This week’s PPCChat, led by Julie F Bacchini, dived into strategies for maximizing client sales, generating quick leads, and mastering campaign forecasting. Check out the full conversation screencap below!

Q1: Have you ever had a client or stakeholder reach out to tell you the “need more sales or leads NOW”? What types of campaigns were you running for that account at the time – search, display, social, etc.?

Yip, was running search at the time. @Pete_Bowen

Oh yeah. Was mainly running search campaigns. But have also had the request for social. @NeptuneMoon

“Spend more money!”  @alimehdimukadam

I’ve had a few variations of this:-

  • We’ve taken on more sales people and need more leads
  • We’re going broke if you can’t fix this we’ll have to shut the business @Pete_Bowen

Usually, I hear this before I’ve been working on the campaigns – that setup timelines have to be crunched or that “funding’s short now, but we’ll definitely increase spend once things are going well.”It’s a strong yellow flag. @ferkungamaboobo

The key to more sales now is lower funnel targeting. Remarketing! Sacrifice top of funnel in these situations. @Larrykim

Very rarely clients do not want sales ‘NOW’Sometimes it’s their excitement when we sign & onboard – you can sense it and they think from next week business is gonna turn around! Sometimes it is when items are out of stock, delays in inventory, or just a general approval delay with no deadline extension
So budget remains the same – time is now suddenly 15 days instead of 45 for ex. And sometimes when there is a new campaign idea proposed by client or us, and results should obviously be visible in a day(Had this today, client asked how is the campaign doing/no leads yet, we just launched yesterday) @alimehdimukadam

Lower funnel remarketing targeting is more likely to convert to sales. @Larrykim

I certainly have. one new client we’re onboarding treats daily budgets like a call centre! up and down all day depending on results! @JuliaVyse

@JuliaVyse that’s the thing – I think it’s a chronic misunderstanding of how ads work, that’s in no small part due to the digital ads industry’s rhetoric. @ferkungamaboobo

Experienced it across Search, Display, Social & Amazon.Early on in my career, some brands had traffic goals. So by end of month need X visitors coz brand manager was evaluating success on no. Of sessions, bounce rate and time spent (2012-2015) @alimehdimukadam

I’ve a few who demand “More Sales right now”, so, I follow a simple steps here: @NatashaKaurra

  • #1 Try to stay calm and hold myself from making changes unnecessary changes, over optimize things
  • #2 I’d increase budget and bids as well on existing campaigns, and add on any additional services that we are not doing at the moment.
  • #3 If Pmax is not already in the accounts, I’d highly themed Pmax.

Oh yeah – this happens all the time. It doesn’t matter what campaigns we’re running – Search, Display, PMax, Shopping, Demand Gen, Meta, Bing, Quora..@revaminkoff

@JuliaVyse We have one client account that is basically run like a video game, with the goal of hitting their (varying) lead target every week – budgets etc. being adjusted to match @revaminkoff

A couple different ecom clients in the last week. Other parts of the business are down… PPC can save the day! @duanebrown

This is common.Depending on their current budgets/coverage you can make it happen more easily on the ecommerce side, especially if they’re not covering all the available impression share. For lead gen, it can be a similar situation.However, the problem is that they usually expect similar efficiency despite the principle of diminishing returns. @robert_brady

For the “more leads now” scenario Install the pixel asap for your ppc landing pages! It generates lead data for 25% of visitors ..@Larrykim

Q2: How did you react to and handle the request to instantly bring in more sales or leads via PPC?

I started with laying out what I can do, and what they need to do with me. We talk about what PPC can do, what awareness media can do, what improving the website can do, and then we look at the overall budget. it’s not an easy conversation. @JuliaVyse

In my experience, it’s a client education moment. Breathe, step back, what are we really trying to do here? What are the channels and networks we selected, what’s our results. I’m also a very big fan of “Good/Fast/Cheap” and telling folks that “now” isn’t typically a reasonable timeline if you want to use a SMART framework for KPIs. @ferkungamaboobo

It depends on the client, but the conversation often starts with the budget. Sometimes there’s the headroom in the account where if they just added a little more money, they would get the volume. @revaminkoff

After taking a calming breath or 3,  I will try to get on the phone to figure out what is going on that is motivating the “we need more leads NOW” email.

  1. Did something happen unexpectedly in the business?
  2. Is there a macro issue impacting their lead volume?
  3. How does the lead volume compare to last month or last year?
  4. Review the account to see if there is actually demand that we are not currently capturing that we could potentially with increased spend.
  5. Is awareness advertising needed (cause search captures demand but does NOT generate it)?
  6. Is there more budget to be had to try to achieve this new goal?

I try really hard to be in the know as to what is going on with clients’ businesses now and what’s upcoming so we can talk about this stuff before they are potentially freaking out. @NeptuneMoon

However, I agree with @ferkungamaboobo that there’s usually a tradeoff involved that needs to be explained and discussed – good, fast, cheap. I can get you more leads, but they will probably be less efficient than the other ones… for example. @revaminkoff

I’m thinking of one client who runs an immigration consultancy. I started advertising for him at the same time he started the business. The first time he hired a new sales person he sprang the “we need to double the leads starting on Monday” nonsense. We had to have a hard conversation about what was possible without any notice. Over the next few years he grew fairly quickly but he’d always give me notice that he was going to be having a new hire start. @Pete_Bowen

I think part of this thinking it the legacy of the early internet too. That there is so much business out there just waiting to be tapped into via the magical web. And that is just not how it works these days. Digital advertising is a mature ecosystem. You can’t guerilla market your way to massive new leads/sales in a week. @NeptuneMoon

We talked about options, opportunities and budget. Always open to seeing what is possible. @duanebrown

We typically look at the current channels being advertised, how much room is left to maximize those and then layer on additional channels and budget. @MenachemAni

I’m so thankful not not have had this conversation with any of my clients. It sounds stressful! Setting expectations is something I try really hard to do so I can avoid these types of conversations. I’m sure it will happen to me eventually, though. And when it does I’m thankful that I have all you wonderful people helping me plan ahead. @alexnicoll93

  1. Setting expectations during onboarding.
  2. Budget discussion when “NOW” is there, it usually happens end of month or end of quarter, they want a last push to max out.
  3. It also leads to a CRO & Email/Flow conversations when we have done everything we can.

Client changed their lead sign-up flow based on recommendations, CR doubled overnight with no changes to ad account and same traffic. @alimehdimukadam

Also worth noting that clients don’t really want to talk about increasing efficiency or improving competitive messaging and such at these times. They literally want to 3x their leads. Today. @NeptuneMoon

Lots of great insight above. I can feel the experience and it’s awesome. @robert_brady

I think it is important that we are talking regularly with clients and stakeholders about how things work so that they understand what is and what is not possible. Talking about how many additional leads or how much more traffic you could generate for them, in their particular situation with budget numbers helps this. Sometimes there is no more demand to capture. You’re scooping it all up. And you don’t increase that with wishes and fairy dust. That takes spending on expanding awareness and generating demand. @NeptuneMoon

Typically when a client brings this forward, they don’t have more budget, they’re just in panic mode. I tend to try and lay out different factors like their offer, their competitors behaviour, etc. This helps my contact talk to leadership. even if it’s just one other person, usually they need a reality check. @JuliaVyse

I’ve had a different scenario that might be interesting to talk about. The UK tourism market is dead from October on. Then, about an hour after lunch on Christmas day it explodes into a booking frenzy which lasts about a week. If you don’t capture this demand you’re in big trouble. I worked for this client over 2 periods like this and never felt like I got it dialled in. @Pete_Bowen

@Pete_Bowen Seasonality is a huge discussion point – thanks for bringing it to the conversation. @NeptuneMoon

Yeah @Pete_Bowen I think there are genuinely “look there is one hot season we have to have this right” situations — Home Improvement has the very end of winter. But in those cases, I think it’s a matter of “yeah okay, let’s plan for this then!” @ferkungamaboobo

Open Enrollment for any Americans hanging around. what a mind-f*ck that was! @JuliaVyse

This I think aligns well with @JuliaVyse point about people being in panic mode: their diagnosis of “it’s the ads” is almost always myopic. @ferkungamaboobo

I think the you can only do what you can do piece is really important – there are a lot of levers we can pull, but ultimately we had a client where search volume on one of their keywords was objectively down 50% YoY – so of course that’s going to hurt the effectiveness of the channel/number of conversions unless something else takes its place. @revaminkoff

Sometimes clients need gentle reminders that people can live without what they are selling too. When funds are tight or the economy is wobbly, mindsets change. @NeptuneMoon

@NeptuneMoon don’t tell my luxury clients that! @JuliaVyse

Chiming in based on what a lot of y’all are already saying. As an advocate for meditation and mindfulness, before diving in to any of the steps I think one of the most important things that someone can do when put in a situation like this is to pause and take some deep breaths before responding. Responding from a centered space helps avoid everyone diving into panic mode. @alexnicoll93

@alexnicoll93 Yes! I want to be a voice of reason and get to the bottom of what’s going on and be helpful. Not get on the panic train with them. @NeptuneMoon

Q3: What do you wish clients or stakeholders understood about how PPC works with regard to getting immediate increase in sales or leads?

I wish clients had a sense of how much work goes into building and optimizing a campaign. They don’t need to be proficient, but a sense of how much dumber the algorithm is than we think it is, and how much we put into making it work would go a long way I think. @JuliaVyse 

Paid search = demand capture
Paid search ≠ demand generation @alexnicoll93

Scale does not necessarily equal efficiency. @revaminkoff

Digital marketing is not magic. You still have to make a case for why someone should buy what you’re selling (a) at all and (b) vs their other options in the space. Just being there is nowhere near enough these days. You do actually have competition. Yes, I promise you do. You cannot rely on search advertising alone to grow. @NeptuneMoon

The big thing is you can increase spend today but that doesn’t mean you start getting conversions today… especially if the customer journey and sales cycle is a long one.  @duanebrown

A bad or slow website experience is doing more harm than most organizations are willing to admit to themselves. Perfectly designed and executed PPC cannot make up for a poor post-ad click experience. Or for shitty salespeople that can’t or don’t follow up on leads provided.  @NeptuneMoon

Also, and this is a circle of safety, the product has to be worth buying. If your product sucks, search cannot help you.@JuliaVyse

Competitive research, done regularly, is really important for ongoing success in paid search. Your offers can lag behind quickly and if you’re not monitoring that, you will be caught by surprise with performance drops.  @NeptuneMoon

It doesn’t even need to be a bad product to fail. your competitor needs just a slight improvement, or a slightly lower price, and that’s what we’re dealing with. @JuliaVyse

competition – depending on their market, increasing spend likely includes increasing bids, which will often include increased CPAs. Website experience – really interesting how much pushback there is on this (sometimes it’s just out of their budget), but I’m getting better at not taking on these clients. more money to a non-optimized website just makes you lose twice as much. @MicheleJaeger1

My wish list:-

  1. Double the budget doesn’t mean double the leads.
  2. It takes time to ramp up ad spend.
  3. There is much more improvement available in what happens after the click than what happens before it. @Pete_Bowen

Also is your product even competitive in the environment – if it isn’t, why not? Maybe the product actually sucks (very possible) or maybe they aren’t distinguishing their product in a way that resonates with people. @MicheleJaeger1

Yeah – you find some WILD stuff in the phone calls. @ferkungamaboobo

It is baffling to me how people answer phones. @ferkungamaboobo

“[BUSINESSNAME]” is not how you answer a phone. @ferkungamaboobo

Also sort of unrelated but retention is a big one. If their bottom line is revenue, and they are like we need more revenue/sales, but then you look into the retention aspect (e.g. I’m thinking subscription service), sometimes you have to help reveal that LTV discrepancy. @MicheleJaeger1

@ferkungamaboobo  I’m the WORST answering the phone. I spent some time in call centres as a youngling and now I resent it. so I don’t do it for a living! @JuliaVyse

Sometimes these issues are complicated with multiple causes and multiple complex steps that need to be taken to address them. This doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. @revaminkoff

I used to get literally made fun of at an agency for how I’d answer the phone because no one there had heard of “Thank you for calling [Agency], this is Doug speaking, how may I direct your call” in a full register higher than my normal speaking voice. @ferkungamaboobo

If you have access to CRM data, you can find some really interesting patterns too. I had a client who was spending big dollars to break into newer markets. We had determined through professional market research that was where their industry was headed and their previous cash cows were dying off. Their sales guys refused to follow up on the leads I was tasked with bringing in. Brought it up to the CEO. He said “yeah, the guys don’t really want to follow up on those leads” to which I said “well, maybe you need some new guys.”NEVER underestimate how much a business can get in its own way! @NeptuneMoon

That Conversions: Spend is not linear aka just because you double your spend does not mean you will get double the conversions. Your average CPL will likely go up. @williamhboggs

Q4: Do you do any type of forecasting as to additional volume that is potentially available that they are not currently capturing? How do you create your forecasts? And how often do you do them?

I do some forecasting depending on the conversion type. IS, and CVR are factors. Covered in Estimate-Only and other caveats. @JuliaVyse

I don’t do a ton of scheduled forecasting. It is more of an ongoing conversation about where we are with lead volumes and spending. And if it seems like there is existing demand that we could potentially capture with increased spend. @NeptuneMoon

We don’t forecast unless we need to… often a waste of time. @duanebrown

Great point @JuliaVyse about positioning forecasts as estimates and not guarantees! @NeptuneMoon

I probably should be better at doing them but they’re generally an ad-hoc thing. @Pete_Bowen

We’d do it at agencies every year around annual renewals. Can pretty quickly back-of-envelope it based on EMIS. @ferkungamaboobo

I typically look at Search Lost Impression Share (budget). I think (rank) is a bit less important because I’ve found that often you will rank lower when you expand targeting but it can bring lower CPAs and that’s more important. But if a client is sitting on more than 30% SLIS(budget) I’ll usually recommend a budget increase to capture a bigger slice of the pie. Would love feedback what others think of this method. @williamhboggs

Nah that’s quite wise IMO. @ferkungamaboobo

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