PPC consultant Mona Elesseily is VP of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media, a PPC and marketing management firm. She was kind of enough to answer some of my burning questions about PPC consulting, and how they manage client engagements. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a little about your marketing background? How long have you been focused on PPC consulting?
I’ve been in the industry since 2001. In my career, I’ve done SEO, online media buying, online PR, PPC advertising, copywriting, conversion optimization, analytics (implementation & data analysis) & website usability. For the last 8 years, I’ve focused exclusively on PPC, conversion optimization and analytics (implementation & analysis).
In my career, I’ve worked with companies like Capital One, Cathay Pacific, Yahoo!, Careerbuilder, Knowledge Adventure Inc., Apollo Health Inc. (acquired by Phillips Inc.) & Epoch Integration Inc. (acquired by Research In Motion) to name a few.
I have spoken at over 100 North American and international marketing conferences. I’ve written two books on online marketing and I write a column for SearchEngineLand.com. I will likely start writing another book related to online marketing in the next few months.
Do you typically work directly with client advertisers, or do you find that clients want you to work with their ad/media agencies?
We work with both clients and client agencies. When working with agencies, the best scenario is when we have directly access to the client. It’s important for us to get answers quickly and to proactive and efficient with marketing initiatives. With PPC advertising, things can change quickly and it’s beneficial to be able to react in a timely manner.
In your mind, who is the “ideal” client (or how would you describe the ‘ideal’ client) for search consultants with less than, say, 5 staff?
I’ve outlined a few questions I ask myself when I’m considering a new client:
- Are clients willing to listen to ideas?
- Do they have internal resources to implement suggestions?
- Are there internal company barriers like poor reporting?
- Are key contacts easy to get along with?
- Are clients forthcoming with internal communications and information?
- Do clients have clear PPC goals like CPA targets or volume targets?
We ask ourselves as an agency:
- Can we make a difference for the client in their specific industry?
- Is the client’s budget appropriate for their industry category? For example, we could run into problems if competitors spend $40,000 per month in PPC advertising, and the client only has a $10,000 per month budget.
- Is it an account we’re really passionate about?
One of the laments I hear from PPC consultants sometimes is that they go in, build out and optimize the client’s account, then it starts running well and all of a sudden they don’t understand why they should keep you on. Any thoughts on how PPC consultants can ensure they don’t “work themselves out of a contract” through success?
There are initiatives I implement for new accounts (or accounts where PPC fundamentals have not been covered) and mature PPC accounts. Some of the new account initiatives include keyword research, choosing appropriate tracking metrics (preferably tied to ROI), match type testing, geotargeting strategies, ad copy creation and testing, PPC landing pages creation and testing, etc.
Some mature account initiatives include additional keyword research related to converting terms/areas in PPC accounts, day parting strategies (i.e. time of day and day of week), multivariate testing and additional conversion optimization efforts. In terms of conversion optimization, we’d say try to increase conversions rates from 8% to 10%. As you know, optimization is a continual process. In general, advertisers should see conversion rate increases if they’re analyzing appropriate data and are focusing on optimizing the right areas in an account.
If a PPC pro lands a new client account, what would be the best way to price his or her services? Is a setup fee standard followed by percentage of spend? Or are flat monthly fees more desirable?
We use a monthly flat fee and/or a pay for performance model. In my experience, clients don’t tend to like the percentage of ad spend model because agency goals (i.e. higher ad spend) and client goals like better CPAs, additional sales, additional leads, etc. are not aligned.
When you start with a new client, and their account is breaking even but not performing particularly well, do you typically gut it and start over? Or use a lighter touch and rework things separately, gradually cutting over to new campaigns?
It depends. If Quality Scores are terrible in an account, we may decide to start from scratch. If they aren’t so bad, we may opt to rework existing campaigns.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen PPC consultants make?
I’ve seen many of them. Some of them include:
- Not understanding match types and, in particular, the implications of broad match.
- Not understanding that default settings in Google are set to Google’s advantage. A couple of examples are: 1) default opt-in to mobile advertising and 2) default opt in to the content (display network).
- Not understanding that advertisers have to dig deep into Google AdWords accounts for beneficial Google features like negative match types, ad rotation features, geographic targeting, etc.
- Buying into PPC myths. Check out some common myths in my last Search Engine Land article.
Do you specify a minimum term engagement with your clients? What would you recommend in this regard for smaller search consultancies?
I like to go with a 6-month term so I can test & implement various PPC initiatives (like many tactics mentioned in question #4) and assess the overall impact of PPC marketing campaigns. This makes more sense when clients have long sales cycles or when accounts have less volume as it takes time to achieve statistical significance.