The Secrets to Running a Successful Paid Search Campaign – Tim Jensen

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The Secrets to Running a Successful Paid Search Campaign – Tim Jensen

With paid search advertising continuing its rapid growth, it’s becoming more competitive and more difficult to generate great results. That’s where Tim Jensen comes in, to help you inject innovation and creativity into your advertising to boost your ROI and lead gen.

You need to understand not only your customers but also your competition – and test, test, test – so you have the right data that allows you to build powerful keyword lists and a campaign that spells success.

Rich: My guest today is a PPC campaign manager at Clix Marketing. With close to a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry, he has worked in both B2B and B2C accounts in a wide variety of industries. While comfortable managing ads across all major platforms, he’s particularly intrigued with the cross-over between analytics and PPC. Welcome to the Agents of Change Podcast, Tim Jensen.

Tim: Thanks, Rich, I’m excited to be here.

Rich: This is awesome. And Tim was just telling me before we got started that this is his first podcast and please be gentle with him.

Now Tim, tell me a little bit about the kind of work that you’re doing over at Clix Marketing, and what was your path to getting there?

Tim: Sure. So we specialize specifically in all things PPC. So anything from search to display, to social ads. We work with a pretty broad spectrum of clients. I, myself, specialize more in the lead gen end of things. So I work with several lead gen clients, particularly the B2B realm.

As far as the path to getting here, I graduated with a communications degree and managed to find a job at an agency pretty soon after college and essentially got thrown into learning PPC within a couple months of being there after the person that had managed PPC left. And from there I just kind of ran with it, taking any resources I could to learn.

I’ve worked for another local agency in the Albany area for the past several years. And then a couple years ago moved up to Clix. So essentially a mix of being self-taught and working with others in the industry, but I definitely love the field.

Rich: Awesome. So when somebody is just getting started in this and they’re looking for a way to generate leads online, is there a way to determine the right mix of paid search, paid social, and other digital marketing like organic social?

Tim: Sure. I mean obviously I would start off first with looking at your business goals, what are you trying to accomplish. Whether that’s generating leads that turn into paying clients, or if you have an e-commerce store where you’re actually able to sell stuff online and track that. And from there look at your audience, who are you trying to reach, where are they, are their search terms that we can identify that they’re going after, and also your budget. If it’s a small budget, we probably don’t want to chop that up between too many channels, but a larger budget there may be more room for testing several channels at the same time.

So from there essentially I’d try to look at what you’re trying to accomplish and match channels with audiences that you’re trying to reach and start testing. Then look at the data and throw the money towards what’s working.

Rich: Ok. I know that you talk a lot about giving assets throughout the process. What do you mean by that?

Tim: Sure. So particularly in the B2B world where it’s very different from e-commerce or even a lot of B2C applications where someone either is buying something right away or maybe making a fairly quick decision. The decision process can be lengthy, it can involve multiple people.

Like for example we worked with a cybersecurity firm who works with a lot of enterprise level companies, and there’s C-level people, Directors, multiple people involved in making decisions. So offering an asset like a whitepaper comparing different approaches to handling cybersecurity, or it could be a webinar, whether it’s On Demand or signing up, or people who are looking to learn more but they’re not ready to purchase yet. Promoting that as an asset, whether that’s through social or even in a search and display ad, can be a way to get people into the funnel even if they might not be ready to talk to a sales person right away.

Rich: And where do these assets come from? Can we use or repurpose what we already have, or should we be creating something new?

Tim: So I would take that on a client by client basis. Some clients will start with us and they have a ton of great assets ready. Others might have some mediocre blog posts, but it might not be something you really want to repurpose.

But a lot of times people have at least some kind of resources written up. So if you don’t have something, I would look for someone in the company who’s an expert in the topic. I know PPC but I don’t know cyber security or whatever a SaaS business might be targeting. They know their niche, so find someone in the company who knows about that and have them write up the content. And if they have in-house designers or work with a design firm.

A lot of times something like blog posts can be repurposed if you have multiple blog posts on a certain topic.

Rich: How important is that design element? Because on one hand, I assume what we’re doing is we’re crating this asset for their contact information. Once we have their contact information – I wouldn’t say “who cares” – but the bottom line is, that’s the goal. So should we spend a lot of time on making this asset look as good and professional as possible, or is that overkill because really we accomplish our goal just by getting them to download and capturing their contact info?

Tim: I would say the answer to that would vary based on the size of the resources of the client. Obviously you don’t want something that looks like junk and really doesn’t look professional. But particularly if you have a client that’s smaller and they don’t have a set of resources or something that at least looks clean, you should be fine.

If you have the resources to add in some nice graphs and make sure there’s consistency in branding and all that, particularly when people are in a consideration phase. You have their contact information, everything they see from you is going to affect their opinion of your business. So certainly if you have the resources to go for it.

I would counter that by saying don’t over complicate it, because sometimes I’ve worked with people that get so caught up in getting an asset or landing page or even a set of ads, getting it perfect before they can even launch, and that just kind of drags on and on. So there’s definitely a balance to be had there.

Rich: Yeah, perfection is definitely the enemy of getting something done. So I want to take a step back actually. So we’re talking about possibly using paid ads, paid social, to get in front of people. And if you want to use a client experience as an example, that would be fantastic. But what are the ads looking like, and what is the offer that we’re making? What are we looking to accomplish?

The cyber security company is an excellent example. What are some of the things you’re using to capture an ideal customer’s attention, and then how are you getting them to download that offer?

Tim: So after running something like a social ad on Facebook and LinkedIn, you definitely want to get people’s attention. So imagery that’s going to make them stop and take a look. It’s ok to use stock imagery depending on your business, definitely think about the images often. Faces will get people’s attention when they’re scrolling.

And then think about the contacts where they’re seeing. For a display ad you might see a brief headline gets their attention. For Facebook and LinkedIn you want to write it more as a personal post. It might be something with a few bullet points mentioning this is what the article is going to touch on. Or like a more creative sentence to get people’s attention. But definitely I’d say contacts is one of the biggest things, particularly when you’re fighting for people’s attention on the social feed.

Rich: Now when I’m hearing the word “display ads”, I’m usually thinking about search display ads. Is that what you mean when you talk about display ads?

Tim: So I’m actually talking about display network ads, like graphic image ads. So those would be like something you’re serving with retargeting or customer intent targeting, or Google’s various methods of serving display ads. I tend to like Google for that because of the targeting there.

Rich: Absolutely. And is there certain types of ads that are better for display? Is it always just about you’ve got a graphical or a demonstrable product that you should be using display, or are there some other rules that you’ve used over the years that might get you to say display would be a good tool to use in this campaign?

Tim: Sure. One of the biggest things I would think about with targeting, particularly when talking about B2B, the targeting segmentation for those audiences is better on social I would say. But on the display network, #1 I would definitely do retargeting – or as Google calls is, “remarketing” – where you would target people who have previously been to your site.

Custom intent targeting is another, it’s been around for a while-ish now, where you give a set of keywords and URL’s and they’ll target people that expressed interest. Sometimes we’ve found that’s a little more precise than the old form of keyword retargeting.

Or you can do placement specific targeting, which is a little trickier to do now the way that they have the display network set up. There’s also in-market audiences with people that have been researching products. But it definitely depends. Cold targeting on the Google display network I would say tends to be a little trickier than going after a new audience on social.

Rich: Alright. One of the things I was wondering about is you talk about quizzes or assessments. Is that something you like using when it comes to some of the assets that might be out there?

Tim: Yeah, sure. We are actually starting to test that for a client so we’re waiting to get results for that. But the way the idea with that would be that it’s something interactive and might offer people a list of questions where I’m choosing a provider; here’s the things I’m interested in, here’s some characteristics about my business. And if someone takes the time to go through that, then they’re probably a little more likely to qualify. And then you can actually get some more info about these people like how large their business is, if they’re in a specific industry based on how they answer questions, and then tailor future communication to them around that way.

Rich: Sure. And I’m guessing that would work in almost any industry. You could do a health quiz, or you could do a web marketing quiz, or you could do a photography quiz. It’s all about getting that engagement and then providing something back to somebody. But of course now they’re in the funnel.

Tim: Yeah. In the past we were running a campaign to raise awareness for proper disposal of pharmaceuticals, so we actually ran a quiz to see if people had gotten it right. So yeah, there’s a lot of possible applications for that.

Rich: And where would you recommend advertising some of these quizzes or assessments? Is this right within the ad on paid search like, “Take the quiz and see how you do”? Is it something you also might do on something like Facebook or LinkedIn depending on your audience?

Tim: Yeah, it can be done in a few different ways. Right now we’re working with a tool where we can imbed it in the landing page. But there are tools that will integrate in the social platforms where you can take it right there. So I would say it depends on the number of questions.

Another roundabout way of doing it, Facebook and LinkedIn have options for creating lead gen forms that you can run right within the feeds. So if it’s something simple you can probably even use those forms and have a couple custom questions and also collect some contact info in the process.

Rich: Cool. Alright. So a lot of people I know are attracted to online advertising because they believe it starts to work immediately. What’s been your experience, or what’s your opinion on that belief?

Tim: So I guess a couple things. I definitely hear the comparison with SEO being a long term game, and PPC being a shorter term game. I would certainly say both are invaluable strategies that should be working in tandem. So yes, when you launch a PPC campaign obviously you’re paying for clicks to happen and targeting people, so you will start getting traffic right away.

I would add the caution that running a campaign effectively relies on data to get it right. So generally for a lot of clients I’d say it’s at least 3 months before you get to that point where you start getting enough data to know which keywords are performing best, what ad copy is performing best, or in social you might be looking at audiences. But it really does take some time and then testing to get it right.

Rich: Alright, so it doesn’t happen overnight. Most people are not going to be an overnight success story.

Tim: Right, right. Not that it can’t happen once in a while, I’ve certainly had some occasions where you flip the switch and people start getting some decent leads right away. But particularly when you’re in a niche and in the B2B space where there’s a long sales cycle and you might not even know for a couple months if leads are making it through the funnel, I would definitely allow some time for you to assess it.

Rich: Now you said in the first few months it’s almost all about data collection. So I guess I’m wondering is it data collection on the human side of things, like you looking at your metrics and seeing if you’re getting leads from this? Or is it more on the machine learning side of things, where Facebook or Google is getting a better understanding of who’s likely to click on your ad, so they’re more likely to show that ad to people who are more likely to click on it? Or is it a little bit of both?

Tim: I would say the latter. It’s definitely a little bit of both. Interesting timing because I’m sure you probably follow Google and they just had the Google Marketing Live event where they’re always there pushing a lot of their machine learning capabilities.

So yes, the platforms are all moving towards automation, and in some cases they are doing a better job than people at optimizing what performs best. There’s definitely other cases where you need to be cautious and be looking at the data yourself and comparing it.

One think to talk about particularly is keywords in Google with match type. Just as a quick explanation, where there’s different match types in Google where you can get more or less specific as to what searches closely match to the keywords. But even with exact match – which is supposed to be exactly the keyword you specify – Google is getting kind of looser as to what can be matched to that. So that’s definitely something where you want to keep an eye on reports and particularly when you first launch a campaign you’re probably going to get stuff slipping through there that’s not relevant.

Rich: Ok. So whether it’s the machines are getting harder or we’re getting smarter, we’re doing paid ads ad we’re probably dropping people to landing pages. And I’m just wondering if you have any tips based on your own experience about what makes for a successful landing page, what increases those conversions on a page?

Tim: So I would say #1 again, as always, is think about your audience. Sometimes you might hear flat our best practices like, “always keep it short”, “always have as few fields as possible in the form”, and that might not always be right for every business.

For example, we have a SaaS client that tested a really short landing page with just a few bullet points and a video and a form, and now we’re actually going the route of having a really long landing page with a lot of data.

But I would say a few specific items that can be great to include testimonials. That can be great if you have testimonials from clients, logos of customers, having some sort of simple conversion point ideally focusing on one conversion. Whether that’s throwing out a form to contact sales or get an asset, have a form front and center. And then have a good summary of what you’re offering. And if you are in a business where it is more complex and needs more explanation, then you can let people scroll and get more details.

Rich: Alright, so after the ad is the landing page. What comes after the landing page, what are the next steps in the process for a successful campaign?

Tim: So again, talking in the lead gen application where it’s not an instant sale. Someone submits a lead by filling out the form, assuming you have some sort of CRM system catching that lead. Then you need to make sure that you’re following up with them, whether that’s a sales person manually reaching out or it’s in an earlier phase where you’re at least getting them on a mailing list. So I’d say number one, make sure you have some sort of plan for putting them on a sequence for email follow-up.

Number two, retargting. Here you set up retargeting for people that come to your page, but if it’s like downloading an asset, you can set up a separate audience for people who have downloaded that asset, and then show them new ads that may be for something lower down the funnel like, “Are you ready to talk to sales now?”

Rich: Alright. And this may seem obvious, but how do we determine if the campaign has been a success? What kind of ROI should we be measuring, what are the KPIs we should be tracking, and how do we know if we spent this much money that we made this much more money on this campaign?

Tim: Yeah, at the end of the day I would identify the ultimate goal – which if it’s a product that you’re selling – you can look at the amount that’s sold and connect the dots with sources you have tracking that like Google Analytics or CRM. With lead gen, again, at the end of the day I would look at if you can track the point of a closed sale and see sources.

That being said, when it’s a multi-step process I would identify the conversion points along that process. So you would have different stages like initial form submission, cost per qualified lead, if it goes through some sort of lead qualified process and conversion rate. And then sometimes there’s another point of a qualified lead where they’re actually engaging with sales, and then finally the actual sale itself.

Rich: Awesome, that’s great. Tim, this has been fantastic and I’m sure a lot of people will want to know more about you, where can we send them online?

Tim: So you can find us on Twitter at @ClixMarketing, and you can also find me at Twitter at @TimothyJJensen, and also our website is clixmarketing.com. If you’d like to check that out we blog quite frequently about industry updates, and advice, and PPC, and that sort of thing.

Rich: Very cool. And I know you’ve also written for Search Engine Journal.

Tim: Yes. Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Smash Magazine. I’ve got a few articles out there.

Rich: Very cool. Tim, thanks so much for swinging by today, we really appreciate your time and your expertise.

Tim: Alright. Thank you very much. 

Show Notes:

Tim Jensen is the man in the know when it comes to PPC advertising. Check out his company’s website for their informative blog and other articles he’s written that cover industry updates, advice, and more!

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing