Habits & Work Environment

Best Practice For PPC, Isn’t

No Comments » Written on February 4th, 2011 by
Categories: Habits & Work Environment

No doubt you’ve heard the term “we follow best practice”, many times.

What does it mean?

The implication is that there is an objective methodology that is “best”, agreed upon by a group of operators, who all follow the same methodology, which is, of course, “the best”. After all, there is little point claiming to “follow worst practice”.

The Problem With Best Practice

The big problem with the term “best practice” is that it is a nonsense. How do you differentiate your marketing if your process, method, strategy & techniques are backwards looking?

If everyone follows an agreed standard of “best”, then everyone becomes just like everyone else, which makes them average, not best. Best Practice is a recipe for mediocrity.

Best practice implies “co-ordination”, “acceptance”, and “having stood the test of time”. It’s a secure-sounding phrase.

However, it can also be problematic, because the world – particularly the online marketing world – is uncertain and always changing.Restrictive practices can limit adaptation, which can turn practices from “best” to “worst”. Conventional wisdom repeatedly gets thrown under the bus. Experimentation and keeping your wits about you, especially in PPC, can mean the difference between success and failure. You can’t just be as good as your competition, you need to be better. Whatever their best is, you have to be better in order to win.

This is not to say there is no such thing as best practice or process. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time we do something.

For example, it could be considered best practice to use tight, keyword focused groups, as this is an effective way to keep quality scores high, and campaigns focused.

In the field of medicine, you want a surgeon who follows “best” practice, rather than deciding to randomly experiment on your left eyeball. You want best practices in medicine, accounting, and insurance. But in marketing it all comes down to testing.

Risk Is Good

In terms of PPC, you can afford to experiment and take risks. No one will die if you push a few boundaries.

Whenever you feel you’re getting into a rule-based mode of operation, ask the question:


Why do we create ad groups this way? Why do we research keywords in the way we do? Is this ad copy really the best it can be, or could we try a different approach altogether?

Adopt the attitude “ok, this might be the “best practice”, the accepted way of doing things, but how can I push the edge out? Is there a way I can make it better?

A Few Ideas…..

Don’t Bid To The First Position On PPC

Instead, find a site ranked highly and advertise on it. After all, the point is to get traffic/attention, and the top web site might be selling that traffic a lot cheaper than Adwords does.

Break All The Copywriting Rules

What if you write Adword copy that sounds mad? Does this get more clicks than something than copy that sounds sensible?

Don’t Use A Keyword Research Tool To Research Keywords

The problem with keyword research tools is you get the same lists as everyone else.

What are other ways to find out what people are interested in? How about identifying your customers and hanging out with them on forums, or Facebook, or wherever. What phrases do they use in normal conversation? Make a list of them. Are you seeing the same phrases over and over again?

Take Your Rules And Break Every Single One

Do you use small keyword groups? Make large ones. Do you bid during a certain time-period? Change all the hours. Do you bid cautiously? Go crazy. One caution – probably not a great idea to do this with a performing campaign, but try it with a new one. Breaking old habits can lead to fresh insights.

Challenge Accepted Wisdom

Every blog and forum you read – ask “why?”. Many people repeat what they think sounds good, but may have no basis in reality. By definition, those who do very well at something are doing something that everyone else isn’t. They aren’t following the exact same path.

Gates, Page, Brin, Zuckerberg – they all did something different.

Write your own “best practice”.

Other People’s Money…

6 Comments Written on September 24th, 2010 by
Categories: Conversion, Google Adwords, Habits & Work Environment, Marketing

I had an interesting discussion earlier in the week with a colleague about the difference between running your own Adwords campaigns and having a PPC consultant or agency manage your campaigns.

His comments were pretty pointed:

“Basically, the people managing other people’s money don’t care much about sweating the little “tweaks” Google keeps making, even if they’ll raise prices.  If anything, it makes it better for them because the system is getting more and more complex, increasing the need for an expert to manage an Adwords account vs. the actual business owner.”

It reminded me of this tweet from Wil Reynolds, disappointed with mopping up the mess of neglected client accounts:

The Consultant’s Challenge

For those that ‘manage other people’s money’, running client campaigns it’s an interesting thing to ponder:  Do I put as much attention to detail into my clients’ accounts as I would put into my own, spending my own hard-earned capital?

I read an interesting quote from a prominent PPC consultant on how optimizing to improve ‘Quality Score isn’t really worth worrying about’, just keep upping your bids and grab as many conversions as you can, profit is just icing on the cake or ‘an incremental win’.  Easy to say when it’s not your money in play.

Google’s solution of course is to just let them look after everything: “Hey guys the system’s gotten pretty complex, just toss us the keys and we’ll take care of it”.  If their systems worked as advertised 100% of the time in terms of meeting all of an advertisers goals, maybe that would work. Until then, having an engaged human ‘keep an eye on the till’ probably isn’t a bad idea.

Mo’ Money, Less Attention

Many PPC consultants have found, as I have, there’s a direct relationship between how small the client is and how much time they spend looking over what you’re doing, how much you’re spending, and how things are performing.  The bigger the client, the less likely they are to keep pushing their consultant or PPC manager for an increasing ROI.

Therein lies the challenge:  keeping the same level of diligence and dollar-stretching as the spends get larger…

Giving Back to My Favorite Websites and Blogs

5 Comments Written on August 28th, 2008 by
Categories: Habits & Work Environment

I live the Internet lifestyle and find it really unconventional. It has many advantages like the freedom to work your own hours and not commuting. Lately, I realized that over 70% of my spending are made online. All of my electronic goodies are purchased on the Web. For apparel, I still like going to stores but sometimes go direct for a few brands I am accustomed to. Sizing can be tricky too. UK8, US6, IT40, FR38, EU3, 28 are all the same size and indicates that I need to shed some pounds 🙂

Of course, buying from your favorite website is only half the fun if you didn’t click on an affiliate link. I used to go out of my way to sign-up as an affiliate before making a purchase. But since I matured and developed an extreme appreciation for blogs and websites I visit and learn from – I now go out of my way to check if they have an affiliate link for the product or service I’m itching to buy. I no longer see the benefit of being mercenary and profit from everything. Besides, the meaningful sites that entertain, educate and inspire me have tremendous value and I will be saddened if they no longer existed.

It’s amazing, really. We are very spoiled to have free access to the minds of industry leaders, heroes and really cool folks who openly share their knowledge. Clicking on their affiliate link is the least I can do to support them. Paying for their web hosting can work too, especially if they have host affiliate links.

There’s so many ways to give back. And it also makes one feel good and well behaved.