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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Julie F Bacchini. PPC experts discussed about the challenging scenario PPCers face, how they handle it, the most difficult challenging situations they had to come across and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.




Q1: What is a “challenging scenario” you face regularly? Examples could be: limited budgets, super competitive industry with sky high CPCs, inability to use tags, etc.


Clients not managing their lists/maintaining CRM data, and low volume (my SMX East talk is on these special clients in two weeks!) – @amaliaefowler

Sky-high LinkedIn CPCs and the inability to effectively retarget LinkedIn users b/c clicks are counted even if they don’t click thru to website. (Caveat – I haven’t been actively managing the LI ads but have recently been brought in) – @BrookeOsmundson

THE WE WANT TO SHOW UP FOR EVERYTHING AND BE SUPER EFFICIENT WITH HALF THE BUDGET OF COMPETITORS SITUATION!!! Last one…… PEOPLE BOOKMARK ALL OF OUR LANDING PAGES!!! So Analytics data is all incorrect since repeat purchasers keep coming through our utm parameters – @markpgus

Limited budgets are something I encounter regularly. When coupled with high CPCs, it is rough sledding! – @NeptuneMoon

Leadership that just doesn’t understand the benefits of digital marketing. Like, they’d rather invest in print ads for their eCommerce business. – @ericdfarmer

Really competitive niches. The CPCs are so high you just don’t have any margin for error. – @robert_brady

The most challenging scenarios I’ve run into when I was agency-side were with very limited population in the geotarget for a business. Sort of a reverse-limited-budget scenario – @ferkungamaboobo

Limited in budget and not converting when revenue is the goal. – @StephanieErne

It’s always challenging in budget limitation – @AngelaDuongNg

Scaling — not always “if I spend more money, I will get more of the same results” – @HayleyDeee

Attribution for each type of ads platform and them all being different – @elevatedmrktng

Resetting expectations after another agency sold the client on an outcome that doesn’t make sense or is wrong. – @duanebrown

Limited budgets with high CPC max bids (depending on location, competitiveness, etc.) is a frequent challenging scenario we encounter. – @marccxmedia

Generally related to website issues (e.g. platform doesn’t support GA/GTM tags on every page, multiple domains within funnel, no dedicated landing pages, forms/conversions completed on 3rd-party site). – @akaEmmaLouise

My biggest issue is explaining why CPC’s sky rocket, when there is no legitimate competition. – @JonKagan



Q2: What is the best workaround you’ve come up with for your challenging scenario? And, does it work regularly/in more than one situation and/or on more than one platform?


Start at the most relevant queries, get a really good offer (unique if possible) and track/measure everything. – @robert_brady

For limited budgets, where there is not $$ to expand them, really focusing on terms MOST LIKELY TO CONVERT rather than broader traffic and budget hog terms is key. It can be tough getting clients on board with this reality though! – @NeptuneMoon

Part One: I always ALWAYS discuss limitations on our end if clients don’t properly manage lists for email (B2B) or provide us with updated info, or manage their end of the funnel. Establishing clear scope helps with this. Also, anytime you can explain things in a different way it helps. I write out things in reports, make visual charts, and verbally explain. All the learning types!  Also, if you work with a sales team, do your best to ensure the expectations they are setting matches the reality of what you can deliver – @amaliaefowler

think showing results from 2 or more channels helps people understand challenges. It’s a chance to level-set on what’s realistic; prevent people from blaming unrelated factors/jumping to conclusions. – @heyglenns

A1 & 2: Limited budgets and sky-high expectations. Education, restructures/shared budgets when necessary and regular communication. – @JuliaVyse

For the impossible Client/bosses that want the impossible… being straight up and having candid conversations is best IMO. Might not always end well, but I’d rather provide value and truth then not. – @markpgus

Our main workaround is a mix of reallocating the budget, removing match types that aren’t showing results, and trimming ad copy. Additionally, using targeted audience lists helps, too.– @marccxmedia

As part of an agency, I never really figured it out, though I often suggested “setup-only” contracts that were designed to keep the ads profitable for the client. With in-house, I’m kind of loving the ability to run smaller campaigns, regardless of 3rd-party profit – @ferkungamaboobo

Showing them what their competitors spend can be eye-opening with a limited budget. I just have not jet found a good tool for the Dutch market to get these insights. So much is US focussed. – @StephanieErne

Just do the best we can. GTM for clicks, FB lead forms, etc. – @akaEmmaLouise

I regularly have to explain all the elements of the auction, and explain factors not always visible, like competition. Works most of the time. – @JonKagan



Q3: Which type of challenging scenario do you find easiest to manage or find success with and why?


I find the expectation of magic to be easiest to manage because so much of what we do is measurable. I can show the work I’m doing, right up to where the sales team takes over. – @JuliaVyse

My favorite is “Limited by budget” – once you have those profitable campaigns, you can really show the size of the market and make solid projections. – @ferkungamaboobo

We’re definitely able to manage the aforementioned limited budget scenario, thanks to the workaround cited in A2. – @marccxmedia

Setting expectations – once I got used to it, realized that its not a case of “the client is always right” and found the ability to push back and have the hard conversations, this got easier with time and made my life much smoother long term! – @amaliaefowler

I am good with people (must be my years of studying diplomacy in college!) so resetting expectations or having a conversation where I need to be direct about something that’s not working are the easiest scenarios for me to navigate.  – @NeptuneMoon

Limited by budget is def my preferred challenge 1) It’s easy to show via Lost IS (Budget) how many conversions we’re missing out on without the mystery of changing CPCs that Lost IS (Rank) gives 2) Reallocating budgets based on CPA is much easier to predict outcomes – @akaEmmaLouise

Pretty used to being straight up with clients/bosses now. I feel like I don’t need to dance through hoops to please them. Let’s be real and face the facts, then put something in place to make things work/course correct. EDUCATING IS PART OF OUR JOB! – @markpgus

hands down, the fav scenario is the infamous “why should I bid on brand terms” demand, and I pull out the old 1+1=3 model. – @JonKagan



Q4: Which type of challenging scenario do you find most difficult to manage or find success with and why?


As much as I have done it 130+ times, the low volume one is always frustrating. It requires patience and lots of time, and more patience. Did I mention I’m not the most patient person? I also find it hard when they have ONE metric they’re obsessed with and won’t let my explanation of how things work together change that. “I just want traffic to the site” – okay, but do you want it to DO anything? – @amaliaefowler

those who don’t learn and don’t trust. If you’re so into what your nephew read on a defunct blog, by all means hire him and leave me out of it. If you want to have a real discussion with an expert – even *gasp* a LADY-EXPERT!!!! – then we’ll be fine.– @JuliaVyse

When someone built their business on referrals, and is new to advertising. Referrals are mostly high quality & easy to close. Lead gen requires sales & a numbers game mindset. – @JasonStinnett

Which channel should I do Facebook or Google ads? Both!! – @elevatedmrktng

Being in house… I can’t just wash my hands clean because we don’t have the resources to be successful. Our LP and Creative is bad and we aren’t willing to invest in that internally… so we can’t just say this isn’t going to work. I don’t like shifting away from DR – @markpgus

I find it challenging when clients always want better numbers – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly. Numbers must go up or you’re not good enough. –  @jdprater

Thinking that succseeful marketing in the digital space is somehow accomplished with pixie dust and a few dollars in 2 weeks time… Marketing has not changed. The tools we have available to get our messages in front of potential customers has. – @NeptuneMoon

When you use all your best tools to propose new goals for growth & then something cray happens and they become impossible to achieve. Goes back to resetting expectations and reminding clients that PPC isn’t magic…then pivot according to what makes sense in the data. Also, when clients are wanting to build brand awareness but there is little-to-no content available for promotion (on website or off). Or wanting to use LinkedIn but don’t have the budget for a quality test. Overall just misunderstandings about how PPC works. – @akaEmmaLouise

This is a but open ended, as it evolves every day. I mean, the most common is, how can I get better interplay with search and the other media channels. And it can be hit or miss, depending on the scenario. – @JonKagan



Q5: Has there ever been a scenario that you just could not make work or get the results you were looking for? What was the main barrier?


yep. Client and I ended a long-standing relationship over what they wanted vs what I could ethically produce. Heard from a partner about a year later that they had gone through 3 agencies after me! – @JuliaVyse

Sometimes you’re just focussing too much on Google Ads while actually the website is the problem. And then advising them to do some CRO can be a challenge. Personally I also find it hard to decide when to pull the plug on something. You kinda wanna make sure you did everything right. That makes you let things run for too long sometimes. That is why having good client communication is so important (but so hard sometimes) – @StephanieErne

I would say my miserable scenario is achieving all the number the client want. Sometimes it unrealistic itself – @AngelaDuongNg

If their web site is awful and fixing it is not possible or using a third party landing page solution can’t be done, I can’t produce results under those circumstances. I can’t in good conscience help someone spend $$ to advertise when I know results will suck.  – @NeptuneMoon

I’m in it right now. The barrier is twofold – lack of understanding of the strategy that they’ve chosen to implement alongside improper maintenance of list. They have a strategy built around content, and no new content but the same list. – @amaliaefowler

my main barrier was Facebook’s algorithm, shifting targeting options, and changing user behavior. We tried everything, but just couldn’t hit the results they needed to be profitable. – @jdprater

Once had a client that was barely starting out. Just built an E-comm site, was starting to get into BIG retailers (Think Costco, Whole Foods, etc.) but little brand recognition at the time. They expected people to buy their candy online in BULK without tasting it. We’re talking a $45 MINIMUM order  They refused to invest in TOFU because “WE HIRED AN AGENCY TO MAKE MONEY” – @markpgus

Out of the gate, non branded campaigns had horrible ROI (duh). I had to turn it all off because leadership didn’t want to invest if it didn’t have a positive ROI even though they were top of funnel. Main barrier was misunderstanding and unrealistic expectations. – @ericdfarmer

We had a client in the last few months focused on lead gen form fill-outs, and the only responses we received were spam/garbage/junk. This may have been the keywords we were working with, as well as the level of search intent. – @marccxmedia

I’d say 95% of everything I’ve attempted w/ LinkedIn. Targeting was spot on and so promising but CPCs and CVR just didn’t make it work the investment. Still getting lower CPLs across the board on FB and tons more volume. Not giving up hope yet but trying new things. – @akaEmmaLouise

I hate to say it, but I regularly see it. Most recent one, was sky rocketing brand CPC’s. We had a QS of 10, but competition was screwing us, on purpose. There is no winning that. – @JonKagan



Q6: When you’re faced with a challenging scenario, what is your game plan? How do you tackle it? What’s your process to try to figure it out?


Collaboration! First with my team to develop a plan, then with the client. I also always go in knowing what we promised to do, what we CAN do, and what we will not be able to do. My teaching experience has made educating clients much easier. – @amaliaefowler

I tend to jump on a call. I want to fully understand the challenge, the client expectations and what success will be. Always talk before the whiteboard. – @JuliaVyse

Determining the underpinning element(s) is my first step in sleuthing out what is happening. Communication is key for this! Once I have a handle on that, I work out steps needed to address them to move concretely toward the end goal. – @NeptuneMoon

When doing agency work: First trying to get all noses pointed in the same direction. Sometimes you just have to tell them again that your working with each other not against each other. Especially when facing tough campaigns and not meeting targets. – @StephanieErne

First thing: figure out why it’s happening (or at least rule out what ISN’T causing it). Use that to develop a plan of attack and come to the client with honesty: here’s what happened, this is why (we think), here’s what we can do to respond, here’s what we expect. – @akaEmmaLouise

Lay out what we can do today, and what we could do with more budget / buy in / resources. Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as options. They may say no today and choose to invest more later. – @JasonStinnett

1. Don’t panic 2. Assess the situation 3. Ask questions 4. Be transparent with team 5. Come up with solution 6. Enter attack mode! 7. Dominate life – @ericdfarmer

When optimizing in the account: actually make a game plan and hypotheses first. Check of the entire list. Also check for significant changes in the account that were made. And then not being afraid to make decisions and start testing stuff – @StephanieErne

Our game plan is an analysis of the account to see what’s working and what needs to be changed. This includes increased targeting (audiences, geo, etc.), removing all Broad Match keywords, adjusting bids, etc. If things turn around, great! If not . – @marccxmedia

I’ll take a step back. the study I do through being involded in , slack groups, reddit groups, reading blog articles, listening to podcasts, and talking to others is fundamental. I might not have heard of EVERY problem… but enough that I have an idea of what to do – @markpgus

after you’ve uncovered every stone, sometimes being straight forward is all you can do. Saying, “Look, this isn’t going the way we expected, and there isn’t much of anything that can be done to improve it”, and then following up with an alternative approach. – @JonKagan



Q7: Is there one kind of challenging scenario that you just really, really dread? Or one you would turn down a project/client over?


When it is clear the client is unwilling to listen to reason, learn about what they may not know, or collaborate for the success of their business, we’re out. If it is impossible to communicate, then its going to be frustrating for everyone. – @amaliaefowler

If the client wants to get shady on the ethics, I’m out. Period. – @robert_brady

Typically a niche that doesn’t have any clear search demand yet. It might be a great product/solution, but it’s hard to drive actions when it’s a new technology – unless they agree to more of a brand/exposure strategy.  – @marksubel

for me, there are certain industries/companies that I just won’t work with. I think it’s important to know that so you don’t get persuaded by the $$$ –  @jdprater

When there is someone in the mix who thinks they can do my job and are just hiring me because they are “too busy to do it”. Inappropriate behavior toward me or anyone on team. Balking at pre-paying for strategy work. – @NeptuneMoon

a specific time and date to make a certain amount of revenue, with no access to the full funnel (content, sales, all channels). I’m not a marine, i’m not a shark, i’m not any metaphor for doing something profoundly unreasonable just for your fees. Take it elsewhere. – @JuliaVyse

Competitive industries, with big players… I know “there’s always a way” but when I’m outmatched on product quality AND budget… It ain’t gonna be pretty. At some point, even our expertise can’t provide results. – @markpgus

Hm … likely a campaign where nothing seems to be working, even after we do our troubleshooting analysis and implement those fixes. – @marccxmedia

Conversion funnels. If it isn’t working, and you refuse to make changes to the funnel, then I can’t help you. – @JonKagan



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