Digital Marketing

Top 7 Skills to Take Your Performance Marketing Career to the Next Level

What makes an effective paid marketer? Looking for answers, I asked some of the industry's most prominent paid marketers about the top skills to develop in 2018 to become a PPC expert.

Here’re the top 7 paid marketing skills -- according to Dan Gilbert, Mark Irvine, Samantha Noble, Susan Wenograd, Natalie Barreda, and JD Prater.

1. Be Adaptable

“My main attribute is adaptability,” says Dan Gilbert, CEO of Brainlabs., a U.K.-based digital marketing agency.  “There are hundreds of changes to the PPC landscape every year,” says Dan. “What you knew last year is no good this year!”

An ex-Googler recommends to “choose 3 or 4 superheroes of PPC and follow them,” because it’s easy to get lost by trying to follow everything. “They are your curators of everything you need to know.”

2. Know How to Explain PPC to Non-PPC People

“A lot of people say, ‘Hey, you have to be really analytical. You have to be very good at paid search,” says Mark Irvine, senior data scientist at Wordstream. “But I think you have to be able to maintain that client relationship. I know math very well. I know numbers very well. I know data very well. At the end of the day, I have to relate that back to people who don’t,” says Mark, who, as Wordstream's data chief, also trains and supports the company's team of 180+ employees.

3. Be Dedicated

“In an industry that is forever changing, a good PPC person needs to be on top of all the latest updates, and this needs not only to be done during work time,” says Samantha Noble, the founder of Biddable Moments and former Director of Strategy at Koozai, a digital marketing agency. “To be good at PPC, I really believe that you need to live and breathe it (day and night).”

How do you gauge a person’s level of dedication if you don’t know a person well? Here’re some of the questions Samantha asks whenever she’s recruiting for a senior PPC role:

  • Which blogs and publications do you read to ensure you keep up to date with the industry?
  • What is your number 1 go to blog for learning PPC?
  • What was the last conference you attended?
  • Who is an inspiration to you within the paid media community?
  • If you could ask AdWords for one feature to be added to the platform, what would it be?
  • Tell me about a blog post that you have written about PPC that you were most proud of.

“I also look them up on Twitter to see what sort of conversations they have and what content they share,” Samantha says.

4. Think Outside of Your Niche

“PPC operates in less of a silo than it did in past years,” says Susan Wenograd, who recently took the leap into the freelance world after years of agency life at Five Mill and Clix Marketing. A Marketing Land and Search Engine Journal contributor, Susan also manages a closed Facebook community for paid social advertisers.

“It used to be that just knowing paid search was enough - clients dumped a lot of money into it, and it was one of the best channels to drive sales and leads,” Susan says. “I run into a lot of people or agencies who sneer at anything that isn't their main avenue, whether that's paid search, Facebook Ads, or anything else. Specialization is great - ignorance is not. Even if you have one particular platform you work with most, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of others to understand the strengths of all the others. Clients need strategic guidance based on their goals, and a lot of times those aren't something solved with one solution.”

5. Learn How to Sell

“While yes, we are search marketers and our main goals are to drive results for our accounts, there is absolutely still a sales aspect to it,” says Natalie Barreda, Senior Search Strategist at Point It, a digital marketing agency in Seattle.

“If you want to work with clients, you need to be able to sell the work that you’re doing to them and their company stakeholders. If you want to work in-house, you need to sell the work you’re doing to your leadership team. Additionally, having a sales-mindset helps when you’re identifying growth opportunities in your accounts. We might not be selling a physical product, but we are absolutely selling solutions to problems.”

6. Be Creative

“The perception is there because we [search marketers] tend to be data nerds,” says Natalie Barreda. “Search is a pretty mature medium, and most advertisers have been advertising in the space for a while now. Being able to come up with creative ideas that get clients/stakeholders excited are going to cause you to stand out amongst the crowd as an innovative thinker. A couple of years ago, one of the leaders at my company at the time told me ‘Make mistakes. Try things out. Learn. Don’t be afraid’ and that piece of advice has stuck with me for years.”

7. See the Larger Picture

“While quality score and leads are important metrics, CMOs are laser-focused on the ROI of marketing spend in 2018, according to Gartner. This will force paid marketers to go deeper in the funnel to show the business impact of their ad spend,” says JD Prater, Director of Growth Marketing at AdStage.

“So to be a badass PPCer, learn how to import and map offline conversions back into AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook. Then use the closed-loop reporting approach to understand what campaign optimizations will drive more ROI -- rather than focusing on metrics that aren't necessarily growing the business.”

AdStage Team