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I harp on it a lot but PPC is getting really complicated. I’m a search marketer, and it’s near-impossible to stay up to date with the seemingly endless stream of updates to AdWords search targeting, never mind the content network, Bing, Facebook, etc. I think what tends to happen is a bit of analysis paralysis – you spend so much time playing with the newest AdWords feature that you neglect basic PPC best practices and your account winds up suffering.
This is where a clear, organized approach to PPC marketing is vital for small businesses. If I struggle to stay up to date with the newest AdWords features and functionality and it’s basically my business, how is a local business owner or busy marketing director supposed to know where to go once they’re dropped within the AdWords interface? I’ve seen a lot of SMBs spending thousands a month on paid search and display advertising where they’ve filled in every ad extension and turned on every experimental feature, but neglected basic blocking and tackling like negative keywords, sound use of match types, ad copy testing, etc. It’s important to understand what’s important, what’s less important, and how to build a solid methodology around it.
This prioritization and methodology is precisely what Elizabeth Martsen’s new pair of eBooks “PPC for Your Small Business” attempts to develop for small businesses looking to get the most out of PPC.
Elizabeth is the Director of Search Marketing at Portent Interactive. I’ve long been a fan of the Portent blog, Portent founder Ian Lurie’s blog, and Elizabeth’s posts in particular (some good examples of her writings if you’re looking to “try before you buy” are a series on taking the AdExcellence exam, updates to product feeds and rich snippets, and a great guide to AdWords Remarketing that I pointed someone with questions about the feature to just this week) so I went into the eBook anticipating that it would be a pretty valuable read.
The first eBook in the series Elizabeth walks through the basics of PPC advertising. She starts at what I think is really the beginning and the number one thing I see SMBs getting wrong: setting budgets and goals. The fundamentals of PPC are driving leads and ultimately sales for your business – many small business owners get so caught up in the rather overwhelming mechanics of PPC that they seem to “forget” that this is just a form of advertising their business, and they need to see profitable returns for their investment. Elizabeth does a nice job of grounding the discussion in these terms right off the bat, and walks through some of the basic math and general approach to running a profitable PPC campaign.
From there she takes a very nuts-and-bolts approach to helping advertisers understand how to initially set up their campaign with sections focused on:
- Keyword research
- Campaign structure
- Free tools to help get your first campaigns off the ground
- Match types
- Very basic, initial bidding strategies
- Negative keywords
- Ad copy best practices
- Account settings
- PPC landing pages
- How to measure results
- Measuring results
For me the strength of the book is in what I’d describe as an “Apple approach to information sharing” – the only pieces included in the eBook are the essentials. I think a small business owner trying to figure out how to get maximum returns from AdWords would have a really strong understanding of what makes for solid, effective PPC campaigns after reading this first eBook, and wouldn’t be weighted down by confusing information overload.
The second eBook focuses more around continuing PPC campaign maintenance. Beyond the idea of how to measure and focus on goals, I think the second biggest question I see small businesses asking in regards to PPC management is “where do I go from here? What do I do next?” This is the focus of this second eBook.
Elizabeth starts with what I think is an under-talked about area of PPC: trouble shooting specific issues (like what to do when your PPC campaign isn’t driving any traffic). I really love the format here of problem/solution, and it’s obvious from the get-go that this eBook will offer a lot more specific detail around particular scenarios and more granular best practices than the first. I think she does a great job of covering off a nice range of FAQs regarding PPC issues (obviously from having managed and inherited numerous PPC accounts).
She then moves on to talk about:
- How to get more out of your budget
- How to expand your campaign
- Leveraging the content network
- Utilizing some of the more powerful AdWords tools and features
- Some links to more advanced content and techniques
Again I think the strength here is that there’s a progression before specific tools and features are introduced, and when they are she highlights the most universally useful features within AdWords: too often I think beginners turn to blogs and sort of “jump in half way through the story” and have new AdWords features introduced to them before they understand the basics of PPC advertising.
Conclusion: Is PPC for Your Small Business for YOUR Small Business?
One of the cool things about buying and selling low-priced eBooks and tools in the search space is that seemingly small improvements to paid and natural search campaigns can lead to really big yields for your business. I think these eBooks do a great job of walking small business PPC advertisers through the process of creating a PPC campaign to managing it on an ongoing basis, but for $37 and a minimal time investment, all you really need to get out of the book is one actionable tip to have to it pay for itself many times over. Well worth the investment for SMBs who are new to AdWords or looking to get more out of the platform, from my perspective.