In Part 1 of this post, I took a look at the keys to choosing the right SEM agency or technology solution for your business. Once you choose the service provider, your work is not done – it only begins, as it is an unfortunate fact that most plans fail at implementation.
One common mistake is to try to implement all the bells and whistles on the first day. This very ambitions and aggressive desire may put your account at a great risk. Remember, you are planning to make big changes to your account and search marketing is NOT a simple linear algorithm that acts as you expect.
To mitigate this risk, set your initial expectation to fully switch over to the 3rd party (or only several campaigns – depends on the size of your test) and achieve the same results/performance you are currently getting. This is especially important when you are switching from your manual bidding or Google Conversion Optimizer* bidding, to a new bidding tool.
Once the account is switched over and stabilized begin to introduce the features / benefits one at a time and tier it by campaigns. I.e. if the first benefit the 3rd party provides is an account deduplication of keywords, first dedup the less impactful campaigns and watch the account changes. If the changes are positive continue with the same methodology with the higher volume campaigns until the entire account contains unique keywords. When deduping it is advisable to pause the keywords and not delete them because if it turns out that the wrong keyword was de-duped, it can be fixed with a simple unpause.
Remember, the faster the pace you take with the 3rd party, the higher risk you expose your company to. Also, the vendor is brand new to your account and it is very possible that their “best practices” are not applicable to your account. It is better to get slower incremental wins, then to have your account performance plummet right at the beginning of the test – then the entire test becomes about saving face and recovering lost profit rather than improving performance (and your management team gets antsy).
The Test in Progress
Measure the success of the test against the milestones established before the test began. Be cognizant of unforeseen issues that were beyond the vendors’ control but make sure to hold them accountable for under-delivering. On the other hand, recognize successes for over-delivery and don’t be shy to ask if they can get more aggressive with the performance goals.
Conclusion of the Test and Future Partnerships
At the end of the day not all tests will succeed (that’s why they are called tests), but being prepared and controlled during implementation will allow you to minimize your losses if it does. However, a successful test can turn into a true partnership where, your account is performing efficiently on higher level than ever before, and the vendor goes out of their way to help you meet your goals and introduces out-of-the-box ideas. To be successful in the long term: be open, have constant communication (ie. weekly/bi-weekly), especially of expectations, and do not let the relationship grow stale or complaisant – make sure that your partner is one step ahead looking out for the next big win.
* If your account uses conversion optimizer then the manual bids set for a keyword are irrelevant, since Google is using its own algorithm. Make sure that when you switch over to a bidding tool, their initial bid for the keyword should be the current (or last X days) of average cpc for that keyword and NOT the manual bid that is overly outdated.