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PPC Secret Weapons & Brand Cannibal Combat with Melissa Mackey

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Interviews  /  SES Chicago

Melissa Mackey, better known in some circles as @mel66, is a Search Marketing Manager at Fluency Media based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Over two decades of traditional marketing experience and a breadth of professional achievements in the online marketing realm help make Melissa an authoritative force, particularly on the pay per click front. She stays fresh on industry ongoings as an active contributor to various online publications a la Search Engine Watch, moderator on SEW forums, and host to a lively PPC and SEM themed feed over on her blog, BeyondThePaid.com.

I remember kicking it with Melissa at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2010, and right off the bat it became apparent that this venerable industry pro was also a super-cool down-to-earth gal. On the advent of #SESCHI 2011, I had the pleasure of sharing a candid Q&A with Melissa. Topics spanned AdWords obstacles, PPC platform secret weapons, brand term cannibalization and a peek at her upcoming Day 1 presentation on Introduction to Paid Search. Read on for the full scoop.

| aimClear: Thanks for your time today, Melissa! Enlighten the readers at home – what led you to a career in online marketing?

Melissa Mackey: Funny story, actually. I spent many years in traditional marketing and advertising, including a stint in the classified advertising department of the local newspaper. After that, I was doing in-house traditional marketing for Magazineline, a magazine subscription agency that sells subscriptions online. When Google Adwords debuted in 2002, I was assigned the “special project” of testing Adwords because I “used to work in classified ads, and know how to write short ad copy.” That special project turned into an awesome career in search. I’m now Search Marketing Director at Fluency Media, a full-service digital agency based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

| aC: Funny how that happens :) . Alright, next: What are the greatest barriers to staying good at AdWords?

MM: For me, it’s time. Google rolls out a new feature weekly, it seems, and to really understand them, you need to try them out. We all get so busy with the day to day that it’s hard to find the time to test every new thing. But if you can find the time, it’ll pay off, because you’ll be ahead of your competition.

| aC: Are there any AdWords or Bing adCenter formats that you consider secret weapons?

MM: If I told you, they wouldn’t be secret, would they? :) Seriously, I’ve been really into Adwords Sitelinks lately, which is a great way to boost your campaign’s CTR. And I’m a huge fan of Adwords Campaign Experiments, or ACE – where else can you test bids and match types and have the data spoon-fed to you?  As adCenter goes, I have a love-hate relationship with ad copy parameters. They’re ridiculously complicated to get the hang of, but they’re also awesome for e-commerce advertisers who want to easily incorporate price, percent discounts, and other dynamic variables into their ad copy.

| aC: Your top 3 tricks to prevent the cannibalization of organic brand terms by way of PPC brand terms would be…

MM: Well, I don’t believe that PPC cannibalizes organic traffic. The two complement each other, and having a presence in both PPC and organic has been proven to dramatically increase overall traffic. And oftentimes people who click on organic listings are a different type of visitor than people who click on PPC. All that said…

  • Including a special offer in your PPC ad copy is a great way to attract attention and get great conversion rates. It’s nearly impossible to incorporate special offers into organic title tags and meta descriptions, but with PPC it’s a piece of cake – and you can test different offers to see what works best.
  • Test, test, test! Test different special offers. Test ads without offers against ads with. Test whatever you can think of. I’ve found that using the phrase “Official Site” in PPC ad copy on brand terms works very well. The point is, test different things to see what grabs the most attention and gets the best ROI for your brand.
  • Measure your results!  You should be measuring results from organic and PPC ads anyway, so look at the data and see where you’re getting the best conversion rate and ROI. If you find that branded PPC terms aren’t converting at a good cost (which would shock me, but it could happen), then don’t run them.

| aC: Awesome stuff. Okay, now onto the important stuff. Favorite adult beverage, ethnic cuisine, and vacation spot, GO!

MM: I love microbrew beer, although I rarely drink anymore. I’m a fan of most any ethnic food, but I’ve gotta go with Italian as my favorite – I always seek out the good Italian restaurants when I travel. Hawaii is my favorite vacation spot, but Northern Michigan is a close second, and a hell of a lot cheaper than Hawaii.

| aC: And how! Day 1 of Search Engine Strategies Chicago will find you delivering a solo presentation on Introduction to Paid Search. What are some ways you like to jazz up PPC n00bz, to get them excited and engaged during this beginner-level session? What pearls of wisdom would you leave with new/young paid search marketers as they begin their journey?

MM: I find that the strategy for a lot of new PPC advertisers consists of “hey, let’s do some PPC!” They run straight to Adwords with their credit card in hand before they’ve really thought everything through, and they get burned. In my session, I’ll go over the fundamentals that newbies will need to have in place in order to launch a successful PPC campaign, and I’ll share stories and examples from my experience over the years so they can see how PPC can help their business. On top of that, PPC is just plain fun, so I hope to capture the cool and interesting aspects of it in my presentation.

| aC: Right on :) Sounds like attendees are in for a real treat then. Thanks again for sharing such top-shelf insight, Melissa. See ya in Chicago!

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