Live from #SMX East: Enterprise PPC

By Chad Rhodes | Sep 13, 2011
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My very first session at SMX East 2011 kicked off at 9:00 a.m. this morning, and what a great one to get the conference started.  Frank Grasso, David Roth and Rebecca Keen spoke about the challenges of running an enterprise-level PPC campaign for a large organization. Topics covered included how to get the huge number of people involved to work together in order to maximize results, unique challenges facing enterprise-level organizations and more.

Frank Grasso – Founder of e-channel search

Mr. Grasso started the session off by concentrating on the concept of searcher intent. One major issue is that when you have hundreds of thousands of unique products, and just as many or more customers with their own search techniques, how can you possibly cover everything within your PPC campaigns?

An effective enterprise-sized PPC campaign must take into account that customers do not always follow your marketing plan. You must design to your campaigns to help push searchers down a path, or funnel, in order to get them to the content they actually want to see. The example Mr. Grasso used was an online travel site. People on the low intent, or “desire”, part of the path might search for the term “book flights online”. Another person, at the high intent or “fulfillment” stage will search something more like “bali flights from perth”. Now imagine any number of departure and destination locations, and levels of intent in-between those two terms. It really is staggering.

When people can find your service(s) or product(s) so many different ways, making it easy for your searchers to get to content that is relevant to their search term is crucial for success. He suggested thinking of enterprise campaign design like a pyramid, with “design and build” at the bottom, “execute” in the middle and “optimize” at the top. By taking the time to design a campaign based on the different levels of searcher intent, you are making it easier to optimize in the future. Using this technique to build out your campaigns will allow you to better direct people to what they are trying to find, and thus increase conversion rates on your site.

Rebecca Keen – Razorfish

Ms. Keen started out with a quote, saying “If you have a fragmented back-end, the consumer is going to see this on the front end. Resulting, in a fragmented consumer experience”. There are many hurdles facing enterprise-level PPC campaigns which can fragment the back-end and leave searchers’ needs unfulfilled. Ms. Keen gave a few examples of the challenges than can prevent the back-end of your enterprise PPC operation from running smoothly:

  • Problems Securing Budget
    • There are many stakeholders, both internal and external, involved with enterprise PPC campaigns, and not everyone is going to see the value of PPC.
    • Implementation Hurdles
      • Between getting content approved, working with IT teams, communicating with complex cross-organizational teams, and any number of other contact points (29 brand managers in Rebecca’s case) it can be seemingly impossible to get anything accomplished.

Ms. Keen offered several suggestions on how to overcome these hurdles, and insure a smooth operating back-end:

  • Develop a Roadmap
    • Educate Everyone
      • Take the time to explain the value of paid search to all of the stakeholders.
      • Set expectations and align messaging and goals for brand for all parties involved.
      • Learn about the environment (competition, opportunities, etc…).
  • Measure Success
    • Set KPIs at all levels so you can prove that you are getting results.
    • Base budgets off KPIs and where the brand can succeed the most (value of paid search).
  • Central Governance
    • Track compliance standards centrally across all involved parties.
    • Have one person take ownership to keep parties aligned.
  • Build a Community
    • “Passionate people = success”.

In addition to the roadmap, Ms. Keen also suggested implementing a R.A.C.I. Matrix. This matrix is essentially a spread sheet for each of your products or projects that explains the following duties to insure everyone involved is on the same page:

  • Responsible – The person who performs the task
  • Accountable – The person who owns the result
  • Consult – The person(s) who need to have input into the activity
  • Inform – The person(s) who need to be informed about the activity

David Roth – Sr. Director of Search Marketing at Yahoo

As part of his presentation Mr. Roth spoke about how Yahoo manages such a wide variety of business sectors as a part of their PPC business. All of these organizational types have different business models and goals (subscription, download, transactional, lead generation, CPM revenue, etc…) that might lead you to believe they have nothing in common when it comes to running a PPC campaign. However, Mr. Roth pointed out that despite their many differences, all of these business models use the same method for enterprise PPC:

  • Life Time Value (LTV)
    • What is the LTV of a conversion?
    • What are you trying to get searchers to do, and what is it worth?
    • Net Present Value (NPV)
      • What is the NPV of the revenue stream today?
      • Profit Margin
        • What is the acceptable profit margin?
        • There are exceptions, and you can make some basic assumptions about these questions upfront too.

Mr. Roth emphasized that SEM can support any business model or goal. While they do all require unique approaches, the basic method remains the same. By answering the questions above for your client(s), you will have a solid approach to running an enterprise-level PPC campaign for a business in virtually any sector.

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