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Cut Through the Complexity and Implement an Alert System

Oct 11, 2007
Let's first talk about why you should implement an alert system. First, large and sophisticated companies' PPC campaigns probably contain tens of thousands of keywords. Keeping your eyes on this many keywords times multiple search engines, and, perhaps, other forms of advertising, is virtually impossible to manage on a daily basis.

If every day, you have to comb through all ten thousand keywords (or multiples of that) to figure out what's working and what's not, there's just too much time spent on the data collection and analysis, and not enough time spent on actual "needle moving" improvement opportunities.

An alert system that combs through the data, identifies under performing or exceptionally performing keywords and campaigns, and alerts you if certain performance thresholds are exceeded or not met, will allow you to focus on high-value campaign improvement work versus low-value data collection and analysis work.

The next reason for implementing an alert system is that it mitigates against human error. Given the scope of most PPC campaigns and the vast amount of data entry generally associated with PPC campaign setup and bid management, human error occurs. It is simply a factor of doing business on the Internet. When we have tens of thousands of moving parts, nobody can set up and manage all of this without making an error here or there. But, with an effective alert system, there is insurance against missing something that needs your attention.

Lastly, an alert system positions you to take a step beyond the majority of your competitors. If you have an effective alert system and you have a good IT department, you could actually develop an automated, rules-based alert response system that automatically takes action based on an established set of rules. For instance, you may have a business objective to never allow your ad position to fall below four. You could implement an automated action in your alert response system that automatically increases your bid if your ad position falls below four.

Next are the two primary types of alerts that companies use. The first type of alert is where you are comparing date range A to date range B, and you receive an alert if a specified action occurs (i.e. "Alert me if my sales drop by 10%", or since the alert doesn't always need to be there for the negative, you could have one to "alert me if my sales go up 10%"). In the first example, this would be valuable because if sales do drop by 10%, in this particular campaign, you would want to intervene rapidly and perhaps increase your budget to reverse the declining sales trend.

Another type of alert is when a certain metric increases by "X" or decreases by "Y". For example, I want to know when my ad spend decreases by $300. Knowing that, you don't have to spend your time checking your ad spend everyday for something like that to occur. When it happens, you're alerted.

Now, let's discuss how and when you should be alerted. Some people use email alerts. Other people generate and distribute alerts in their bid management system. I've even heard of one marketing person who gets paged when an alert hits.

The one thing I want to point out when using an alert system is to make sure you're being alerted only when the data is statistically sound. I don't think it's important to know when a keywords profit drops by $10 because keywords fluctuate day-by-day and hour-by-hour. You don't want to have too many alerts that are overwhelming and, therefore, not useful. You want to make sure you have a large sample size and that the alerts allow you to make highly intelligent decisions for your business. The goal is not to save $5 or $10, but save $500 or $1000, or make $500 or $1000 more.

The last thing I want to mention about alerts is how you can set them up. Some of the search engines have some alerts, with Google commonly recognized as the leader amongst the search engines relative to their alert capability. They don't have a full supply of everything needed to be effective in this area, but they do offer some value. If you're not using their alerts, login to your account and take a look at what they offer. Yahoo has some simple alerts, mainly centered on your credit card being turned off and disapproval of keywords and ads.

If you do not currently have an alert system in place, you definitely should consider implementing one soon. One option is to develop your own alert system and leverage the search engines' APIs to help jump start your efforts.

Another option is to work with a search engine marketing or online advertising technology company who offers a wide range of alert systems. Regardless of how you accomplish it, the important decision is to implement an alert system soon. Once you have one in place, you will immediately begin saving time, ensuring that bad performance is corrected promptly and good performance is amplified, in order to improve the profitability of your online advertising campaigns.
About the Author
Adam is the Chief Revenue Office at ClearSaleing. He started insides sales teams at Google and Actuate Software. Visit us
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