Managing your PPC Campaign is Just Like Managing your Fantasy Football Team

fantasy footballThe gang here at Trada has gone hog wild for fantasy football this year and watching everyone manage their teams made me realize that effective PPC campaign management is pretty similar to managing a fantasy football team. Here’s how. 

1. Let Data Be Your Guide.

It seems that the best fantasy football guys and gals know every statistic about the players on their fantasy team and across the league, and make decisions based on a player’s stats over time, regardless of whether they “like” the player or the team they play on.

Similarly, effective paid search managers are data junkies. They love studying their impressions, click through rates, conversion rates, cost per conversion, etc. And they make decisions based on data, not what they think about a particular ad group or keyword.

To be successful in fantasy football or paid search, love thy data, and use it as your guide for decision making.

2. Success is equal parts reliable names and unknown sleepers.

In any fantasy football league, everyone is going to go after the Tom Brady’s, Ray Rice’s and Adrian Peterson’s of the league. But often times it’s that sleeper – the unknown player that has a break-out year – that gets you the extra points you need to win you league.

Likewise, in most paid search campaigns, you’re going to have your top 10%-20% of reliable keywords that consistently produce a large amount of conversions. But to run a high performance campaign, you can’t stop there – you have to constantly keep searching for those long-tail keywords that your competition isn’t thinking of to give you an edge. It’s these keywords that will give you an incremental lift in conversions, and will lower your overall cost per conversion.

To get an edge over your competition, keep constantly looking for the sleepers – be it unknown players or a long-tail keyword.

3. Conditions are constantly changing. Check your team, or campaign, regularly.

Good fantasy players are always glued to their phones, staying on top of what’s going with their team and across the league. They’re watching for players that get hurt or suspended or have break-out games. They think about how weather will affect player performance. In order to get rid of dead weight or capitalize on new opportunities, you have to stay up to date on what’s going on around the league as frequently as possible.

It’s no different in paid search. One of the biggest mistakes I see with advertisers running paid search campaigns is ignoring their campaigns for weeks or months at a time. Paid search is ever changing – if you don’t check on your PPC campaign at least a couple times a week, you’re likely losing money to poor performing or overpriced keywords, or missing opportunities with new keywords.

An ignored fantasy team, or campaign, is a poor performing team /campaign. To get the most out of your fantasy team or paid search campaign, check on it regularly and make changes as needed.

4. Externalities can affect your team and your campaign. Be prepared.

Things beyond your control can adversely affect your fantasy team. If your best player goes down with an injury, have a plan for how you’re going to replace him. And continue to improve your team so that the loss of a single player doesn’t wipe you out.

Same goes for your paid search campaign. New competitors enter the market, seasonality drives up bid prices, etc. To avoid letting these externalities hurt your business, be prepared. Paid search should be just one component of an overall marketing strategy, which will allow you to be nimble as conditions change. If competition causes bid prices to rise dramatically, SEO, or display, or email marketing, can help pick up the slack as you continue to optimize your PPC campaign to find low cost long-tail keywords.

In fantasy football and in search marketing, diversify and have a contingency plan.

5. Don’t Panic!!!

One common mistake fantasy football participants make is panicking when one of their players has a bad game. They constantly trade one player for the next and never get any traction. However, if they’d stuck with the player they started with, they might have seen that it was an aberrant game (one data point) and the player has been playing well ever since.

Here at Trada we often talk about the CPA Rollercoaster. When a new advertiser starts a PPC campaign, they will almost always see their CPA go above their target cost per conversion, regardless of whether they’re running their campaign in Trada or directly in AdWords/adCenter. A number of factors go into the CPA Rollercoaster, most notably the buying cycle of the advertiser’s customers. When advertisers are in the middle of the CPA Rollercoaster, their instinct is to panic and shut down their campaign. It’s easy to understand why – they see their costs going up and they don’t have enough data to make well informed decisions. However, when advertisers stick with their campaign, they’ll see their campaign CPA begin to turn as conversions increase and they refine their campaign.

In fantasy football and paid search, don’t panic! Make data-driven decisions with statistically relevant data sets.

What do you think? Do these parallels hold water or am I just looking for a good excuse to play fantasy football during business hours? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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