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Paid Search Magic Manifesto

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Welcome to Paid Search Magic, this is Episode 1, where I introduce you to what this podcast is all about.

Takeaways & Actionable Insights

  • Paid search is a powerful tool to drive fast results in magical, creative ways.
  • The intention of this podcast is for you to feel inspired, confident, and motivated.
  • A negative, fear-based approach to teaching is bad for the industry and leads to worse decisions.
  • This podcast is designed to cut through the fear and the fluff and give you actionable lessons and tools.
  • Our special guests will help you improve your PPC technical skills, professional development, and knowledge of related industries.

Paid Search can be Magical

I think paid search is something magical. You may have heard me say this before. As you really are involved in paid search – as you get better at any skill – you start to really be able to increase what you’re able to do with it. I love that with paid search, we’re able to see results right away. As you adjust settings and get better at strategies, you can build your revenue and lower costs and accomplish exactly what your goals are.

You’re commanding the elements of commerce, which is a really great place to be. You transcend general competency of just “I’m a competent paid search marketer” robot to this level of “I’m a freaking wizard.” Revenue, conversion volume! You make that happen.This is where the wizard / magic analogy comes from.

I’m not an actual expert in wizardry, so this is based on my very basic understanding, forgive me. But I think there are 3 qualities of wizards that translate pretty directly to paid search. 

A wizard is all-knowing. You want to have a deep knowledge of your accounts, and know exactly what’s going on at any given time.

In addition to omniscience, a wizard can expertly solve problems. That’s something we can do within an account once we know how to use different settings and segmentation.

A wizard will swiftly achieve extraordinary results. One of the great things about paid search is it doesn’t take a long time to start seeing changes. It will depend on what you change, but especially if you’re looking at pre-click changes, you can start seeing changes as recently as the next day to find out what’s working and what’s not really fast.It’s an exciting way to be able to quickly “save the day.”

Setting an Intention

I probably won’t do this in most episodes, but I want to kick off episode 1 with an intention. When you join me at Paid Search Magic, I want you to feel:

  • encouraged
  • confident
  • inspired
  • motivated
  • capable
  • connected

Paid search is a very engaging, full-brained activity. It requires strong analytical, left-brain skills like statistics, probability, budget management, reporting and analysis. It also demands creativity for messaging, targeting, and content creation. I want you to feel excited about new ideas to try, and I want you to feel more secure in the skills you already have. I’m hoping this podcast can help to counteract some of the insecurities and feelings of overwhelm that you and most paid search marketers feel about the industry.

Paid search is a very engaging, full-brained activity.

Let’s have a positive conversation

Let’s stop the fear-based, negative messages about marketing. I get it, clickbait works, and when you can play to the curiosity gap or the fear of missing out, you can build a lot of buzz. How else can you justify headlines like:

  • SEO is Dead
  • You’re Doing Marketing All Wrong
  • The Seven Deadly Sins of Button Copy

As a side note, it’s interesting to me how much our data-driven industry relies on theological frameworks to communicate its messages. I’m launching a podcast that uses “magic” in its name so I’m not claiming any higher ground. But take note of how many industry leaders are pitching you their ideas and philosophies with no data to back them up, just proclamations about what you “shall” and “shall not” be doing because that’s what they’ve decided is best.

it’s interesting to me how much our data-driven industry relies on theological frameworks to communicate its messages

I’m not saying you have to chase down everyone offering up a hack or an insight with “show me the data!” There’s a place for best practices, there’s a place for experiments that you try yourself without relying on someone else’s stats. But here’s my problem with fear-based messaging:

It introduces stress.

When you’re told you’re doing something wrong, when information is presented in an aggressively negative way, you feel incompetent and you get stressed out. Stress disturbs your mental equilibrium and puts you in a worse position to think clearly and strategically. That benefits exactly no one – not you, not your clients, not your customers, not your company.

When you’re learning from people who are shaming you, even if it’s just to get their point across, you shut down the ability to fully process the information and evaluate whether it’s right for your situation.

This leads to a serious lack of strategy.

Imagine you’re reading a cooking blog and there’s someone in the forums who keeps asking questions like:

  • How much salt should I use when baking?
  • Which is the best oven temperature: 350 or 425?
  • Should I scale my recipe for 6 people or for 20?

You’d really wonder about this person’s mental state, let alone their baking skills. Yet PPC forums and chats are filled with questions whose only logical answer is “it depends” because the questions lack any sort of context or desired outcome. We’re so used to people asking what match type is best, what targeting is best, what tool or setting or platform is best, that we don’t even realize there’s a problem. We don’t notice that questions like this reflect a lack of strategy and a deeper problem than just lacking the answer.

A lack of strategy makes everyone’s job harder.

Let’s assume you’re happy to overlook the content that appeals solely to your fear of missing out. The problem didn’t go away completely. You know who didn’t skip that article called “Why you need to have at least 100 keywords in every ad group, or your campaigns will fail”?

Your client.

And now you have to take time away from managing the account to have a phone call, or send an email with a POV. You’re forced to pay attention to it and provide a response, even if it doesn’t merit one. At best, you satiate and even educate your client, your manager, or your CEO. At worst, they’re upset you just challenged their assessment of what should work, or you’re forced to run an expensive and unnecessary test, or switch tactics altogether. None of these outcomes is conducive to you spending your time getting better as a marketer and getting better results with PPC.

You know who didn’t skip that article called “Why you need to have at least 100 keywords in every ad group, or your campaigns will fail”? Your client.

Like I said at the beginning of this episode, my intention is for you to feel competent and comfortable as you grow your strengths and abilities. I’ve found that being strategic leads to better decisions. Stephen Covey taught that one of the principles for being highly successful is to begin with the end in mind. If you know your goal and what you’re trying to accomplish, you can make focused, targeted decisions that will keep you on the right path.

One of my all time favorite quotes is “a problem clearly defined is already partially solved.” This applies to critical thinking generally and PPC specifically. When you know exactly what you’re trying to do in your account, it becomes much easier. When you’re just chasing tactics and hoping something works, you’ve got a challenging road ahead.

A problem clearly defined is already partially solved.

Please allow me to introduce myself

If I’m going to have a podcast episode introducing the show, I should probably introduce myself as well. I’ve been doing PPC since late 2004. I had actually started out at a company working as a part time web designer.

One day their marketing girl came back from a conference and was asked by the management team to explain what CTR meant. She couldn’t do it. They fired her and asked me if I wanted to try writing Google Ads. Before long I was a Senior Account Manager, basically responsible for client management, marketing strategy, copywriting, and reporting for all of our digital advertising clients.

This was before Google acquired Urchin – Google Analytics didn’t exist yet, Facebook was a few years from being created.  The mobile moment was a future prediction, not a past event. Entering your credit card information online was still a fairly rare occurrence.

My career growth in digital marketing hasn’t quite matched the pace of the growth of digital marketing itself, but I’ve been able to work at some of the top paid search companies in the country, and I currently work as the director of paid search at a marketing and analytics agency. I’ve managed client budgets from $50,000/ day to less than $1,000/ month.
I want to tell you about something that happened to me in 2008. I was working full-time in a paid search department for a large advertising agency. All my accounts were for Fortune 100 clients. I was on the phone with a pharmaceutical client who wanted to get more leads from AdWords. Their landing page didn’t even have a conversion mechanism on it.

Their web design was handled by an entirely separate vendor and I ended up on a conference call with the client, their design vendor, the analytics department, and me representing the paid search department. I was trying to explain that for PPC to work better, we needed to have a better landing page.

Nobody would listen.

The design work was already complete, and the agency that had programmed a flash site with no CTA on the page was not interested in me telling them how to do their job. In 2007 I had been wearing all the digital marketing hats and I knew that a successful paid search program demands good landing pages, good analytics and tracking, a good holistic approach. Even as specialists, we’re part of a larger landscape, and it serves us to understand the greater whole.

I want to be successful, and I want the same for you

One of my favorite things about paid search is driving amazing results for clients. That’s probably a bit obvious, but it honestly is part of the core of who I am. If you’re into personality mapping, I’m an Enneagram Type 5 (I think Enneagrams are fascinating – if you want more info, check out the link). The basic desire of an Enneagram 5 is to be capable and competent. The basic human desire. Not to feel peace or balance. Not to feel loved. Not self-protection. It’s to be competent. The basic fear of Type 5 is being useless, helpless, or incapable.
This factors wildly into what motivates me and rewards me in paid search management. It also affects what type of information I find valuable. It’s why I personally have such a strong reaction to fear-based messaging, I hate the artificial threat that I’m doing something wrong, because I’m fighting that real fear all the time.
Posts that provide no value are also personally frustrating to me. I want real, valuable information – If you’re going to write about the latest AdWords release, I want it to do more than just rehash what AdWords already published on their blog.
If you’re going to teach a concept, I’m looking to you to teach it, and not just compare it to pop culture. If you write an article called “What Jennifer Lawrence’s acceptance speech can teach us about location extensions” I hope that you include actionable information, and not just meandering analogies about the red carpet.

If you write an article called “What Jennifer Lawrence’s acceptance speech can teach us about location extensions” I hope that you include actionable information, and not just meandering analogies about the red carpet.

I know everyone has their own style, and their own way of learning. Please find what works for you and keep at it. This podcast is for those of you who are looking for specific ways to be more excellent at paid search. I’m not going to spoon feed you every tactic or solution – as if I even could – but I’m going to provide you with weekly lessons and tools to help you on your journey to success.

The Power of the Paid Search Magic podcast

Every week we’ll take on a paid search or related topic hand-picked to help you become a more successful marketer. We’ll have fireside chats and Q&As from time to time, but most episodes will feature interviews with special guests from one of these categories:

PPC professionals with advice to help you sharpen your technical skills. Learn strategies from industry experts that will help you take your paid search game to the next level. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear from:

  • Matt Umbro will share his tips on how to write great text ads, including some of the more challenging topics like dynamic ads and ad customizers.
  • Jordon Meyer will talk to us about shopping ads, how to structure campaign and data feeds, and how to manage high bounce rates.

Paid search pros who help you navigate your career path. In these episodes, we get out of the account interface and into conversations about professional development.

  • On the very next episode, Johnathan Dane reveals how he creates sharable, branded content for KlientBoost that grows his business.
  • Kirk Williams shares his insights on the importance of client management, and why we need to have more of a dialog around this topic.

Subject matter experts from adjacent teams, departments, or industries. Paid Search should not be siloed, and we’ll be talking to specialists in analytics, SEO, landing page optimization, conversion rate optimization, programmatic display, social media, marketing automation, and other areas of emphasis to really grow your competency.

  • Will Critchlow is the founder of Distilled and has a background in auction theory. He focuses more on organic search, and he’ll be sharing insights about how machine learning and implied intent apply to PPC.
  • Joanna Wiebe founded Copy Hackers, and she’s going to help us learn how to make better landing pages that will improve conversion rates.

Each of our guests and experts will be giving you actionable ideas for how to better understand the industry and improve your skill level. We’ll also have detailed show notes on so you can listen along without worrying you’ll forget something. I hope you’ll join me on this weekly journey to explore the art and science of PPC and discover the magic of paid search.