Larry Kim Interview: PPC, AdWords & WordStream Success

If you are using Google AdWords PPC Platform in your business or manage PPC accounts for your clients, WordStream must be a very familiar name for you.

Founded in 2007, WordStream develops search marketing software, provides managed PPC advertising services, and shares online marketing advice through their blog.

ClickMatix talks with Larry Kim, founder & CTO of the company, who is also a Rock Star in PPC niche…!

Here is the interview, enjoy.

Larry Kim

Larry Kim – Founder & CTO @ WordStream

How has Building WordStream been surprising or unexpected for you?

In a number of ways, actually – starting a business and growing it at this scale is a reality check. The biggest thing was probably that perception that once you start your own business, you’ll be free! You are your own boss, you’ll be able to choose your hours, etc. This was a real wake up call. When you start a business – and especially when you’re in a growth phase – you are accountable to so many people. You need to think about your employees, customers, investors and partners (internal and external) with every decision you make.

The other thing people should come to terms with is that the vast majority of entrepreneurs won’t get rich quick. You hope it will happen eventually, but make sure you’re in it for the long haul!

What is the WordStream culture and environment like in terms of employee engagement?

One of our core values is simply, “Be Great.” It’s really important to us that we’re giving employees the training and tools to be great and that they’re supported at every level in their efforts to do so. Authenticity and transparency are critical at WordStream – we expect co-workers to be honest, ethical and open to two-way communication.

Beyond that, other core values we live each day are “Take Action”and “Win Together.” Our industry moves so quickly that we absolutely have to be able to rely on and support one another. Employees have to be empowered to take calculated risks, even if it means they fall down from time to time. Employees are so much more engaged when they’re consistently shown that their ideas and contributions are valuable.

How do you produce so much research and which data sources do you use?

We have access to a massive amount of data – over Billions in annualized Google AdWords spend. Our team at WordStream includes dedicates data scientists so we’re able to efficiently analyze that spend across thousands of accounts and pull from it truly useful, macro-level insights.

This is really important in our industry, where the greatest sources of research are typically the same companies selling you PPC ads. People want more than the data points meant to convince them to buy more ads. They want impartial analysis and we work hard to provide that.

One of the reasons we’re so committed to this is that our internal research often contradicts what the big players in PPC put out. So for example, we’re huge believers in the power of Google’s Quality Score, because we’ve analyzed the impact of different AdWords factors over a period of years and have seen its importance firsthand. Still, Google will tell you it’s not all that important.Chasing low CTR strategies is a losing bet, even though some people will tell you that’s the way to go.

We love digging into the data and finding the factors and strategies that are going to make the most impactful differences not just in our PPC campaigns, but for our customers and audience, as well.

In your experience, which 3 crucial PPC factors can be real game changers?

  1. Ad Creative: So much of the success of PPC is based on getting people to click on your ads. Yet most ads are ridiculously boring and unimaginative.
  2. Effort: Most people simply don’t do much. The bar is really, really low – as in, only 1% of SMB advertisers even touched their account weekly in the quarter we analyzed. There’s so much room to improve if you put in the time and effort.
  3. Be An Early Adopter: It’s incredibly powerful to be the first in your niche using the latest AdWords tools and features. You have to stay ahead of the curve or you’re always going to be stuck doing the same thing as everyone else.

Which Ad Extensions do you hope Google will introduce in future?

My favorite extensions are the location and call extensions. I’d be interested in anything that made those even more prominent.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome while working with clients?

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that great performance and results doesn’t always translate to a happy customer. Some of our top performing accounts belong to customers who just aren’t satisfied being in the upper echelon. I think a lot of professionals encounter this – customers who will never be quite happy. It’s something you have to learn to deal with.

What advice would you give those just starting a career in PPC?

The PPC industry moves and changes very quickly. Learn the basics of PPC and how it works. This is so important and will drive your success going forward; put simply, you can’t succeed if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Develop your core skills – the ability to think on your feet, to analyze, to problem solve, to think critically and challenge the status quo.

Who is Larry Kim’s advisor? From whom do you seek guidance?

My company has advisors including Carol Meyers from Rapid7, Chris Litster from Constant Contact and Janet Holian, the CEO at Gemvara. I’m an advisor to a few Boston-based start-ups including Curata and ThriveHive. I think it’s important for every entrepreneur and business that you have access to that experience and external knowledge to help guide your growth.

In the Internet Marketing space in general, Rand Fishkin has built a big community and been very open with his knowledge and experience, so I’ve learned quite a bit from him.

What does your workspace look like?

Our office is pretty open – like I said, transparency is important! In an industry like ours, it’s important that team members are accessible to one another for collaboration.

Larry Kim - WordStream

Larry Kim Desk – The Playground of PPC Rock Star…!

If you had the power to change something in Google for one day, what would that be?

I’d lower the CPCs and provide even greater discounts for high CPC keywords.

What do you do when you’re not doing PPC?

I used to go on really awesome vacations. Nowadays I’m mostly just hanging out with my 3-month old #ppckid!

I also purchased a drone recently and am learning how to fly it safely.

So, here we are…

Thanks Larry for sharing your mind & insights with ClickMatix.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Raiden

    The tools and marketing software provided by WordStream are really efficient for successful marketing campaigns. PPC plays a major role to get more profit for your online business because it is also a core of SEO.

    This interview has such good points to take care when you are seeking to run an online marketing campaign for your business. Thank you Mr. Malik for this amazing interview. I hope that here I will sure get more valuable pieces of information regarding online marketing.

    • Malik Merchant

      Glad you like it Raiden…more interviews are on the way from superstars in our industry. Keep coming back.


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