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Digital Marketing

Why your PPC channel can’t live in a bubble

Let’s Talk About Your PPC Channel

PPC is one of the most powerful Marketing Channels both to businesses and to individuals. For businesses, it allows unprecedented control over how much traffic hits your site. You can decide the keywords and products you wish to target, the landing pages you want to point them to, your own advertising message and crucially how much the maximum you’re willing to pay per click for each visitor.

For individuals, PPC knowledge is powerful, there’s a skills shortage of people who know their way around an AdWords account, making those who have fought hard to acquire the experience and knowhow valuable in today’s digital economy.

It is however, a common misconception that PPC knowledge alone is all you need. Knowing how to mine keywords, the knack to high CTR Ads, and the most time and resourceful way to structure an account will only get you and your PPC Channel so far.

If you operate a PPC channel in a silo, without the input of the wider business, you open yourself up to a handful of problems. The King and Queen of PPC targets are always Revenue and ROI (not always necessarily in the same order). This means that keywords that are performing well inherently get their bids increased and poor performing keywords get theirs reduced.

PPC is the data geeks’ favourite channel (source: I’m a proud data geek), as there is so much reporting available that you can always discover why your top line numbers have behaved like they have. PPC practitioners make sure to use all of the historical data available to them to make sure that their Keywords and Google Shopping Ads are in the most profitable position for the business or client.

However there are many circumstances where this is counter productive; For example, the air conditioning business is a dog eat dog one, as soon as the sun comes out, PPC searches increase tenfold, meaning if you’re waiting for your data to come through to see whether pushing a bid is a good idea, you’ve likely already missed the boat. Your impression shares are still likely rock bottom from all the poorer performing cooler months. You never know when hot patches will occur or how long they’ll last for, so your best option is to ignore the historical data, work out roughly what your Average Order Value is, what your expected conversion rate is and then drive your PPC accounts on a minute to minute basis.

Another reason why PPC channels can’t be treated in isolation is how intensely it is tied to product knowledge. If you’re a reseller of jeans for example and you only have a small sample of Levi’s, there’s no point bidding on the term [Levis Jeans] when you only actually sell 2 pairs, the conversion rate will be low because of the lack of selection and the CPC of the market is likely to be buoyed by competitors carrying a much larger range that they’re getting a better conversion rate on. Without this product knowledge, the PPC keyword would get pulled down further and further until it’s either turned down or off. Whereas if the PPC function was plugged into the business, it’s likely you would’ve been told not to bid on that keyword in the first place saving time and money or the PPC team can feed back to the buying department about the problems with the range.

Often, within a company, different product ranges can operate on different business models. Some products are bought in at better margins, leaving you more marketing budget to play with, and other ranges are low margin, high volume, low marketing spend. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, as long as someone remembers to tell the PPC Manager. There’s no point Marketing spend running to 15% on a product range when there’s only 17% margin in it, all the while the 42% margin range has a marketing spend of 7% with a shed load of potential for growth. The PPC Manager would look at their accounts and see that the numbers balance, they’re hitting top line Revenue and ROI and not see that there’s a much larger prize to be won. The influence of a little bit of business knowledge in helping shift the budget around can make all of the difference.

Other external factors that a PPC manager needs to be kept abreast of are;
Stock Outages: Sinking money into ranges that the business can’t get hold of wastes money and disappoints customers.

Long Stock: Sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit more on Marketing rather than the business having to write off the stock that it can’t get rid of at the end of the year.

Landing Page Obstructions: Sometimes the problem isn’t PPC, if you see a poor conversion rate across several keywords that point to the same page, do yourself a favour and take a 30 second look at the page, there’s a good chance there may be a pricing error, someone forgot to take the sold out messaging off or there’s a problem with the product data or appearance.

Competitiveness: If your conversion rate is low, are you competitive enough? Not just on the exact product, but is your range value for money overall? If you’re selling experience days and you (and all of your competitors) hike your prices up by 500%, your potential customers may just choose to do something else with their weekend instead.


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Chris Thomas


Chris Thomas

CEO & Founder

Chris has been at the forefront of eCommerce and a pioneer of online retailing since the early 00s. A 5-time Drapers Award winner, Chris has extensive experience in developing fashion brands online.

Chris founded Cake in 2016. Based in Birmingham, with offices nationwide, Cake specialises in helping fashion brands understand their market online and then helps to develop appropriate strategical direction to achieve their plan, all backed by his 20 years of operating in the retail market.