Hero Conference 2014: Key Learnings in Paid Search

espe blanket

Thanks to Aimclear for the blanket! :)

I was privileged enough to attend HeroConf in Austin, Texas for the first time. This was HeroConf’s third conference hosted by PPCHero and Hanapin Marketing. I have attended several conferences in the past including SES and SMX Advanced; however, this was the first event that I’ve attended which was 100% PPC.

The conference was two days long with a keynote speakers that opened and closed each day. They were phenomenal. There were also four different “tracks” throughout the day that you could choose from. The sessions contained various topics including lead gen PPC, eCommerce PPC, attribution, live audits (keyword research, ad copy, account audits), and much more.

One of the most important aspects of this conference is it’s meant to bring actionable tips and tricks back to your team. After attending a variety of different sessions throughout the two-day conference, everything seemed to relate and “click” by the end of the conference. One thing is for sure, PPC is only going to get more and more time-intensive if you want to be better than your competition.

The main PPC learnings that I’ll be taking back to Fathom’s PPC team are:

Campaign strategy needs to be more sophisticated and better thought-out.

  • This was perhaps my biggest learning throughout the entire conference.
  • Doing extensive keyword research, writing ads, and choosing/designing a landing page is not enough.  Internet users are more sophisticated and so must our PPC strategies and targeting.
  • We need to spend more time talking to our clients (and there sales team) about the questions/challenges their customers face, the demographics of their customers, and segmenting their customers into different buckets with different messaging and calls to actions and landing pages for each segment.
  • More time also needs invested in understanding what your competition is doing not only from a PPC perspective but how do their offerings differ for yours or your clients?
  • Create campaigns based on the buyer’s journey or where they are in the decision making process. Match calls to actions or “incentives” to improve conversion rate and fill your sales funnel.

Quality score is more important than many think or at least pay attention to—and the best way to improve your quality score is focus on improving your click-through rate.

  • Yes, we’ve known this all along. However; how much of our testing and optimization efforts focus on click-through and monitoring CTR over time?
  • There needs to be more time spent on looking at what competitors are doing. Are the headlines of all of the ads for a particular query all the same? How can you be different to generate more clicks and improve click-through rate?
  • Search queries need to be run more often to identify negative keywords and improve click-through rate and quality score.
  • If budget is an issue, focus on your highest intent (primary keywords) FIRST. These keywords are usually long-tail, have better CTRs, conversion rate, and quality scores.

There needs to be more landing pages and more landing page testing.

  • For every $92 spent on paid media, only $1 is spent on landing page testing/CRO.
  • It’s very possible that your keywords aren’t failing (if they are relevant). It’s more likely that you’re failing to understand what your customers are looking for and you are not doing a good job segmenting your customers and understanding where they are in the customer decision making process.

Bing is doing (and has been doing) big things to give PPC marketers the control they want.

  • This point is all review but Bing gives us control that Google won’t such as targeting devices separately in campaigns, targeting Bing/Yahoo properties in separate from syndicated partners, and showing performance for each partner site.
  • Newly announced is the full transparency that Bing is bringing us to the search query reports. This is extremely important so we can not only see the impressions of search queries that received clicks but also ALL queries that received impressions. Another thing Google does not provide. The good news is any new negatives you discover in Bing you can easily bring over to AdWords.
  • We as advertisers have to be extremely happy with the control and transparency Bing Ads is providing to us. However; will these updates drive more investment or Bing? At the end of the day, Bing needs to get more users over from Google to Bing.

So to summarize, where’s PPC going in 2014-2015? This can be described in 4 words:

  • Personalization of your content to specific audiences
  • Expansion into other Bing, paid social, and display
  • Testing of ad copy to improve quality score and landing pages to improve conversion rate
  • Segmentation of your target audiences into different buckets in the buyers journey

About Joe Castro

Joe Castro is the Director of Online Advertising at Fathom. He has over 7 years of experience in digital marketing with a concentration in PPC/paid search and display advertising. He primarily works with healthcare clients, but his experience spans across all verticals. Joe is a frequent blogger for Search Engine Journal. In his free time, he enjoys working out and spending time with family and friends.

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