As we gear up for another bloody presidential election, tensions are high and election funds are flowing like wine. However, none of those election funds are being invested properly to make the pay-per-click ads of the candidates great again. The poor search engine marketing practices of the current field of candidates not only raises questions about their ability to lead, but also turns them into prime targets for parody.
As a way to drive awareness towards the contentious issue of poor ppc practices in politics, the following analysis is conducted by reimagining major flaws of each candidate into real-life traits exhibited by lousy ppc strategists.
(Note: This is a work of humor, and any ‘political’ judgments are simply the opinions of the author magnified to display common PPC management mistakes. So just relax!)
Bernie Sanders AKA Mr. Boost Your Budget
“Just let me say this. As your strategist, I implore that you increase spend. I promise you that through the steady increase of your ppc budget we can see an unprecedented amount of growth, opportunity, and prosperity in your account. In the history of this account, Impressions and clicks are the clearest indicators of health. We are not driving our fair share of traffic, and when we scale up your spend, every ad deserves to rotate equally!”
Lofty strategies, unbound enthusiasm for his age, and miscalculations. Such attributes best describe Bernie Sanders as PPC Strategist. His honeyed words will tell you everything you want to hear about your account and how all all of your wildest dreams will not only matched, but dramatically surpassed. Like a sith lord, he speaks only in absolutes when making remarks on your paid efforts. He is the most interesting PPC strategist in the world.
Whether he leads you to success or unabashed failure, there is only one direction for your budget to go; up. Didn’t meet your conversion goals? You budget wasn’t high enough. Failed to see an adequate return on your ad spend? Nothing an increased budget can’t fix. Sold 1,000 boxes of surplus plumber equipment? You would have sold 2,000 boxes if your budget was twice as high.
Yes, Bernie shows uncontained enthusiasm for why he has all of the answers and best practices while every other Agency and strategist just doesn’t get it. These strategies that carry lofty expectations and make even loftier promises may sound great at first, but that doesn’t mean that he has all of the answers. He may even run circles around your sensibilities with jargon, convoluted strategy, and unclear answers to your questions. Yet, at the end of the day, he is is going to push for budget regardless of how your search campaigns perform.
Bernie Sanders the PPC Strategist may tell you what you want to hear and promise unprecedented prosperity, but he really justs wants more of your money.
The Ad: GRADE: D+
In real life, the Bernie Sanders campaigns has a bit of work to do on their AdWords search ads. The title isn’t compelling, the ad text doesn’t excite or compel, and the call-to-action is bland. There are no ad extensions and the copy reads in a dull manner showing considerable lifelessness.. Language is too vague and could use more purpose in the copy. Bernie is really really old though and is naturally disadvantaged by all of this new-fangled technology, so he receives an A+ for effort!
Ted Cruz AKA The Unlikeable Agent
“Every decision we make must reference the data to ensure that we efficiently utilize our budget to drive down spend, obliterate CPA targets, increase conversions, and open the door for upsells. Data is a gift from God, and without data we simply lack to ability to exercise proper judgement in regards to how we manage your account. Big Google’s algorithms create unfair advantages for their cronies, large corporations, and our bids are inflated due to these irresponsible tactics and their blatant disregard for free-market bidding. As your strategist, I will fight for your internet-given freedoms”
Everybody has that acquaintance that is really smart and not mean-spirited, but there is just something about them you can’t stand. Maybe they are condescending, socially awkward, or lack charisma. Maybe they exude privilege and can’t level with the struggles of the average business owner. Maybe you don’t even know why you dislike them, only that their voice sounds to you like nails across a chalkboard.
Ted Cruz the PPC Strategist is just like that aforementioned acquaintance. He has spent his career scouring the most respected ppc blogs and has even written for some of these blogs himself. He has had his nose in books for so long that everything smells like paper. Sadly, all of this knowledge is next to worthless because he never learned to make friends. His skin is pasty from spending too many hours behind the computer instead of going to the company picnic to do some networking. He is the perfect example of the unlikeable agent.
Ted Cruz the Strategist exudes a degree of arrogance when he talks to you about your account. His PPC knowledge far surpasses you own, and–worst of all–he knows it. His communication style comes off as condescending and abrasive, and diverts focus from the data, strategy, and results over to his own unlikeability. Whether he knows great ppc strategy or not is beside the point, as he is a case study in bad communication and negative relationship management.
Strategists with the inability to effectively communicate outcomes and strategy to clients are best avoided.
The Ad: GRADE: C
The Cruz campaign gets credit for ad extensions and call-to-action continuity. His campaign gets low marks for wording and asks. All of the copy is ask-ask-ask without offering any value proposition to the audience. “Help us keep pace” also send the negative message that he is behind, and therefore, a losing option.
Hillary Clinton AKA The Unaccountable Strategist
“It is irresponsible and quite frankly reprehensible that you could even suggest that I would do anything that would possibly damage the health of your account or your business. I certainly refuse to feed further into the notion that any of those changes were made by myself, and I surely don’t know anybody here at the agency that would have done so.”
Stepping into the world of Hillary Clinton the PPC Strategist is like immersing yourself into a relationship of deflection and unaccountability. Her agency certainly carries gravitas and seems to carry a large book of respectable clients. However, a management style like hers will only give you headaches.
The most important component of a thriving business relationship is trust. Without an adequate degree of trust, any business relationship quickly devolves into tug-of-war, each side always wary of intent, causation, and finances. When you put a crucial share of your business’ marketing budget into the hands of an agency, you are essentially trusting them to spend that money in a way that complements your overarching strategies as efficiently as possible. Trust drives efficiency, while deflection and pointing fingers drives the opposite.
As a PPC strategist, Hillary Clinton would spend far too much time speaking about her own credibility and reputation working for the biggest agencies. She would deflect any questions that may bring to light her miscalculations in your account’s management. Her secrecy and abrasive communication style would certainly be a catalyst for dissatisfaction and poor business outcomes.
Avoid strategists that pass the buck and assume that their work is perfect at all times. Trust strategists that take responsibility for their failure and are always honest, even when it can hurt the agency.
The Ad: Grade: C
Like Cruz, Clinton’s campaign gets credit for ad extensions. Her call-to-action in description line 1 seems better than Cruz’s, but we would have to A/B test to know for sure. However, her ads suffer serious problems associated with copy optics. “Help make history – Shop the official store” sounds paradoxical and hilarious. I would never have guessed that buying a Hillary bumper sticker would help make history. “Why Support Hillary?” is also poorly worded as it is a question that can cultivate negative connotations. This sitelink should be a positive, direct and inclusive statement like “You Can Support Hillary” rather than push second doubts with a question like “Why Support Hillary?”
Hillary spends thousands and thousands of dollars on public relations, so this kind of ad is a big oversight.
Donald Trump AKA The Bombastic Manager
“I’m an outstanding strategist, I can tell you that. Everybody always tells me how great I am at strategy, because I am, I am great at it and people know that I’m great at it. A guy came up to me just last week, and he said–he was a working man, a construction worker, a really good guy, great guy actually–and he told me that nobody comes up with strategies like I do, and people tell me that about me. My strategies work, they do, they work better than most, I can tell you that much. They really do.”
When you ask a professional PPC strategist what the difference between broad and exact match keywords is, you need to get a better answer than:
“I always get this question, and I love this about my clients. They are really great clients, you are a great client, I know that about you. Let me say this, I work with outstanding people–outstanding people–and they tell me how great Broad match can be and how wonderful Exact match is. And I know this about these keywords, they are wonderful and we should use them because my strategies work. And those match types work, they absolutely work. You are a great client, and I’m sure you know how great I will make your account when I build in Exact and Broad keywords. Nobody uses those match types like I do, I can tell you that.”
Search Engine Strategist Trump is the loud, confident, and dizzyingly illogical account strategist that offers extensive dissertation about why you just need to trust him or why he is successful, but reacts quite negatively when you ask him to go into detail. His primary weapon is talking at length without saying much of anything that contains substance, and he will tell you everything you need to know about himself instead of your account. Things work because they work, and stuff happens because stuff happens. He is the best because he is the best, and the sky is blue because it’s blue.
When a good strategist can’t explain something, they tell you “I don’t know, but I will find out”. A good strategist doesn’t answer questions they don’t know the answer to with monologues of why you should trust them and why they are great strategists.
The Ad: Grade F
Donald Trump didn’t bother commissioning any AdWords ppc ads.
None of these candidates can be trusted to mount an effective ppc campaign. Between billionaires, attorneys, and career politicians, you would think that they would have better resources to ensure their ppc success.
Despite their obvious shortcomings in the fast-paced digital age of ppc management, I’m sure that they would all be outstanding presidents of the United States….