Lisa Raehsler is my guest on this episode of Site Unseen. Lisa and I shoot the breeze about how she came to be regarded as one of the leading PPC experts in the country and why she founded Big Click Co. Join us for an entertaining discussion about the ever-changing, always-challenging and sometimes maddening world of paid search advertising.
On this episode, we talk about some of the more unusual applications for AdWords Lisa has encountered, and explore how a creative approach to AdWords can often result in finding previously missed opportunities. We also discuss LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube advertising and how these channels fit into a comprehensive PPC strategy.
David Hitt: 00:18 Hello, and welcome to another episode of Site Unseen. Site Unseen is our digital marketing podcast produced by Splat, Incorporated. We’re a small digital marketing studio in Philadelphia, and we started a podcast to speak to typical issues that digital marketing agencies today face with small to medium-sized businesses. On our podcast, we look at trending topics, which lie at the intersection of design, development, and marketing, those tasks that we’re typically asked to accomplish for our client base.
David Hitt: 00:53 Today’s show is entitled Creative Uses for Pay-Per-Click Advertising, and we are going to be exploring case studies and inventive uses for paid digital advertising. Our guest this afternoon is PPC expert Lisa Raehsler. Lisa is the founder of Big Click Co., which is a search engine marketing agency in the Super Bowl-hosting town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re going to talk to Lisa in just a second, but before we move on to the meat and potatoes of the show, I’d first like to give a shout out to our show’s sponsor UXPin.
David Hitt: 01:30 UXPin is the full stack UX digital design platform, which allows digital professionals to design, document, and test user experience. Be sure to check out our podcast’s website page to grab a coupon for a free 14-day membership to UXPin. Moving on to our show, I would like to welcome to our listeners our guest today, who is Lisa Raehsler. Lisa, hi.
Lisa Raehsler: 01:59 Hello.
David Hitt: 02:01 How are you? How are you this afternoon?
Lisa Raehsler: 02:03 Doing very well. How are you?
David Hitt: 02:05 Good. What’s the weather like in Minneapolis?
Lisa Raehsler: 02:09 It’s warming up.
David Hitt: 02:09 Which means what, exactly?
Lisa Raehsler: 02:12 It’s a balmy 35 degrees-
David Hitt: 02:14 That’s actually not bad.
Lisa Raehsler: 02:15 … today. It’s not bad, no. So, I think we’re coming out of it soon. I’ve got cabin fever issues here.
David Hitt: 02:23 That’s optimistic. Let’s see.
Lisa Raehsler: 02:23 Yes.
David Hitt: 02:24 But the groundhog, what did the groundhog do? I don’t even … I’m not familiar enough with groundhog mythology to know the significance of whether he sees his shadow, what that means, but I think we’re supposed to get more winter, actually. Aren’t we?
Lisa Raehsler: 02:38 It’s all the same, I think.
David Hitt: 02:40 Right, right. Yeah. More winter is probably not an uncommon forecast for Minneapolis, I suppose.
Lisa Raehsler: 02:47 No, no.
David Hitt: 02:53 We’re going to be talking about creative or inventive uses for pay-per-click advertising today, but I did want to start out by chatting with you a bit about your background, and what brought you to the world of digital marketing and paid advertising in particular. So, if you can talk to us a little bit about who you are, and where you’ve been, and what sorts of challenges you’re solving for what sorts of people these days? Give us listeners a little bit of insight into who you are.
Lisa Raehsler: 03:28 Okay. Well, I’ve been working in digital marketing for about 20 years, and the last 10 I decided to focus specifically on PPC. One of the reasons that I decided to do that was because it was so challenging that I felt like I had to dedicate all my time to doing something, and I became very passionate about it. I tend to-
David Hitt: 03:51 So, what were you doing prior to focusing on PPC?
Lisa Raehsler: 03:58 More like marcom stuff.
David Hitt: 03:58 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 03:58 Marketing-
David Hitt: 03:58 Like traditional marcom stuff?
Lisa Raehsler: 04:04 Web content writing, different types of programs around … Maybe they were CD-ROMs, things like that. A long time ago.
David Hitt: 04:16 Okay, sure. I certainly remember the era of CD-ROMs.
Lisa Raehsler: 04:21 Right. Well, I mean, digital marketing was websites, basically.
David Hitt: 04:26 Sure. Absolutely.
Lisa Raehsler: 04:27 There were a few ads, right? Yeah. Jumping ahead, just been working on paid search. That includes Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter ads. It could be anything where there’s a cost-per-click that’s involved, and if those platforms have some type of a display component to them as well.
David Hitt: 04:54 So, when you had this revelation when you decided to refocus your career, were you working for yourself, or were you in-house, or what was your status professionally?
Lisa Raehsler: 05:09 That’s a good question. I was working at an agency.
David Hitt: 05:13 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 05:14 It was a time when I was working for an agency. Yeah. Yeah, so I’ve worked for different ad agencies, and I have worked client-side as well over the years.
David Hitt: 05:25 Right. Sure. Sure, and you just came to the realization that, gosh, these different paid advertising platforms were becoming so sophisticated, and the potential for return on investment was increasing, obviously, as people were becoming more and more aware, and less afraid to click on those ads at the top of the SERPs that you just saw this as an opportunity, I guess?
Lisa Raehsler: 05:55 Yes, yes. It’s been challenging because I had become pretty bored of websites by then.
David Hitt: 06:01 Bored of websites? Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 06:05 Yeah. I write articles, and I also speak at conferences, and do a podcast too. So, I like to be involved in the industry.
David Hitt: 06:17 Great. So, this is not your first podcast rodeo then, I guess, it’s safe to say?
Lisa Raehsler: 06:23 No, no.
David Hitt: 06:27 Great, and do you have a particular focus currently? I mean, have you become the niche go-to person for particular platforms?
Lisa Raehsler: 06:38 I wouldn’t say so. I would say small to medium-sized businesses, they vary in the types of businesses they are. They could be B2B. I do education. I’ve done E-commerce, and I like to have a nice mix at any given time.
David Hitt: 07:03 Okay. When did you start Big Click Co.?
Lisa Raehsler: 07:07 About seven years ago. Yeah. Seven years ago.
David Hitt: 07:11 Okay, and you basically just transitioned from an agency role into doing your own gig, basically?
Lisa Raehsler: 07:17 Yes, yes.
David Hitt: 07:19 Interesting.
Lisa Raehsler: 07:20 Exactly, yes.
David Hitt: 07:20 Right. How was that transition initially?
Lisa Raehsler: 07:25 It was so busy. There were so many people that were looking for it, and so few people that could do it that it was an easier transition than you would imagine.
David Hitt: 07:36 This is sort of an aside, but, well, I’m making an assumption. I assume you have certifications for different ad platforms?
Lisa Raehsler: 07:46 I do have certain certifications for AdWords, and I don’t have any for Bing at this time.
David Hitt: 07:53 Right, and I’m curious. What’s your feeling about the relative importance of those certifications?
Lisa Raehsler: 08:03 My personal opinion is I think they are useful if you’re just getting into PPC management because you’ll know everything you’re supposed to know. You’ll know what points you need to check off on, and that will get you up to speed, but I think that after you’re doing it for a while that they’re not very useful.
David Hitt: 08:23 How important do you think the display of one’s certification is in terms of new client acquisition? I mean, do people care, do you think, for the most part? Is it something that people actively seek out from the client side?
Lisa Raehsler: 08:37 Not usually.
David Hitt: 08:38 Yeah.
Lisa Raehsler: 08:40 Definitely the last few years, I have not seen clients really ask about it. They’re actually more interested in what you can tell them about their account. So, that’s the test they put you through.
David Hitt: 08:56 It’s a knowledge test. Prove to me that you know what you’re doing by telling me what I’m doing wrong.
Lisa Raehsler: 09:00 Yes. They want that.
David Hitt: 09:02 People always want to know what they’re doing wrong.
Lisa Raehsler: 09:05 Right.
David Hitt: 09:11 So Lisa, I thought we would focus our discussion a little bit on creative uses of pay-per-click advertising, and the reason I wanted to do that is because I think a lot of people have a very straight-forward notion of how to use PPC. I think that that notion, which is just purely advertising products or services on the front page of Google is narrow in its scope. I don’t know about you, but as the owner of a small agency, I frequently have to lead my clients through this evolution of thinking about digital marketing.
David Hitt: 09:55 In other words, clients will frequently come to us with one professed desire. So, “We want you to build us a new website,” or, “We want you to do paid advertising for us.” It’s our challenge to get them to think of whatever it is they’ve come to us for as one item within a larger landscape or ecosystem of digital marketing tactics. I know that PPC can be very effective under straight-forward circumstances, but what I was hoping to learn from you is some of the more creative, or novel, or unorthodox, or counterintuitive ways maybe that some of your clients have used pay-per-click successfully for.
David Hitt: 10:46 Along those lines, I started doing a little bit of research prior to this podcast, and was looking specifically for creative ways that people have used pay-per-click advertising, and I came across an article on a website called Digivate.com that had 10 award-winning examples of PPC campaigns. The one that I found most interesting, probably because I was doing my research at the end of January, was a Kleenex strategy that had been used in the UK in 2013, the intent of which was to capitalize on the misery suffered collectively by cold and flu sufferers in the middle of the winter.
David Hitt: 11:38 They devised a strategy whereby they started monitoring search volumes in targeted cities in the UK around the keyword family how to relieve cold symptoms or how to relieve flu symptoms. Based on changes that they saw in those search volumes, they displaced their advertising budget that they had going on pay-per-click to those given municipalities. So basically, if they found out that Birmingham was suffering an outbreak of the flu, they would increase their spend selectively in that neighborhood.
David Hitt: 12:21 As a result of this creativity, they actually were able to increase sales of Kleenex in the UK in that six-month period or three-month period, whatever the flu season occupies of the calendar year, 40%. So, it was significant return on investment improvement, and it was creative, I thought, and the landing pages that the ads went to were also funny. I was wondering if you could talk about some of the more creative experiences that you’ve had in PPC, and the more, like I said, counterintuitive applications that you’ve seen paid advertising put towards.
Lisa Raehsler: 13:11 Okay. Well, I have three examples for you, and these are actually examples that would apply to a lot of different advertisers in small to medium-sized companies, or even larger companies, where it’s not as fancy as the Kleenex example. One thing that is sometimes common, but is to set up remarketing campaigns that are aligned with the sales funnel.
David Hitt: 13:43 Okay. Won’t you elaborate on that?
Lisa Raehsler: 13:46 Yep. Creating lists of people that have visited the site or have interacted with the site and, say, create one that is for three days. So, someone that has visited this site within three days gets a different message from somebody who has visited the site in the last 14-
David Hitt: 14:08 A month ago.
Lisa Raehsler: 14:08 Right, or month, depending on what the sales funnel is. Sometimes when you’re looking at B2B, they can be long, and they can be complicated, and they can take a lot of twist and turns.
David Hitt: 14:17 So, the intent is to just segment according to level of interest, or their perceived position of that prospect within the sales funnel?
Lisa Raehsler: 14:26 Yes, because their intent is going to change, right? So, when they’re higher up in the funnel, they’ll be doing more research, and then obviously they’ll be different cues that they’ll exhibit when they’re getting ready to buy. I mean, actually the simplest … You can make it more complicated than you’ll need to if there’s a longer sales funnel, but say the simplest example is E-commerce, and when you abandon the cart and don’t purchase, and they say, “Hey, come back and buy this.” Right? Similar concept, but dried out.
David Hitt: 15:03 What sorts of products or industries have you found the strategy used within?
Lisa Raehsler: 15:08 One that we’re doing right now is education.
David Hitt: 15:12 Okay. Products, like-
Lisa Raehsler: 15:12 No. Education, like degrees.
David Hitt: 15:12 No, but I mean education products or services? I mean, are we talking about consultants or are we talking about folks that are making something that people buy?
Lisa Raehsler: 15:24 Universities. Recruiting students.
David Hitt: 15:29 Got you. Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 15:29 Yes.
David Hitt: 15:31 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 15:32 Yep. In line with what the semester’s timing and what the deadlines are, and in line with when the visitors are coming to the site, we have something set up.
David Hitt: 15:46 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 15:48 Let me tell you about the next one. I don’t even know what to call this one. Someone told me about it. There’s a financial planner, and what he does, I’m thinking of this as more of an endorsement type of a campaign. What he does is he takes out ads, and then he sends them to the professional association, not to his website. Okay?
David Hitt: 16:15 Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 16:16 Because he knows when-
David Hitt: 16:19 Are these text ads, or display ads, or both?
Lisa Raehsler: 16:21 Search ads, yes. Text.
David Hitt: 16:23 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 16:24 So, he knows that when they click through to the professional site, they’re going to search for the financial planner, and he knows that he’s the only one that shows up in that geographic area.
David Hitt: 16:35 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 16:35 Then they click from the professional organization through to his site, and he says that it’s very effective because it feels like he’s being endorsed by the professional organization, and it was their idea to come to reach out to him.
David Hitt: 16:55 That is a very-
Lisa Raehsler: 16:56 Is that crazy?
David Hitt: 16:56 That is a very novel approach to pay-per-click advertising strategy.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:03 I had to have him explain it to me.
David Hitt: 17:03 Was this his idea or was it your idea? I mean, like-
Lisa Raehsler: 17:05 Oh, his idea. I had to have him explain it to me like three times so I could wrap my head around it, and then I was like, “That’s brilliant.”
David Hitt: 17:10 And it’s working?
Lisa Raehsler: 17:12 He says it works, yes.
David Hitt: 17:13 Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:15 So, I thought that was neat.
David Hitt: 17:17 Yeah. That is neat.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:20 It’s definitely creative.
David Hitt: 17:22 I’d be monitoring that professional association website for another consultant, though.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:27 To show up. Right.
David Hitt: 17:27 I mean, the problem is what happens when they decide that there are two financial advisers worthy of referring?
Lisa Raehsler: 17:33 No kidding.
David Hitt: 17:34 Then in essence you’re funding somebody else’s pay-per-click advertising campaign.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:38 Well, I mean, he’s lucky in the sense that he’s the only one listed, but I mean, you could get really creative with this idea.
David Hitt: 17:50 Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 17:51 Yeah, in a whole bunch of different services.
David Hitt: 17:52 I think it has promise. Yeah. Absolutely, and I think it actually, it compensates for the perceived lack of credibility that paid advertising has relative to organic search results, too. I mean, historically, I don’t know if this is still true, but obviously we’re both in the same business and we’ve heard this chestnut repeated again and again that people believe organic results more than they believe paid results, and are more likely to click on organic results, but in essence you’re enhancing the credibility of a paid result, and compensating for its redheaded stepchild status relative to organic results.
Lisa Raehsler: 18:39 Right, right.
David Hitt: 18:41 And you have one more for us?
Lisa Raehsler: 18:42 I have one more. I have one more. This one’s interesting, too. A company that does home remodeling and building.
David Hitt: 18:52 Perfect candidate for PPC.
Lisa Raehsler: 18:54 Yes, excellent.
David Hitt: 18:55 Sort of a generic archetype for folks like us, the smaller agencies.
Lisa Raehsler: 19:07 Very competitive, obviously. Right now with all of the home and garden shows, what we do is we leverage people that are searching for the home and garden shows and for the home expos so that we can attract them, get them to the site, so that we can remarket to them later.
David Hitt: 19:32 Right. So, you’re serving ads for home remodeling based on keyword families that are built around the home and garden shows?
Lisa Raehsler: 19:39 Right, because they’re obviously interested in getting something done at some point because they’re going through to the extent that they’re going to go to a home and garden show, which is not the easiest thing to do. They’re already pre-qualifying themselves, and so after the home and garden show, this is a list of people that we can remarket to. We can remarket to them just with banner ads. We can also remarket to them via remarketing lists for search, which is if they go and they say, “Well, we went to the show. We’re so excited. We’ve got to remodel our kitchen.” They look up kitchen remodelers. We could target them.
David Hitt: 20:22 I have a segue for you, but it’s related. Every time I do one of these episodes, I try to put together a PPC 101 kind of question for my host, and for those of us that aren’t savants the way that you are, and for those of us whose exposure to pay-per-click is not a part of our everyday lives, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about display advertising versus text advertising in a lot of the campaigns that you manage, and how you deploy …
David Hitt: 20:59 Well, I’m assuming that often you deploy both, but how the two relate to one another? For instance, you just referenced a situation where I’m guessing the text-based ad that originated the home and garden remodeling search resulted in display advertising based on which was mediated through a remarketing campaign. Is that right?
Lisa Raehsler: 21:25 Yes. You can do it that way.
David Hitt: 21:28 How do you typically? I wonder if you could just talk about display versus text, and just most of our listeners probably know this, but when you start running paid advertising in AdWords, for instance, the first thing you learn is that the click-through rate for display is much, much lower than text. However, the impression rate is much, much higher, the incidence of impressions. Bearing all of that in mind, what do you have to say about the role of display versus text, and I’m just going to shut up and let you talk.
Lisa Raehsler: 22:10 Okay. Okay. So, there’s basically two pieces. One is the search. That’s where someone is putting in a search query into Google or into Bing and the text ad pops up.
David Hitt: 22:23 Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 22:24 Okay, and with the search results, that’s a search ad.
David Hitt: 22:28 Yes.
Lisa Raehsler: 22:30 Search ads are meant to be more of a direct response type of a tactic, and we want to be more persuasive with getting people to respond to those ads to click … We can’t say click now, but you want them to click immediately and to convert right away.
David Hitt: 22:46 Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 22:47 The display ads, okay. So, those are triggered by searches. The display ads are served across the Google Display Network, the GDN, and that is on any website that whatever you’re targeting is.
David Hitt: 23:04 Is participating in the GDN, right?
Lisa Raehsler: 23:06 Is participating in it, right. They make money off of the ads that they place on their site. So, those are targeted in many ways. I think before we started the recording, we talked about audiences. On the Display Network, you can target by audiences, the type of people. You can target them based on their interests. You can target them based on their behavior, which is remarketing. They went to your site and they looked at the pages about shoes, so you can go, you can retarget them with an ad about shoes. That’s a little bit different way. The Display Network is really meant for branding awareness and securing multiple touches of that customer to drive them back to the site.
David Hitt: 24:05 I know that the different industries have widely differing levels of success using display advertising. In other words, I know I’ve read articles saying, “If you’re in this industry, forget about display advertising. If you’re in this industry, however, you might want to consider it.” What industries, in your experience, benefit from the more brand awareness, branding, remarketing kind of value that, excuse me, that the Display Network offers? Who are good candidates for the Display Network, I guess is what I’m saying?
Lisa Raehsler: 24:37 Well, I think everybody is a good candidate for it, but I think it just depends on what your expectations are.
David Hitt: 24:42 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 24:46 It’s not the channel where you’re going to get a lot of sales out of it, but it’s great, like I said, to have those multiple touches with someone. You remind them to come back to the site. They might not click on the ad, but they will go back and directly enter in the website. If you touch them like five times, that’s better than if you just give them once on that one search ad.
David Hitt: 25:11 Here’s another dumb question. I’ve got another dumb question.
Lisa Raehsler: 25:13 No, and it’s inexpensive to do that, as well.
David Hitt: 25:18 When we’ve done display advertising, the only way we’ve done it is what we have found is I know that Google AdWords will create automatic image ads for you, but that never really worked for us because we’re actually sensitive to issues related to design and visual appearance. So, the couple of times that we ran display ads for clients, and this was like three or four years ago, we had to make like 17 variants of every ad that we ran. Is that still the … Is that what everybody does? Is that just sort of the barrier to entry for display advertising is satisfying all those different ad specs?
Lisa Raehsler: 26:03 That is very interesting that you brought that up because no.
David Hitt: 26:06 Okay, good. That’s why I brought it up.
Lisa Raehsler: 26:10 No, that is very challenging. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to re-upload ads, ask for another size, or you’re just sitting there looking at a error message and nobody knows why.
David Hitt: 26:20 Yep. Yep. Google is sending you error messages saying that this particular display ad doesn’t satisfy some esoteric guideline.
Lisa Raehsler: 26:27 But you don’t know what it is.
David Hitt: 26:28 Right, exactly.
Lisa Raehsler: 26:30 Yes. Okay. For about a year now, maybe a little bit longer, started rolling out some of the new ad formats. We have the responsive ad, and basically the responsive-
David Hitt: 26:48 It’s borrowing that nomenclature from responsive web design, I assume. So, it’s an ad that can be used across multiple resolutions or multiple sizes, in essence, for display [inaudible 00:26:58].
Lisa Raehsler: 26:57 Yes, yes.
David Hitt: 26:58 Okay, and do they work well?
Lisa Raehsler: 27:00 It’s a shape shifter. Yes, they work well.
David Hitt: 27:02 Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 27:03 Basically, the only elements that you need to put in there, into the platform are there’s ad copies. So there’s text, and then there are a couple images that you can put in. It’s much easier than it was before, and then the ad will obviously respond to the ad space that’s available. So now, you’ve opened up the opportunity for all types of places that maybe you couldn’t show before because maybe you made 17 versions. A lot of people made five.
David Hitt: 27:54 Okay. We’re back at Site Unseen. We had an unanticipated commercial break. The recording device that we used to record our audio streams internally decided to run out of batteries, which is a shortcoming of this otherwise wonderful piece of equipment, but Lisa and I were just chatting about display ads. I had mentioned that in our capacity as a smaller non-specialty agency a few years back, we ran display ads for our clients.
David Hitt: 28:29 One thing that we found is that we had to prepare Google Display ads in many, many different sizes, about 16 different sizes as I remember, to accommodate the varying incarnations that they take on the Google Display Network. I was asking Lisa what’s up with that? Were we doing that correctly, or is having to format 15 to 20 different variants of display advertising for the Google display Network, is that a typical thing? What-
Lisa Raehsler: 29:04 No. No, you don’t have to do it anymore. You did it right at the time, but we have, it’s about a year old or so. We have a new responsive ad type, and basically that is a couple of lines of text, and the URL, and also some images so that Google is changing the size and the look of that ad depending on the ad space that’s available on the site it is being served on. So, it saves a lot of time.
David Hitt: 29:37 Okay. So the ad copy, is it incorporated into the graphic of the image, or does it occur in a window below the image, or how do they handle that?
Lisa Raehsler: 29:49 I don’t know how to explain it. It will look like a square, maybe, with an image in the corner, and then maybe the text below it.
David Hitt: 29:59 Okay. In other words, I guess what I’m trying to clarify is Google, if I ordinarily had designed an ad that included some sort of zany font, I’m assuming that Google doesn’t duplicate … I’m assuming that the trend that you have to go towards as a designer is to take the copy off the image, essentially. So, the copy exists on its own, right? Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 30:24 Right, right, right. Yep. You couldn’t do that. I mean, you can still. They still accept banner ads, so you can still do them that way if there’s a special look that you need, but-
David Hitt: 30:33 But you have to design them again to very specific specifications.
Lisa Raehsler: 30:36 Right. So, it’s definitely not required anymore. Before it used to be either a text ad that was served on the website, or it was a banner ad, or graphic ad. Now we have this hybrid. It’s pretty cool.
David Hitt: 30:51 Good, good. You’re finding that it works for a variety of clients and a variety of circumstances, I guess?
Lisa Raehsler: 30:58 They do. I mean, I think they look more like natural content on a website because they are text and an image. So, people see banner ads, I think they automatically are adverse to them. This fits in with the content more. Also, I mean, because they will morph into any size and respond to any size space, you have more access to all the inventory.
David Hitt: 31:28 Got you.
Lisa Raehsler: 31:29 Yes.
David Hitt: 31:32 Along the lines of exploring creative, more innovative ways to use paid advertising, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about integrated strategies. That is to say integrated marketing campaigns that were designed as PPC, with PPC as playing a role, but a role which perhaps compliments traditional advertising or other forms of digital marketing? We did just talk about that in the sense that remarketing, I guess, does compliment initial text advertising, but I’m talking about PPC as one weapon within an arsenal of both traditional and non-traditional strategies.
Lisa Raehsler: 32:17 Right. I mean, depending on the company and what platforms are appropriate for them, they’ll want to look at what their product is, where their audience is, and back to what I was saying earlier about the type of sales funnel, and how people are purchasing, what their purchase behavior looks like. Then from there, they can determine, okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 32:47 We know that people or we think that people will be searching, doing the research phase, or we know people will be going to these different websites, or our demographics are Facebook users that have these types of interests, or our users are women who tend to be on Pinterest. Then you can determine which channels you want to be in, and come up with then the creative and the messaging across all of them. So, you’re hitting people in every place where they are living, so to speak.
David Hitt: 33:21 Okay, so multi-channel digital marketing basically is, I guess, what we’re talking about?
Lisa Raehsler: 33:29 Right.
David Hitt: 33:34 Can you think of any examples in the work that you’ve done where PPC has been paired with some sort of non-digital technique? Traditional advertising. I guess pushing people from PPC ads to traditional advertising? I mean, I know this is zany, and I’m just wondering if anybody’s out there. There’s got to be an application, some sort of inventive strategy that somebody’s come up with that merged these two, but maybe not. I don’t know.
Lisa Raehsler: 34:08 You’ll see brochures.
David Hitt: 34:11 Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 34:15 There are still a lot of people that like to have some type of a printed material, and maybe not even want to print it off their computer. You’ll see a lot of that, requesting catalogs, requesting brochures.
David Hitt: 34:30 White papers.
Lisa Raehsler: 34:32 Oh, white papers are huge. Right.
David Hitt: 34:33 Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 34:34 So, you’ll get a lot of that. All types of books. Those are all types of tangible things that people want to hold. You can-
David Hitt: 34:48 I’m wondering. Have you worked for any publishers, educational publishers or content publishers?
Lisa Raehsler: 34:58 No.
David Hitt: 34:58 I’m just curious. The phenomena of marketing eBooks and white papers using some sort of paid advertising technique is everywhere, ubiquitous. We’ve all seen it. I mean, I’ve seen it, the sponsored Outbrain content and stuff like that. I’m wondering how those companies think in terms of their overall PPC strategy. In other words, is pushing someone to a white paper part of a larger strategy that also involves pushing people to the homepage of the site?
Lisa Raehsler: 35:41 Well, yeah. With the white paper, they’re getting a couple different things. You share their information. They’re able to capture lead information, and establish credibility, and then also a level of shareability. Right? Usually the person who is downloading it is going to show it to somebody else. So, there’s a lot of benefits to the white paper. I mean, you’ll see that mostly with bigger purchases, the longer sales funnels, because there’s a lot more research.
David Hitt: 36:12 But I guess what I’m wondering is by sending somebody to a secondary or tertiary level of content on your website, in other words if I were to follow the chain of clicks necessary to get to that content from the outside world, in other words if I’m not coming in from an ad, that content’s probably buried two or three levels deep. I guess what I’m wondering is if these same advertisers aren’t simultaneously running other advertising that pushes people right to the top of their website, do you know what I mean?
Lisa Raehsler: 36:42 Yeah. They will. Usually they’ll have several different types of campaigns. So, one will be more product-based. It’s X, Y, Z software type of thing, or they’ll do brand names. They may do competitors names, and then depending on what they’re doing, they’ll decide what kind of creative they want and if they need to offer the white paper. LinkedIn is really good for white papers, and the white papers that obviously do better are the ones that are sharing more information like social media tips or something like that, and you can accomplish the social media management by using our software. Those do really well.
David Hitt: 37:33 Right. I thought we’d finish up our conversation with a brief discussion about the future of PPC, the immediate future of PPC. Not PPC 10 years from now, but PPC in the next six to 12 months. I was doing some research prior to our chat this afternoon and came upon an article where 25 experts were queried regarding emerging trends that they thought people needed to be aware of in 2018.
David Hitt: 38:09 I should mention that you were one of those experts that was polled, and we’ll talk about your observations after I ask you a couple of other questions that other people had mentioned. A lot of people in the PPC world are talking about the importance of machine learning as an increasingly important influence in pay-per-click. I was wondering if you could explain to us what they mean by that?
Lisa Raehsler: 38:43 Right. Machine learning is probably the number one buzz term in our industry for this year, and what that is, is using an algorithm that is looking at billions of consumer data points such as their purchase history, their device, their location, their search queries, and how the ads perform, and how the ads are interacted with. They’re able to just adjust the campaigns or create ads, or adjust the bids in some way automatically without humans having to figure it out.
David Hitt: 39:30 Okay.
Lisa Raehsler: 39:31 So, it’s like self-adjusting, and that’s the machine learning part.
David Hitt: 39:36 It’s interesting because I read, of course, when I read this article I had to rush to some sort of technical wiki and find out what machine learning is. I kept thinking to myself, “It sounds like artificial intelligence, but that’s never the word they used.” So, I assume there’s some sort of technical boundary that exists that separates one from the other, but it sure does sound like artificial intelligence to a degree. It’s certainly what-
Lisa Raehsler: 40:04 Right, right. It’s coding the computer to identify patterns and to solve problems.
David Hitt: 40:17 So, how does this influence or affect the life of a search engine professional? I mean, how does it impact your life?
Lisa Raehsler: 40:23 Well, it’s rolled out to a couple features, but I don’t think you can ever have an account that is completely self-running. It depends on what size it is. That would be crazy because you still have to watch the machine. You still have to monitor the machine.
David Hitt: 40:43 Right. What kind of feedback does AdWords interface give you that makes you aware of the changes they’ve made? How do you know how the machine is learning and how that learning is affecting where the ads are being served?
Lisa Raehsler: 41:05 I don’t know how to answer that question. You can see where the ads are being served. You will have reporting on that.
David Hitt: 41:14 They just send a little report every month that says, “Trust us”?
Lisa Raehsler: 41:17 Yeah. No kidding. There’s different components that you can set up to use, so you wouldn’t be doing it all at once. You might say, “Okay. I want to do smart bidding.” So, it’s only adjusting the bids up and down depending on what the auction is, et cetera, but you get reporting on it after the fact. Right? You can look inside the platform and you can say, “Okay. It was served on these types of sites.” This is what the human has to look at to say, “Oh, wait a second. Maybe the computer thinks this will work, but we don’t want to be associated with certain political types of language. That’s not our deal.” So, you can say, “Okay. We’re showing there.” You can exclude that.
David Hitt: 42:03 You can override. Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 42:05 Right. That’s where you’ll still need people. People still need to do the strategy. People have the creativity, but a lot of the work that we do is very technical and time consuming.
David Hitt: 42:15 For sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 42:19 It’s labor intensive, so your example of doing the 15 different sizes of banner. Now we have an easier solution. Look at how much time that saves.
David Hitt: 42:31 Yeah. I’m actually going to have to … I’m going to go back to my office after we finish this podcast and check out that feature. Let’s talk a little bit about audience targeting. A lot of people were talking about the level of sophistication that can be accomplished these days with regards to audience targeting. How has the ability to more finely tune audience targeting improved in the different paid advertising platforms that you’re familiar with?
Lisa Raehsler: 43:08 Audience targeting. So, they’re able to gather all of this information. These platforms, they can almost do anything that you can imagine, you can dream up of who you want to reach. So, you can target them by interests, by like I was saying earlier, by interest in topics, by their behavior, by places where they work, on LinkedIn. You can do household income. You can do age. You can do almost every demographic. Facebook has all kinds of stuff, and even Pinterest, which is just really … I’m into Pinterest right now. They have some really good insights as to the type of pins people are looking at.
David Hitt: 44:03 So, this observation on your part actually allows me to make my final segue, which is in the Search Engine Journal article that I was reading that you were quoted in, you were talking about one of the trends that you saw as being a diversification into other ad platforms besides just Google. It sounds like audience targeting is one of the reasons why one might want to diversify. In other words, with the precise level of targeting and measurement possible, you can really hit very niche groups of the sorts that might exist on very specific social media platforms like Pinterest or LinkedIn, for instance.
Lisa Raehsler: 44:48 Right. It used to be that we would have AdWords, and Yahoo, and Bing. Now we just have Bing and AdWords, but now we have all of these great social networks that we can target. They all have their advantages, disadvantages, and type of people that hang out there, have a certain demographic, so this is a great opportunity. When you have a PPC campaign for certain clients and certain budgets, there’s only so much you can do. You can’t go anymore.
Lisa Raehsler: 45:31 If a new technology comes out, a new targeting method, you can test that, but when accounts come to maturity, they tend to lack more opportunity because there’s no place for them to go at this point. So, I think that also a lot of … That’s an opportunity for advertisers to check out these other platforms. I also think they’re getting sick of paying some of the high CPCs, which can vary wildly by industry, but if they can get cheaper clicks that are just as effective on Bing or going through Facebook, then they will.
David Hitt: 46:09 Right. Can you give us some examples of the sorts of clients that you’ve found have benefited from diversifying their spends?
Lisa Raehsler: 46:21 Like the kinds of companies?
David Hitt: 46:22 Well, I mean, I can come up with a hypothetical client from my experience. We have done a lot of marketing for law firms, and I know that our personal injury clients, I mean, I would never endeavor to even set up or manage an AdWords campaign for a personal injury lawyer because the cost-per-click in that industry can approach like $125 a … It’s ridiculous. I mean, we researched some, and so if I had an alternative strategy for a client like that to spend money on, they would be all ears, I’m sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 46:59 Yep. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. That’s one of the worst industries in terms of the cost-per-click. Yeah. You need to be creative. That’s a perfect example. An example of one that I worked with recently was a recovery treatment center, and they’re having a lot of challenges with Google’s editorial. So, one thing that they-
David Hitt: 47:32 In terms of language considerations, limitations that they have related to what they can say?
Lisa Raehsler: 47:38 Yes, yes. There’s that, and then also recently because of the opiate epidemics, Google has decided to stop showing ads on some of those addiction-related terms and drug terms, even though you mean they need help.
David Hitt: 47:57 Right. I’d be curious to know the corporate reasoning behind that.
Lisa Raehsler: 48:01 Oh, I can’t remember the … I’ll get back to you, but for someone like that, Bing Ads doesn’t have that same restriction. So, they’re going to spend the same if not more in Bing and also on Facebook. They would also be limited by privacy and terminology across the platform, so they need to be looking out and be more creative. They’re not going to get very far with Google in this case due to that. For all those reasons, I think we’ll see people just getting in more creative … The options are out there, and they’re easier to use, too. They used to be so incredibly difficult to use that it almost wasn’t worth it if you’re a small to medium business.
David Hitt: 48:54 Yes. Well, that in and of itself is a whole nother discussion, which I don’t think we have time for right now, but I think I mentioned that we tried running some LinkedIn ads just a few weeks ago. I remain astonished as someone that manages somebody else’s advertising dollars at how difficult the platforms can be, and how not-present the lifelines are for agencies who are managing accounts on these platforms. So, that’s a whole nother … It’s probably come back in six months and we’ll spend 30 minutes just talking about that issue.
Lisa Raehsler: 49:43 Right. Yeah. Some of them are difficult. They’re confusing, and it’s confusing and frustrating because there’s money on the line here. You know?
David Hitt: 49:54 Yes. Somebody who actually wants to spend money on their platform.
Lisa Raehsler: 49:58 Right, and you don’t want to waste it, and it’s very easy to click the wrong buttons if you don’t know what you’re doing.
David Hitt: 50:03 And again, I don’t do what you do. I don’t live, eat, and breathe pay-per-click, but we then experimented with Facebook advertising, and this was for our podcast. Although Facebook ads were more limited in terms of what you could do with them, they step you through this process for which there are very few choices. Nevertheless, it was very straight-forward and our ad was up and running in 20 minutes. So, sometimes complexity is overrated. Complexity and power are overrated, I think.
David Hitt: 50:40 We just wanted to get an ad out to people that were interested in digital marketing, and we found it frankly easier to do that using Facebook than using sponsored content within LinkedIn. Well, maybe if we could just finish out today, one thing you folks were talking a lot about as I did research on trending topics in 2018 was the new AdWords interface. I’m wondering if you can comment on that, and what your reaction is to it, and what you think other people’s reactions have been to it?
Lisa Raehsler: 51:15 The word on the street is that a lot of people don’t prefer it, that it’s missing some features. I sometimes have to go in between the two of them in order to get my work done because maybe they have rolled out a feature to the new one, so it’s not in the old one.
David Hitt: 51:34 Right. How close do you think the new one is to becoming a mature enough product so that you can rely on it exclusively?
Lisa Raehsler: 51:44 Oh. I mean, they’re getting so much feedback about it. I don’t feel like it’s something that they’re going to be able to just cut people off of, even this year.
David Hitt: 51:54 Right. So, we’re looking at six to 12 months before everybody migrates to the new interface, you think?
Lisa Raehsler: 52:00 Yeah. I mean, I wish they would have completed it and then rolled it out instead of using everybody as testers.
David Hitt: 52:06 Data testers. Right.
Lisa Raehsler: 52:07 Yep.
David Hitt: 52:07 Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 52:08 Because it’s just I don’t know what’s going on.
David Hitt: 52:12 Right. Well, I sensed that confusion in all the articles that I read. I mean, you know that something really is an issue when experts are writing about it as being an issue. In other words, if a shopfront agency like myself that does PPC along with many other things complains abut an interface, that’s probably because we’re not using it enough, but when people that use the interface every day are complaining about it, there’s probably an actual issue that Google should address.
Lisa Raehsler: 52:44 Right. Well, we get used to working around bugs. We’re using the AdWords editor. We’re using the web interface if you have a third-party piece of software, but sometimes it seems that you can’t do everything in just one of them, so we’re switching between them.
David Hitt: 52:58 Sure.
Lisa Raehsler: 52:59 Yes, yes.
David Hitt: 53:00 Yes. Lisa, I want to conclude our podcast today with my thanks to you. It’s been a lovely chat.
Lisa Raehsler: 53:09 Thank you.
David Hitt: 53:10 And I want you to tell our guests again who you are and where they can reach you.
Lisa Raehsler: 53:17 My name is Lisa Raehsler, and my website is BigClickCo.com, and my Twitter handle is LisaRocksSEM. LisaRocksSEM. Two Ss.
David Hitt: 53:33 Excellent. Thanks Lisa for joining us.
Lisa Raehsler: 53:35 Okay. Thank you.
David Hitt: 53:36 All right. Bye bye.