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Does your agency give its staff fish or fishing rods?

Written by Louise | 30-Jun-2014 15:45:00

Attending one of our Digital Future events last week I was struck by the huge importance often placed on the bid management software an agency uses when considering who to appoint for paid search management.

I wonder if this perception that the software used is the game changer, not the people managing the campaigns, is the result, or the cause, of PPC analysis and management skills being undervalued?

Don’t get me wrong, technology and bid management software is hugely important; it devours data in milliseconds saving vast amounts of time, and when given instructions on what to achieve within specified parameters, will go off and do its best to achieve your aims. In doing so it allows the management of vast or very complex paid search accounts to become, well, manageable.

So what can good PPC managers add to this phenomenal capability apart from watching money being spent, create results spreadsheets and drink coffee?

I think you have to start by asking whether or not your PPC managers have a passion for numbers, or more specifically, data analysis. When they review results do the numbers reveal the patterns and trends they contain? Do they know how to cut and dice the data so those shy retiring opportunities reveal themselves coyly from behind the tsunami of data your campaigns generate every day? In short, can they spot the fish?

Our most recent graduate recruit (Joe) was told by one of our paid search team members (Ben P) recently that our in-depth training means that “we don’t give our team fish, but fishing rods”.  I would add that we recruit people capable of spotting the fish and learning how to use those great fishing rods to best effect, and in turn they learn that they love fishing!

No matter how great software is deemed to be, the performance it delivers can always be enhanced by great PPC managers with keen data analysis capabilities and a love of fishing for opportunities.

The best software can be trusted to deal competently with the bigger data sets, and with direction from a good manager, deliver good results. Immediate improvements in PPC performance are nearly always delivered at the beginning of a new agency relationship where the new team are using different software, but is the improvement sustained? I maintain that any software is no match (despite recent advances) for the human brain when it comes to spotting and correlating trends in smaller data sets, spotting expansion opportunities, creating great copy and granular campaign complexity to maximize Quality Score, understanding the market forces, drawing up a hypothesis and creating a test to prove the case, and continually finding new opportunities that make the difference between good, and great, PPC performance.

In turn, understanding how all the facets of a PPC campaign work together to create optimum results, and how PPC complements all other marketing activity is as important as understanding how the sea and weather conditions will affect fishing success.

It’s our job to show Clients how powerful PPC campaigns managed by well trained, data hungry and inquisitive people can be, through delivering response and improving ROI repeatedly month after month (take a look at our case studies). So perhaps the questions asked after establishing which management software an agency uses should be “do you give your people fish, or fishing rods?”