WordStream contributor (and also former Streamer!) Navah Hopkins expressed the same:

“On a personal note, I often questioned whether I made a mistake not going for one of the big brands. When the layoffs happened, it cemented for me and many other digital marketers like me that we can thrive without “big brand safety.” I’m excited to see the rise of consultants and taking lessons learned to verticals that didn’t have access to the amazing talent now on the market.”

5. Agencies and large resellers have the most to gain

Another outcome we may see, Mark pointed out, is an influx of new talent to agencies and resellers.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Agencies and large resellers likely have the most to gain from this shuffle. Compared to small businesses, they’re in the best position to attract this new talent that has experience working across a large portfolio of clients. Additionally, Google’s most recent announcement is that of reembracing its partners, specifically resellers to enable more advertisers to grow on their platforms.”

google's turn to resellers

Resellers mentioned in the article include Accenture, Interactive, Incubeta, Jellyfish, and Media.Monks.

6. Advertisers need to be on guard

One potential concern that many PPCers agreed on was that with revenue in greater focus, ad platforms may start pushing features and upsells more so than genuinely helping advertisers succeed. This wouldn’t be a novel concept by any means (Google Ads automation anyone?), but it will be important to be extra vigilant, especially if you’re a beginner advertiser.

PPC influencer Robert Brady expresses this concern in his Tweet:

He also followed that up with:

And I feel like reps will be even more insistent on pushing features that help the platform and not advertisers. @robert_brady

Mark shared the same viewpoint:

“I’m going to be increasingly skeptical of new products released over the next ~120 days. Layoff rounds right before an earnings call is not coincidental. Product announcements aren’t coincidental either. There’s still lots of great teams at these companies that are making great things, but following a round of layoffs, a product manager isn’t going to boldly recommend that they push back their new anticipated tool for another quarter or two because it’s not ready. Implicit or not, many teams will feel the pressure to produce “quickly now” rather than “correctly later.” I would be extra skeptical of anything announced or anticipated before big days for their investors in April or July. Looking at you, GA4.”

7. Be prepared for outages and/or gaps in support

Another concern is that we could see a degradation in customer support or more outages. In fact, Google Ads was out for three hours on January 23.

Many agree that support is already lacking so this could be a pain point. Navah notes that these brands will be under higher scrutiny:

“The brands doing the letting go will be under more scrutiny than ever before. I suspect true return on investment with any of these platforms (Google, Microsoft, Amazon), as well as less patience for substandard service will be the main themes of higher churn for their customers. Many of us noted that it was odd Google Ads went down hours after the layoffs, and instances like these might become more common, and the industry will have less patience for it.”

8. Moderation and policy enforcement could suffer as well

Mark comments on this final concern (as if ad disapprovals weren’t already a pain point):

Unfortunately, I agree that traditional “cost centers” like customer support are going to be pulled from first. Particularly given the recent successes in AI like ChatGPT, it’s increasingly tempting to push AI in these areas.

However, I’m also worried that there’s temptation to pull away from areas like moderation or policy enforcement. Google has increasingly automated its policy enforcement over the past few years, to poorer results, and I imagine this will continue.

Twitter sets a dangerous precedent in eliminating its moderation teams and I think that lowered bar makes for poor incentives for other tech giants to dedicate resources to important non-revenue generating teams.”

headlines about twitter eliminating moderator staff

While I hope that companies continue to reinvest in their values, even things ensuring advertisers only pay for quality traffic and filter out invalid traffic are troubling. When no one is watching, are these tech companies going to improve or maintain their standards, or are they going to be tempted to water down that wine and charge advertisers for more traffic to influence their bottom line?”

So what’s the verdict?

If you haven’t been quite sure about how what’s going on with all of these Big Tech layoffs, my hope is that this article has demystified some of that for you. And as far as how you should be feeling, I’d say that a little concern is good, but panic? Not necessary. The experts and veterans in the industry aren’t taking any drastic measures. The idea is, as Ashton Clarke Tweeted to “help clients keep a level head and maintain stability.”

So long as you stay on top of the storyline, keep an eye on your metrics, and make PPC decisions based on data, not automated recommendations, your account and performance will stay in good shape!



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Varför (& hur) ställer du in konverteringsvägar i Google Analytics (framgångsrikt!)

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Why (& How) to Set Up Conversion Paths in Google Analytics (Successfully!)

Tracking your customer’s conversion paths helps you understand the journey your customers take before converting. Knowing this journey is critical as it shows you the areas to focus on to increase and accelerate conversions.

So what exactly are conversion paths and how do you track them? Keep reading to learn how to create successful conversion paths in Google Analytics so you can generate more leads and sales.

Table of contents

What is a conversion path in Google Analytics?

A conversion path is a series of actions a new website visitor takes before completing a desired action on your site, also known as a conversion. This action can be a form fill, a button click, a purchase, and more.

For example, suppose one of the goals on your website is to generate leads through an ebook. In that case, a conversion path will illustrate a connected channel of clicks that website visitors take to submit their contact information.

Here’s an illustration of some common conversion paths:

Bildkälla

Conversion paths typically include a landing page, content offer, and a call to action button. You can also include thank you pages in your path.

Why are conversion paths important?

If you want to improve conversion on your website, you need to know what’s leading to those conversions. And since customers often take several actions before converting, it’s important to know the ins and outs of those behaviors.

Let’s dive deeper into some of the reasons why tracking conversion paths is so important for creating and maintaining a marketing action plan.

  • Know what’s working and what’s not. Knowing the behavioral paths of your leads and customers helps you to identify which campaigns and touchpoints are working so you can focus your budget and resources accordingly. For instance, you may notice that more of your users’ conversion paths start from PPC ads than your social ads so you can allocate more budget to PPC to boost your sales.
  • Identify bottlenecks in your funnel. Conversion paths help you to see where there are leaks in your funnel. For instance, you can see if there’s a drop-off for a particular offer, perhaps due to a bug, a tracking issue, or because an improvement is needed (such as to be more mobile-friendly, to have fewer fields, etc.)
  • Better understand your audience. You can also get insights into factors like location, income status, and gender to get a better feel for your target audience. For instance, you may notice a high cart abandonment rate among users in a particular location. You can look to see if the issue is a lack of localized payment methods, which you can improve on to better customer experience and boost conversion rates as a result.
  • Simplify campaign reporting. Finally, clear conversion paths allow you to easily gather metrics across channels, which helps you analyze your cross-channel marketing performance more accurately and boost your ROI.

How to set up conversion paths in Google Analytics

Now that you know the importance of conversion paths, it’s time to dive into how to set them up successfully in Google Ads and Google Analytics.

1. Set up your conversion tracking

To make use of conversion paths in Google Analytics, you of course need to establish what your conversions are. Depending on what marketing strategies you’re using, you can do this through Google Ads conversion tracking and/or through Google Analytics goal setup.

In Google Ads:

  • Go to Tools and settings > Measurement > Conversions
  • Click on +New Conversion Action.
  • Click on the Website
  • Input your website’s URL
  • Click on Scan

google ads conversion tracking setup

Next, you’ll set up your Google Tag, as shown below, then input the tag name and select the destination accounts.

conversion paths - google ads google tag

Set up your goals

You’ll also need to set up goals in Google Analytics. With GA4, this setup will be different, but for now, here’s what it looks like in Universal Analytics.

Click Admin on the bottom left corner.

Click on Goals

google analytics conversion path goals

After that, click on the custom option to set a new goal and add your goal description and details. Your description entails a name and goal type, as shown below.

google analytics conversion paths goal setup

Though there are four key types of Google Analytics goals you can choose from, your desired conversion action will determine your goal type.

  • Duration: These track how long users stay on your site before leaving, which you can use to track engagement.
  • Destination: These goals track when a particular page loads on your site as a way to track a conversion. For example the thank you page that triggers after an email newsletter signup or a thank you for your order page.
  • Pages per visit: These goals track the number of pages web visitors navigate before leaving your site—which can also be a helpful SEO metric.
  • Events: These goals track user interactions that Google does not typically record, like PDF downloads, button clicks, outbound link clicks, or even downloading a pricing quote for businesses like VoIP service providers.

After filling in your goal details, click on the value button to set your goal’s monetary value (we show you how to set conversion values here). Click “verify” and save.

Set up an attribution project

To use the conversion path report in Google Analytics, you must first create an Attribution project. Go to Explore> Conversion Paths, and then follow the prompts to set up your project.

google analytics new attribution project

Once you have your project set up, you can now create a conversion segment.

Create a conversion segment

Go to Conversions » Multi-Channel Funnels » Top Conversion Paths. Then click on Conversion Segments.
conversion paths google analytics - top conversion paths

Click on Create New Conversion Segment. The new segment can define your users from a particular geographic location, who buy a particular line of products, etc.

Define and name the new conversion segment. This ensures that your Google Analytics and your Data Studio show the same reports.

Click Apply then Save

Doing this will create a new conversion segment and also apply the segment to your conversion path report.

Now you’re ready to go!

Understanding the Top Conversion Paths report

With your conversion paths set up, you can now use the Multi-Channel Funnels report in Google Analytics to better understand your marketing attribution. This report will show you which channels contributed to a conversion on your site, such as organic, direct, paid, referral, and more.

To view these paths, go to Conversions » Multi-Channel Funnels » Top Conversion Paths
google analytics top conversion paths report

Pro tip: Set the date range to the last three months. Remember, the time lag to conversion can run into days or weeks, so set your date range for at least the last three months. This is also often enough time to gain actionable data.

Understanding the Assisted Conversions report

Within the same tab in Google Analytics is another attribution modeling tool called the Assisted Conversions report.  Assisted conversions for a given channel are all the channels that assisted or led to conversion but weren’t the final interaction.

For instance, say a user scans a QR code for app download but decides not to download the app immediately. Later, they download the app through a link on your social media. While the social link tap is considered the last-click conversion, your QR code played the assisted conversion role which may not be accounted for by the conversion metrics.

The flowchart below illustrates assisted interactions further.

google analytics assisted conversions

Bildkälla

It’s important that you understand assisted conversions to identify marketing channels that introduce customers to your product. Then you can tailor your marketing strategies to ensure you attract quality leads from these channels and boost your conversion rates.

By understanding assisted conversions, you can also attribute values to paths and clicks in the line that made way for the final conversion, such as referral links, ads, etc., as shown in the report below.

google analytics assisted conversions report

Doing this not only helps you understand the role of various assisted conversion channels but also goes beyond the last-click conversion to provide a clear picture of your campaign performance and the general customer journey.

Get your conversion paths set up today

Conversion paths in Google Analytics enable you to track user activity on your site and analyze your campaign’s performance, giving you insight into the best performing marketing channels. These insights then help you to allocate your resources accordingly and identify optimizations to boost your conversion rates.

Om författaren

David Pagotto is the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne. He has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years, helping organizations get more customers, more reach, and more impact.

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9 icke-PPC-frågor som dina PPC-kunder kommer att ställa (och hur man svarar på dem)

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9 Non-PPC Questions Your PPC Clients Will Ask (& How to Answer Them)

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about things I wish I had known when I started my career in PPC. There was….quite a lot and one of the areas I covered was that of being a surprise business consultant in addition to a PPC consultant.

When a client asks you a question that has nothing to do with PPC…

It seemed like an area that other PPCers have experienced as well. So I thought it might be a good idea to dive deeper into this topic, discuss some of the most common (and sometimes most difficult) questions I’m asked by clients about their business and then also provide insights on how I go about answering them.

9 non-PPC questions your clients will ask (+ answers)

Here’s a list of nine common questions I’m asked as a PPC pro that I wanted to share my typical answers to.

Note: None of these answers are perfect. They’re simply what I’ve found works best for the clients I work with over time and keep us moving forward.

1. What should our budget be?

This is a topic that’s becoming more prevalent as my time goes on. It used to be that only small businesses would ask me what they should be spending on their ads, but more and more, I’m hearing larger companies ask similar questions. Luckily, this one is a little easier to answer with the help of some of the platform planning tools.

google keyword planner

The Google Keyword Planner, for example, is a keyword research tool with built-in functionality for you to estimate overall costs of your potential keywords and geographic area. And when you create audiences on LinkedIn, there are size estimates and CPCs estimated based on your parameters that give you a range of what you could spend. There’s also a budget report in Google Ads that can help you see your current and projected spend based on your daily budget.

These tools are best used as guideposts. Typically, I use these numbers as a suggested range to get the conversation moving, but they’re just starting points. I have never taken the suggested spend from these tools and told my clients that’s what the budget HAS to be. That’s simply not practical. Sometimes the estimated spend is too small, other times it’s too large.

The other consideration aside from potential is realistic performance expectations. Often, clients will have a target number of leads or amount of revenue they would like their campaigns to produce. I work with them to create realistic CPA or ROAS goals, then reverse engineer the appropriate budget from there.

For example, if you want to generate 100 leads per month and your realistic CPL target is $200, you’ll need to have at least a budget of $20k per month to hit those goals. Anything short of that simply isn’t realistic.

2. Who should we be targeting?

I always tell my clients that you know your business, we know the ad channels. When someone asks me who they should be targeting, I turn the question back on them.

Who is your target audience?

Give me a persona. How old are they? Where do they live? What types of companies do they work in? What do they do on the weekends?

Maybe not all of these types of questions will feed into every business type, but the more information we have, the better off we are.

No matter what they tell me, I take those characteristics and conduct targeting research on the ad channels. Can I find any of these characteristics on LinkedIn? Snapchat? Google? Facebook?

facebook ad targeting settings

Depending on what I find, my response to them is usually a rundown of targeting options on a number of channels that we then use as the starting point to develop a multi-channel or cross-channel approach to customer generation.

3. Who are our competitors and how can we differentiate from them?

Competitors in PPC are not always the same as regular market competition. Typically when my clients ask me this question, they’re asking for their market competitors. But that’s not where my value lies.

Instead, I discuss what makes a PPC competitor. These are companies that you’re directly bidding against for the attention and clicks of your target customer.

On search, this could be a number of brands that sell the same products/services that you do, or they could be folks who are in the wrong place. Depending on who you find in these areas, you need to craft your advertising accordingly. I use a couple of tools to help identify these competitors.

First, if there are already search campaigns running, I use the Auction Insights tool. The domains that show up here are bidding against you on a regular basis. In some cases, this can give you a good list of folks to do further research on and in some cases, it can also cause you to revisit your keyword list if you find that many of the brands listed aren’t relevant to your company.

spyfu competitor analysis example

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Second, I use the competitor keyword tools like SpyFu, SEMRush, and iSpionage. While they’re not perfect, these tools can help identify the keywords certain brands are bidding on and give you more ideas of keywords to target and stay away from based on competition.

No matter what the list of competitors, I usually try and provide a report that includes insights on keywords, ad copy, calls to action, and landing page insights for the main 5-10 competitors to give my clients a good idea what they’re realistically up against in the SERPs.

4. Should we focus on growing our customer base or servicing the customers we already have?

There’s not really a right or wrong answer here, but I usually ask about customer churn. If you’re losing customers faster than you can make them, you should likely work on retaining the customers you have before you go find more. Otherwise, you’re just going to lose them down the line.

leading causes of customer churn

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That said, it can be very short-sighted to only look at existing customers when running a business. If you’re not influencing new users, you’re not building a pipeline for future customers.

Even if you need to work on retention, I’ll have a hard time saying you shouldn’t do ANY prospecting. If you don’t, you likely won’t have a place to go for users once that retention strategy is in place.

5. Should we expand into new geographic markets?

I love when companies want to expand, but you need to make sure it’s worth it.

The first place I usually look is demand: is there search volume or high enough target audiences to support expanded coverage for their services? Ideally, I can find some benchmark stats for performance, but typically that information is pretty scarce.

The next thing to do is check the business fundamentals.

  • Do your shipping costs go up?
  • Can you keep your service timing promises?
  • Can you support a dispersed customer base and maintain your level of service?
  • Could you keep up with increased production needs?
  • Are there other considerations that come into play with expanded coverage?

If all of these things align with green lights for the expanded coverage, I’ll suggest a controlled test. Target the audiences that have the highest performance from the current locations or are the best fit in the new ones and run a time and budget-restricted campaign.

The time and budget restrictions are important. You want to ensure your test has enough time for some optimizations and enough budget was spent to give this new area an honest chance to perform. Getting signoff on those pieces will be important to prove if this area is worthy of ongoing expansion.

ansoff matrix

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6. Does it make sense to extend our product or service offerings?

Similar to geographic expansion, we PPC pros can help with this in a couple of ways:

Would there be existing demand for these new products/services or would we have to create it?

Are there other companies doing this already? How would we stack up against them, cost and quality-wise?

In some instances, I’ve found huge demand for a product or service, but my client wasn’t able to deliver at a level that beat the competition on either quality or cost. To unseat an existing company, you’ll likely have to beat them on one of these two. If you can’t do that, it might not be in your best interest to expand.

 

b2b vs b2c marketing - swot analysis template

Our SWOT analysis template could come in handy here.

7. Should we have a holiday sale this year or hold off?

Based on the brands I’ve worked with, holiday sales are usually designed to do a couple of things: meet annual revenue targets or acquire new customers at a lower cost with the expectation that they’ll come back later on. Typically, holiday sales are NOT meant to be the time of year when people rake in the highest ROAS performance.

happy socks black friday sale

When I’m asked this question, I usually ask what the main goals of having a sale would be. What are they trying to achieve? Work on coming up with estimates of performance during the holiday period to see if the goals they have are realistically achievable.

This can be done through some of the planning tools, but the best is to use historical performance if you have it. Take a look at the last couple of years during the holiday. How did things shift? How did they stay the same? Based on these trends, do you think their goals for this holiday season are achievable with a holiday sale or will they be undermining the campaigns?

8. What areas of our company do you think are resonating well and what could be done to improve?

In my experience, this question is nearly impossible to answer other than from a campaign perspective.

Likely, you don’t know how customers are liking their products or services, but you can get insights about which ad copy messages, calls to action, or keyword groups are receiving the most attention in the account, either volume or engagement wise to help give some guidance.

Take a look at the different components of your account. What campaigns/products/services are getting the most volume? Which have the highest CTR? Which have the highest conversion rate? What has the highest ROAS or the lowest CPA?

search ad benchmark data

View our latest online advertising benchmark data here.

Depending on what you find in the performance, you might be highlighting an area of their business that your client didn’t realize is a strong performer for them and give them a place to focus on expansion.

9. What are some brands you engage with regularly and what do you like about them? How could those same practices apply to our company?

Honestly, this one is a little tougher, because it’s pretty much all opinion based. For this question, I try to be on the lookout regularly to find brands that I like and are doing a good job achieving specific goals.

That said, it’s always a good idea to check out the ad libraries to see what types of ads high-spend brands are running and see if you can find some takeaways for your clients.

I personally like to look at the Facebook Ad Library and the TikTok Ads Inspiration section. Others like MOAT can help you find display ads companies are running.

tik tok ads inspiration center

No matter where you get the info, it’s always good to show actual examples of the ads rather than just talk about them. Clients love to see visuals to make a point and then they’re much easier to share with their own creative departments as direction for future campaigns.

Slutsats

Almost every PPC pro I’ve talked to over the years agrees: In some ways, we end up being an additional business consultant to our clients outside of our usual PPC duties. Hopefully, highlighting some of my answers to these questions, which you’ll find are usually research or process-based more than anything, will give you the confidence to take this extra role head-on and continue providing additional benefits to your clients.

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