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Welcome Happy Readers! In this week’s PPCChat discussion, host Julie F Bacchini discussed experts’ biggest wins & failures, what have they learned from them, Is there a strategy or tactic that PPCers really want to try, and more. Here is the screencap of this week’s session.

Q1: What is one of the biggest wins or successes you’ve had in your PPC career? What did you learn from it?

I had an HVAC & Plumbing client where the Google Ads campaigns were so successful we often had to turn them off to let them catch up with scheduling. Did this by focusing heavily just on terms that had super high need for a service call right now. @NeptuneMoon

I took over a mature account – that had been previously managed by two different big-name agencies – I increased profits by 643% in 7 months. I learned that big expensive agencies aren’t so hot. @stevegibsonppc

The whole thing! oh wow. I’ve had a few and the reason behind the win is different every time. The win I learned most from was a major success during covid. Audiences + search work folks. use them! @JuliaVyse

For me I think it’s been more holistic than any single “win/great campaign result”. I am very proud of the small team we’ve built and the level of clients we work with over the past (almost) 5 years. @gilgildner

Taking on the client that was 10 times bigger than our other SMB clients and improving their sales from 1M to 3M/month in a year. Just gave us confidence in talking to bigger revenue prospects. @ynotweb

I have had a few big clients who were working with some big well known agencies. When you can improve on an account by double or triple digit percentages that is run by a high powered team previously, it feels very good. @lchasse

Got Silver in the search partner awards for growing small business. Used custom tracking & micro-conversions to help a custom furniture client grow rapidly. With the long lag between initial click & final purchase this one took a lot of work & creative workarounds. @selley2134

I’m going with @stevegibsonppc on this one. I’ve taken some campaigns in-house and there was SO MUCH to do from the last iteration. @Galliguez

The one that springs to mind was one of the GAFAM for the whole of France and all their brands. Quickly learnt that the bigger the client, the more it is about organisation and the less about keywords or even metrics. @soanders

When I started teaching as much as fulfilling on client accounts. Moving into a leadership role and helping others become successful PPC professionals has been just as fulfilling for me as seeing my clients succeed. @jord_stark

(cont): I should probably point out that fixing the structure/bids etc only produced around 100% improvement. The other 543% was down to me using my ppc strategy. See: @stevegibsonppc

Yes – similar to @stevegibsonppc – taking an account in-house and being able to maintain and even superseed sometimes performance. great feeling when what you recommended works out. @TheMarketingAnu

The proving that audience overlays will both save a company money and not hinder their post click production. @JonKagan

Q2: What is something that ended up being successful that you were not sure would work? What did you learn from it?

Broadly targeted, awareness-focused Pre-Roll Ads on YouTube. The cost per view is so cheap. Great for so many clients. @gilgildner

I was consulting for a Saas company that had seen a huge (300%?) increase in cost/click for brand searches – after they’d change to automated bidding. I told them to switch back to manual. CPC went back to normal. Wasn’t sure it would work, but worth a try. @stevegibsonppc

A new broad match campaign structure. I doubted at first but with a new build, RSA, and TCPA, we’ve seen really good success from Google’s broad match KWs recently. @jord_stark

(cont): The lesson? That brand campaigns and automated bidding don’t go hand in hand. @stevegibsonppc

I’ve been harping on this all year… but I’ve just got started programmatic stuff (with the guidance of @iamheleneparker and the team at @StackAdapt)… and the results thus far have exceeded expectations. @Galliguez

This happens almost once per program. But I think the biggest learn I got was from using dating app placements for campaigns based on life-events. “it’s complicated” is right. @JuliaVyse

Probably the biggest thing was automated bidding. It still does not work in every case, but in it is always good to test. I have seen it work very well for some campaigns, but you still have to monitor it, because it can also fall off the rails. @lchasse

LOL sooo many new campaign types. Took years to take that nervous edge/check performance 3 times more frequently to learn not to be so nervous about trying new things. @ynotweb

I was skeptical about DSA campaigns in Google for a long time. But I have come around on them, as if nothing else, it gives you a really good window into what Google thinks your site is about. At least for the queries you can see…@NeptuneMoon

Ummm….nearly every single optimization I have recommended – especially when it was to do with Google automation. it’s all about eagle eyes – to the point of setting calendar reminders of the thing I have changed. @TheMarketingAnu

It’s been less than a year, but branching out on my own. Has been successful thus far (knock on wood) & I have even hired way before I planned to. Shout out @rachel__lowell for trusting and coming aboard. @selley2134

A nice one: sending PPC trafic from Google and Facebook into Amazon. Huge boost in sales although the attribution metrics wouldn’t show this (#lastclick don’t get me going). One of the big lessons here: real performance on cross-channel traffic is hard to measure. @soanders

Google Discovery Ads. Not quite sure at start. But over the time with right segment of audience these has given me wonderful results!!! @Reddy20449

Switching from one vendor to @skaicommerce. At the time the platform we had access to felt antiquated. The switch was an expensive & resource intensive choice. But it proved to be worthwhile. The team quickly saw the time savings & performance increases it provided. @BrettBodofsky

BTW, this client had been convinced the increase was due to increased competition. That’s why they flew me to Germany for a week’s consulting. I figured out the problem straight away. “OK, well…what do you want to do with the rest of the week?” @stevegibsonppc

Back tracking on this one… but TikTok was a pleasant surprise this year. Even in my conservative healthcare space… @Galliguez

Reproving SEO+SEM=3 incrementality, because the test was done by accident. @JonKagan

Q3: Do you have a favorite “go to” on any particular platform if you need to show success or moving in a positive direction? Basically a strategy or tactic that almost never fails you?

Give us a traditional Google Ads search campaign, five ad groups, 3 expanded text ads each, and we can make almost any campaign start ticking. @gilgildner

Not one single one, but basically I prefer these “pure” forms: Facebook boosts Google just search Google just maps Amazon sponsored products just keywords. @soanders

Using a tiered strategy in shopping – I was worried with search query data going away this may not work anymore, but we are still seeing wins every time we implement this. @selley2134

Demand capture needs demand generation. If you’re running a clicks campaign, run some awareness (vid, disp, disc) something to increase the amount of searches you can capture. @JuliaVyse

Honestly, not a specific tactic. We work across a ton of industries, and there’s a lot of nuance. But in terms of process, absolutely: do an in-depth audit + go through the ad experience yourself (or if you can’t be self-critical, get someone else to do it). @DigitalSamIAm

Fixing setting issues is the easiest first step ALMOST EVERY TIME I take over an account. Conversion tracking working properly! Geographic targeting and/or exclusions is a big one. So is ad scheduling. Audience exclusions on social is as important as targeting. @NeptuneMoon

Sponsored product ads in Amazon 100%. I don’t believe I have ever seen them not do well for a brand yet. (knock on wood). @lchasse

Just when we think we have one, Google changes something so drastically (in the past 2 years) it’s hard to land on any anymore. LOL @ynotweb

We’ve had some clients where leads weren’t converting, and when we went through the above, we found out the email team wasn’t sending emails to web leads…for…reasons? Work backwards from the business problem to the paid media problem. @DigitalSamIAm

It depends on what the client’s bottleneck is. Often their bidding is screwed up and all you need to do is redirect money from under-performing keywords to high-performing keywords. That’s a common quick & easy win @stevegibsonppc

Google Search targeting is looser and looser. Reducing waste with negative keywords, blocking IP addresses, etc… is my “go to” to add value to a basic campaign quick. @Galliguez

Portfolio bidding on Adobe using custom objectives. Works always better than the Google’s automated bidding strategies. @Reddy20449

I think too many people/agencies try to work forward, and that leads to a lot of dead ends + frustration. Identify the core problem. Confirm it is an issue. Then work backwards to identify solutions + a plan to validate. @DigitalSamIAm

Similar to @DigitalSamIAm – having another pair of eyes. Just another pair of eyes can give some great insight/opportunity. @TheMarketingAnu

I’ll often times use PowerBi to show how performance is trending over time and place a focus on their target KPIs. Then of course we can dig in deeper and show the client specifically how/why a metric is trending in the right direction. @BrettBodofsky

Nope, I just love GA and smoke and mirrors. @JonKagan

Q4: What is one of the biggest mistakes or “fails” you’ve had in your PPC career? What did you learn from it?

One of the first clients we had in our first year in 2017, and we mixed up currency conversion, added a 0, and overspent by around $8,000 in one day. This was basically our entire monthly company revenue at the time…rough but we never did that again. @gilgildner

Oh man, so many! But on the theme of the biggest learn: rushing takes more time than launching late. Manual QA is the best prevention and small human errors are likely to cause the biggest problems. check, and check again! @JuliaVyse

I was working on a new account for a client that had a COVID product. The ads would not serve due to G Ads policies. Forgot to pause everything before we stopped working on it and they started serving and spending like crazy one day. Made it right, but ouch. @NeptuneMoon

Took my eyes off an account for 4 days. New laws passed that caused a huge increase in clicks. Client spent $50k in those 4 days (Hattip to G’s you can spend more than your budget nonsense). I built a large dashboard to keep an eye on kpis everyday for every account. @selley2134

My fails would probably be starting out zoomed in too much (small audience – poor results) or zoomed out too far (too general – wasted budget). But we can course correct easier in PPC land @Galliguez

It would be taking over a campaign with a terrible structure and doing a teardown job…that made performance even worse. I learned that just because something should work doesn’t mean it will work. (& that old ads can have built-up “goodwill” that new ads don’t.) @stevegibsonppc

Forgot that MSFT campaign import now pulls in budgets, even when manually overridden, from Google. First: you suck MSFT. Second: yeah that was suboptimal Third: yay for Adalysis picking it up quickly @DigitalSamIAm

Way back in my first year at an agency I overspent the monthly budget by $2K for a client that didn’t have $2k to overspend and that was a good lesson to learn early. @jord_stark

Loosing a major client from too good performance. It was a performance client with revenue share where our deal was too good, and it ended up being indecent amounts of money, so they left. Such a sad ending to a wild love story. @soanders

1 learning – when setting CPCs – stare at it for a good couple of minutes before posting. And then get another pair of eyes to check preferably before posting but at least just after posting. @TheMarketingAnu

Bidding on the word “keyword.” I had copied a column in Excel and forgot to exclude the column header. Blew through the whole daily budget on that one “keyword” haha @beyondthepaid

A big mistake in my PPC career was launching a new campaign on a Friday & not checking it over the weekend to make sure all was well. Learned it’s not the wisest move to launch on Fridays, if you do it’s important to be vigilant to ensure it runs as expected. @BrettBodofsky

Trusting that @GoogleAds had my business interests in mind first. @JonKagan

Q5: What is something that ended up being unsuccessful that you thought for sure would work? What did you learn from it?

This honestly still happens to me all the time. But I wouldn’t do it any other way, you have to keep trying new things and experimenting or you will get left behind. @jord_stark

Sometimes you just know Google Shopping ads will work for a great company with a great website and a great product…and it doesn’t. What have we learned from this? Test everything. @gilgildner

I love to test, so I usually go in optimistic on every test. I want everything to be successful. The toughest things are the ones that work really well for some brands, but underwhelm for others. Video is a great example of this. @lchasse

LinkedIn ads are not a guaranteed success for B2B advertisers. It can be easy to think they will be, but it takes specific strategy to be successful on that platform. Can vary even within same industry where it works for 1 but not another. @NeptuneMoon

You know what? Pinterest has not been great for traffic lately, particularly in the home decor category. Pinners seem to want to stay on Pinterest, so awareness for luxury products has been WAY more successful than traffic this year. @JuliaVyse

Ad customizer. Thought it will definitely improve the CTR but in some campaigns, it hasn’t. @Reddy20449

See my answer to Q4. Made a ton of “best practice” (in my experience) changes to a “terrible” account structure and it bombed. @stevegibsonppc

Thinking bing would work as well during a pandemic when everyone is at home, vs when everyone is in the office. @JonKagan

Q6: Is there a strategy or tactic that you’ve had enough bad experiences with that you essentially never do or recommend it?

Audience expansion and audience ‘networks’ on social platforms. that’s a real quick no for me. @JuliaVyse

I’m gonna get a lot of flak for this, but… …Facebook Ads. @gilgildner

Most automated bidding. @stevegibsonppc

Every day Facebook gets further and further away from the light of God. I’m not done with it, I just hate it. @jord_stark

Even Google’s recommendation of doing broad match with smart bidding I won’t totally throw away. I will always test and see what works as long as I can control the budget and measure the outcome. @lchasse

GDN (Google Display Network) has been awful for me so much lately, I have trouble recommending it beyond remarketing. Automated bidding for low volume accounts is also quite bad. Yup, I said it! @NeptuneMoon

No such thing. Some strategies / tactics may work for some campaigns or products and some may not. I don’t think there is a strategy or tactic that will not work for anything. It’s all about experimenting. @Reddy20449

Auto apply Google ads recommendations. Need I say more? @TheMarketingAnu

A lot, but tip of the iceberg: Bing Syndicated Partners, Search+Display google in a single campaign, having any notion that I can get real or helpful insights from a smart campaign. @JonKagan

Q7: Is there a strategy or tactic that you really want to try but are nervous about? What makes you nervous about it? What would make you try it?

I want to try billboards. Yeah, old-fashioned billboards. With trackable URLs and ridiculous messaging. They’re so cheap these days. @gilgildner

Doing TikTok ads. The brands I work with are all very nervous about trying to put together content for it, but I would love to test it out. @lchasse

More TikTok – just takes more time / production work.. @Galliguez

More programmatic. There are just so many platforms and it feels too similar to GDN to feel good about. @jord_stark

So here is the big native eCommerce strategy that I want to give a go. Run Google Ads to Shopify store and then Facebook Ads to a Facebook Shop and then Amazon Ads to Amazon listings. Then homogeneize messaging, pricing, and promotions and avoid channel spill. @soanders

Another surprise… IP targeting in support of traditional mailers. Worked out better than I had expected. Need to explore more…@Galliguez

Quora Ads not sure why. I mentioned it a while ago and now i can’t get it out of my head. @TheMarketingAnu

Moving into broad match, with BMM going away. No explanation needed. IYKYK. @JonKagan

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