A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Marketing Specialist
For those outside of the digital marketing world, the role of “PPC Specialist” is likely a foreign concept. In today’s digital world, businesses want as many opportunities as possible to get their message in front of potential customers and drive visitors to their websites. The PPC Specialist is one of many people on the digital marketing team who makes this happen.
If a fast-paced and analytical career is something you’re curious about, keep reading to learn what a day in the life of a PPC Specialist is all about.
What is PPC?
But first, let’s clarify the term PPC. PPC advertising stands for pay-per-click (it’s also known as search engine marketing, but we’ll get to that shortly). Pay-per-click is an advertising method exclusive to the internet where advertisers pay a fee every time their ad is clicked on, so advertisers pay per click. This form of media buying is a common advertising model on the internet and allows companies to pay for traffic to their websites and other digital assets.
With the ability to target specific individuals based on interest and demographics, PPC specialists help narrow down and define a company’s target audiences. This is crucial because it’s not enough to have your message in front of thousands of viewers; you want your ad to be presented to people most likely to engage with it. These are known as qualified leads.
Qualified leads, combined with accurate keyword bidding, ensure a higher return on investment. Not only is there potential to make more than you’re spending, but you’re also spending on an audience that is more likely to spend on you.
Online businesses need to continuously feed their funnels at a low cost and with high potential for returns, so a trained PPC Specialist is necessary for any digital marketing team.
What is SEM?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the most frequently used form of PPC advertising. If you’re contributing to the 5.6 billion daily Google searches, you’ve seen the fruits of an SEM professional’s labor. When you initiate a search, Google shows you relevant ads that match what you’re looking for, based on keywords and search intent. With every campaign, advertisers are bidding for premium placement so that their ad populates and (hopefully) entices you to click.
What Does a PPC Specialist Do?
Since SEM is a form of PPC, the two terms are often used interchangeably. To keep it simple, we’ll be focusing on PPC.
So, what exactly does a PPC specialist do? As part of a digital marketing team, this professional takes on the responsibility of managing paid campaigns.
They monitor performance using data analytics and apply changes to the campaign to get it to optimal performance. This is called optimization.
They also run tests by launching multiple versions of a campaign to understand what factors drive success to replicate that in future campaigns. If the role of a PPC Specialist sounds technical, that’s because it is.
There are moments of creativity and exploration, but anyone in this position must have the ability to think critically, understand correlations between data points, and make quick decisions.
General Responsibilities of a PPC Specialist:
- Testing ad variations
- Managing budgets for ad campaigns
- Collecting, analyzing, and reporting data
- Recognizing trends to maximize the Return on Investment (ROI)
- Regularly creating, launching, and optimizing new campaigns
Depending on the team's size, a PPC Specialist manages or works alongside several media buyers, or works as the lone paid advertiser. Their efforts align with their colleagues’ efforts to ensure a seamless user experience from the first time a user sees an ad until they purchase.
Qualifications and Skills
How can you excel in this role? A mix of comprehensive education, experience, and a passion for learning. Combining hard and soft skills can make you the perfect candidate for any employer, and with the right training, you’ll be well on your way to success!
The path you choose won’t necessarily affect your job prospects, but it may impact how long it takes you to become fully qualified for the role of your dreams.
Traditional education can prepare you with real-world experience through internships and labs; however, you may not be introduced to modern-day applications and methods if the curriculum is outdated. In a digital world where fast-paced is the norm, keeping up with the latest technologies and approaches to your field is essential.
Specialized courses offer a more flexible and nuanced view of the landscape. While it may be tempting because of the shorter completion time and more accessible tuition, you must ensure that the course you choose includes hands-on training, expert instruction, and the ability to prepare you for any certifications required in your field.
It’s no surprise that a PPC specialist must be more tech-savvy than other digital marketing professionals. Tracking performance and managing campaigns require knowledge about tracking parameters, tag management, HTML, and more.
Once tracking systems are set up, they must sift through data and make sense of what’s working and what isn’t working. They must connect various data points to come up with a sound conclusion and recommend changes and trends to their team.
A PPC Specialist’s arsenal is incomplete without Excel spreadsheets. An excel-savvy professional can manage their campaign bids, set up the perfect ad structure, and run analyses in one workbook.
Marketers have endless options for advertising products and services. From Facebook, for paid social ads, to Google Ads, for SEM, the platform depends on where and how you want to reach your audience.
With so much data at their disposal, PPC Specialists need to make sense of the chaos, synthesize it, and decipher the best actions to take. Is an ad performing because the audience is ineffective, or is the message not connecting? Answering questions like this will make you successful in this role.
Organization is key to help sift through data; however, organizing data is just one piece of the puzzle. Running PPC campaigns is time-intensive and without proper systems to organize tasks and time, they can easily become overwhelmed.
Part of building successful campaigns means understanding the business goals of the client or business and the needs of their customers. This allows the PPC Specialist to align their campaigns and keyword research, and frame their campaigns to resonate with the target customer. This includes ad copy and placement.
This role goes beyond communicating effectively with a target audience. With constant reporting and data analysis, this professional must be comfortable communicating with stakeholders, management, and colleagues to facilitate cohesive strategies and help team members improve on their deliverables.
SEMs have to keep up with algorithm changes while PPC Specialists handle the challenges of advertising on a digital platform. This means anything can happen at any given moment, so having an established routine helps PPC and SEM professionals stay focused on the necessary tasks while remaining flexible enough to take on whatever else comes up.
The main tasks of a PPC Specialist’s day include:
Keyword research helps narrow down exactly what a prospective customer is searching and which terms to focus on when building out a new campaign.
Several tools are available to help professionals find the best keywords, like ahrefs, Google Trends, and SEMrush.
Monitoring and Optimizing
When buying media, every penny counts. Each ad is regularly monitored to keep tabs on performance and preserve the budget; letting ads run without the proper optimizations can lead to overspending without positive returns. No client or business wants that!
Tracking performance over days, weeks, and months allows PPC Specialists to build historical data to develop a view of trends over time.
Analyzing and Reporting
When humans work with machines, in this case, algorithms, they need to tap into their analytical and creative side to make connections.
They may ask questions like, “How can I improve the click-through rate?” and “Who are the people engaging with this particular message?” Analyzing intangible behavior to develop actionable conclusions is an art form that PPC Specialists must master.
Industry and Trends Research
As you’ve already heard, the digital space moves at lightning speed. It’s up to the PPC Specialist to dive into what’s happening within their industry, research upcoming trends, and apply these learnings to their campaigns to keep them fresh and appealing.
A Typical Day for a PPC Specialist
The day starts with reviewing ads and optimizing wherever necessary.
- Check campaign performance
- Update tracking sheets to monitor performance as well as budget pacing
- Dig into account results to find optimization opportunities
Meetings are essential for collaboration and reviewing potential changes with the team.
- Discuss new initiatives or ideas that can be tested
- Discuss performance weak spots and layout the next steps to resolve any issues
The post-lunch workload requires creative fuel! It’s time to review, assess, and build.
- Review new creative assets from the design team to ensure best practices are followed and provide feedback for necessary changes
- Build out new campaigns that have been completed and approved by the design team
Keep the creative juices flowing.
- Brainstorm new ideas for ad content including the design or the messaging
- Research what competitors in the same space are doing to find what has been performing well for others
The day winds down with extensive research to spark inspiration.
- Research industry news and any new product offerings from the major players like Facebook and Google that can be used to create innovative ads
- Research industry trends or important changes to existing platforms in order to be prepared for anything that could impact how strategies are currently set up
Get Started as a PPC Specialist
If you’re the brainy type who also feeds off creativity, a career as a PPC Specialist might be perfect for you.
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