[PPC] Automation & AI: What Humans Should Be Doing For Success

[PPC] Automation & AI: What Humans Should Be Doing For Success

The PPC industry has seen lots of changes lately, especially with the advent of AI, but the same questions still remain:

  • How do you know what to put your money behind?
  • How do you prove it to your executives?
  • How should we use AI to our best advantage?

Let’s face it – no one likes wasted ad spend. That’s why we put together this series of articles to answer these questions for you.

We know that with the rise of AI and shifts in how specific PPC tools work, PPC marketers are looking for how to best navigate current best practices. We think you’ll find these articles helpful in decoding the link between AI and PPC.

We also cover which platforms are performing best, so you can save money on your PPC strategy.

I think you’ll really enjoy “Smart Paid Strategy: 4 Tips To Save You $4K In Monthly Ad Spend”, which uncovers the platforms generating the most quality leads for clients, and how to prove it, removing that pesky guesswork from your paid strategy.

Read on to find out the current tips, trends, and strategy you need to properly navigate successful PPC trends so far this year.

Until next time!

Katie Morton
Katie Morton Editor in Chief, Search Engine Journal

Paid Media Marketing In 2024: 7 Changes Marketers Should Make

A new year might mean a new paid media strategy. Learn seven changes marketing professionals should implement into their 2024 digital marketing plan.

Brooke Osmundson Brooke Osmundson 15K Reads
Paid Media Marketing In 2024: 7 Changes Marketers Should Make

Paid media’s main job is to increase visibility and drive traffic for your brand.

And as digital marketing evolves, so, too, will your strategy.

In the current state of paid, the main overarching theme is, you guessed it, AI and machine learning.

As paid media platforms get smarter and constantly find ways to infuse AI into campaign workflows and optimizations, marketers must find a way to keep up with the platforms.

The other side of the coin is maintaining user privacy all the while trying to use AI effectively.

So what major changes should you make to your paid media marketing strategy in 2024?

Here are seven changes you should incorporate without a second thought.

Paid Media Marketing In 2024: 7 Changes Marketers Should Make

1. Review & Revise Google Tags

If you rely on Google tags for conversion tracking, this change should not be ignored.

In January 2024, Google made an update to its Consent Mode for its Google tags, which will, for now, affect any marketers who run ads targeted to users in the European Economic Area (EEA).

This update requires marketers to take action by March 2024 in order to keep using ad personalization and remarketing features in Google Ads.

Simply speaking, the Consent Mode will need to be updated to adjust its tracking behavior based on how a user interacts with a website’s consent banner.

The two new parameters introduced to Consent Mode are:

  • ad_user_data: This controls whether user data can be sent to Google for advertising purposes.
  • ad_personalization: This controls whether personalized advertising (remarketing) can be enabled for the user.

As privacy measures continue to become stricter in the United States, it would not be surprising if this becomes required for US advertisers in the somewhat near future.

Keep in mind that in 2024, we’ll have to get comfortable being uncomfortable with imperfect data because of privacy regulations.

2. Make Influencers Part Of Your Marketing Model

Small and large influencers alike are an awesome resource at your fingertips, just as long as your audiences align.

Even brands with a few thousand followers can utilize influencer marketing to make a big difference and gain traction in the market.

Go on a hunt to find the top influencers in your space. Then, figure out the cost per acquisition (CPA) for working with each of them (because you have to court influencers, especially the bigger ones).

From there, you can create a win-win partnership that gets you more leads while the influencer earns income.

Pro Tip: You can use influencer marketing tools to help you in your journey to integrate core influencers into your business model. Some of the most popular include AspireIQ, BuzzSumo, Upfluence, and NeoReach.
Whichever you choose, make sure the influencers you find are big enough to provide real value to your brand — and that you’re paying a CPA that makes sense for your budget and overall goals.

3. Strategic Audience Management On Multiple Platforms

2024 is the year to nail your audience management strategy, both from a holistic perspective and within each encapsulated platform.

That means before building your audiences, you need to understand at a high level who your target customer is.

Further, identify what platforms those types of user-profiles spend their time on.

Once you’ve identified your ideal target customer, then it’s time for the first step in this process:

Building audiences.

From there, you must set up a strategy to target folks within every stage of the funnel – from upper to lower – and decide which networks make the most sense for the different audience cohorts.

Perhaps the most crucial part of this process is analyzing and refreshing your audiences as the year goes on.

You should definitely plan on retargeting and testing new audiences throughout the year.

If you fail to incorporate this part, you run the risk of targeting the wrong sector of people, ultimately throwing money down the proverbial drain.

However, if you retarget and refresh your approach, you’re bound to find a dynamic audience that correlates with your vision.

In the end, audience management alone can be worth its weight in gold.

4. Prepare For Video Content Dominance

You’ve likely heard this phrase before in marketing: content is king.

With a slight tweak for 2024, the new hot phrase should be: video content is king.

Not only is video taking over social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, but it’s also asserting its dominance in YouTube Ads. YouTube Shorts, the platform’s short-form video offering, is booming.

With this new form of video comes a new ad format: vertical video ads.

Not only should marketers focus on video marketing in general – 2024 is the year to get more sophisticated with video strategy.

Marketers should prioritize creating engaging and high-quality video content that’s appropriate for each platform on which it will be delivered.

If the thought of creating video content for multiple platforms scares you, just remember that a little goes a long way.

Start by creating evergreen content about your brand and test those with different lengths.

These can be used and recycled on multiple platforms and can be used for organic and paid video content simultaneously.

Just remember to create a variety so that your users don’t see the same message or content on the same platforms, which can reduce the effectiveness of video marketing.

5. Don’t Sleep On Microsoft Ads

Microsoft Ads continues to enhance its advertising platform year after year.

Not only does it have many of the same coveted features as Google Ads, but it has added features that are unique to the platform.

As a marketing professional, your brand will surely benefit from digging into it more in 2024.

Some of the most notable updates Microsoft Ads launched in the last twelve months include:

  • Video and CTV ads: Microsoft unveiled these new ad types on its platform in September of 2023. Advertisers can choose from online video ads or connected TV ads that are non-skippable while a user is streaming content. This gives advertisers big and small a leg up on what once used to be a very complicated process of buying TV ads.
  • Three new generative AI solutions: Also announced in September 2023, Microsoft came out with three new AI features to help grow and scale. These include Compare & Decide ads, ads for Chat API, and Copilot campaign creation.
  • Data-driven attribution reporting: Gone are the days of last-click measurement! Microsoft Ads enhanced its UET tagging solution and implemented data-driven attributing modeling. It uses machine learning to calculate the actual contributions of each ad interaction.

While Microsoft still holds a lower share of the available search engines, just remember that you’re leaving a whole slew of potential customers behind by not considering this underestimated ad platform.

6. Focus On Optimizing The User Experience

Between a mix of shorter human attention spans and limited marketing budgets, every interaction and website experience counts.

If you find that your pre-sale metrics are favorable – such as high engagement or high CTR – but never result in a sale, you likely don’t have an ad problem. You have a user experience problem.

In 2024, consumers expect more from brands, especially if they’re spending their hard-earned money with that company.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you sat down and went through your website’s checkout process through the lens of a customer?

If you’re not sure where to start on optimizing your website experience for users, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use tools like Hot Jar or User Testing to get real-life analytics of how your customers are interacting and what their pain points are.
  • Review the website landscape on desktop and mobile. While this may be a no-brainer, many websites still forget to optimize for mobile!
  • Make sure that any relevant call-to-actions (CTAs) are above the fold – yes, on mobile, too!
  • Check your site speed.

These are items that should continuously be monitored and not a “set and forget,” which unfortunately happens quite a bit.

Optimizing the website user experience can have a positive impact on those paid media campaigns and can make those dollars go further in the future.

7. Use AI Tools To Your Advantage

Let’s face it: Machine learning and AI aren’t going anywhere.

For marketing leaders, 2024 really is the time to lean into its advantages instead of running away from the inevitable advances.

It’s not a question of whether to use AI or not. It’s a matter of how to use AI to your advantage.

While companies are tightening their budgets and scaling back staff, PPC marketers are constantly being asked to do more with less.

This is where AI comes in.

In fact, using AI can strengthen your ROI for paid media campaigns of all kinds (whatever channel you prefer).

Just make sure you don’t sacrifice your brand’s personality for a little efficiency.

One way you can do this is with Google’s generated AI assets (currently in beta). Using its Gemini-powered AI solution, the tool allows for more streamlined campaign creation and generated ad assets, including images, headlines, and descriptions for ads, and more.

Additionally, you’re likely already using one of Google’s Smart Bidding strategies to automate the bidding process.

With a combination of creativity and machine learning, your ads have the potential to go farther than ever before.

Your 2024 Plan Should Not Be Static

If the past year(s) have taught us anything in marketing, it’s to be fluid.

In some cases, tactics that used to be tried and true are now more volatile than ever.

Take advantage of advances in AI to boost your strategic advantage, and keep in mind platforms that you’ve typically shied away from – the time may come to incorporate them into your 2024 strategy.

What changes are you most excited to try this year?

More resources:

Featured Image: Sutthiphong Chandaeng/Shutterstock

PPC Automation Layering: How To Get More From Google Ads

Use PPC automation layering to your advantage to reduce the amount of busywork and increase strategic outputs in your campaigns.

Brooke Osmundson Brooke Osmundson 2.9K Reads
PPC Automation Layering: How To Get More From Google Ads

Believe it or not, PPC automation was around long before the days of ChatGPT.

But with the rise in popularity of AI, machine learning, and automation – where does that leave PPC management?

Staying tried and true to manual PPC management has been shown to limit efficiency and margins.

But PPC automation layering isn’t just for pros. Whether you’re managing one account or 10 accounts, having a human component alongside automation can be the key to success.

This in-depth guide will teach you:

  • What PPC automation layering is.
  • How automation has impacted Google Ads.
  • How automation has impacted PPC practitioners.
  • Use cases for PPC automation layering.

What Is Automation Layering?

PPC automation layering is the strategic use of multiple automation tools and rules to manage and optimize PPC campaigns.

The main goal of PPC automation layering is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your PPC efforts.

This is where automation layering comes in.

Automation layering leverages different automation features, technologies, and sometimes 3rd party tools at various levels of your campaign management.

Some examples of automation layering include:

  • Smart Bidding strategies – Ad platforms take care of keyword bidding based on goals input within campaign settings. Examples of Smart Bidding include Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, and more.
  • Automated PPC rules – Ad platforms can run specific account rules on a schedule based on the goal of the rule. An example would be to have Google Ads pause time-sensitive sale ads on a specific day and time.
  • PPC scripts – These are blocks of code that give ad platforms certain parameters to look out for and then have the platform take a specific action if those parameters are met.
  • Google Ads Recommendations tab – Google reviews campaign performance and puts together recommendations for PPC marketers to either take action on or dismiss if irrelevant.
  • Third-party automation tools – Tools such as Google Ads Editor, Optmyzr, Adalysis, and more can help take PPC management to the next level with their automated software and additional insights.

See the pattern here?

Automation and machine learning produce outputs of PPC management based on the inputs of PPC marketers to produce better campaign results.

How Has Automation Impacted Google Ads?

Over the years, Google Ads (as well as Microsoft Ads, Meta, etc.) have introduced countless automation features for marketers.

So, what’s their main goal here?

To make paid media management easier for advertisers.

In recent years, Google Ads has made a shift towards small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), with claims that setting up a campaign is as easy as inputting a few settings and letting Google handle the rest.

For more experienced advertisers, they’ve experienced first-hand the shift from hands-on PPC management to a more “hands-off” approach with automation features.

While everyone can agree that easier paid media management sounds great, the learning curve for marketers has been far from perfect.

Automation has essentially taken over many of the day-to-day management tasks that PPC advertisers were used to doing.

For example, a few automation features built into the Google Ads platform include:

  • Keyword and campaign bid management.
  • Audience expansion.
  • Automated ad asset creation.
  • Keyword expansion.
  • And much more.

In theory, having Google Ads take over much of the busy work sounds great.

But in reality, the shift to automation layering has been far from great.

This leads us to the next big question: Will automation replace PPC marketers?

Does Automation Replace PPC Experts?

Job layoffs and restructuring due to automation is certainly a sensitive topic.

Add in a looming economic slowdown, and you’ve got many marketers clinging to their roles as hard as they can.

The marketing industry has seen shifts in job responsibilities, specifically in the content space, thanks to platforms like ChatGPT, Bard, and more.

But it’s time to settle this debate once and for all.

Automation will not replace the need for PPC marketers.

Now, keep in mind that automation has already replaced many of the day-to-day tasks that PPC experts have been used to doing for the past decade or so.

What we have, and will continue to see, is a shift in the role of PPC experts.

Since automation and machine learning take the role of day-to-day management, PPC experts will spend more time doing things such as:

  • Analyzing data and data quality.
  • Strategic decision making.
  • Reviewing and optimizing outputs from automation.

Automation and machines are great at pulling levers, making overall campaign management more efficient.

But automation tools alone cannot replace human touch and creating a story based on data and insights.

This is the beauty of PPC automation layering.

Lean into what automation tools have to offer, which leaves you more time to become a more strategic PPC marketer.

PPC Automation Layering Use Cases

There are many ways that PPC marketers and automation technologies can work together for optimal campaign results.

Below are just a few examples of how to use automation layering to your advantage.

1. Make The Most Of Smart Bidding Capabilities

As mentioned earlier in this guide, Smart Bidding is one of the most useful PPC automation tools.

Google Ads has developed its own automated bidding strategies to take the guesswork out of manual bid management.

However, Smart Bidding is not foolproof and certainly not a “set and forget” strategy.

Smart Bidding outputs can only be as effective as the inputs given to the machine learning system.

So, how should you use automation layering for Smart Bidding?

First, pick a Smart Bidding strategy that best fits an individual campaign goal. You can choose from:

  • Target cost per action (CPA).
  • Target return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Maximize conversions.
  • Maximize conversion value.

Whenever starting a Smart Bidding strategy, it’s important to put some safeguards in place to reduce the volatility in campaign performance.

This could mean setting up an automated rule to alert you whenever significant volatility is reported, such as:

  • Spike in cost per click (CPC) or cost.
  • Dip in impressions, clicks, or cost.

Either of these scenarios could be due to learning curves in the algorithm, or it could be an indicator that your bids are too low or too high.

For example, say a campaign has a set target CPA goal of $25, but then all of a sudden, impressions and clicks fall off a cliff.

This could mean that the target CPA is set too low, and the algorithm has throttled ad serving to preserve only for individual users the algorithm thinks are most likely to purchase.

Without having an alert system in place, campaign volatility could go unnoticed for hours, days, or even weeks if you’re not checking performance in a timely manner.

2. Interact With Recommendations & Insights To Improve Automated Outputs

The goal of the ad algorithms is to get smarter every day and improve campaign performance.

But again, automated outputs are only as good as the input signals it’s been given at the beginning.

Many experienced PPC marketers tend to write off the Google Ads Recommendations or Insights tab due to perceptions of receiving irrelevant suggestions.

However, these systems were meant to learn from the input of marketers to better learn how to optimize.

Just because a recommendation is given in the platform does not mean you have to implement it.

The beauty of this tool is you have the ability to dismiss the opportunity and then tell Google why you’re dismissing it.

There’s even an option for “this is not relevant.”

Be willing to interact with the Recommendations and Insights tab on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to help better train the algorithms for optimizing performance based on what you signal as important.

Over time, these recommendations and insights can save you significant time over the weeks and months, which in turn gives you more time to focus on strategic measures in your account(s).

3. Automate Competitor Analysis With Tools

It’s one thing to ensure your ads and campaigns are running smoothly at all times.

Next-level strategy is using automation to keep track of your competitors and what they’re doing.

Multiple third-party tools have competitor analysis features to alert you on items such as:

  • Keyword coverage.
  • Content marketing.
  • Social media presence.
  • Market share.
  • And more.

Keep in mind that these tools are a paid subscription, but many are useful in many other automation areas outside of competitor analysis.

Some of these tools include Semrush, Moz, Google Trends, and Klue.

The goal is to not simply keep up with your competitors and copy what they’re doing.

Setting up automated competitor analysis helps you stay informed and can reinforce your market positioning or react in a way to help set you apart from competitor content.

In Summary

PPC automation layering has been around for a while and continues to mature each year.

While automation has replaced certain aspects of a PPC manager’s job, it can’t replace the necessary human components of an effective PPC strategy.

Use this guide to learn how to use automation layering to your advantage to get the most bang for your buck.

More resources:

Featured Image: 3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock

Smart Paid Strategy: 4 Tips To Save You $4K In Monthly Ad Spend

Optimize your marketing budget with top tools & tactics for reducing cost per lead and boosting ROI. Discover how to track paid strategy effectiveness.

CallRail CallRail 4.1K Reads
Smart Paid Strategy: 4 Tips To Save You $4K In Monthly Ad Spend

As a marketing agency, the bottom line for your clients comes down to how well you’re managing their budget.

No one likes the idea of wasted ad spend, but often, it can be hard to tell which funds are actually being put to good use.

Even when a campaign is successful, it’s important to understand which tactics are more effective than others.

How do you determine which platforms are generating the most quality leads for your clients? And how do you prove it?

With the right tools at your disposal, you can remove the guesswork from your marketing strategy and analyze performance more efficiently.

The key is to find out exactly what’s working and what’s not so you know where to focus your ad spend moving forward.

After all, a simple shift in budget allocation could ultimately save you thousands of dollars.

So, how can you optimize your marketing strategy and trim the unnecessary fat in your budget?

Let’s explore the top tools and tactics you can use to reduce your cost per lead and boost ROI this year.

Tip 1: Get A Strong Understanding Of Your True, Granular ROI

One of the biggest problems agency marketers face is limited insights, which can greatly impact decision-making.

Without the full picture of your marketing performance, it can be difficult to identify your top-performing – as well as underperforming – channels.

This was the challenge for shared workspace management and consulting firm Workspace Strategies.

However, with the right tracking and recording tools, they were able to gain valuable performance insights and pivot their strategy to eliminate wasted ad spend – ultimately saving them $1,000 per month!

So how’d they pull this off? Let’s dig deeper into how the firm was able to prove the true ROI for its campaigns.

The Downside Of Using Multi-Channel Advertising

The bigger a brand’s digital footprint, the more successful it’ll be, right? – Well, not necessarily.

Although it’s important to expand your online presence, there is such a thing as overdoing it.

It’s one thing to market on multiple online platforms, but how can you tell whether they actually bring value to your business?

Workspace Strategies was utilizing Google Ads, as well as various social media platforms to maintain the occupancy rates at their managed workspaces.

Jason, the firm’s Director of Operations, suspected that some of these channels were generating more leads than others.

However, he struggled to prove which marketing channels truly drive results.

Tracking & Optimizing For Maximum Campaign Success

The solution for Workspace Strategies, in this case, was simple: They were able to track and optimize their campaigns more effectively with Call Tracking by CallRail.

With this advanced tool, the firm was able to attribute every one of their leads to a specific channel, which helped them remove marketing spend from ineffective social platforms.

“When you’re making decisions about how to allocate your marketing budget, proof of ROI is everything. We got proof with CallRail.”

– Jason Tiemeier, Director of Operations at Workspace Strategies

Read the full case study to learn more about Workspace Strategies’ success.

How To Uncover Your Highest ROI Channel

With 360° data, you can:

  • See which sources and keywords are generating high-quality leads.
  • Pinpoint which paid ad campaigns are driving the most calls for your business.
  • Improve customer service using Call Recording to identify opportunities for staff training and coaching.
  • Speed up sales and drive ROI more efficiently.

If you’re ready to prove – and improve – the value of your marketing tactics, it’s time to add CallRail’s Call Tracking to your marketing tech stack.

Tip 2: Expand Your Datasets Outside Of Google Analytics 4

If you’re a business with multiple locations, tools like Google Analytics 4 may only provide you with a partial picture of your marketing ROI.

But what if you need to track the source of leads who contact your business by phone?

As businesses increasingly rely on phone calls as a valuable touchpoint for customer interactions, diversifying your datasets is even more important.

The Limitations Of GA4

While Google Analytics 4 certainly has its benefits, it also has its share of limitations.

Some of the most notable challenges include:

  • Complex data migration.
  • A new reporting interface.
  • Fewer attribution models.
  • Limited data collection.

For Workspace Strategies, the limited data Google Analytics provided made things particularly difficult, as it painted an incomplete picture of user interactions and behavior.

However, with Call Recording by CallRail they were able to collect valuable customer insights and close more sales.

How To Improve Customer Interactions With Call Monitoring

Sometimes, the problem with businesses simply lies in how they’re interacting with their customers – anything from excessively long phone calls to weak sales pitches could end up costing them conversions.

For instance, when Jason of Workspace Strategies started monitoring recorded phone conversations with incoming leads in CallRail, he uncovered some missteps made by staff members while trying to close sales.

As a result, the firm was able to quickly incorporate these findings into staff coaching and training.

Find out more about how Workspace Strategies identified and corrected their client-customer communication gaps.

Tip 3: Boost Campaign Results With AI-Enhanced Call Data Analysis

Often, businesses that receive a high volume of inbound phone calls through their marketing campaigns struggle to qualify those leads efficiently and accurately.

However, trying to outsource this task can be expensive and drive up the overall cost per lead.

For example, digital marketing agency Wit Digital dealt with inaccurate and expensive lead qualification, with their cost per lead sitting well above the industry average.

To resolve this, they powered up Call Tracking with CallRail’s Conversation Intelligence software.

As a result, Wit Digital is now saving up to $4,000 per month with a 64% lower cost per lead.

Learn more about how the agency benefited from CallRail in the full case study.

How To Use AI To Unlock The Data Within Your Calls

Conversation Intelligence uses AI technology to analyze your calls and turn your conversations into easy-to-act-on insights.

This advanced technology can:

  • Automatically record and transcribe all of your phone calls with near human-level accuracy, so you can easily refine keyword lists for agency clients.
  • Easily spot keywords and phrases in every call for automated insights and analytics.
  • Define rules to classify calls automatically when specific conversation criteria are met.

“With Conversation Intelligence, I have new insights into what’s working in our campaigns and what’s not. Sometimes even a simple word change can make all the difference.”

Ryan Cook, Director of Client Strategy at Wit Digital

Automate Your Analysis & Achieve Higher Accuracy

With Conversation Intelligence, you get more accurate:

  • Keyword spotting.
  • Auto-tagging and lead qualification.
  • Sentiment analysis.

Plus, you can automatically filter and categorize your phone calls – for instance, if a call from a first-time caller lasts more than 60 seconds, you’ll know it’s very likely a qualified lead and can have it automatically categorized as such.

By removing the need to manually listen to calls and categorize them, Wit Digital was able to stop overpaying vendors to analyze their call data.

Wit Digital is now getting a better return on its own marketing efforts and retaining more customers as they too get better ROI on their pay-per-click campaigns.

And now, CallRail’s new multi-language transcriptions can even help agencies overcome language barriers between clients and their customers, regardless of their native tongue.

Ready to automate your data analysis and boost your campaign results? Try CallRail’s Conversation Intelligence free for 14 days.

Tip 4: Consolidate Your Marketing Data & Streamline Your Process

Sometimes, the hassle of navigating between multiple platforms can be overwhelming.

And as a marketing agency, having easy access to your most critical data points is essential for making informed decisions and optimizing your strategies effectively.

But what if you could have a comprehensive snapshot of your marketing ROI seamlessly presented in a single, centralized platform?

With CallRail’s integrations, agencies can easily pull together analytics and reports from Google Analytics and Google My Business, while saving valuable time.

Start streamlining your process now with CallRail’s free trial.

Get The Most Out Of Your Marketing Budget With CallRail Today

As agencies strive to eliminate wasted ad spend and maximize their clients’ ROI in 2024, CallRail‘s advanced tool selection offers a game-changing solution.

By leveraging Call Tracking and Conversation Intelligence, agencies can refine strategies, enhance client retention, and achieve a better return on marketing efforts.

Follow Workspace Strategies’ and Wit Digital’s paths to success by integrating CallRail into your marketing strategy today.

Media Planning: 4 Tips For Planning Your Digital Media Mix

Tailor campaigns for diverse industries, delivering bespoke digital solutions efficiently to save you time and streamline your process.

Josh McCoy Josh McCoy 3.8K Reads
Media Planning: 4 Tips For Planning Your Digital Media Mix

From an agency advertiser’s perspective, our job is fun and exciting but also challenging and laborious in the same breath.

Each scoped campaign, across a myriad of industries and objectives, can present the daunting task of developing the best digital media to approach the right audience and satisfy the client’s needs.

While projects should never be scoped in a templated one-size-fits-all manner, to save you time and worry, your process should.

Understanding The Ask

When confronted with a client’s need, it is essential to understand where we need to be by the end to understand where we can start.

There are often multiple objectives – for example, to build awareness but also generate leads.

This is not achieved in one fell swoop; effectively, one leads to another.

Ask the client, “What would be considered a success in the end?”

I know that we have all seen so many different marketing funnel variations over the years, but simplified, it should be a part of your initial consideration set.

Understanding Objectives


I like to say that often you won’t be paid today for the work you did today – but someday you will.

This is the appropriate mindset to convey to your team and clients.

The work you do here will pay dividends and result in non-paid benefits in the future, unlike paid lead generation campaigns, where the leads stop when the spend stops.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:


The middle ground, or what I call the “considerate audience,” typically knows who you are.

Your job is to help them on their journey to understand that you are a likely candidate for their conversion – that is to say, they should buy from you.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:


Being present for those who are potentially looking for you is key to closing the loop on a customer journey.

Tactics to achieve this objective include:

Understanding The Journey

Audiences vary so much between industries, products, and service types.

Where one audience may typically have a very short journey, your efforts can be better focused on the action phase with SEO or PPC.

Essentially, be there when they are looking for a first-touch conversion.

Awareness should be a critical component for a long-journey audience such as car buyers, where there are nearly two dozen touchpoints.

Understand that most of the people who will see your ad will not be a customer this week, month, or maybe even year. Your job is to create familiarity for when their journey will start.

Driving brand awareness early can shore up your total amount of touchpoints needed to convert.

If you don’t necessarily know your audience well – or their journey – do your homework.

There is a wealth of resources out there that can help you better understand audiences, current trends, and behaviors – such as the Consumer Insights section of Think With Google.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to talk to the internal client sales team. They know common behaviors, ideal search terms, and where prospects typically interact with the brand along a journey.

Scoping Opportunity

By this point in the process, you should understand the ask, the potential customer, and the weighted level of need from across the funnel.

This now will allow you to understand what you should likely estimate within budget.

Media Analysis Tip

While scoping for PPC, SEO, and paid social can typically be a self-serve process, media planning can often take many resources to assist.

It is also best to be prepped with knowledge of campaign length or flighting needs. Understanding geographic needs will also better help to prepare your vendor rep in providing spend insight.

Getting a feel for cost will help you understand where you can advertise. Will your play be print, out-of-home, streaming TV, or all of the above?

For DMA-level advertising, you can use tools such as SQAD to give you population insights for various age groups by gender. It also allows for you to estimate TV and radio costs across desired geographic areas.

guidelineScreenshot from SQAD, November 2023

Social Analysis Tip

We haven’t been given the go-ahead yet to build out social media ads, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot create a prospecting campaign to gain a sense of how large our audience is and what amount of coverage we can gain from this area.

This is available on most of the top social media platforms such as Meta, X, LinkedIn Ads, Snapchat, and more.

Simply begin creating a campaign.

From the earlier “ask” process point, you have a general sense of whether paid social is meant for awareness or for driving traffic.

In this Facebook Ads example, you can see that by inputting your geographic needs, demographics, interests, etc., will give you a general sense of your audience size, estimated reach, or clicks.

Digest these numbers and then divide the impressions by the reach figure to gain a sense of frequency. Are you present at least once a week in front of your audience?

Facebook Ads exampleImage from Facebook Ads, November 2023

PPC Analysis Tip

We don’t want to get into a full-scale analysis of PPC competitors; that should come at the stage when you receive approval on your full digital company.

For now, try leveraging a tool like Semrush; ask for direct competitors and review them in a competitive tool like SpyFu. Here, you can gain a sense of their paid keyword coverage.

You can see how many keywords you may need to target and how much you might need to spend.

Additionally, review the competitors and, in total, all of the keywords that are targeted and how closely these relate to your target audience.

No digital analysis tool is perfect, but a service like this is great for estimated spend vs. pulling a number out of the air.

SpyFu overview of SemrushScreenshot from SpyFu, November 2023
paid competitorsScreenshot from SpyFu, November 2023

SEO Analysis Tip

Run your domain through a ranking assessment tool, such as the Performance-Search Console section of Google Search Console, to understand initially how much of your overall keyword presence relates to the client or management ask at hand.

If your niche visibility is severely waning, a cursory glance at the types of content ranking in Organic Search will allow you to understand the ideal amount of content ideation, creation, and promotion that will be needed to suffice.

Google Search Console performance resultsScreenshot from Google Search Console, November 2023

Time Is Something That We All Need More Of

There is no real turnkey solution to the scoping needs of our clients, but it never hurts to craft a process that will save time and resources to give you the best foot forward in your upcoming campaign.

Being able to confront your client objectives with peace of mind in knowing the ask while also understanding your audience coverage is a great feeling!

More resources: 

Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

[PPC] Automation & AI: What Humans Should Be Doing For Success
In partnership with Rundown

Top tools & tactics to reduce your cost per lead (CPL) and boost ROI in 2024.

This Rundown includes:

  • The 7 changes marketers should make to their paid strategy in 2024.
  • How to get more from Google Ads using automation layering.
  • 4 tips to save you $4k in monthly ad spend.
  • Strategies for planning diverse campaigns across industries and meeting unique client needs.

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