Earlier in 2010 I had the good fortune to be offered a free review membership at PPCBlog.com in exchange for a review. With the necessary disclosure given, here’s my take on PPC Blog.
For those who don’t know, PPCBlog.com is a ppc coaching forum run by the good folks from SEOBook.com, namely Aaron Wall and his wife Giovanna.
They’re working with longtime PPC pro Geordie Carswell, who is the main admin and answers people’s questions . Geordie has a long history in PPC and it shows.
For instance, Geordie’s shared several different case studies of his own campaigning, including both the successful and unsuccesful. It’s fascinating seeing what works and how it’s done, since you can apply those lessons yourself to your own niche. And conversely, you learn what to avoid. I particularly enjoyed reading about the spectacularly profitable mobile PPC campaign Geordie ran for an affiliate offer.
Regarding questions, I’m happy to say that I had answers within a prompt delay from Geordie and/or others, usually within 1-2 days.
The other community members are also pretty respectful and savvy, which is another benefit. You don’t need to rely just on Geordie for learning, because you’re in a peer group of smart PPC marketers. Partly this is thanks to Aaron and Giovanna’s marketing, focusing on SMBs and ecommerce, rather than the affiliate market typical of other PPC-oriented forums.
For instance, I had the benefit of the community’s feedback on my initial site design for my advanced SEO book, which meant that I knew what content I needed to develop and what to do before launching. In my case, I was too anxious to start and they thankfully held me back by pointing out that at my price point, more info was needed.
Similarly, I got feedback that helped make my dad’s landing pages more credible for the PPC campaign I ran for his dental travel seminar site.
Regarding the learning modules and tools, I have to admit that I was personally less interested in those and hardly spent any time there. The reason is that I’m pretty well read on PPC even though I don’t do it much. So I didn’t want to have to wade through a bunch of stuff I knew to eventually find the premium nuggets. (Hence my preference for the case studies.)
Regarding tools, they’ve got a sweet local keyword list concatenator/generator that comes preloaded with US states and city names, which then expanded to Canada and elsewhere. I believe they also have a massive campaign builder if memory serves.
Some things I’d improve if I were PPC Blog:
– Organize the modules by degree of knowledge. Newb-Intermediate-Advanced. It wasn’t clear what was what initially.
– Offer a way to export select threads and/or the whole forum. Just like buying a book gives me a fixed amount of knowledge, being a member once should give me a permanent copy of the site’s content up until the last time I paid dues.
I asked Aaron about this and his view was that doing this would just facilitate the task of those content thieves who would take his material, publish it elsewhere and wrap the stolen content in ads (and then have a chargeback so it was free). If people want access to the forums again, “they can re-subscribe when they feel they need access again?,” in Aaron’s words. I see where he’s coming from, but I think you should get some record of the content even if it’s metered.
Magazine subscriptions leave you with the magazine after all…
– More guides and case studies around Facebook ads, and other social ads (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn) (Anyone else notice FB ads proliferating for FB ad guides, lately?)
Ongoing payment should be for ongoing learning, not for leasing access to a fixed block of knowledge. Personally, I was tempted to scrape the forum (true of other pay-to-play communities I’ve been a part of, too, like SEOmoz) to compensate but then didn’t for lack of time/patience.
For me, I’ll admit that I didn’t buy a membership when my free gift ended, but not because the quality lacks. I didn’t buy a copy because I hardly manage PPC on Google or Bing, so it’s got limited applicability.
For people who are running PPC campaigns on a regular ongoing basis, PPCBlog.com is definitely worth the money. You get coaching that would cost you an arm and a leg if it was one-on-one (instead of one-to-many as in a forum) and the case studies are fascinating. As time goes on, I’m sure the social advertising content will beef up, and the original tools will continue to grow and develop, as has been the case with SEO Book.