PPC is a place where the inexperienced can easily throw money away if they don’t know what they’re doing. How do you navigate the ever-evolving world of paid search, whether you’re a freelancer or part of a team at a small business?

Anu Adegbola, Director of Client Strategy at Clix Marketing, describes the evolution of PPC, as well as those foundational principles that will never change. She shares the limitations of paid search, the best way to create a budget for your campaign, and how you can get more done by taking advantage of automation.

Key takeaways on how to PPC like a pro

  • PPC has come a long way since we started, but there are some things in paid search that don’t change.
  • At the end of the day, your biggest job is to drive traffic, but it also needs to be traffic that brings in the best returns.
  • If you’re in digital advertising—especially paid search—you’re also very much in tech. It’s not just about writing copy, but using a multitude of tools.
  • Paid search does not work in a silo nor can it create demand. It is part of a family of digital marketing tactics – SEO, email marketing, brand awareness, etc.
  • Putting more money into paid search doesn’t always equal more revenue – at some point, you will experience diminishing returns.
  • 2021 is the year of automation and data privacy.

Step 1: Create brand awareness – Paid search on its own can’t create demand

  • You can create the greatest copy, target the best keywords, and create a stellar landing page; yet get no searches. Why? Because brand awareness is lacking.
  • If a brand has not done enough activity to pull prospective clients into their funnel, paid search – no matter how big the budget – won’t work.


Step 2 : Know your budget and test everything – Paid search is competitive

  • Be crystal clear on your profit margins, because it will affect your CPCs (Cost Per Click).
    • This depends on your particular niche. You don’t necessarily want to bid on terms that are not as competitive, and that you’re already showing up for, organically.
      • Test everything anyway before making decisions on any of your keywords.


Step 3: Stay informed – so that industry professionals, especially freelancers, can stay up-to-date in this ever-evolving space


Q and A on how to PPC like a pro

Q: I had a client that, unbeknownst to us, worked with a PPC agency while we were running social campaigns for them. Is there any way around a situation like this? Is it just a case of having to beat a client with a stick?

A: A lot of the time, it is just beating a client with a stick. Let them know at your weekly meetings when the numbers you’ve been running don’t add up. Taking a step back, this should actually be part of your first conversation when onboarding a new client. Set their expectations and tell them that paid search is not going to work on its own, and to inform you if they’re outsourcing any other element of their campaign. Speak not in terms of what you want, but in how your strategy will benefit them. Make it about the client.

Q Where do you think most small businesses go wrong when starting out in PPC?

A: Many hire a marketing manager to do everything. “Dabbling” in paid search and SEO obviously does not mean that they specialize in those areas. You’re only paying one person, but you’re asking them to do the job of three people. Hire paid search managers by being clear in the job search about exactly what you’re looking for, and invest in their training.

Q: What courses would you recommend for a PPC professional?

A: There are different kinds of pivots: positioning and messaging, and product pivoting. Knowing the customers, gathering the data, helps leaders to make decisions to pivot or adjust things.

Positioning and messaging is a marketing thing.

Q: Should you bid against your competitor’s branded terms?

A: It depends on how good your offer is. Only do it if you’ve got a better product that is clearly a better product, which includes how you express your offer through your messaging.

Q: Should you do PPC constantly for brand awareness or only for certain campaigns?

A: It does benefit to do PPC consistently because people fall in love with brands more than they do with products.

Q: What is your methodology for testing PPC campaigns?

A: You want to get your data and results as quickly as possible. Start with a hypothesis and create your budget around that as well. The budget has to be sizable enough to get statistically-significant results as soon as you can.

Q: What should you automate first in a small business?

A: Measuring your Quality Score.

Q: What if you’ve run campaigns with low-Quality Score keywords but have had high conversations?

A: This usually happens around competitive keywords. It’s obviously not something to worry about if results have been consistent; however, when the score regularly goes up and down, it’s time to troubleshoot.

Q: How do you manage multiple PPC campaigns for multiple markets in multiple countries?

A: You need a lot of time and a lot of support. Automate as much as you can.

Q: How do you stay happy when things get stressful?

A: Coffee gets me through my worst tantrums. More importantly, I always have on-hand my go-to happy things. I’ve got loads of plants in my house. My family is always a phone call away. You also reduce the stress by really trying to pinpoint the source of the mistake or setback and focusing on how to prevent it from happening in the future.