I’m going to give you some advice on how to work with marketers.

But, before I get to the advice, I have to set it up with a story.

The story is about Wilhelm Steinitz, the first ever world chess champion, and it goes like this…

Steinitz was playing a game against another top player. After the game, the players went over the game. They discussed different ideas, and alternative moves that weren’t played.

While they were doing this, an unskilled amateur – in chess parlance, a “patzer” – kept interrupting and telling the masters what moves they should have played.

Steinitz, put up with this for as long as he could. But, finally, he snapped. He turned to the patzer and asked, “Sir, have you ever seen a monkey examine a watch?”

OK, what’s my point?

I was recently hired by a company to improve their PPC results. They were paying around £60 per lead, which was roughly breakeven. We set a target to get that down to £45.

So, I reworked their AdWords account and, straight off the bat, we were down to under £45 per lead.

And that was straight away. I knew, with further testing, I could continue to get it lower. For example, I was writing a new landing page for them, which I expected would increase the conversion rate. And a higher conversion rate means a lower cost per lead.

So, things were going well. Or, at least, that’s what I though.

Then their sales manager – who’d never successfully run an AdWords account – decided that he knew better than me.

His idea?

•    To take our most profitable keywords, change them from phrase match to exact match.
•    Change the ads from offering a precise result, to being vague and generic.
•    Run the ads just a few hours a day.

I tried to talk him out of it, by asking him to look at the data, but some people won’t listen. So, reluctantly, I implemented his changes.

The result?

Exactly what you’d expect.

By switching from phrase to exact match, we reduced the number of ad impressions for our best keyword. And, of course, showing them for only part of the day reduced that even further.

And, on top of that, the new ads, as I expect, had a lower click rate.

(Specific promises almost always beat vague promises in advertising. This has been known for around 100 years. For example, Claude Hopkins wrote about it in his book, Scientific Advertising, in 1923.)

The number of conversions shot down, the cost per conversion shot up – to over £100/lead. And the client ended up pausing what had been a profitable account.

What’s the lesson?

Expertise beats a lack of expertise. If someone’s been doing something for 10 years (I’ve been managing PPC accounts since 2006), chances are, they know what they’re doing.

So, if you hire a marketer, and they’re producing good results, let them continue. Because, if you think it’s easy – and that your opinions can outperform their experience – chances are, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot.

Best wishes,

Steve Gibson

P.S.  I just re-took my AdWords exams. You get 2 hours for each one. I rattled through them and scored 94% in 28 mins in the first, and 88% in 26 mins in the other.

So, if you’d like an AdWords manager who knows his stuff, click here.

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