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Discover the Magic of Shopping Campaigns with Jordon Meyer

with Jordon Meyer

Today we’re talking about Shopping Campaigns with Jordon Meyer, who is the Founder and President  of PPC agency Granular. Jordon and the team at Granular have managed over $50 million in pay per click ad spend, ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies like Best Buy, Master Lock and Summerfest. His most memorable moment in PPC is spending over $300,000 in a single day, during Cyber Monday at Best Buy.

Highlights and Take-Aways

  • A clean data feed is essential for optimizing Shopping Campaigns, since it fills in the gap for both keyword lists and ads.
  • Fixing a data feed is not a straight-shot; it can be a complicated process.
  • Search terms, negative matching, labels, and secret columns downloads can help with campaign performance.
  • New releases and insights from Google can make management and optimizations easier.
  • Immersing yourself in digital marketing can help grow your skillset.

Show Notes

Amy: Alright, Jordon, thanks so much for being on the show. I’m excited to talk to you about shopping campaigns.

Jordon: Yeah, absolutely Amy. Thanks so much for having me. This is definitely a big passion of mine. It’s part of the overall paid search mix. But yeah, shopping is so important for e-commerce companies – it’s nice to talk about this at length for a little bit.

Amy: Yeah, definitely. And like you said, it can be such an essential part. It also seems to be really challenging. As I’ve done audits for different companies, some are just killing it with shopping; their best campaigns are the shopping campaigns. And some are barely breaking even, or not even breaking even, and it’s almost a loss. In your experience, have you found that there are certain things that successful shopping campaigns will have in common?

Jordon: I’ve definitely seen some of the results. Certain accounts are really heavily weighted towards shopping. They spend a lot of their budget, the majority of their budget on shopping. And one client in particular of ours, almost uses text ads as kind of an ancillary product. Like we’re barely running it, just because – Product Listing Ads or Shopping is so profitable for them.

Successful Shopping Campaigns start with clean data

Some of the most successful campaigns that I’ve seen are just really starting at the data:

  • They’re using really strong manufacturer data; they have all of that built out in the excel table.
  • Their pricing is competitive.
  • Their shipping is also competitive.
  • The best ones have a recognizable brand, and they’re doing other advertising efforts to kind of help boost that brand.

So as far as a couple of those items, not everyone can offer really good pricing. Not everyone can offer free shipping. And not everyone can have a strong brand, especially if you’re a start up. But the thing that you can have is really strong data on the back. And make sure that your feed is really clean. And you giving Google exactly what they want.

Make sure that your feed is really clean. And you giving Google exactly what they want.

Amy:  I think this will be different for agency side, versus in house. But how would you recommend that someone ensure that their data’s really clean?

Jordon: If you’re working on behalf of a client, or if you’re in house– Most of the situations that we’ve seen is – someone is selling someone else’s product. So this isn’t the manufacturer doing PLA’s. This is a distributor or a re-seller or retailer selling someone else’s product.

The key is to working with the actual manufacturer, and making sure that they give you the accurate data. They keep the pricing up to date. They give you all of the specs that Google cares about. Like size, color, gender. Some of the shipping things like weight, dimensions. There’s a lot of columns.

If you just look at a spreadsheet of a Google feed, it’s pretty daunting and intimidating. But if you just think about it, line by line, and actually think of it as a product, I don’t think it’s as intimidating. Because then you understand if you go kind of column by column what each part of the feed contains, and why Google actually needs it. Because it’s just important to have basically every column full of data that Google wants.

If you actually think of it as a product, I don’t think it’s as intimidating.

One of the big ones is the category. And this one’s been a little problematic in the past. And it actually still is. Because Google tries their best to categorize everything. It’s between 50 and 100 types of categories. And they’re all kind of broken down by hierarchy. So you can look at lawn and garden equipment, and then power equipment, and then lawnmowers. So that would be 2 layers deep in the tree:

  • lawn and garden equipment
    • power equipment
      • lawnmowers

And Google tries to get close to what the exact product is. But I think they fail a little bit. So it leaves some ambiguity up to the retailer, up to the person managing the feed. That can cause some performance issues down the line.

Some of the accounts we’ve taken over, I’ve seen some of the feeds are using that first level category, which isn’t the best. Because it’s not very specific. So they’re just bidding on, or they’re categorizing it as lawn and garden equipment. When realistically they could go a couple of layers deeper, and tell Google exactly what the product is. So that’s definitely a big part to consider.

Fixing a data feed can be messy & require lots of buy-in

Amy: I can see how that would make a big difference. You mentioned having them go back to the manufacturer and request a cleaner feed. How receptive are your clients if you’re saying, “Hey this is a problem here. You need to fix this”? How able are they usually to get their data cleaned up? Is that an easy fix, or is that something that you’re probably working on for a series of weeks or months to get everything cleaned up the way you want it?

Jordon: That is definitely not an easy process. Maybe 1 out of 10 clients really understands how important this is. And hopefully some clients listen to this, and really this drives home with them that it’s so important to try to get that data correct. And they should really put a lot of effort into contacting the manufacturer or– there’s even some third parties out there that work more closely with manufacturers. And then kind of feed that data into retailers and distributors.

But yeah, it’s a huge problem. Just because it takes a lot of time. Manufacturers are kind of notorious for not providing extremely clean data. They have really antiquated spreadsheets themselves, even though – if you think to yourself – like this product is coming off an assembly line that they’re in 100% control of. Like they should have the most beautiful pictures, the best descriptions. Everything should be perfect.

But over and over again, that’s just not the case. So yeah, it’s definitely an uphill battle, trying to get that data clean, and up to date. So a lot of times, you just have to get your hands dirty. So even if you’re in house or agency side, you have to spend some time updating some descriptions yourself. Re-writing the titles. And those are the big ones that – like a normal person can actually do, without knowing a ton about the product.

A lot of times, you just have to get your hands dirty

The things that you can’t do are like – you can’t make up a product picture. You can’t make up the weight. There’s certain things that you just definitely need to get from the manufacturer side.

Amy: Let’s say that you have a new client who wants to start working with you. And they’re like ready to sign on to Granular. And then, for their shopping ads, they’re like, “Okay, we’re not going to give you direct access to the Merchant Center feed. We’re just going to link it up, and we’ll go ahead and control all that. You just manage it for us.” Is that something you would go forward with, or would that be a deal breaker for you?

Jordon: We haven’t experienced it a lot, but it’s actually a timely question. About a month and a half ago, we signed someone on, who was in this exact situation. The feed looked okay when we audited the account initially before we signed the agreement. Everything was pretty good. So that wasn’t one of the first things we asked – was access to Merchant account.

But then, once we saw some issues coming through on the AdWords side, we tried to get access, and we’re still trying to get access. So it’s – it’s definitely a big issue. Because you’re not only dealing with an owner or a C level person at the company. You’re dealing with their IT team, their security team. People who are really paranoid and worried about their data integrity.

And it’s been really hard to get the keys to some of the Merchant accounts. Even though, realistically, it’s not that big of a deal. We’ve been doing this – like I’ve personally been doing this for a decade. Everyone on my team has been doing this at least 3 years. So it’s not like we’re just going to jump in there, and ruin the account. But it’s – yeah, it’s definitely a struggle to get access.

It hasn’t been a deal breaker, but now that we’ve experienced it, it’s definitely in hindsight. So it’s something that we’re going to push for before we even sign an agreement, moving forward. It’s just that important to have access.

How to optimize without keyword bidding

Amy: When it comes to shopping campaigns, controlling the feed is probably the main thing that you can do – like you were saying – to optimize the campaigns. Because we don’t have keywords that we’re optimizing. And that’s something that’s really breaks away from the traditional search ads that we’re used to running on Google, right? We’re used to having all that keyword control, and we don’t with shopping campaigns. What challenges does that raise when you can’t control the keywords anymore?

Jordon: Oh, it’s so many challenges. Google is in business to drive clicks, and drive revenue via click. So they’re not going to be concerned if a product drives a not very relevant click. They’re not going to waste your budget intentionally, but I don’t think they’re burning midnight oil to exactly solve this problem. And it’s a pretty rampant problem. Because the products match, very broadly, in some verticals. We’ve seen some very broad stuff, like keywords what would never even bid on and a very specific product fires that keyword, essentially.

And I’m saying that because, if anyone listening doesn’t know – you can actually see the search queries. Just like in your text ads, you can see search queries for shopping ads. So you can see what keywords are driving the actual clicks and the actual impressions. So, yeah – so it’s a huge problem. The data definitely helps, but I think you can control it a little better on the AdWords side.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 12.11.15 AM

Once you have the data figured out, plan, draw out your structure for AdWords. Really think about it before you start activating campaigns. But the best approach that I’ve seen is to get extremely granular with it – and no pun, since that’s our name. It’s just – get really deep with how you set up the campaigns, and add a lot of negative keywords. Continuously add negative keywords that you’re seeing in the search query report. And you can try to eliminate some of that broad match stuff.

Amy: One of the challenges that I’ll have, is if a keyword only does well when it’s part of a longer tail. And yet it keeps showing against just a very broad term. By negative matching the broad term, I would be excluding the relevant traffic too. But it ends up being too broad, and then we get lots of clicks where it’s not descriptive enough. Is there any way to fight that yet? Or is it still like, we’re not there?

Jordon: I’d say 95% of the people aren’t there, but there are a few people doing it right. And people have figured out a pretty sophisticated way to try to steer towards almost a keyword bid type of setup. And you have to give credit to Martin Roettgerding and Kirk Williams – huge good force in the paid search community. Kirk has been a nice voice, and he’s been very vocal about supporting this tactic. And it’s really a strategy for shopping. And also Frederick Vallaeys – ex PPC’er, ex AdWords evangelist at Google. Those 3 guys have been really instrumental in driving this new type of strategy.

And I think they call it query based bidding, but realistically it’s just using a setting that not a lot of people understand. And that’s the campaign priority setting, within the shopping campaigns. So when you set the priority, there’s 3 levels – there’s low, medium, high. There’s ways to combine the priority setting with negative keywords, that kind of funnels the queries in 3 different categories.

And those categories are – starting with the most specific. So really detailed search, like someone knows the SKU, or someone knows the brand and the SKU that they’re looking for. Like a replacement part, or an exact shoe, or an exact piece of furniture – or something like that. The next kind of mid-level is – they know the brand and they know the product type, they don’t necessarily know the SKU. And then the most general, the lowest kind of targeting, is more of a catch all. So you can basically negative out the brand, negative out the SKU, and then that campaign will catch the rest of them.

So, I think Martin used a shoe example. So if someone’s just searching for running shoes, that will get caught in the lowest priority setting. But if someone knows the exact SKU number of that shoe, or the exact color and brand and everything else about it, it will go into this different priority bucket that basically makes – it funnels your shopping campaigns into a more profitable setup. So you’re not wasting a lot of money on those high, really high cost, really general, broad keywords.

So this is definitely way too much to talk about without visuals to help, but I would definitely encourage everyone to check out what Kirk Williams has written about it, and Martin did a really nice job of – I think he has a video out there somewhere of presenting his findings with actual data on this strategy.

Amy: Yeah, I appreciate that. And we’ll definitely link up to those resources in the show notes. This is  hard to really absorb, right? Especially if we’re only talking about it. So I’ll make sure that people have visual resources as well, that you can read and return to, and just be able to better understand how to get those shopping campaigns as optimized as possible.

Jordon: Yeah, so that’s like the most extreme optimization that you’re going to do if you have a lot of time, if you have a lot of skill and knowledge behind shopping. That’s a very advanced tactic to do. Beyond that though, I think there’s a couple things that you can just look at as far as what you can do at a normal day job, or what you can do at an agency setting. Because sometimes time is limited in the agency setting.

So if you’re looking for some quick fixes or quick wins in shopping, definitely build out your negatives a couple times a month – I’d say weekly is a good habit to get into. Come in Friday morning, build out some negatives for your shopping campaigns, and just keep doing that and get in a good habit of doing that, to help really just make everything more profitable, and cut down on wasted spend.

If you’re looking for some quick fixes or quick wins in shopping, definitely build out your negatives a couple times a month.

Another thing is to really look at the revenue per click, and understand what SKU, or what item, is performing the best. And then strategically breaking that out into different ad groups or different campaigns. That can really save you a lot of money, and also if you have a limited campaign budget, and kind of all the products are in there – top performing, bottom performing.

As far as revenue per click goes, there’s definitely an opportunity cost left of the table. So it’s always wise to group top performing products together, or at least have a separate budget that you can shift towards the most revenue generating products.

Another thing that I don’t think we’ve talked about yet, are custom labels. So that kind of goes back to the data, so that’s part of the data feed. There’s 3 columns – I think there’s 3 or 4 custom labels, they’re called – and you can call these whatever you want. But the best practices that I’ve seen are: you can label things like high margin, low margin, free shipping, best price – if you’re in a really competitive category. Like you’re selling TV’s, or your selling a certain product that you have competitors trying to undercut you, or you know that you’re the category leader for a product.

You can throw this label into your feed, and it says “We have the best price.” That way, your paid search analyst knows that these products, we can drive really hard, we can spend a lot of money on, because we’re the best price on the market, we’re gonna convert higher. It really just helps you prioritize things on the AdWord side if you have these custom labels set up. And they can really be whatever you want, based on business data.

Amy: Sure. How dynamic would you say that is? So for instance, best price. If everyone’s running sales, would you base that on MSRP, like what you should be able to be bidding? Or how would you gauge where everyone else is at?

Jordon: Yeah, that goes back into time. So if you are the manufacturer, and you know you can have the best price, that’s a good strategy. Some people, some retailers that we’ve worked with, just have a low price strategy for certain items. Like they know that if they sell an engine at a really, really low cost, then they can get these people in the loop for re-targeting and database marketing to get them to come back and buy parts at a higher margin. So there’s certain people out there that operate specific items at a loss leader. And it’s really – internally, they’re going to always try to have the lowest price. So as an advertiser, if they tell you that then it’s just something to know, and a strategy that you can build upon within AdWords.

New Google releases make Shopping management easier

Amy: Let’s talk for a minute about some changes to Google. They’ve been making all sorts of changes, starting with the right rail. So recently, they removed all paid ads from the right side of the search engine results page, except shopping can appear in that section. How has that affected performance, from what you’ve seen, for shopping campaigns?

Jordon: Yeah, so definitely big changes coming from Google all around. As far as the right rail, that’s a huge change.

As far as quantifiable data, we don’t have anything on the shopping side, unfortunately. From just a talking standpoint, I think things have been pretty normal for our shopping clients. We haven’t really noticed a big impact either way. We’ve definitely talked to some of them, because a lot of business owners look at their own results all the time – even though we tell them not to. But they’re seeing the differences, and they’re a little interested to see if anything happened to the algorithm. Because we’re definitely seeing some of the larger advertisers almost get priority.

And I know someone’s going to quote me on that, and tell me I’m wrong. But it’s been a little weird in a couple spaces, with the right hand shopping results, where Google might only show 1 to 3 results, with one huge image of the product. And it’s in those instances where we’ve seen really big players in the space get priority over some of the smaller guys. So I don’t know if that’s intentional, or just the way it kind of worked itself out, but that’s something that we’re paying close attention to. As far as sales go and performance goes, we’ve seen pretty steady results over the past few weeks since that update. So yeah, unfortunately no big quantifiable data to share, but for our shopping clients, we do like that we still get some exposure on the right side.

Amy: It looks like Google really is trying to provide more resources for people who are running shopping campaigns to better run those campaigns. We got shopping product insights,which they’ve announced recently, Manufacturer Center… and just brand new was the new Merchant Center feed rules, right?

I know that you are staying very up to date on all these changes. Could you walk us through the implications of some of these changes? Because it can be really hard, if you’re just reading the Google blog – to really understand what it means for you. Usually it sounds to me exactly the same as what they had before. So I’m always like, “Wait, what’s the actual difference?” So maybe we could talk about that a little bit on the podcast.

Jordon: Yeah, totally. Yeah, they do a great job of like slowly releasing their stuff on their blog, but then being really vague about it and leading to an even more vague help topic. So it’s up to us to kind of cut through, and figure out what it really means. So the shopping product insights, that’s a huge win for anyone in advertising, or anyone doing this in paid search. Because it really gives us more insight into how the individual SKU is performing. From a competitive landscape, we’ve had that for a while and that’s really good.

But for those cases where you don’t have access to the Merchant Center, you can actually see statuses of the SKU’s. So there have been some instances where we go into an account, we sort by status. And we can see that a couple items got disapproved, even though the client thought everything was good and green. We’re seeing some flags and we can be proactive and send it over to them before the notice it. By the next time that they’re updating the feed. So that’s a big one, is the status column.

I don’t know how new this is, but one of the columns in the product insights is “keyword”. And while it looks blank in the user interface in AdWords, if you download a report– So let’s say you’re in your product ad section, you go to the keyword tab and look at search queries. And then you build out the columns, and 1 of those columns is “keywords” in the shopping campaign.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.03.23 PM

When you download it, the keyword is actually the SKU. So you can see SKU level performance, and you can see each search query that was triggered by that exact SKU, which is very important to understand., Because then you can start looking at the titles and the descriptions of those SKU’s within your feed, and kind of do some backwards analysis and see, “Did this title drive a really relevant or irrelevant search query?” And then you can make adjustments on the feed based on actual query data, which is pretty cool.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 10.07.09 PM

Amy: Yeah, that’s definitely a good thing to – you explained that really well. Because honestly, like I said, I have read their section. I’m like, “Okay, I don’t quite get it.” So that’s a really good explanation, thank you.

Jordon: Good, yeah. Another big thing that – that we actually haven’t worked with, but we’ve read, we’ve dug into it, is the Manufacturer Center. And this is another thing that’s really in the interest of Google. Because the better data that they have, the more ads that they can serve, the more relevant those ads are. And the more relevant those are, the higher clicks they’re going to get. So it’s definitely self-serving for Google, but it’s also really helpful for retailers and agencies who are trying to get that data from manufacturers.

We definitely touched on this earlier, but this Manufacturer Center from Google is basically an outwards – trying to extend an olive branch to manufacturers to give Google accurate data, high quality images, of all of their products. And then from what I understand, if an advertiser is trying to advertise for a product, and they don’t have as good of data as the manufacturer has already given to Google, Google can swap that out and kind of show a more robust piece of data than the advertisers provide in.

So this really is kind of helping everyone, but at the same time if you’re already an advertiser whose really ahead of the game, has great data, maybe you’re taking your own pictures? This could definitely level the playing field a little bit, and bring some of your competitors to a level that they weren’t at before. So it’s a bit of a give and take depending on who you are, but we’re definitely seeing Google shift towards helping agencies out, helping retailers out. And by them trying to connect directly with the manufacturer, I think that’s a really big deal.

We’re definitely seeing Google shift towards helping agencies out, helping retailers out.

Amy: Yeah, I see your point. In the short term, it sounds like if someone has done all that leg work up front, any time you can make things easier, then it takes away that advantage. But then it also would free everyone up to focus on other things, right? If Google’s just going to be helping everyone get the best Merchant Center experience possible.

Jordon: Yeah, totally. As far as other new stuff, the most recent update is the Merchant Center feed rules. Which, again, really helps people that might not have the access to the manufacturer data. Or they might not even realize that the spreadsheet that they’re uploading every month, or every week is lower quality, and potentially missing some attributes. So Google has built this tool that’s – I haven’t seen it live yet. But it looks like it’s integrated with either the Merchant Center or AdWords. Basically – you upload your data feed to this, and it helps you out.

So it’s like a really easy to use tool, where – like if you’ve ever used an email service provider, like MailChimp. If you upload a database of names and email addresses, before you import it, you select – alright, what is this header column? Is it the first name? Is it the last name? Is it the email?

image source: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2016/04/new-merchant-center-feed-rules.html

And it looks like Google did the same thing. So – is this the manufacturer part number? Is this the title? Is it the description? So you can do some of this outside of excel, and Google kind of holds your hand and takes you along and sets up the data in a cleaner fashion to ultimately help you serve more ads, and do better in the shopping campaign.

With Merchant Center feed rules, Google  holds your hand and sets up the data in a cleaner fashion to ultimately help you serve more ads, and do better in the shopping campaign.

So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how people use it. How they rely on it, and how this kind of grows as a Google product. Another interesting point of this is there are businesses who only do this. Like Channel Intelligence, which Google bought a couple of years ago. But Channel Intelligence was really founded on fixing shopping feeds, and optimizing them.

And if Google comes out with their own tool that does this, that could definitely hurt some of these feed optimization companies, and potentially put them out of business. But it’s allowing them to stay out of the curve. It’s interesting to see Google kind of bring another free optimization tool to the table, and try to help advertisers as much as they can.

Amy: Right, and it’s smart for them, right? Because the more they do that, the more willing people are to spend money. Because this can hold up so many people if they’re just in a position where things aren’t working right. Then they’re leaving a lot of money on the table, because it’s not working as well as they need it to.

Jordon: Yeah totally. And people can have a bad perception of shopping if they start with really dirty data, or incomplete data. And we’ve seen, we’ve taken over accounts like that where they’re like, “Oh well, nothing really worked well. We’re really just relying on search ads, because the intent is so high. And they perform really well. But shopping always kind of was a waste of money.”

But then you go in, and you see the data’s really dirty, and they didn’t separate out and segment campaigns the way that they should have. So I think this can definitely help fix any kind of broken reputation that Google Shopping had. I don’t think it’s got a bad one, but Google’s smart to come out with this.

Getting started with Shopping Campaigns: Trying to steer a huge ship

Amy: Right, and so there’s the reputation, and there’s also just the difficulty in getting everything set up correctly. If I understand right, you helped to get Best Buy onto running Shopping ads or PLA’s. Is that accurate?

Jordon: Yeah it’s accurate. Quick story – I managed a paid search for Best Buy a couple of years ago. I was in house working on a team of 4. And I took the initiative, along with a team mate to try to spear head this. And I basically came in, and I was like, “well, how are you guys doing shopping?” And it’s growing like crazy. It’s going to be huge.

They also weren’t using Broad Match Modified, which at the time had been around for like a year already. There were just a lot of really antiquated practices that– Trying to steer a huge ship takes some time. So it was understandable that it was really hard to figure out for them.

But anyways, the shopping, we spearheaded it. Unfortunately, there were 3 teams.

  • I was on the advertising team.
  • There was a website team, who was in a separate building.
  • And there was an IT team, who were 2 floors below us.

And everyone had different day jobs, and everyone had different tasks, and Shopping wasn’t one of them. So trying to introduce it was really hard. It was like a 5 month project on our end. Just to get the meetings scheduled. Just to basically run up the chain, to show them how valuable this is going to be, and how important this is going to be to the digital mix.

And there were so many problems to solve, like how you get the data, how you clean it. How you keep it up to date. What API’s to integrate? Security settings and concerns. Image optimization issues. Out of stock issues. That was a huge one for them. There were a ton of things to – to really figure out, and some huge teams to work through. So actually, I left before it even got launched. But thankfully, I think 2 or 3 months after I left Best Buy, they did launch it. And they’re doing a really good job today at optimizing the feed. And doing a really good job of kinda dominating the search results with their shopping campaigns.

Amy: Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. Because that so often is the case, right? What seems like it should be probably an easy hook up, ends up involving multiple teams and multiple departments in different areas. And it can be a real struggle to get everything set up. So streamlining everything can be a lot more complex than we feel like it should be. When you say left Best Buy before everything was set up – you left to launch your own agency, or to get started by yourself – is that right?

Jordon: No, not exactly. So I’m unfortunately the king of job hopping – before I started my own business. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world, so I had a lot of good experience working for a couple of different agencies. And then I was recruited up to Best Buy. So I was in Milwaukee for a while. That’s where I kind of cut my teeth on paid search. Moved up to Minneapolis to work at Best Buy. And then, from there, I worked at a for profit college up there. And then headed up all digital marketing for another for profit university up in Minneapolis.

And the whole time that I was in house, I was doing side work, doing my own consulting. And basically that grew to a point of where I needed to either start turning away business, or go out and do this full time. So I made the right decision. Left a really good, promising job – as a director of digital media, and started this in December, 2014. And I was a lone person out there doing paid search. And today, we’re up to 7 full time employees. So 16 months later, we’re doing a really good job of executing paid search, and paid digital media for clients.

Amy: That’s a fantastic growth rate for your agency.

Immerse yourself in digital marketing to get started

Amy: If someone wants to be where you are professionally, what steps would you say they should take?

Jordon: Yeah, so – well – if they’re listening to this podcast, they’re making the right first step.

Amy: Ah ha, thank you.

Jordon: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s really important to just immerse yourself in the digital marketing world. Listen to podcasts, read all of the blog posts you can. There’s some good personal posts out there. But also, just stay on top of – Inside AdWords. Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land. PPC Hero is great if you’re just starting out. There’s so many good content producers out there in the industry, like the PPCChat guys. Definitely just log into Twitter, and even if you don’t have anything to share – just like, read it and take all of it in. And try to understand why people are having these conversations, these passionate conversations about search marketing.

But there’s just so much good content out there. That’s the first step I would do. There’s not a lot of great degrees or paid training things out there yet. There’s a couple – small workshops – like Demand Quest, out of Minneapolis is really good. Jeff Sauer, might be better known as Jeffalytics. He’s got a great blog. It’s jeffalytics.com. And he’s actually started some paid training, basically to learn from his expertise.

So I’d say just consume content, try to be involved in the community. Find some of these smaller trainings. Don’t spend too much money on them. And then just pursue it. I would say, if you’re looking for a job initially, go agency side. It might be tough. You’re going to have to do a lot of excel work. And you’re going to have to do some mindless, repetitive tasks. But in the meantime, you’re building that competency really well. And you’re getting exposed to a lot of different things if you’re at the right agency.

So I would say, start agency side. I wouldn’t trade the years that I spent in house for anything in the world. That was where I really, really grew my knowledge deep. And saw how kind of the whole business operated from the inside. But then, I would say just try to get involved in the communities too. There’s a lot of good ones out there.

Amy: For jumping from someone who’s a paid search professional, to someone who’s owning and running their own agency, is there anything that’s surprising to you about running an agency, as opposed to just doing the paid search work? Anything unexpected?

Jordon: I would say the biggest challenge is just finding the right people to hire. Because I think our model is a little different too. So we only hire senior level paid search folks, who have at least 3 years of experience. So those people in particular are really hard to find. And I think anyone in my position knows that. The other thing is, really just trying to talk about yourself as a person, but also as a company – is definitely challenging. And I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of people on my team who are really good promoters, and do good outreach. And really run social media really well. So that part kinda came naturally.

I would say the biggest thing is just trying to manage the growth, and try to hire the best people possible. But I still do a lot of paid search work. I’m always going to. I’m going to stay in it. So I always touch all the accounts, and I also manage a couple myself. Just to make sure that I’m always on top of the latest thing.

Amy: Yeah, makes sense. And there’s always so much to be learning about, right? We’re never done.

Jordon: There is.

Amy: We’re never done learning.

Jordon: Exactly, it changes like every week – twice.

Amy: Well Jordon, thank you so much for joining this podcast episode, and for sharing all of your very deep knowledge about shopping campaigns. This is an area that, for me, I still find to be challenging. It’s that lack of access to keywords – what is really going on underneath the hood? And I think you’ve shed a lot of light. So thank you so much.

Jordon: Cool, yeah, thanks so much for having me, Amy. It’s been great. Time can fly when you’re talking about something passionate. So yeah, this has been good.

References and Resources