The 3 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned as a PPC Strategist

Ryan Moothart

I started working at Portent a year and a half ago as an intern. I was fresh out of college and did not know any specifics of internet marketing. I was introduced to the world of paid search during my first few weeks and found it intriguing. As I starting to do more work in AdWords and adCenter, I came to see paid search accounts as a kind of game. The client had a set of metrics they were focused on and it was my job to win; beat last year’s metrics, last quarter’s, last month’s, and last week’s. To this day, the best moments are when I get a big win.

It hasn’t always been fun though – and I’m not just talking about studying for the AdWords certification test. I’m talking about when your efforts don’t work out as planned, and mistakes are made. As painful as they can be, they are a vital part of learning. I’d like to share the three most important things I’ve learned as a PPC strategist and, hopefully, you can take something away from them.

The Key is Capturing Qualified Traffic, Not Creating It

PPC ads are not the medium to try and persuade people who have no interest in your product that they want it or need it. Focus on people who are already interested in what you’re selling; then you just need to convince them you’re better than your competitors.

Optimize your PPC account toward capturing as much qualified traffic as possible. Once that foundation is set, improving conversion and click metrics becomes a lot easier. If you use PPC ads to try and convince unqualified internet users to convert, you’ll find your business expenses pile up with little to show for it.

Shoot For the Stars, But Don’t Over-Promise

Ambition is good – you always want to beat metrics. You want to double conversions quarter-over-quarter. You want decrease your average cost per click by half. You want to increase your conversion rate to double digits. Go for it! But don’t promise something extraordinary that you’re unlikely to deliver on.

Not meeting expectations leads to nothing but disappointment (and sometimes anger), even if you’re able to make vast improvements. Don’t promise more than you’re capable of delivering. Be strategic and realistic; use SMART goals (simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) for making improvements. Work to not only meet them, but beat them. That way, when you beat expectations, reactions are positive and future outlooks are optimistic.

Say Yes the Right Way

One of the worst things you can do as a strategist is just say “yes” to a client for the sake of appeasement. You’re the expert – you need to realize what’s best to achieve a client’s goals and direct the conversation in the right path. There are some instances where a client may ask for the impossible and you have to say no. But many times, you can say yes – you just have to do it the right way. For example:

Client: “Can we cut cost per acquisition in half by the end of the month?”

You: “Yes, if we decrease spend by 25%, eliminate these 5 campaigns, and create a new landing page that can achieve a conversion rate 50% higher than our current one.”

Often, the situation the client asks for is possible, but not without conditions. Many goals that may seem difficult to reach are possible, but multiple factors may need to be adjusted first before they can become attainable.

I’ve learned many other technical lessons as well about best practices, but these three lessons helped shape my current philosophy on how I function as a PPC strategist. What lessons have you learned? Share them in the comments section below.

Ryan Moothart
PPC Architect

Ryan is a PPC architect at Portent, with nearly a decade of experience managing large-scale e-commerce, international B2B lead generation campaigns, and everything in between. He became a published author in 2016 with the release of his book, Towards Cascadia, which is a non-fiction exploration of Pacific Northwest identity, bioregionalism, and nationhood. Outside of work, Ryan and his husband, Paul, enjoy traveling and are avid followers of Sounders FC, Seattle’s Major League Soccer club.

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. All very obvious points… that didn’t seem obvious until now 🙂
    problem with always saying yes to clients , check
    overzealous with campaign goals, check

  2. If there is one goal I have set for the quarter it is to get my Adwords certification so I can dominate PPC, thanks for the Post

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay