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This week’s PPCChat session was an interesting one.Hosted by Amalia Fowler, this session was focused on PPC education for experts and newcomers and how to keep learning in an ever changing industry.

 

Q1: How did you get into PPC?

 

Slipped and fell into it. A traditional advertising internship fell through, and I begged them to teach me other stuff. @JonKagan

I was called into an interview and they asked whether I liked Excel!! hehe…enough to say I felt I had met my perfect match. @mindswanppc

I ran an event planning company when I was 19. I was also in school for marketing management at that time and we had one singular class on online marketing. Whatever happened in that class created enough interest for me to start doing PPC for the event planning company. @adwordsgirl

I was doing web sites & SEO when paid digital ads started to become available… I waded in & never looked back! @NeptuneMoon

I had a false start when I applied to work at Google in 2002 and quit before my start date when they revealed some additional details of the job description via phone. @amyppc

I was the new guy on the team and was asked to figure out this Twitter, FB, and Google ads thing. @jdprater

My real start was doing web design at an agency in 2004. They fired the marketing girl for not knowing how to calculate CTR, and gave me her job.@amyppc

Back when I was a blogger, it was a quick way to test new product ideas. @mikecrimmins

Personally, I took an overall marketing course for tourism, switched into a communications marketing course, thought about traditional, my teachers told me I’d be a good digital strategist, and I got an internship where I had to teach myself PPC! It’s been a journey. @amaliaefowler

I was head of overall marketing for larger companies and some startups. When I went out on my own, most of my first clients wanted help with PPC, so I decided to focus there and just work with helping in PPC. @lchasse

Got lucky – had an internship WAYYYYY back in the day that dabbled in online & offline lead gen. The digital side really sunk the hook in me! @SEM_PPC_MattV

Accident (kind of). I was a copywriter at an agency and the search person needed help. back then it was all about semantic understanding of language so she wanted a writer. I started and NEVER STOPPED!!!! @JuliaVyse

I had direct marketing experience and realised PPC was just direct marketing. @stevegibsonppc

I don’t have any fun story here – I was bored in my sales job and wanted to move into marketing. The best way to get a job was to be well rounded so learned SEO & Search PPC first, and never stopped. @DarthSamK

I was in school and didn’t think I was learning much. I got Analytics and AdWords certified… Moved down to Salt Lake and lived on couches until took a chance on me and hired me. He gave me all the freedom in the world and I took it and ran! @markpgus

It sort of just happened. I was doing a bit of everything in my digital marketing role, but more and more of it became PPC! @BrittanyZerr

Took a job at an HR/comms agency and helped build the digital team from scratch with my boss. Went from 9% to 25% of company revenue in 18 months. Got to work on RIM and burn that midnight oil. @duanebrown

Took the first internet marketing course my university offered. Got an internship with the guest lecturer on PPC. The rest is history. @robert_brady

Professor Kent Lundin’s Digital Marketing class at . Then an internship with & , been addicted to Ads ever since. @PPCJedi

I was an SEO and the someone took over the top of the SERP and I have always been a curious guy who likes a challenge. @soanders

 

Q2: What do you wish you knew in the beginning that you know now? What would you tell Day 1 you?

 

“You are NOT an imposter. You are definitely worth your pay because of how much Excel ninja stuff you know.” I had a lot of lack of self confidence in the beginning. I needed to learn I WAS really good at what I did. A2.2 also it’s ok to want to find a quick way to find out how to do something. Thank God I was patient enough for Scripts to come out. @mindswanppc

I don’t know if I would tell myself anything. Like most of you, I am self taught and have quite enjoyed the journey to get here. @adwordsgirl

Change will be constant. Be flexible & always look for ways to apply what you’ve learned in new ways. Also, it’s ok to not know the answer sometimes! @NeptuneMoon

PPC Spy tools are a waste of time. @eld3000

Relax and stop over-optimizing. Yes, you’re getting results/feedback really quickly, but it doesn’t mean you need to do anything. @jdprater

I would tell myself three things: 1. Google won’t give you refunds. 2. Google doesn’t have all the answers. 3. Marketing isn’t life or death (I was way too stressed out in the early days) @amaliaefowler

There’s a lot of this you can’t control, you’re basically running one big GIANT test. So calc your budget to the penny, and track all your hours! @JuliaVyse

LEARN ABOUT THE FUNNEL. Day 1 me thought Search was everything and didn’t appreciate Display/YT/Social anywhere near as much as I should have. @DarthSamK

Day 1 me thought the AdWords market was already saturated and the days of “cheap traffic” were behind us. This was in 2004, guys. Also – clients aren’t just paying for results. Clients are paying to not have to worry. Get better at feelings, not just data.@amyppc

Never imagined back then how big digital marketing would become, so I’d probably advise younger me to try entrepreneurial route while market share is a bit easier to grab. No regrets about how things played out though! @SEM_PPC_MattV

Good question, but knowing you cannot have a process that is static (not even for 6 months) in this job. Google & others change their systems often, you will have to be very agile. Oh also, Google is not going to be the smartest person in the room in the future. @lchasse

I wished that I would’ve done more than just dabbled in PPC. I wish I could’ve told myself to get more serious about it right away. @mikecrimmins

PPC is not a panacea – some things just aren’t a fit due to volume and nature of business. @eld3000

I learned it quickly when I screwed up an account early on. Everything needs to be strategic. You can be an expert in the platform but connecting it to real business outcomes is the key I increased leads 25% for a company while decreasing CPL… Rev dropped 50% tho..@markpgus

Get a second pair of eyes. If you can’t see it, someone else might. and it doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. + offer to be a second pair of eyes for others. it’s worth it. @JuliaVyse

I think I would also tell myself to play detective, not to blame the “external environment” for issues (increased competition or user behaviour) and make sure I’ve exhausted my internal search of work I’ve done. @amaliaefowler

That few emergencies exist and if it won’t matter in a year, try not to stress about it. Also, some people are afraid to say they don’t know and education is a huge way to win business and trust. @duanebrown

Self…talk to the client about how this impacts the overall marketing program – use words like prospecting in stead of ‘nonbrand’ and discoverability instead of ‘brand'” I feel like I learned this much later than I should have. @FindingAmanda

I’d wish I knew how to find the last question in faster. Still scrolling up and down your profile, Amanda! @soanders

learn excel, get a good set of glasses and noise cancelling headphones, and lastly remember, there are lot of hacks in this industry, avoid being one. @JonKagan

 

Q3 What has been the biggest learning experience for you in your career – either a specific event, or client, or experience, etc.

 

Baseline data is where you are currently, not how someone else is performing. If your CTR is 2.5% or 25%, that is your baseline and making improvements to that are what count, not what other folks are getting. The other thing I would say is it is okay not to win every client. It is okay to fire a client as well. Some clients are not a good fit for you and will cause you more pain than what the $$$ in is worth @lchasse

It’s ok to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” No one expects you to know everything. Also, honesty is the best policy, always. Don’t try to brush over mistakes. Own them. @Mel66

Triple check your settings. @adwordsgirl

At my first agency job I got sent to an in-person meeting with the CEO of the company. His first question was “Why should we be paying you ?” If you have a solid answer to that question, you’re usually okay. @robert_brady

Don’t consider a negative result a failure. The reason we test is to rule things out; not because we think we’re going to win 100% of the time. @DarthSamK

Mine was definitely not trying to bite off more than I can chew. I walked into a role because it was the “logical” next step in my career. But I definitely hadn’t done learning at the prev role I was at. That role didn’t last long….thankfully! Was too stressful. @mindswanppc

My 6 month performance evaluation with . He gave me the toughest feedback I’ve ever heard. He pointed a huge blind-spot. It changed me and made me a better marketer and co-worker. @jdprater

Measure twice, cut once. Ensure you know the correct budgets (I’ve spent a 3 month budget in 1 month!) and are 100% clear on client’s needs and moving forwards. @NathanK_TX

Setting up my first company – I mean PPC has rules, setting up shop doesn’t @soanders

I personally live by the hypothesis that you can learn more by doing with PPC than in the classroom – which means there has to be room for errors within a supportive learning environment. @amaliaefowler

Use contracts & be very specific about what is & is not included in your projects. Been burned over not being 100% clear. Had a client not pay for a major project early on – learned to to progress payments so my work not too far ahead if $$. @NeptuneMoon

A boss explained to me that no one will make a big deal out of you, so you need to be your own best cheerleader. @JonKagan

Building a paid team from scratch with the assistance of people who were good at management but not PPC was a huge learning experience for me. I wish I had listened more about processes and things that would affect future growth. @amaliaefowler

I think doing several summers of door-to-door sales. First I learned the art of selling, then I learned how to do it at scale online. @PPCJedi

Already shared how I destroyed a client’s business… SOOO other than that, it has been gradual improvement. Learning from peers, then learning from blogs, then learning through convos with speaker/bloggers on I recommend this learning path to literally EVERYONE. @markpgus

Working at an agency as an account manager with 10+ accounts. Seeing just how many moving parts go into a digital campaign. What the clients often see is just the tip of the iceberg. @nscalice

Mistakes happen. Be transparent & own them. Learn from them & move forward. @SEM_PPC_MattV

I learned the value of intent-based marketing VERY early in my career with a national restaurant chain. I was driving reservations for $1.50 on search that were $90+ with demo-targeted banner ads. Everyone was shocked back then. @amyppc

That I can’t control everything. I won’t relive working for a US health insurer the year the ACA went through (website down, awful headlines, weird politics etc) but I will say that admitting I couldn’t magically change everything was freeing. @JuliaVyse

Easily moving to Sydney, Melbourne and London (UK) to take my persona; and professional experience up 5 levels and come home a different man. Work abroad if you can, it’ll change your life. @duanebrown

Switching to an in-house role made me question a lot of the assumptions I had as agency-side. I had prodded at the underlying problems in most SMB campaigns, but seeing how it worked from the inside was illuminating. @ferkungamaboobo

 

Q4: What do you think education programs are missing or lacking in regards to digital or PPC?

 

I think this goes into two categories. There’s the college level programs and the online type ones. For college programs, the industry changes so much that its hard to really dive into everything – I feel like they should focus on strategy, comms, and basics. @amaliaefowler

I feel like there are a lot of really smart folks out there (a lot here), who could be doing classes for folks online. Different perspectives is great. So many platforms now to teach on from Udemy, YouTube, Skillshare, etc… @lchasse

Curiousity & client communication. The programs tend to teach skills which are great, but the mindset of questioning everything, googling and trying different things isn’t there. For Comms, a warm, professional email & clean status doc will keep you in biz forEVER. @JuliaVyse

PPC is highly strategic and highly technical. Many people are jumping in to learning the technical with no interest in the strategy. That’s backwards and hard to fix. @amyppc

I find few of them delve into the adjustments you make over time, as campaign grows/matures. You use very diff tactics getting last 25% out of campaign than you did getting the first 25% worth of improvements. @heyglenns

Not enough focus on goals or strategy. The tactical/execution models are determined by these, not the other way around. Most edu/training I’ve seen overfocuses on tactical. @SEM_PPC_MattV

Statistics. It’s a data world and we’re just living in it. Helps to learn the language. @Wickerpedia

A lot of people say they want advanced content and yet find it articulate what that means. Advanced is a generic word and can mean so many different things. A lot of course go for the lowest hanging fruit which is people just getting started or DIY management. @duanebrown

Teach it in college! Digital media courses didn’t exist when I was in college. @JonKagan

Not enough focus on trying to ensure people understand the business objectives & what’s important to the client. the data is important but some ppl waffle about the metrics that aren’t of any concern to the client. @mindswanppc

Client communication and setting expectations. I’ve been at it for a while now and I still don’t think I’ve got it right. @adwordsgirl

Education is a huge challenge in our industry because things are constantly changing. @amaliaefowler

The changing nature and fast-paced world of PPC. By the time the content is live it’s already outdated. @jdprater

Huge challenge – we did a training programme once, where we tried to get Google involved as well as technology providers. Every time the training ran, their part of the module would be updated. You need to have a new updated programme for each training..@soanders

Hands on experience! Certifications are nice. That and a foundational knowledge of marketing/advertising are important… is KILLING that with his students an on campus Agency that manages real client accounts. He’s doing amazing stuff! @markpgus

There needs to be a focus on the offer/incentive as much as the tactical execution. Why should the person take the desired action? @robert_brady

For some reason, most PPC people think there’s no need to learn direct marketing. Atonishing lack of DM education within the industry. @stevegibsonppc

 

Q5: What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing a career in PPC?

 

Be comfortable with change and enjoy the life long learning that comes with the job and growth. It’s ok to admit you don’t know something… gives you a chance to learn something new. @duanebrown

Advice: Things are always changing. Learn fast and you can be the best in the world. And don’t undervalue your expertise. You ARE worth your fees/salary (and some). @robert_brady

DO IT! Seriously…it is an exciting time to be in the industry. And with amazing support grps like they have a lot more people to learn from than when I did when I started. There are experts in the house eager to share knowledge. @mindswanppc

Be humble. Avoid feeling like or thinking that you know it all – you don’t, and you almost never will in our industry. @amaliaefowler

1) Listen to everything Google says

2) Don’t believe it – test it

3) Read between the lines and test things they didn’t say @soanders

Be curious. Every day will be different and there is no one way to do things. You will need to think critically and be willing to dig for the answer yourself. @Mel66

Follow each week! I would tell them to get certified with the PPC channels who offer it (good first step). After that, take some classes to get perspectives from other pros. Probably work for an agency or someone who will give good guidance as you learn also. @lchasse

Run something for yourself. Understand what investing in it feels like for you. Try different approaches, and build your skills. (unrelated, click on my husband’s jazz website @JuliaVyse

Start now! Go set up a Google/FB/TW/LI/Quora ads account. Spend some money, run some tests, and get that hands on experience needed to succeed. @jdprater

You have 2 options: start with clients or get a job. So many people don’t want to do either, and complain how hard it is to “start an agency” when they have no experience and no prospects. @amyppc

Super cynical but learned the hard way – Trust your peers & teammates. Be skeptical with the publishers (i.e. the Google sales machine) @SEM_PPC_MattV

Here is the learning path:

1.Get a solid grounding in marketing theory/principles… I’m talking offers, unique selling propositions etc.

2. Get a job/internship and learn from others.

3. Listen to podcasts, read blogs, go to conferences.

4. Engage with those “Influencers” on twitter. We are such an open community. Ask a question. Follow conversions. It’s the only way to learn at a certain point other than trial and error. @markpgus

Study data science, math and finance. Numbers are friends. @JonKagan

Follow and Participate in  @PPCJedi

Focus on users. The amount of time I’ve wasted chasing weird analytical blips to find that my initial reaction of “who actually does this?!?!” was the correct analysis. @ferkungamaboobo

When you run 2 variants, 1 will always outperform the other. This doesn’t mean that it “won” or that you can learn from it. PPC makes it really easy to find meaning that isn’t there – be careful (especially when you’re just starting and want to find wins.@amyppc

Spend 80% of your time studying direct marketing & copywriting. Read Claude Hopkins, John Caples etc. Good place to start would be Brian Kurtz’s book, Overdeliver. @stevegibsonppc

 

Q6: What sources do you look to for continuing education and which one of those sources has driven the most valuable new knowledge for you?

 

100% #ppcchat No question about it. You have such bright minds here contributing. Sure not everyone participates all the time but the community in general. So great to share knowledge among friends! Use the trial & error of others to your benefit! SHARE KNOWLEDGE. @markpgus

I really like the community and I really like conferences. I treat them as three-day consultathons where we solve each others problems – starting with an offer of help, not an ask. And I have some fave podcasts like…@JuliaVyse

My network is the most valuable source of new knowledge, hands down. Of course, I’ve gone to a lot of conferences/lunches/events, participated in lots of online discourse (like ) and had many conversations to get that network. @robert_brady

1. has the best industry content I’ve seen

2. The community is great for validating or challenging opinions. @SEM_PPC_MattV

Definitely the community and when I started the website! tons of very practical knowledge. @mindswanppc

is a must for tactical execution. I listen to podcasts for more strategic ideas. @jdprater

Obviously the community – not only do I appreciate the updates but I also enjoy supporting the work of my peers (articles, speaking gigs, etc). Conferences have been huge for me as well, particularly @amaliaefowler

I would say use the community. I haven’t used it as much in recent months (when I should have) but when I have, it’s been amazing! @adwordsgirl

I lean heavily on the hashtag to point me to the important changes in ppc. Aside from that, I’m always sharpening my skills re copywriting/conversion. @stevegibsonppc

I really like the in-person opportunities (Conferences, Meetups, Lunches). I love building relationships(friendships) while sharing knowledge with each other. @PPCJedi

Indusrty blogs are important for keeping up with the ever shifting landscape. Conferences have been amazing for content & connections. And, of course, this Twitter community! @NeptuneMoon

is actually a really great resource. I also have purchased some classes in Udemy, watch YouTube videos from other PPC folks and podcasts. @lchasse

Art of paid traffic, the ppc show, FB Ads with a Twang, age of persuasion, and two must listens: Professional AF from and Recode Decode from You will be a smarter and more ethical person after listening to them. @JuliaVyse

Lean on the community as well – I’ve had phone calls with and and offers of help from so many others. I’m always willing to brainstorm in return! If you need something, use the hashtag and ask. @amaliaefowler

Another thought: You don’t have to just learn PPC to improve your job performance. Behavioral Economics, Psychology, etc. all can go a long way! @DarthSamK

 

Any final thoughts on education and PPC?

 

Final thoughts: stay curious, always learn, don’t give over everything to the publishers. @JuliaVyse

As long as you WANT to keep learning, I think you’ll be okay. @adwordsgirl

Final thoughts: stay hungry and humble, always question the publisher and remember to ask for help isn’t a sign of weakness. We are going to make mistakes. @amaliaefowler

Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. There is so much opportunity and flexibility in this industry! @NeptuneMoon

There is ALWAYS more improvement to be garnered – keep on testing, always! @SEM_PPC_MattV

Final thoughts – change is constant so never get too comfortable …but also try not to panic too much. you can handle it. @mindswanppc

 

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