With his permission, this is a reprint of a recent PPC advertising testimonial from Kevin DiCerbo at Celibre. Kevin is a UCLA Business School graduate and he sent the email below to thousands of MBAs who use the UCLA Alumni e-mail list serve.
Instead of asking for help this time, I hope that I can provide some. If you are managing or responsible for pay per click (PPC) advertising accounts, you may be able to relate to my experience or be interested in feedback about different ways in which to manage PPC. If so, read on.
In the past 5 years, I have tried numerous solutions for managing the Google, MSN and Yahoo Pay Per Click accounts we use as part of our online marketing strategy. While all of the solutions have sufficed during the time period they were used, I think the one that I currently have is what we will stick with for a while. As the market has become more competitive, new options have developed and I have tried a few.
To review the history, I started with a one person consulting firm who managed the pay per click accounts. She did fairly well setting them up but after setup, was really only changing the bids rather than actively managing the accounts. She had another job and this was a part time gig for her. I was happy with her work at the time (she was used for 2.5 years), but changes in my company required that I cut costs and I had to learn the task of managing the pay per click accounts myself. I managed the pay per click advertising accounts for about 2 years and because it was only one of many responsibilities I had, I am sure that I did not do it very well. I learned enough to be informed, but not enough to be really good. Maybe just enough to be able to hire someone else to do it.
In the middle of last year I started looking for a technology solution for my pay per click management. There are many, many pay per click technology solutions out there and I checked into a few of them. One was a firm called “Efficient Frontier”. These folks use the same concepts used in portfolio management to find the most efficient spend for your pay per click dollars. Although I have not used them, I received good feedback regarding their service during my research. Problem is, you really need to be spending over $30 – $50K per month to even consider this and at last check they do take a big piece of the spend (10% – 15%). They are well suited for large organizations that spend millions of dollars per month or year on pay per click but not really for small guys like my company. The other issue with efficient frontier for my firm is that we do not have any conversions online, all of our sales are offline. This is more challenging for a company like Efficient Frontier, but I am sure they have made strides in meeting this market need (offline conversions) since I evaluated them a year ago.
Because we did not manage enough monthly spend to use Efficient Frontier, I moved on to two smaller firms that work somewhat similarly to Efficient Frontier in that they have developed pay per click optimization technology. The firms are Yodle and Reach Local. The difference between these firms and Efficient Frontier is that they are able to work with smaller firms that manage less spend AND they use “reverse proxy” technology to link a phone call to a specific keyword search (using time of day, IP address matching and other proprietary tools). In this way they have developed a way to better optimize pay per click spend for service companies like my own whose sales occur offline. What was important to us with these companies was that their systems “learn” which keywords were driving the most calls and in this way bid higher for those keywords and lower for others that were not driving calls.
Unfortunately, my test pilot program for Yodle and Reach Local failed in both cases. In both cases, I hired them to manage one small portion of our pay per click program (about 10% of monthly spend) to determine if they could succeed with it and from there add more spend to their management if they succeeded. In both cases, the quality of service and communication were huge issues. I was not able to speak directly to those persons that were managing the accounts day to day and for this reason, it seems that there was a lot lost in translation. Some of the ads that were being used did not represent our brand well and that was not being communicated well by the intermediaries (sales folks). In other cases, it did not seem that the sales team clearly communicated which keywords would be part of the program as the persons managing the account were bidding on keywords that were not in the contract and competed with our own current PPC bids. The assurances that had been made before singing a contract about how much expertise the individuals who were managing the accounts had did not live up to expectations. In other words, I was being told that I would have a PPC manager that had worked for companies in my industry and would therefore know many of the best practices for getting high conversion rates so that their technology systems did not have to work as hard to optimize our campaigns. Things would happen more quickly for us in other words and lead to a quicker ROI. None of the promises came true and I ended up cancelling both of these programs before they really got into the swing of things because of the host of problems that occurred in the three month contract periods. This is not to say that either one of these companies does not have a viable (or valuable) model for managing pay per click. It just didn’t work for me and what I needed.
This brings me to my current solution. I am not even sure how I found JumpFly, Inc. but when I did, it struck me that they did not use any technology to manage their campaigns – they used real people. Real people that I could talk to and e-mail. I also started the month-tom-month contract with this company using only 10% of our monthly spend. Within 1 month, I could tell that they were succeeding in vastly improving my ROI for PPC and I gave them all accounts (total of between $20K and $25K per month). Prior to their management of the Google PPC account, I was paying approximately $16 for a conversion where a conversion was measured as the user reaching the “Contact Us” page where they can view our office locations. This last month, the conversion cost was down to about $11. During this time, the number of conversions has actually increased. So, we are spending about 25% less than we were before, but getting just as many or more conversions. Having started around $16K in spend per month for Google, we are now down to about $11K or $12K, and their service fees are much less than the associated cost savings. I am very happy with this actively managed solution and wanted to recommend JumpFly, Inc. to any others in the Anderson network that are struggling with how to manage their pay per click advertising accounts. Finally, I sent out an e-mail last fall to the alumni group and one other alumnus had used them and gave them good marks as well. Check them out if PPC management has been a thorn in your side, like it was for me for five years.
Call me at 310-373-5000 if you would like to talk further about Jumpfly or PPC management.
23211 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Office: (310) 373-5000
Fax: (310) 373-5012