Promodo team managed to take an interview from a founder and a CEO of PPC Associates company, David Rodnitzky. Before David started PPC Associates he has held senior marketing positions at several companies, including FindLaw, Rentals.com, Adteractive and Mercantila. David also serves on advisory boards for several companies, including MediaBoost, Marin Software, Mediacause, and others. He is a regular contributor to resources like Search Marketing Standard and Visibility Magazine, speaks at most important summits and conferences of the niche and has been interviewed by major news sources including Newsweek, CNN Radio and Advertising Age.
- David, so how did you come to internet marketing? How did PPC associates start?
I graduated from law school in 1999 and knew that I didn’t want to be an attorney. So I moved to San Francisco and started looking for jobs. An Internet startup called Rentals.com hired me to do strategy work but while I was there I discover GoTo.com, which was the original pay per click search engine. From there I was hooked. After seven years of working at a variety of startups, I was ready to do my own thing so in 2008 I launched PPC Associates from a coffee shop in Pacifica, CA.
- Who were you first clients? What were the triggers or those breaking points that helped your business take flight? (maybe implementation of some great ERP system or participation in some conference or development of some customized in-house software)
My first clients were friends and colleagues of mine who knew I was doing consulting. Probably the thing that helped most early on was that I was pretty cheap – my minimum fee was $500 a month!
- How do you think your company will look like in 5 or 10 years? Do you have any plans?
Five years from now we will either be a multinational juggernaut with hundreds or thousands of employees around the world, or we will have been acquired by a bigger company. I don’t have specific plans right now but to continue to grow the business and provide great service to clients!
- Have you used search remarketing in Ecommerce niche for AdWords, what strategies do you use? How do you increase the volume of sales/budgets in there?
Remarketing is great for enticing potential customers to come back to your site. There are a ton of techniques I could mention here, but one of my favorites is to offer time-based discounts – for example, to offer a 5% off coupon up to seven days after they’ve visited your site and then increase it to 10% after even days if they still haven’t purchased.
- Do you work with assisted conversions? Can you give a couple of examples from your experience, like structure and bidding practices?
Yes. We recently signed a contract with Convertro to help measure assist conversions. We’ve had several clients who were going to bid down keywords because they were not getting enough conversions but who ended up maintaining their bids after looking at the attribution data because they realized that these keywords were driving a lot of future purchase behavior. Not looking at assists is like cutting off the top of the funnel.
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- What are the average levels of conversion in different niches of ecommerce: electronics, clothing, furniture, tools. Which segments do you bet on in 2013?
It’s impossible to say what an average is, but a lot of people like to say 2%is the industry standard. I think it really depends on what you are selling and how much time you spend working on your conversion rate optimization. Segments I like in 2013 – clothing and cosmetics are two that come to mind!
- How do you think Google Adwords changed during the last two years? What direction of development did it take?
Google has really put a lot more emphasis on mobile advertising and display advertising. They are really trying to get people to think of AdWords as an online marketing platform, not just a search platform.
- What automation platforms do you use for search campaigns in google adwords and for campaigns aimed at GDN.
We generally use either SearchForce or Marin Software. We have also built some of our own internal API integration to streamline specific work flows inside PPC Associates.
- What are the main sources of paid traffic you offer your clients initially except AdWords and Bing? What is their ratio to Bing and AdWords?
Right now I would say Facebook. It’s still a small percentage relative to Google and Bing (probably less than 10%) but I predict it will grow a lot this year.
- What are the main points that are important for Western clients when choosing a contractor? What do you emphasize like the main advantage of your company for your clients?
Often I think it comes down to trust. Does the contractor care about my business? Is he an expert? Has he had past success with businesses similar to mine? For us, the advantage we offer is hundreds of current and former clients that will vouch for the quality of our work – that’s the biggest reason clients are excited to work with us I think.
- In your experience, how often do projects that work “in-house”, return to the model of cooperation with the agency? What are the reasons?
In-house teams return to agencies when they realize that either 1) online marketing is not as easy as they thought it was or 2) there is simply too much for an in-house agency to do on their own. Generally I feel like companies that bring their marketing in-house do so because they consider it a core competency of their business, so its pretty rare that a company would change their mind and go back to working with an agency, but it does happen!
- How many projects in average does one PPC Expert in your team?
We try to have our account managers work on 4-5 clients at once. But keep in mind that we have a total of about 65 people and only 70 or so clients, so each client is basically almost getting one full time person from our staff at the moment, it’s just distributed over several team members.
- Do you follow any news from the world of SEO, like the updates Google makes to its organic search algorithms? Have you felt that recently more clients are turning to PPC being frustrated by SEO?
We actually just brought on an awesome SEO expert – Kent Yunk – so I’m leaving all the SEO updates to him. But yet, we do see clients coming over to us because they can no longer depend on SEO traffic alone to drive enough volume for their business.
- What kind of search engine do you use? Do you click on ads?
I use Google! I try not to click on the ads out of respect for the other advertisers. If I see an ad that I like, I’ll just write down the URL and enter it into the browser bar.
- How do you promote your own site? PPC, SEO, email marketing, content marketing, affiliate marketing? What works best for you?
We do a little PPC but primarily we do “thought leadership” – we have two blogs, guest spots on other blogs, a very comprehensive web site and we do a lot of speaking opportunities.
- Do you think about expanding your business to Europe or Russian-speaking countries? Why? Why not?
Maybe someday. We do have a fair number of US clients that are already spending heavily with us in Europe and Russia in particular. But that’s a bit different than actually opening an office in Europe – ask me in 2014!