Hero Conf 2016 was a trip of firsts for me. It was my first industry conference, my first time in Philadelphia, and consequently my first time eating an authentic philly cheese steak. Maybe I am biased due to the awesome nature of the PPC crowd, the free drinks, and excessive ogling of architecture, but my first conference experience was definitely worthwhile.
The gathering of likeminded people to spread ideas is an excellent catalyst for creativity, and I wanted to take as much of this back with me as possible. As I went through the conference enthusiastically taking notes, I started to realize that certain PPC hot-topics kept reappearing. Each of the 5 “themes” from Hero Conf that I discuss below are important for running a successful PPC campaign in 2016.
Generating Marketing Qualified Leads
In today’s PPC world it is no longer good enough to simply generate “leads” through our digital marketing efforts. There is more data and more tools with which to analyze it than ever before, and with that comes new responsibilities for the PPC analyst.
PPC has gone from wildly pushing traffic to websites in hopes of bringing in leads, to audience segmentation based on comprehensive understandings of existing and potential customers. This new highly personalized, highly targeted form of digital marketing does not just bring in leads, it brings in “marketing qualified leads”. To get these high quality leads it is essential that you know your customers, effectively divide them into segments, and provide them with the right content at the right time.
Nurturing Leads with Cross Platform Strategies
One of the ways to generate marketing qualified leads is through a cross platform PPC strategy. This can be particularly effective for ecommerce businesses.
Say you own an online clothing store. You have come to really understand your customer, and through some intelligently targeted Facebook ads you have increased purchases of jeans on your website. Still, you noticed that a sizeable portion of the people who enter the purchase cycle from a Facebook ad abandon the process after adding a pair of jeans to their cart. A cross platform strategy can help you nurture these leads to turn them into paying customers.
How? One way would be creating a custom audience in Google AdWords of the people who abandoned their cart after entering the site from a Facebook jeans ad. When someone in this audience googles something like “jeans for sale”, you could serve them a personalized AdWords ad reminding them of the jeans they found on facebook and almost purchased, perhaps offering a 10% off discount to sweeten the deal.
Conversion Rate and Landing Page Optimization
Even though it's often not considered a part of PPC, improving conversion rates through conversion rate optimization (CRO) and landing page optimization (LPO) is something that had some dedicated sessions at Hero Conf and it came up in several others. Studying your customers’ behavior on your website can help you find drop-off areas in the online purchase cycle. This will allow you to suggest website changes that can expedite the purchase process.
Landing page tests can also help you increase conversion rates through simple design changes, such as moving the form above the fold. CPCs are only going to get more expensive, which means these tests will become all the more important. Many advertisers will be left with unprofitable campaigns if they can't lower their CPAs by improving conversion rates.
Questioning Best Practices
There is no silver bullet when it comes to PPC. Best practices are not written in stone because when you are running a PPC account, each industry, customer segment, and business is unique. It is nonsensical to think that what works for one account will always work for all other accounts.
Brad Geddes’ keynote presentation at Hero Conf laid out tons of examples where best practices actually failed miserably for certain accounts. It was also common to hear presenters preface their strategies by saying something akin to “this is what worked in this case, but every account is different.”
The takeaway here is -- don’t be afraid to be creative and try new strategies. Also, no matter how sure you may be about an idea, test it in the account before you jump to overhaul everything to implement.
Client Communication and Relationships
One of the things that was repeatedly discussed at Hero Conf Philadelphia was the importance of building a strong client/agency relationship through effective communication. As the world of digital advertising gets increasingly complex it is essential that agencies know how to communicate their value to clients. Account performance needs to be presented in a clear, accurate, relevant, and timely manner.
Trust is another ingredient that is essential for a strong agency/client relationship to exist. To build trust, both the agency and the client must be transparent about expectations, objectives and results, and they must both hold themselves accountable. At Workshop Digital, this is something that we firmly believe in, which is why accountability and transparency are built into our core values.