This is the sixth in a series of interviews we’re conducting with AdWords advertisers who got unusually high scores using our AdWords Performance Grader. We’re reaching out to high scorers to find out what strategies contribute to their strong AdWords performance. For more in this series, see:
This week’s interview is with Jason White. Jason is the Marketing Director for Stadri Emblems, a company that designs and produces custom embroidered patches. Like other millennial marketers, he tells his company’s story through the use of blogging, social media, and search engine marketing. He’s fascinated by the intricacies of pay-per-click marketing and the multiple challenges that are part of the game. Give Jason a virtual high five via Twitter at @sonray.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been using AdWords? Are you an Agency or an Advertiser? What is your primary goal for AdWords marketing?
I’ve been using AdWords for about three years but I got really focused last year as an in-house guy for Stadri Emblems. We make custom embroidered patches for the outside of garments and woven labels, like the types that are sewn into the back of your shirt. I get some really funny responses when I tell people I market custom patches, but it’s actually a really cool industry, and I’m constantly blown away with the crazy-awesome designs our customers want made into patches. It’s also a unique challenge: bikers use patches, but so do Boy Scouts – the weekend fun of a motorcycle enthusiast is probably not suitable for a Boy Scout. Our primary goal for AdWords is lead generation. Without leads, we don’t get to eat, and I love to eat.
There are tons of metrics in AdWords – what are your top 3 key performance metrics in AdWords and why?
You really can drown in the data they give you! There are many metrics I look at but if I could only pick three they would be:
1. Return on investment: If my campaigns aren’t making the company money, we’re in trouble! I love PPC because it uses analytics and creativity – two very different skills – to reach the goal. It’s also a risk; there is no guarantee you will see a return on the investment. The analytics help you zero in on profitable keywords, while the creativity helps you maximize every click. Focusing on ROI helps lessen the risk and makes the gamble a bit more calculated.
2. Impression share: It’s a quick way to get an overview of the account and to see how I’m sticking it to my competition (or how they are stealing my lunch). It helps me decide where I should be spending time.
3. Quality Score: My budget changes way more often than I like. Making sure my Quality Score numbers are healthy enables me to maximize the budget I do have and more accurately predict what I can do when I beg for more money. As a data nerd, I enjoy playing around with ad text and landing pages to see how it affects Quality Score and cost per click. I’ve seen some dramatic decreases in cost per click by testing different Quality Score variables. It’s all about getting a better placement than your competitor; doing so while paying less than they are is good wholesome fun!
Can you describe your AdWords management strategy? How do you set your campaign objectives, and how do you know what’s realistic or not?
I think David Ogilvy’s “never stop testing” quote sums up my strategy pretty well. I’m not afraid to try anything to see what will happen and I’m always driven to better my best. I’ve had some massively embarrassing failures, but I’ve also had some huge gains from wacky experiments. No matter what, I come away with a little more knowledge and some new ideas for yet more tests. I’m lucky that we have an in-house Web Developer whom I drive crazy with my test ideas but you’ll never know what can cause the phones to light up unless you test, test, test, reload, and test again. I prefer to make data-driven decisions, but my budget always seems to dictate what is realistic for a given campaign. It’d be great to be like Scrooge McDuck and do the backstroke in my huge budget, but getting more out of less can be equally rewarding when the hard decisions need to be made – or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
Describe your AdWords management workflow. When you’re doing your account optimization work, how do you decide what to do next in your account? How do you prioritize your work?
I use a Google calendar to remind me when to check a test and when that test started. If I get an idea for a test or ad copy, I’ll often add it to the calendar to be tested in the future. As silly as it sounds, I keep a handwritten journal in a marble notebook. The change history report is great but I’m always left wondering what the past Jason was thinking. Keeping a journal really helps me slow down and get a handle on the mess the past Jason left for the current Jason – or how he set us up for success! My last tool is a custom Excel spreadsheet that I update daily with many different metrics. It helps me track the five most important parts of our company and address areas that need improvement and more focus. When the boss man is asking why we are doing worse than last week, but no one really remembers what we did last week, having those numbers close at hand is key.
Any advice or tips for AdWords marketers that didn’t score as well as you?
Staying focused on where your profits are will never serve you wrong.
Put your budget on your strengths while relentlessly testing or improving your weaknesses.
Lots of coffee and dance music are imperative to designing and optimizing a successful campaign. Cookies don’t hurt either.
What did you think about the categories we included in the AdWords Grader – were they fair? Anything missing?
Being an in-house guy, the PPC account falls squarely on my shoulders, and sometimes I’m a total head-case about it. The grader was kind of like having a coach – good for my psyche while giving me some new ideas. I think that overall the grader looks at the account very holistically; it highlighted some areas where I can squeak some more gains. I scored low in the Text Ad Optimization area, but I attribute this to letting some ads run longer to achieve statistical significance – you need enough impressions to have accurate data! It also highlights that no matter what tool is being utilized, you still need to use your brain to interpret the data. I was really impressed with the tool, and will be using it in the future to improve my accounts. The “match type best practice pass/fail” was awesome. There is a ton of information regarding match types but few really grasp the power of brackets, quotes, and plus signs.
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