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Navigating Changes and Rules of Engagement in PPC

In Conversation with Navah Hopkins

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Navah Hopkins, Brand Evangelist at Optmyzr, a digital marketing and advertising agency headquartered in California.
Navah discusses the importance of budget audits and optimization, emphasizing the need for effective allocation of resources across various channels. Navah also explores audience targeting and segmentation strategies in a privacy-first world and provides valuable insights into delivering impactful advertising in the post-cookie era. Her expertise and experiences offer a wealth of knowledge for marketers looking to navigate the evolving landscape of PPC marketing.

When it comes to budget audits, it’s important to consider conversion values, budget allocation for search, and utilizing impression share metrics to gauge success.

Navah Hopkins
Brand Evangelist at Optmyzr

Hello. Hey. Hi everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show E-Coffee With Experts. Today we have Navah Hopkins from Optmyzr, a digital marketing and advertising agency headquartered in California. Welcomes Navah to the show.

Thank you so much for having me. It’s a delight to be able to chat on so many wonderful topics and to empower your audience. It’s a delight to be here.

Absolutely. We’re also thrilled with your presence, and I’m sure our audience would benefit a lot in terms of insights, which you’re gonna share tonight. So now before we move forward, I’d like you to introduce yourself and Optmyzr in the video so that, our audience knows what Optmyzr is all about, and then we can take it forward from there.

Sure. Want to get straight to the content, so we’ll keep this short and brief. Optmyzr is a software company. We help folks agencies and in-house manage your Google Ads or Microsoft ads or Amazon ads, Facebook ads, or Yahoo Japan ads. And what’s nice about our tool is that we can help accounts. that is just getting started.

So maybe some of those smaller spend accounts as well as enterprise levels. So the complexity and power of our rule engine, which drives a lot of those really meaningful optimizations can service whether you’re just getting started or whether you’re.

Big enterprise account. I’m gonna do my very best not to be sales during this conversation and just answer questions.

But if you do have any questions you wanna check out our content our founder, Fred Vals, does a PPC town hall every Wednesday, can learn lots of great stuff there.

You can also follow us on Twitter and I’m always happy to answer any questions when it comes to how Optmyzr might be able to help or how I just might be able to help.

That was a good pitch. Don’t worry. Before we move forward, wanted to more about your journey. What inspired you to pursue this?

How has your journey been this far at Optmyzr.?

I had a really meaningful conversation with a family member that said, Hey, listen, you’re meant to be in marketing. Go be in marketing. So I started in SEO. I worked in SEO until about 2012. And I pivoted to PPC through school. I got my certification and started taking on some clients. I worked at WordStream for quite a while. Did also some consulting work with some other software companies. Ran the PPC arm for an SEO agency but my home at Optmyzr is one that came out of my consulting firm which is still running.

Optmyzr was a customer and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. And the main reason I took it was two reasons. One I was able to keep my consultancy so that I could keep my teeth. A lot of folks in our industry when they hit a certain point start to find their tech chops dull. And so it was really important to me that I was able to keep them. The other is that I have profound respect for how ethical and how focused on doing well by doing good. Optmyzr it was a natural fit too to join their team and to be able to empower those folks.

It’s quite, quite a thing to have your gig going by, by your full-time at someplace. I really, appreciate and respect optimizing the folks and the management, therefore, allowing you to be able to do that. That’s nice. We’re all not that lucky. That case.

It’s, and it’s strategic. So I, it’s definitely, I’m not operating at full capacity. But it’s the things that were important, like my apprentice program of helping folks learn our industry and develop a really meaningful revenue stream.

Yes. That’s allowed to still be there. Working with a few choice clients just so I can, again, keep my teeth. Fine, but it’s my full-time focus that is Optmyzr for sure.

That’s nice. That’s nice. And could you share some insights on, since you are into your marketing, Budget, and the software that Optmyzr some insights on committing effective account audits and optimizing?

So This is not an Optmyzr thing, this is just a general budget audit. So one of the things that’s interesting and this was a great thread on Reddit. I’ll see if I can find it for you when you push this life was someone who was talking about how their Performance Max campaign, which combines all the various Google channels.

So search, display, shop, local, YouTube all of it into one campaign.

A lot of that budget was going to display placements, and what’s interesting is that if you set up a search-only campaign, the budget will just go to search. If you set up a PMAX campaign, Google is going to take the budget that you have given it and do its very best with the conversion data and conversion values you’ve given it to make the best possible outcome.

So if you’re seeing that the lion’s share of your budget in Pmax is going to non-search placements. There are two things to look into. One, are you conveying the right conversion value information, the right conversion data, and information thinking primary and secondary conversions? But the other is do you have enough budget to go after what you want in search?

You might be doing perfectly fine but getting that top-of-funnel kind of ideation state leads and then you can have a separate search campaign just to pick them up. But if you’re not gonna budget enough for the auction prices that’s something to consider. The other thing to consider is using impression share.

So impression shares loss to rank and budget are both useful in assessing whether your budget is doing the best that it can. And everyone knows impressions shares lost a budget, Easy day. If it’s lost a budget, just add more budget or look at the structure.

What’s interesting about impression share loses you to rank, if you set a budget that’s too low, especially if you’re using smart bidding or auto bidding i.e. the max conversions.

Max conversion value, target impression, share, max clicks. If your budget is too low to do what it needs, Google is going to, or Microsoft will underbid. So you wanna take a look at those signals to give you a sense of, have you given the campaign enough fuel to do the thing that you’re asking it to do?

There are several scripts, so you can use tools like Optmyzr or others to see this information. Or you can use the micros. Script yourself and put that in. But long story short, if you are seeing the budget go to placements that you don’t want a consider, just search. But also consider whether you’ve allocated enough budget to the thing that you need, and you determine that not just based on the metrics, but also off on how much the thing is worth to you. So that you’re crafting budgets that can achieve success.

Yeah. When I also with my clients, allocation of the budget becomes critical. While we want something budgeted to the vision in terms of achieving that success ratio for them. So completely valid, can relate to that. Talking about optimizing digital marketing budgets, what are your fundamental terms of what channels to locate resources to, and are there any specific factors? Or considerations that you take into account while advising your clients on the team.?

So one of the biggest considerations is auction price. Can you fit enough clicks into your day? So those of you who’ve heard me talk before know that I have my 10-click rule. I e. You need to be able to fit at least 10 clicks in your day. If you’re thinking about non-branded search, to have it be meaningful, I e get at least one qualified lead per day because a 10% conversion rate for non-branded search is really good.

So if you’re asking for your budget to deliver value on less than 10 clicks per day, you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. The other piece that you may want to consider is actually how your clients want to consume information. A lot of people are pretty afraid of visual content.

At least search first marketers and I cannot recommend enough, Taking that leap into video, taking that leap into the display, taking that leap, to be frank, into some of the social channels because not everyone’s there yet. And so if you can pick up those inexpensive leads, those index inexpensive sales clean up while you can. The other shameless plug I will give and this big shout-out to Robin Johnson. She is one of the best voices on Amazon. She made a really good point that a lot of the audiences that are available on Amazon are the lost ones for Facebook. And it to a certain extent also Google.

So if you need that hyper-focused targeting, you may wanna consider moving some of that budget over to Amazon for the next year to two years. Just to pick that up. That’s a Robin Johnson hat tip. It’s not mine, but I will happily share it with you all.

And with the shift towards privacy first world. How do you think marketers should approach audience targeting and segmentation, and are there any strategies or, tools that you would recommend?

So one of the greatest gifts that Microsoft ever gave us was removing the minimum lifetime spend requirement for customer match.

If for no other reason, that is a reason to go onto Microsoft and invest a little bit because there you can take that customer match or email and phone number list, upload it and have your targets right there have even similar audiences, even the Google kind appreciated them and roll them into Pmax and broad match.

So definitely a great piece there. The other thing to consider, you wanna make sure that you are fully set up with your GA4 and that you have all of your audiences targeted and segmented out. It’s worth noting that audiences from a retargeting standpoint we’re not gonna necessarily be retargeting off of website visitors anymore, so much as we’ll be targeting off of cohorts that show interest.

So I recommend you’re not gonna be opting into the broad match, if you’re not, which includes audiences. If you’re not gonna be opting into smart bidding, which includes audiences make sure that you are going through the native audiences and at least putting them on observe, if not target, and observe make sure that you’re also using exclusions to exclude because there are gonna be quite several folks being added into the pool.

Because due to the privacy first web and that not everyone’s gonna be willing to be tagged so you wanna make sure that you’re using audiences not just as targets, but also effective as negatives. And I think that’s a really big opportunity I think that the most common pitfall I see in accounts is that people don’t use negative exclusions.

The final thing I’ll say about audiences is, We definitely wanna make sure that we’re using audiences in the beginning for PMAX and one tool that Optmyzr has and you can do it yourself. So I’m, that’s why I’m willing to share it is taking your top search terms and making a custom intent audience to jumpstart your PMAX campaign.

So even if you can’t use targets of individual people, you can at least pick the most useful ways people have searched and use that as a proxy for those most ideal audiences.

Absolutely. With the Google announcement of removing the third-party cookies and apples move to limit tracking. How do you think the industry will evolve holistically to continue delivering

advertising? It’s not new. This has been a thing since 2018 that it’s gonna get removed. I think, one of the reasons that the industry has evolved the way that it has, I e far more focused on audiences and less focused on keywords, focused on creativity and visuals and search is that exact piece that we’re no longer handcuffed to, I need to put in this exact way of searching and target this exact person. It’s far more who is my ideal buyer? How can I create content that will speak to the common thread between all of my ideal buyers as buyer personas?

And then of course, from a tracking standpoint, how can I elicit or gain that trust from my consumers? So one of the things I think often gets forgotten in PPC conversations is the landing page and the trust symbols you include there. So you definitely wanna make sure that any certifications that you have and awards that you have reviews that you have they’re somewhere on that page just to give that credibility. But then also, When you’re asking for that cookie consent or you’re asking for that tracking consent, you ask for it in a way that isn’t deceptive. So I see some people say by reading this site, you agree to this, these terms, and like that’s not consent.

That’s all right. I’m gonna click back and not engage with you at all. Like you, you wanna be forthcoming, you wanna be transparent because by doing well, you will do good. Or rather by doing good, you will do well here you go.

Even those auto checkmark boxes, which were there earlier in the day, which is once you fill up those, like mark, so that is also not something that you’re agreeing, talking about PPC now, I appreciate if you can help us understand what are the major challenges there, which you feel that anyone, any marketer would face.

I think the biggest challenge is right now, how many changes are coming and how many rules of engagement we have to check ourselves against. Back in 2016, 2017, and 2018, the biggest thing was people were debating about stag or single keyword ad structure versus single theme ad group structure and ultimately stag one, but there still was a utility for Stag and you still couldn’t make the case for it. In today’s world, There are questions about attribution models, there are questions about audiences, and there are questions about privacy. There are questions about GA4 targeting and setup. There are questions about PMAX. There are questions about like negatives that there’s a whole bunch of things and so I think one of the biggest challenges.

But then opportunities is that this is a time where no one is going to conclusively have the answer, right? And so this is a safe space to fail fast and to test and to learn. I think maybe two years ago, three years ago, we still were pretty rooted in the same tactics. And so there wasn’t as much room to test an experiment.

Now we have it. The other thing I will say is that I don’t think the current marketer would kill to be able to get away with how little PPCs were responsible for maybe 5-10 years ago. The current PPC marketer is responsible for so much. They’re responsible not just for the account, but for the conversion efficacy.

They’re responsible for the quality, they’re responsible for the landing page, they’re responsible for analytics, they’re responsible for all these things. So take a breath. Make sure that you have healthy conversations with your clients, and with your boss about what is reasonable for you to own. Yes, tools can help. Yes, automation can help, but at the end of the day, it is far better to own and focus on one to two things that you’ll do well and just be conversant in the rest and feel the pressure to do all of it yourself. Because if you try to do it all yourself, you’ll do it all poorly. There’s, it’s a very rare person who can do all these things, including coding things. So that’s my, advice.

And I appreciate that coming from you with all those years of experience plugged in there. And talking about responsive display ads, how do you ensure that they’re visually appealing and attention-grabbing while also conveying the right message to the target audience?

So this is the thing with responsive display ads and PMAX Responsive search ads. At the end of the day, if you are putting in assets for responsive display they are your assets. And if they are not conveying the desired message, that’s you putting in the not correct message and one of the things that I think might be my favorite is that people will complain when Google creates assets off of content on their site.

And then they’re like where did this come from? This is incorrect. We pulled it from your site. So I don’t think it’s a matter of getting responsive display ads to render well or not it’s more a matter of making sure that. All of your content meets your brand tone and you are happy with those assets.

And if you’re not don’t worry about fixing your responsive display, focus on fixing your site because, on fixing your brand guide.

Automation is the talk of the town and has been for quite some time now, how do you feel that marketers can leverage automation?

So in, in many ways, we could have an entire podcast just about how automation I think the one thing I will share, is automation is about delegating grunt work. It’s not about strategy.

So if you are opting in to automation, things like your bidding, your budget pacing, even pmax what campaign resources are being used to fill a goal, that’s fine. What’s not fine is to completely hand the keys over and then complain when strategic objectives aren’t met. Because you didn’t put in your conversion values, you didn’t put in which are your primary and secondary conversion actions.

You didn’t share assets that specifically, speak to what you’re trying to achieve. So automation is at the end of the day, a way to help with the load of the human marketer, but the human marketer still needs to be a human marketer.

Absolutely. Very nicely. So is the case with the AI content.

It can never be the final product, right? You need to have a human, at the backend of the process.

And what’s funny is we have CHAT GPT plugged in on Optmyzr to help with ad creation. But we don’t say, take this ad and run with it. We say, here are some suggestions alongside, here are some suggestions from your other assets, and here are some suggestions.

So on so far. So it’s, and to be fair, I think both, I think both Google and Microsoft have it now. I forget if Microsoft has it or not. But Google for sure does where it will help craft RSAs. So Google has, yeah. Yeah. But I think Microsoft may or may not I have to check, but it’s very important that when you are crafting your content, You are cude in and you can’t be upset if you write average content if the ad platform does better than you, and that’s okay. Just know where your strengths are and opt-in where important. Absolutely.

And before we let you go now since we have spoken about PPC a lot, I’m sure our audiences like to understand from you, both aspects of PPC and SEO, which are like two essential components of digital marketing.

How can advertisers ensure these two, work together to achieve maximum results?

So one of the most important things to do is to make sure that both teams are talking to each other and are crafting strategy together. When it comes to landing pages, for example, PC, if you’re gonna be sending your traffic to the main site, ie the SEO domain you need to make sure that experience will meet your needs as a PPC, and you cannot ask your SEO friends to compromise on what they need to do so that navigation bar needs to be there, that rich content, that authoritative content needs to be there. On the flip side, SEOs need to make sure that they’re allowing in their crawl budget for the ad bott to come through so that PPCs can get a quality score. Cuz you’re not gonna get a quality score if the ad bot can’t call you.

So you wanna make sure that you discuss whether you’re gonna be sending traffic to the main domain or whether you’re going to go with the subdomain. The other piece that you wanna think about is sharing. Search term data and share tracking information and how you’ll be reporting.

One of the most common reasons that PPCs and SEOs get into Tiffs is that they may not be using the same sources of truth. And one of the things I’m the most excited about is that Google has announced that it’s going to be allowing for non-last-click Google Ads to get credit in Google ads so they can start teaching themselves. Hey, this was useful for conversion tracking purposes. We’re gonna let this start, to get a little bit of traction as opposed to having to choose. Do we go with our analytics, our GA4 reporting, or do we go with native and kind of enhanced conversions reporting off of Google ads?

Where there, there might be some different metrics there. At the end of the day, talk with your team, share the data, and collaborate on your insight search, your search terms, and your search console data. And then also make sure that you have that conversation on how you’re going to be reporting and allow for that delta of data that there, it’s okay that it’s a little bit off, it just can’t be way off.

Thank you. Thank you. No, thank you so much for the wonderful insights. I’m sure our audiences will have benefited a lot from this. I’ll try and get you sometime down the line for another episode. But yeah, it was lovely having you on our show. Appreciate it.

Thank you for having me.

It was a pleasure.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

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