A search marketer’s job is never done.  Sometimes, even 10-hour days are not enough.  More times than I can count, I’ve looked up at the clock during a hard day’s work only to ask myself: what did I actually accomplish today? As Google continues to make AdWords more and more complex, I find this happening more often. Inevitably, I look back at what I’ve done and realize it’s quite a lot. The real question, then, is: am I working on the right things?

It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of priorities when working in search. Given the industry’s heavy emphasis on metrics and data, it’s not uncommon to waste hours analyzing numbers and not be able to draw any conclusions. Sure, the time seems well-spent, but if nothing actionable is uncovered, what did you really get done?

Performance marketing is about results. If you ever doubt the value of what you are doing, ask yourself: what did I get out of it? It all boils down to two things:  did I grow volume, and/or did I create ROI efficiency?  If the answers are no, then re-set your priorities, and take immediate action on things that will impact volume or ROI.

Data takes time to accumulate. Take landing-page and ad-copy tests, for example. You launch one today, and chances are you won’t get any data back for days. The act of launching a test isn’t really creating volume or better ROI that day, but you’re investing in the future. Given that these things take time, fire off tests and let them mature. In the meantime, re-focus on bids and negative KW trimming, etc.  If you constantly rotate long-term investment tasks and short-term wins, you’ll be in a much better position.

You’re probably thinking, is it ever THAT easy? If you are running an SEM program with three or more major categories, what gets the priority? I find that it’s best to take the following approach: whatever might yield the greatest TOTAL gain gets top priority. Unless your CEO is yammering about owning top position for a keyword or sales teams in geo X are clamoring for more leads, go where the money is. Ten-percent improvements on something that represents 80% of your spend does more than 25% yield on the remaining spend. It’s a bottom-line business; focus on the bigger wins.

The tricks to running superior search campaigns are in the details. A little bid increase here, a geo adjustment there, and you can capitalize on market inefficiencies. Without these optimizations, you’ll lose. All of that said, overall numbers and larger trends can’t be ignored. If you aren’t checking performance multiple times a day, tracking DoD, WoW, and MoM trends religiously – you’re missing the mark. We all get busy at times and love to think what we’re doing is the most important thing in the world. Chances are, it’s not.

When in doubt, ask yourself these four questions.  Compare the answers to your top goals, and you’ll know where you stand:

What have I done?

What does it mean?

Why does it matter?

What do we do next?

Sean Marshall, Director of SEM
– Questions? Comments? Email us at blog at ppcassociates dot com.

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Sean Marshall
Sean Marshall is the CEO of Intended, an SEM agency founded in 2013 to provide industry-best service for SMB clients. Before Intended, Sean was the VP of Business Development of PPC Associates (now 3Q Digital). He is a huge Cal fan and has been known to win a buck or two playing online poker.