As digital marketers, we have the pleasure of being tasked to stay up-to-date on an ever changing industry. We are constantly testing new vendors, targeting tactics, ad copy, landing pages and the list goes on. We try to incorporate new ideas into our partners’ PPC strategy and at times we have to know when we might need to pivot that strategy when something doesn’t work or industry changes arise. This is even more important as Education marketers. In an industry constantly in change, Thruline works with our partners to monitor shifts in the competitive marketplace, industry regulations, and user behaviors. Here are a few strategies we utilize to stay ahead of game.
Competitive Landscape Changes
New competitors are entering into your already crowded market place. You might see some quickly rising brands that you are familiar with already, but who hadn’t really done much in the PPC space. You might have fierce competition with brands having a high affinity compared to that of yours. Each of these 3 scenarios will eventually happen at one time or another. If a “newbie” enters your space be sure to HOLD YOUR GROUND and at least maintain existing performance. Look for ways you can shed some weight, perhaps by checking location targeting tactics. Try checking them out, perhaps even bidding on their terms. If an existing competitor is doubling down, make sure to double down on what works for your brand! Emphasize any key differentiators between you and your competitors in your messaging, evaluate your creative and get rid of anything that isn’t working. Finally, set a threshold to evaluate your messaging quickly in order to concentrate budget on what is working for your brand.
Being at the mercy of search engines, at times changes are made within Google/Bing/Yahoo that are beyond your control. You might lose access to audience because demographic targeting might suddenly become unavailable or certain search terms aren’t working and are no longer showing your ads. You might face messaging limits where you can’t mention specific terms or you might have limitations for your call-to-action. These are all things that you could face unexpectedly and have to immediately start shifting your strategies in order to circumvent any negative impact for your performance. You might need to look for other networks and platforms that you haven’t tested yet due to budget limitations, or look for similar or lookalike audiences as proxies to make up the difference. Get creative with messaging by identifying both your key differentiators and top performing copy in order to try and get ahead of the curve of any policy or targeting changes.
You Are the One Changing
We can definitely speak to this one! You might be rebranding yourself! You might have a new product or service, or perhaps have a drastically different service offering. All of these might require changes in how you track and identify success by identifying new KPI targets or even just new KPIs all together. Making drastic changes requires you to identify your new plan and to create a testing timeline that sets benchmarks for how much you are going to spend, over what length of time, and how you are identifying success. What KPIs need to be hit before you jump ship or start optimizing within your plan?
You Took a Risk… it Didn’t Work Out
You never know unless you try, right?! You have to be willing to try new things by testing new vendors, new strategies, new copy, and new products. It is how many find their next great success! Doing some of these things might mean that you have perhaps overextended your reach, or budgeted too aggressively. You might only be finding low value customers or maybe there isn’t demand for your product, service or program. Once you realize that the change didn’t work, make sure you are looking at the correct KPIs to measure your definition of success and failure. Make sure you are going through to identify any potential optimizations or holes. Maybe where you were sending traffic to isn’t a success. Where are they going on your site? Look back at what you were doing and try to revive some old successes.
Your Account has Stopped Performing
For whatever reason, at times you might find that your account has just stopped performing and you starting to see volume decline. A few ways to look into this, specifically for brand, is to ask what more could you be doing from an awareness strategy either digitally or in traditional? You can’t capture brand traffic that isn’t being generated or created in the market place. Looking for trends is a key way of overcoming this obstacle. Are people just not interested in the product or service anymore? What does your impression share look like YoY? Average position? Start by creating a strategy to adjust your website or perhaps look at changing your geographic strategy. Look at your analytics traffic. Are you seeing downhill declines in organic and direct traffic as well? Take the time to self-audit and peer-audit your accounts. Maybe existing techniques are still being based on old strategies. Are you using all the features available to you like ad extensions and audience targeting? Does your site need a revamp or makeover?
When evaluating PPC strategies to determine when or if changes need to be made, always remember to keep an open mind and think outside the box. Consider what you are doing now and let the data guide you. Don’t ever be afraid to make a decision! This last point is huge as wavering tends to delay the inevitable. Make sure everyone is on board with how you are going to identify a success or failure. Changes are always going to happen, being prepared is how you handle them successfully.
Lora Polich, Senior Media Planner