16 min. reading

How To Become a PPC Specialist

If you're interested in marketing, like numbers and enjoy translating them into something that can deliver results for someone and make you money, then a job as a PPC specialist might be right for you. However, there are a number of pitfalls and struggles along the way, and it might be a good idea to at least think about them before committing to this type of work.

How To Become a PPC Specialist
Source: Depositphotos

First of all, as they say about any job, you have to enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy clicking campaigns and tracking numbers all your life. You have to enjoy delivering results for your clients in the advertising accounts you manage, or the people you’re responsible for managing.

It’s also about accountability, because you’re dealing with finances. But you can’t do it without having fun and fulfilment. So you have to think about that and think very carefully about what you are getting into. If you’re working with someone’s finances, you also have to think about the fact that your approach may determine whether they make a profit or a loss at the end of the month. And finally, the fact that you might be ruining someone’s business because you didn’t want to do something. If you’re just doing it for the money – please don’t.

Challenges of PPC work

PPC specialist faces several challenges in his work. We will try to list the main ones that will probably have the biggest impact on whether you decide to do this job or end up saying it’s probably not for you.

  • Stress management – As we mentioned above, you work with clients’ money. This is even more important for smaller clients who run on performance PPC rather than large companies with pre-planned brand building budgets. You need to remember that clients expect results from you. They expect those results in the form of a return on their advertising investment. Often, they expect those results much more quickly than you might agree up front.
  • No time off –  This can be interpreted in many ways, but if you’re a freelancer or the only person in a company’s PPC department, you basically can’t take a holiday. You “can’t” even get sick. In fact, you can’t do anything because the campaigns are still running. Your client can’t afford to turn off the ads just because you decide to get sick, because it would have a huge impact on their business. It’s different in agencies, of course, where people know how to cover for each other.
  • Health implications – This is perhaps less specific to PPC work than to office work in general. However, when combined with the stress factors we wrote about in the first point, it can be more specific. In any case, sooner or later your back will start to give out if you sit for a long time. That is, you don’t even get up from your chair to put some files in a shelf because there are none in your work. And if you’re serious about your job, you’ll eventually start to need magnesium, and you’ll have to make significant lifestyle changes to cope. Strength sports like swimming, running or weight training are a good way to “survive” in the long run.

Benefits of working as a PPC specialist

On the other hand, there are advantages. These, at least from our point of view, massively outweigh the disadvantages, although we shouldn’t underestimate the stress that may not be as present in other jobs.

  • Safe office work – It may sound funny, but this is a typical office job that many people find very satisfying at its core. You don’t have to get dirty with anything and you don’t have to go anywhere. “You don’t have to do anything. I’ve also completely given up going to clients. It’s not necessary, and although it’s probably not very popular what I write – physical visits are overrated. You sort out what you need in an hour-long online meeting and get on with the job.
  • Flexibility – We haven’t used an alarm clock for years and most of our mornings are definitely more pleasant. Plus, you definitely have flexible working hours, as it doesn’t really matter if you start optimising campaigns at 7am or 8am. You’re not going to work miracles in that hour anyway, because PPC is all about incremental changes, implementations, testing and following a strategy over time.
  • Money – Last but not least, it’s about money. As a PPC specialist, you are essentially rewarded by how much you can deliver to your clients in the form of a real contribution to their business. On average, your remuneration is likely to be higher than that of other marketing professionals and as your skills grow, you’re sure to increase your earning potential.
  • Freedom – As a PPC marketer, you can work from anywhere. You can work from home as a freelancer or even as an employee if your employer allows it. You can pick up and go to Thailand or the Maldives and work from there. It doesn’t really matter.

Source: Depositphotos

Can anyone do this?

Certainly not. And it’s not enough to enjoy it. Logical thinking is essential, mainly because you’re working with machines. Machines will behave logically towards you and you will have to evaluate that logic. You must logically understand what will happen in a month’s time if we increase the value of x by 20% and what will happen if we decrease it. If you’re not sure, it’s best to take a logical thinking test. In addition, the alpha and omega of this job is good time management and project planning skills.

How to get started

  • (You) don’t need school – We will start with what you definitely don’t “need” – school. This is mainly because no school will teach you practical PPC (you can try some online courses instead). It’s definitely good to have a school focused on marketing or computer science or any other technical field that will predispose you to this. Especially for a potential employer, this will play a big role in their decision to hire you.
  • Play around – Exactly. If you want to get into it, start by playing around with it. On your own. Make a website, maybe even a trial one in WordPress for XY service, and play around. Create a Google Ads account under your email, run a few campaigns and see how it works. Trust me – the £50 you invest in this will pay for itself many times over.
  • Get busy – Inhouse or at an Agency.

a)Inhouse – What this option means is that you will be doing the client side. It’s definitely best to start in a small firm. Ideally one where you have to start something yourself and learn the whole process from scratch. A worse choice is a large company or government agency with strictly defined processes, where you work like a machine  and all you get is the task of launching campaigns with a standard budget for a standard time, without any meaningful goals or expectations. In a small company, you get a taste of multiple functions, multiple chairs, and you gain perspective and a sense of efficiency.

b) At an agency – If you take a job at an agency, you’ll again be looking at a wider range of areas to get a feel for. On the one hand, you won’t be able to look at more things in as much detail because you won’t be working on just one project. On the other hand, you will learn a lot because you will gain knowledge in a relatively short period of time that you would previously have had to learn on your own, tediously, through self-study or trial and error.

  • Can’t find a job? Do an internship – and offer the agency a job for free. Especially during your studies, there’s no better opportunity than to start with an internship at a (quality) agency, if that’s what you want to do. Think very carefully about whether you want a part-time job at McDonald’s or an internship at an ad agency on your CV when you graduate.

How to grow your career

The job of a PPC specialist is not just about clicking on campaigns all the time and deciding which bad keyword to exclude or which campaign to increase or not increase the budget for. A PPC specialist can grow their career, and if they are smart and enjoy the work, that growth can be quite rapid.

  • As a PPC intern, you’re starting from scratch and don’t need to know anything. All you are expected to do is listen, take notes and carry out the tasks assigned to you by the senior person in the agency or company. Just don’t mess it up. That recommendation or non-recommendation can then determine how your future career, and therefore your life, will unfold. And, as mentioned, don’t expect a salary (if there is one, it’s a nice perk).
  • As a PPC junior, you’ll be joining an agency where you won’t be expected to perform miracles. You don’t even need to have any experience of the different systems, but compared to an intern, you’ll be expected to at least know what you want and be very aware of what the job is and what it involves. You’ll be doing assignments and working on campaigns outside of the strategic stuff. You’ll be rewarded with training from your assigned senior and maybe even a nice salary.
  • As a PPC Medior, you already know how to work well with analytics, have insight into other systems, have “clicked” a bit and have been working with PPC for at least 3 years. During this time, you have learned how to set up promotions in the various PPC systems so that they can be properly evaluated, and you know how to create campaigns on your own without anyone telling you what to do. Again, your rewards in the marketplace will increase.
  • As a PPC Senior, you have additional years of experience, you have insight from different areas and you can create a meaningful PPC strategy for any business and any project. In addition, you will already be the one training the interns and juniors. You will also be able to independently communicate the results of your work to the public, either through articles, videos, podcasts or conferences. You are in a position where you are already setting the terms and conditions and the market will go for you.

But it doesn’t have to be that simple. People are different, and PPC specialists in particular tend to be introverted. You can see from this description that no one is going to make you present anything, and you don’t see yourself in any kind of training with other people. Relax, nothing is compulsory, it’s just a “trait” that can push you forward.

You can also stay as an agent and do PPC consulting, focusing on campaign performance consulting. You can do audits of advertising accounts, suggest changes and then implement them. Again, your value in the marketplace increases.

Or you can simply carve out one of the “functions” of a Senior Consultant and focus on that. You may be a good team leader, but you may not want to speak or present yourself in public. So you will be a team leader. There is work for all functions. You just have to choose.

Source: Depositphotos

PPC knowledge alone is not enough

If you want to take this job and you’re just starting out, it’s important to remember that it’s not enough to just know “PPC”. This will never make you a quality PPC specialist. We have created a PPC community validated list of the knowledge and responsibilities of each level of PPC specialist to give you an insight into the scope of knowledge of a quality PPC specialist. But let’s get this out of the way.

What do you need to control other than the systems themselves?

  • Analytics – knowing at least the basics of analytics is fundamental to being a good PPC player. Understanding attribution, the impact of each channel in the buying process. Being able to set up tracking on the web or elsewhere and then evaluate it all and suggest changes accordingly.
  • Web platforms – understanding the capabilities of each platform is something that is hard to do without. Being able to at least suggest performance marketing integration options for WordPress or other systems is something you’ll come across a lot.
  • Programming languages – you’ll often need to delve into code, and you’ll need HTML for this. You’ll also find CSS useful in many cases if you want to design or test a different way of displaying elements. JavaScript is something that all the scripts in the platforms are built on. If you know it, you have a very easy job and you win.
  • UX – one of the most important skills for a PPC specialists. If you’re sending people from ads to a site where they feel bad, don’t trust it or can’t navigate, you should at least be able to name those things and be specific about where the potential problems are. Otherwise your campaigns will never work.
  • SEO – also a very important skill, and one that has an even more direct impact on campaigns than UX alone. It’s not about controlling backlink buying, or controlling all the SEO shortcuts and implementations. It’s about knowing what a well-designed site structure should look like, what URLs should look like. You should be able to check and evaluate indexation and then suggest changes to the site that could change the status.
  • Copywriting – designing quality product or category headings is more of an SEO thing, but you’ll need copywriting for well-crafted product descriptions, quality articles or even other text on the site. It’s been proven that a well-written product description has a direct impact on conversion rates and therefore the performance of the campaigns you’re working on. Again, if you can’t at least identify and name this, you’ll be lost in your work.
  • Presentation – or presentation skills – should not be underestimated. If you’re not just playing in your own sandbox and you’re working for a company that employs you or for multiple clients, you can’t do without them. How do you present results to a client that don’t look very rosy?  Do you really want to spoil their appetite for business? Think on this carefully.

Is AI going to take over your job?

The thing about AI and machine learning is that it has been built into PPC systems for years. The systems are gradually changing and the platforms are pushing very hard to integrate them. But is that something to worry about? Well, if you don’t adapt, maybe. But that’s the way it is in any area of life. You have to educate yourself, you have to adapt to technological and market developments.

AI and machine learning are only going to do one thing – they’re going to keep taking work away from us that we don’t want to do, that doesn’t make us happy, that’s monotonous and that a machine can do better. Machines don’t take work away from you, they free you up to do more useful activities. In PPC, for example, that’s creativity, or let’s say the right strategy. Not that these things didn’t matter before. But it also mattered a lot who “clicked” and how well they did it. The situation is changing and we just have to adapt.

What to do next

OK. Let´s say that you’re a senior and you have all the above in the palm of your hand. How do you continue to make sure that your work is still fulfilling and that you can continue to improve yourself and your career?

  • Create courses – if you already have a high level of skill, experience and practice, it’s nice to share that knowledge with others. You can also earn money by selling courses. You don’t have to worry about your know-how. You don’t have a magic formula – and if you say you do and people believe you, then you’re a really good marketer.
  • Write articles – it may sound funny, but you can help yourself by writing articles. When I write about something, it’s also to learn as much as I can about that topic. I mean, to learn about it. Normally I wouldn’t study it that deeply, but if you’re going to get something published and have your name on it, you’re going to want to make a hell of a case.
  • Write case studies – this is the best business channel for us. Someone is employing expensive salespeople who are bringing in poor quality leads. We don’t chase anybody and let the leads warm up on their own. The quality is unparalleled. I definitely recommend it.
  • Lecturing – this is such a last stage, except maybe if you have a strong urge to talk, or if someone accidentally pushes you into it. But it’s nice to give a talk about something you understand at least a little bit, isn’t it? Many people, especially in this field, overcome a certain barrier, gain new experiences and also new contacts. It’s something that will take you to the highest level in your role as a senior specialist.

Whatever you decide, if you’ve read this far, it means you’re interested in PPC careers. So we wish you very success in your career, and good luck with the projects you’re working on.

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