PPC And Failure

It’s a pretty daunting task to set up a pay per click advertising campaign. You know that you’re going to have to pay for every single click, so the financial costs of making an error can be potentially enormous. However, I think that it’s incredibly important to be prepared to fail in a PPC campaign.

As search engine marketers, we have access to incredibly detailed analytics tools where we can track every cent spent on every keyword. This means that we have the luxury of taking a scientific approach to our advertising efforts. This also means that in order to take advantage of these amazing tools, we need to be willing to test and re-test every aspect of our marketing efforts, from keywords to campaigns.

Part of the experimental process is to come up with an educated hypothesis (i.e. “this keyword will get a lower CPA at phrase match type”) and test it our through experimentation. Here’s where the failure part comes in: not every experiment will be a success, and you need to be prepared for your experiment to fail. Failure isn’t entirely useless, though. At least when your experiment fails, you know what didn’t work. That knowledge has value, too. The trick is to not succeed every time, but to succeed most of the time, and be sure that you’re learning from your mistakes. That, in my opinion, is what separates a true SEM expert from an amateur.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
This entry was posted in PPC Basics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to PPC And Failure

  1. Kalin Dudley says:


    Great point, failure only occurs in a test where nothing was gained. As PPC Analysts all know too well, you don’t always increase sales or leads with every test. Many times a test will not perform as expected however the knowledge gained and money saved from that is a success in itself. Now having patience in allowing your PPC team this type of testing is difficult, especially in this economy. I think its very important for PPC Analysts to be proactive in discussing with their clients, all successes and all learnings, even when not positive. As a client, you should always be sure that you are working with an analyst that has straight answers for you on any testing occurring in the account. If they don’t give you straight answers or generalize their explanation, its probable that they have a heavy client load and probably not giving your account the attention it deserves….