044: From Award-Winning Dalmatian Drawing to Data in Paid Search Campaigns with Caroline Pham (Office Hours)

C: Podcast

In today’s office hours episode, we discuss all things data-driven marketing with Optidge’s Caroline Pham. She shares insights on creating and optimizing paid search campaigns, goal-type selection, and navigating budget increases. You’ll also learn how her drawing of a Dalmatian won her Best of Show at the Houston Rodeo and set her on her path to a great career in digital marketing. 

An Optidge “Office Hours” Episode

Our Office Hours episodes are your go-to for details, how-to’s, and advice on specific marketing topics. Join our fellow Optidge team members, and sometimes even 1:1 teachings from Danny himself, in these shorter, marketing-focused episodes every few weeks. Get ready to get marketing!

Key Points + Topics

  • [1:12] We’ll start with a little background info. Danny, the Digital Marketing Mentor, had his first internship during his graduate studies at Blinds.com (as mentioned in a few other episodes of the podcast). While at this company, he worked with Caroline Pham, today’s guest, and learned many of his digital marketing skills through her and other teachers at Blinds.com. 
  • [1:35] When Caroline Pham was in 6th grade, she won Best in Show for her drawing of a Dalmatian puppy in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. It was one of the proudest moments of her life. From that point on, she’s viewed herself as a creative type, though that drawing of a puppy may have been the height of her artistic prowess. However, while in school, her affinities seemed to lie more with math and science. Her creative view of herself led her to go to The University of Texas’s Advertising program (it was and continues to be one of the top advertising programs in the country). 
  • [3:30] When she first started at university, she imagined herself working at a fancy advertising agency, a la Mad Men (albeit with fewer cigars and more feminism). However, she discovered that her persuasive inclinations were more suited to the quantitative over the qualitative and artistic. She was drawn to her marketing analytics and statistics classes. Another contributing factor that led her to the world of data over art was her then-blossoming health journey. She became very focused and motivated to improve her overall health and discovered very early on that the more data she gathered on herself, the more likely she was to achieve a given health goal she had set for herself. 
  • [7:30] What is the first thing someone should look at when taking the first steps of crafting a paid search marketing campaign? You can’t answer any other questions or start strategizing until you know what you’re trying to do – your goals. In the paid search realm, the goal is almost always sales. Goals can be sales, leads, traffic, impressions, or some kind of action. There are cases when there is a weak measurement infrastructure or perhaps a weak connection between offline and online sales. Those situations can make determining the goal and the value of a goal completion more challenging, but there are often ways to figure out a solution. 
  • [9:20] Now that you’ve determined what your goal is going to be, how should you determine the number of conversions you’d like to achieve? Caroline believes you should factor in:
    • Traffic volume
    • Share of voice
    • Competition
    • Estimated performance
    • Sometimes, those metrics are easier to determine than others. Estimated conversion rates are much easier to calculate if you have other campaigns or channels through which you’re marketing. You’ll have a general idea of the budget needed to reach those goals if you have a good idea of the keywords you’ll be targeting. Google will essentially tell you the costs. 
  • [16:33] If you’re building a campaign with the goal of increasing brand awareness (not always the recommended goal, but it is effective in certain cases), there’s a chance the client requesting this campaign doesn’t have a well-developed brand story or value statements. The first step, according to Caroline, is to look at your competitors and your existing customers. You need to know why people are going to want to do business with you. That is what you’ll put into your ads. It’s also important to remember that different marketing mediums and platforms will have different audiences. If you have some demographic information about your existing or ideal customers, you can use that to highlight the different features of your offering that might appeal to different audiences. Price, by itself, as a differentiator, is very difficult to market in the long term. It almost always needs to be partnered with something else unique about your business, whether that’s brand story, imagery, etc. 
  • [20:51] Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) v. Cost Per Lead (CPL)
    • When deciding your optimization metric, a lot will depend on your client’s typical lead-to-acquisition timing/cycle—the speed of incoming data matters. Generally speaking, if it takes longer than 30 days for a lead to convert, CPL will be a more effective metric. Additionally, CPL tends to be a good indicator of the ad, though much of the success comes from how the sales team converts a lead. 
  • [25:15] Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): when you spend $1 on advertising, how much money do you get back in return? If I spend $1 and I make $2, my ROAS is 200%. When Caroline is trying to determine a target ROAS, she reviews a few different metrics:
    • Profit margin
    • Marketing goals
    • Risk Tolerance (aggressive, conservative, experimental)
    • Oftentimes, you’ll determine what the break-even ROAS is and build from there. Many companies run break-even campaigns all the time. For bigger companies, the goal can often be more focused on increasing traffic or volume of sales rather than actual return or margin. Not every business has profit as a goal, as weird as that sounds. 
  • [32:52] Let’s pretend we have a paid search campaign that has been running for three months, with a monthly ad spend of $1,000. This campaign has been maxing out this budget before the close of the month each month. How do you then approach the client to request an increase in budget? Caroline knows from experience if the account is performing well (read: getting a lot of conversions within the limited ad spend), that’s a very easy conversation to have. We’re advertising because we want sales; if we increase the budget, we’ll increase sales. For lead generation campaigns, it’s a bit harder to determine how “real” a conversion is. It will also depend on how long the campaign has been running. What does your conversion rate look like relative to the industry average? What is your share of voice? How much visibility do you have? All of these elements can help determine if you’re spending enough money. 
  • [36:13] The client agreed to increase the ad spend budget! Caroline’s personal approach is to implement the increase in funds slowly and more conservatively. It depends on the client and their goals as well. A good rule of thumb for determining success for a paid search campaign is ONE YEAR. Businesses entering paid search should start out planning for a year’s worth of ad spend before determining if it’s working or not. 

Guest + Episode Links:

Full Episode Transcript

Danny Gavin Host 00:05

 Hello everyone, I’m Danny Gavin, founder of Optidge, marketing Professor and the host of the Digital Marketing Mentor Today. I’m super excited on this special office hours episode with Caroline Pham, senior PPC consultant. Caroline is a senior PPC consultant with a diverse and award-winning background. She’s worked across digital marketing companies, both in-house and with ad agencies, with results-based marketing strategies across many verticals, including e-commerce, technology, real estate and more. She’s a passion for search marketing and we’re thrilled to have her on the team. Today we’re going to talk about a lot of deep dive into PPC itself. We’re going to talk about determining conversion goal types, budgets, return on ad spend, cpa and cost per lead. How are you doing?

Caroline Pham Guest 01:08

Good, great, happy to be here.

Danny Gavin Host 01:11

Yeah, just to give some background, my first major internship while I was doing my MBA was at blinds.com. At that time Caroline was there, and we’ll talk about blinds.com in a little bit, but I worked closely with Caroline and learned a lot from her. So it’s so cool how now we’re working again together and it’s so nice to have you on the podcast.

Caroline Pham Guest 01:34

Yeah, happy to be here.

Danny Gavin Host 01:36

Let’s talk about where you went to school and what you studied.

Caroline Pham Guest 01:38

Before I answer that question, I’m going to give some context, because I think that it might help anyone who might be in the same situation as me and give some background into why I did what I did. When I was in sixth grade I won the Houston Lifestyle Show and Radio Best in Show Award for my drawing of a Dalmatian puppy. Now this Dalmatian puppy he had a little red floppy fisherman’s hat and he had just finished tearing up the toilet paper in his family’s restroom. They printed my drawing on a t-shirt and sold it at the radio, and it was one of the proudest moments of my life and from that moment on I’ve always seen myself as a creative artsy person.


I will have to say that was probably the height of my artistic prowess, though I’ve been in decline since then, but that artistic, creative identification never went away. Artsy creative my report cards. On the other hand, they tended to lean more favorably towards math and science, but because of my creative artsy identification, that’s why I decided to go into advertising. The University of Texas at Austin had at the time, and continues to have, the number one bachelor’s in advertising program in the nation, and that’s where I decided to get my degree.

Danny Gavin Host 03:03

And how did your parents feel about you going into advertising? Was it like great or was like oh, we really wish you’d choose something else.

Caroline Pham Guest 03:09

So I think that might have been why I lean so much into that artsy side of things, because I was kind of rebellious as a teenager and they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer and a lot of parents do and that was not it.

Danny Gavin Host 03:27

So tell me a little bit about the degree. I mean, obviously, advertising and digital has changed a lot, but any moments that you can go back to while at the University of Texas, that kind of shaped where you are today.

Caroline Pham Guest 03:39

Yeah. So originally I saw myself working at a fancy ad agency mad men’s style, you know, but as a strong and powered female and no cigars. But despite that initial desire, I found myself. When I was taking classes there. I found myself drawn most to my marketing, analytics and statistics classes. I was naturally more good at those and I found it easier at least for me to be persuasive from more of a quantitative standpoint rather than emotional, more as a matter of personality than anything else I found.


You know in my experience now that you have to be both, but at the time that’s where I felt more comfortable, that realm I felt more comfortable in, so very opposite from where I envisioned myself in the beginning and where I started. And I think one of the reasons why I had this shift in the change in direction is because it was around the same time that I started getting more into fitness and healthy living. And with healthy living, I found that the more information that I had, the more I tracked my food intake and exercise activity, for example, the more control I had over whether I achieved my goals or not, which is very similar to digital marketing. Right, and that was it. That’s how my digital marketing career began.

Danny Gavin Host 05:07

And from a health like health wise. Is that something you actually started in college?

Caroline Pham Guest 05:11

Yeah, it was something that I was. I was pretty chubby as a kid.

Danny Gavin Host 05:18

I can never imagine that.

Caroline Pham Guest 05:21

And so I have to turn that around.

Danny Gavin Host 05:26

Wow, well, that’s amazing and it’s so cool that the creative led you to the analytical. You need both, but it’s cool that you have that because it’s possible. If you didn’t have that moment, you never would have gone down that path.

Caroline Pham Guest 05:37

Yeah, a career path is not always a straight line. It’s not always what you think it’s going to be, and that’s just life. It’s the journey.

Danny Gavin Host 05:45

So let’s before we dive into the meat of today. I know that blindscom was your first in-depth role in the digital marketing space, though you had worked at the agency Apigee before. As I’ve spoken with many people who worked at blindscom, including myself, what was experienced like for you and how did it influence your approach to digital marketing and PPC.

Caroline Pham Guest 06:07

First and foremost, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I had at blindscom. It was, I think, that a lot of it was the right place, the right time, right people, in combination with lots of hard work. I had a bunch of really, really good mentors there, so Avrami, which you know, stephanie, daniel, jay the team was fantastic. The culture was excellent. It was really a good environment for me to organically grow my skills and that’s really what it was. It was just organic growth and a lot of really, really, really hard work Very good experience. I had the opportunity to work on some of everything you know PPC that’s what I’m really good at but I did SEO, the shopping engines display, affiliate content marketing Well, I thoughtcom was one of the. We were one of the first vendors who worked with Wayfair in Amazon before they had any UI programs available and, yeah, it was cool to be able to have the opportunity to do that.

Danny Gavin Host 07:11

I know you’re known so much for PPC, but I actually learned how to write, I believe, meta titles and meta descriptions from you.

Caroline Pham Guest 07:18

I don’t know if you remember that. Yes, I do remember that. Yes, a lot of that stuff is still valid today, totally.

Danny Gavin Host 07:25

It has not expired yet.

Caroline Pham Guest 07:27

Yes, it has not.

Danny Gavin Host 07:29

When first setting up a PPC campaign, what is the first decision or element you like to look at?

Caroline Pham Guest 07:34

It really depends on what the goal is Really. You can’t answer any other questions unless you know what you’re trying to do and the goal is usually sales. It’s almost always sales. Even if the goal is leads, it ultimately results in sales. But yeah, goals are usually sales, leads, traffic, impressions, some kind of action.

Danny Gavin Host 07:59

Do you ever find that you have to argue with a client or a boss where they feel like it should? The goal should be maybe more of a softer metric, but you’re pushing for like no, it’s got to be something more measurable like sales and leads.

Caroline Pham Guest 08:14

Usually, if that situation happens, it’s because there isn’t a good measurement infrastructure. There isn’t a very good connection between the offline and online sales, for example. That’s usually the case where you have to look at a different kind of metric, that is, a pre-metric to the ultimate metric, which is sales, and that’s where it gets a little bit fuzzier.

Danny Gavin Host 8:39

But I feel like these days it is a lot easier than, let’s say, 10, 20 years ago to combine those two right Things that happen offline. You can actually bring that into the platform and be able to optimize off of that.

Caroline Pham Guest 08:54

Yes, it’s a lot easier today, but depending on the client like, for example, if you’re at the places that work, that we’ve had brick and mortar stores and we want to know what the impact of an impression of a digital ad has on a store walk-in and that’s where it gets a little bit harder to. I mean, there’s ways around it, but it gets a little bit fuzzier.

Danny Gavin Host 09:19

So once you decide what your goal conversion action is once again, conversion can be a sale, it could be a lead, it could be an impression technically, but we don’t really push for that how do you then determine the number of conversions you want to aim for?

Caroline Pham Guest 09:33

The number of conversions is going to be based off of the traffic volume, share of voice, your competition and just how. You have to have an idea of what you think how you’re going to perform. So sometimes you know we have really good information to that because you have other advertising, you have other channels, you have other sources of information. Sometimes you have nothing, but it’s almost always that’s the formula is traffic share of voice, which will help determine what your click-through rate is going to be, what you think your conversion rate is going to be, and then what your profit margin and revenue and profit margin will help determine what the goal should be and what you’re trying to get.

Danny Gavin Host 10:17

So, in a scenario where maybe some of this information is not so clear and apparent at the offset, are there like minimum budgets that you recommend in order to kind of get to the goal that you need, or do you kind of leave it up to the client or to the company that you’re working for to make that decision?

Caroline Pham Guest 10:34

You’re going to have an idea what the budget is going to look like if you have a pretty good understanding what the keyword areas are going to be. And so if you don’t have an understanding of what keyword areas are going to be, it’s going to be a little bit harder. But if you do, you’re going to have a pretty close idea because Google will essentially tell you what it looks like, trended over the year.

Danny Gavin Host 10:57

So you’ll know what the CPCs are, so you get a pretty good idea of how much it’s going to cost and therefore what’s the budget need in order to get a certain amount of conversions.

Caroline Pham Guest 11:06

Yeah, and what the search volume is going to look like, and I mean the click-through rate part of it and the conversion rate part of it. Those are usually unknowns in the beginning, unless you have other advertising going on.

Danny Gavin Host 11:19

Are there any general kind of baselines that you like to give? Like someone says, what’s an average conversion rate? Do you ever throw that out?

Caroline Pham Guest 11:27

So it depends on the industry and it depends on the type of if it’s a lead or if it’s a purchase on the website. So if it’s a purchase on the website, it’s really going to depend on the price of the item. I would give out ranges, but it’s knowing that first information first. So, like, if you’re selling like a $2,000 pool chair, then your conversion rate is going to be a lot lower than if you’re selling a $5 t-shirt.

Danny Gavin Host 11:57

Yeah, and I think that’s why people will say, yeah, great, Conversing on an e-commerce website is 5%, but then that could be true when it is that t-shirt. But as you go up in pricing I’ve seen with diamonds and jewelry it is going to get smaller, and it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad conversion rate, it’s just natural right. The more expensive it’s going to be, the less people are going to purchase.

Caroline Pham Guest 12:19

Right and it depends on who your competition is right, because if you’re the only person that sells this item and it’s something that people want, then you might have a really high conversion rate despite the high price. So there’s just a lot of different factors at play, but you can come to. What I’m trying to get at is that you can come to a pretty pretty ballpark range of what is good for your industry.

Danny Gavin Host 12:40

So let’s say you’re tracking multiple types of conversions because you can’t right. For example, you could track purchases at the carts, potentially people downloading PDFs, right? So how would you break up the budget to go after those different conversions?

Caroline Pham Guest 12:54

So it comes down to the customer journey and the different conversions, like the conversion rate, to the next step. And so you kind of start with the end goal and what your break even is going to look like and you have mapped out all the different typical steps that you think your customers like. I mean, you can have what actually happened and you can have what you think is going to happen, and those are two different things and you can test it right. But when you’re starting out you have an ideal path that you want to push your customers through, and then that’s how you would work backwards and assign value to each of the different steps. If you have the data, then you can map it out and then do the same thing Without information. You start with kind of a framework and then you estimate and then you test and learn.

Danny Gavin Host 13:43

So I always like to push clients or companies to push as much money to the bottom of the funnel as possible. Do you feel the same way? Or do you feel like maybe there’s exceptions and sometimes you’re like, hey, maybe we shouldn’t put everything bottom and we should put money higher up in the funnel or mid funnel?

Caroline Pham Guest 14:02

So I feel like I’m going to be saying this a lot, but it really depends on a client. But you’re going to have money pages on your site, right? So, like, if you’re in e-commerce, your money pages are your product pages. Like, if somebody doesn’t get to a product page, they can’t add the product to the car and then they can’t purchase it. That’s where the traffic has to go.


If you’re sending traffic to your homepage and it’s not easy to get to a product page, then that’s a problem, right? If you are in a lead generating company and the whole purpose of you know your leads come from either phone calls or from a form fill, then you know all the paths need to lead to that form fill page, right? If it’s hard to get to fill out the form, if it’s hard to find a phone number, then you’re not going to get the action that you want. And so, yes, pushing to the money sections, which is call, form fill or product page and eventually add to cart. But, yeah, you have to know what the path that is, that you want your customers to take, what they are taking, and it just needs to make sense too from a search and landing page perspective.

Danny Gavin Host 15:15

So let’s say you have a campaign with a goal to simply increase traffic to a website which I don’t recommend, but sometimes you have that how does that campaign creation, set up and strategy different from one that’s very conversion based, like an e-commerce campaign that’s aiming for actual checkouts and purchases?

Caroline Pham Guest 15:31

Yes. So the major difference and first difference is probably going to be it’s going to be more of a you’re trying to get the cheapest clicks you can get right, because that’s how you’re going to get the most traffic. So that’s going to be the first major difference, and so the type of traffic that you’re getting from lower CPC terms versus higher CPC terms, it’s going to be vastly different. So your audience will be very different. That may work, depending on what it is. If you know that you have a product maybe it’s an event where the more eyeballs you get on it, the more people are going to know and spread the word about it Then and it’s something that a short lived like I’m thinking more like an event kind of thing it could make sense to send traffic for low CPCs.

Danny Gavin Host 16:20

That might be what you are kind of related People will also have campaigns focused on building brand awareness. You know, maybe not as much as Google, but maybe you’re doing it through Facebook, but you couldn’t do it through Google as well. So how do you determine what creative and value statements you want to highlight most?

Caroline Pham Guest 16:34

Yeah. So this one is definitely more challenging and, depending on your brand and your company, you may not have a very well developed brand story, company story, value propositions, and so it’s going to take. And if that is the situation, then you’re going to want to see what your competitors are doing. And the first question and this is for any business, even without any marketing you need to know why somebody is going to want to do business with you, like what is it that makes you special? What is it that makes you better? What is it Like, why? Why purchase for me? And that’s what you’re going to want to put into the ad to test out.


If you have your brand as well established and you have a specific look or image, then I think it’s a little bit easy. You want to. Even then it can be really hard because on different mediums the audiences can be very different, and so you’re. If you have available to you any kind of demographic information or demographic indexes that will help you identify elements that your audience could potentially resonate with, maybe like golf, for example. Golf or like they watch the tennis, lots are, you know, just those are the and then you can test those different elements and till you get a good quantitative benchmark of what works and doesn’t work. So there’s testing. So I said a lot of things here. So branding, value propositions you’re going to have. I mean, if you don’t know what those are, you’re going to test them out, having good understanding of demographics and then just do a lot of testing.

Danny Gavin Host 18:18

In your experience, have you ever run into companies that like you tell them hey, like how are you different or special? And they’re like I don’t know, I don’t think I am. So what do you tell them? Like oh, you shouldn’t advertise. Or no?

Caroline Pham Guest 18:32

So if they don’t know, then that’s where competitive research is going to be really important. And so for PASER, specifically taking a really close look at the search page, seeing who’s in the top spots for some top keywords, what they’re saying, what their prices or what their value propositions look like, and then just picking something that you think is going to resonate with the audience, I have a funny story with that.

Danny Gavin Host 19:00

So we did some advertising for a retail electricity provider. So the big deal was like the competition was all doing 10 cents a kilowatt. So we’re like, ok, we’re going to do 9 cents and we’re doing great. But then everyone caught on and slowly all the other ads are dropping down to 8 cents and kind of interesting. So you may have a competitive advantage for a little bit, but sometimes the competition will catch on.

Caroline Pham Guest 19:27

Yeah, price is a. Price is a hard one because you know just how low you can go. Right, in my experience, it can’t just be priced, it has to be convenience or reviews or store brand story images. Maybe you show the product in use or you have a lot of testimonial pictures of a completed product. Marketing can’t happen in what is the word, and it’s comprehensive. It’s holistic. Right, so you have a paces campaign, but the website needs to function at a certain level. The customer needs to know how to intuitively navigate your site and it should be functioning and running quick enough so that it works on a phone or any device. Right? So there’s just some like minimum requirements and not all companies meet those first minimum requirements. So that’s the first part. I think that’s the easier part to get past, actually, and then, once you get past the minimum requirements, it’s kind of understanding the intent and what your customer is looking for and just getting it in the ad and on the landing page. Simple in theory.

Danny Gavin Host 20:41

Right, but, like you said, you can’t run it in a vacuum. You have to look at everything else, and just because you turn on, you know, google ads doesn’t mean that suddenly now everything’s going to work perfectly. What are the pros and cons of cost per acquisition versus cost per lead, and how do you decide which to go with for a given client or campaign?

Caroline Pham Guest 20:58

It’s going to depend on what the client’s typical lead to acquisition turnaround time is going to be, and so if you are in an industry where, from the moment you get the lead, it could take a year for you to convert a lead to an acquisition, then speed of information is going to be super important for digital marketing, because that’s just the nature of digital marketing, and in that instance, if it’s taking up to a year for a lead to potentially convert, then CPL is going to be better than CPA, just because it’s a lot faster.


I want to say that, generally speaking, as a rule of thumb, if it takes more than 30 days for your lead to become an acquisition, then you’re going to want to lean more towards the CPL benchmark rather than the CPA, just for speed of decision making. That being said, it’s really important to have an understanding of what, because a lot of times when you’re starting out marketing, you don’t know what that time is like. You don’t necessarily know unless you’ve been doing business for years and years that your typical turnaround time is. I mean, you should have an idea. The businesses should have an idea of what it’s going to be. There’s that as well. Typically, the CPL is a really pretty good indicator of the quality of the ad, because somebody is going through and taking time to fill out a form.

Danny Gavin Host 22:28

I know we’re talking more about Google Ads, but usually this comes up when we’re running, let’s say, a Facebook ad campaign. There’s always the question do we use Facebook? Has the instant form that pops up. There’s always the question do you run a campaign with that instant form or is it better to send them to a landing page to fill out the form there? Typically, what we see is the form on Facebook gets you a lot more leads and your cost per lead is a lot less. But because it’s so easy to fill out, often people just do it. Sometimes they forget that they even filled it out. That’s the weirdest thing that we find. Sometimes you want to send people, make it a little bit harder for them to fill out, because then you actually know that they’re interested. But it’s always like I think in the end you have to test it, what’s going to work best?

Caroline Pham Guest 23:12

In the environment where you have a filled out form versus not a filled out form, I’m going to take the filled out form. It is something that you have to test. There’s pros and cons to setting it up differently. A lot of it does come down to how your sales team is going to convert that lead.

Danny Gavin Host 23:28

I think an earlier point that you made about, typically, you know, sales cycles. I think that’s why it makes it so hard for a lot of startups, right, when they’re just starting off, they don’t know exactly what’s going on. What’s their customer lifetime value? What should we consider to be a significant you know what a decent cost per lead? You know, I think that makes it easier for people like you and me right to work with established businesses. But, you know, because the those startups it’s it’s difficult, right, there’s a lot, a lot unknown.

Caroline Pham Guest 24:00

Well, that is the benefit of working with an agency is that the agency has a lot of information, a lot of benchmark metrics that they can help with, help you, your company, establish what those goals are going to be yeah, we were.

Danny Gavin Host 24:14

We were talking about that. Often people have the question should I hire in-house, should I hire an agency? And that’s one of the one of the really big, big advantages of an agency Is that knowledge, not just from the individual who maybe you working directly on your account, but sort of the brain trust of everyone who’s been in that agency, and it provides a lot of extra value. Any other thoughts on that?

Caroline Pham Guest 24:38

agency is going to have an always. It’s always going to be on. You know, if you have somebody, like if you have one person in house, that’s what typically happens, right? If that person takes PTO, then you don’t have anybody Watching your accounts for you, whereas that’s not. That’s not the case for the agency, right? And the agency has access to a lot more tools and information and skillsets. Then is Individual person, of course, is going to depend on the agency, is going to depend on the individual person, but that’s really those are some of the pros of going with an agency.

Danny Gavin Host 25:11

I want to talk a little bit about row as, or return on, ad spend. And for those who don’t know what that is, that means you know when you spend $1 in advertising, how much money do you get back in return? So typically you’re gonna find this with e-commerce or you can actually measure the value. So, if I spend $1 and I made $2 in sales, so my row as is, you know, two times or 200%. You know, these days people are putting values when it comes to you know, even like Lee Jen, and so you can do it. But, yeah, from your perspective, is there a general of thumb that you’re aiming for? Regarding Roas, is there a target? I know I’m like, once again, I’m sure it’s gonna depend, but how do you approach that?

Caroline Pham Guest 25:53

Yeah. So the the inputs that I look at are like what is your profit margin? Where your marketing goals? Are you trying to be more aggressive? Are you more conservative? Are you more experimental? And that will help determine what the real action be. And Usually, you know, usually you can establish, you see, establish a break even, real as so. This is like ultimately where, where I make nothing but I’m not losing any money, right, and then you go from there, like you know, if I’m more conservative, then you’re gonna pad it up a little bit more than if you’re, and then if you’re more aggressive, you might be okay losing some money Just to get some traffic or some sales going. But the break even row as is a really, really good starting point to kind of get an idea of when you should be.

Danny Gavin Host 26:38

But when it comes to break even rose, how long would you say and I know it. Just it will depend a lot on the you know the owner of the business, what their level of you know taking, but like from, let’s say, an outside consultant, outside perspective, how long do you think one can run like a break even row as type of campaign?

Caroline Pham Guest 26:58

a lot of companies run break even campaigns all the time. That’s that’s the truth, because it’s it’s about. A lot of times it’s about I mean, this is Speaking for bigger companies a lot of times it’s about traffic and just getting volume sales, more so than it is about actual profit. But if it depends, it depends on the company. It depends on, like, what else you’re doing and where your sales are coming from. And Because if you, if you’re a company that has like online is new to you and you have like More sales coming off from offline, then it’ll be more okay for you to be a break even, are losing money online than elsewhere.


Right, that’s not always the case. If you’re, if you’re completely you’re, if your business is completely online, then and I mean every business needs profit to To run okay it depends also if you’re like you know, a business that’s trying to grow users too, because when you have seed funding, then that’s gonna be that’s gonna be different too. So it depends not. Profit is not what I’m saying is not. Not every business has profit as a as weird as that sounds- no, no, you’re right.

Danny Gavin Host 28:12

But based off of that, would you say like Obviously it’s a lot easier to get to a break even campaign rather than someone who wants 10 right at 10 roas. When someone approaches you and say like I want an 8 roas or a 10 roas, like does that shock you or is it like, oh no, we can get there.

Caroline Pham Guest 28:29

Let’s just say somebody comes in and they just heard from Somebody else that get talked to about marketing that this is a good number and then they’re just attached to that number, that that number to me doesn’t mean anything Because it’s your number, is your number and is based on your goals and your business performance, your own Individual business performance. And if that number doesn’t exist, there’s the comfort like if it doesn’t exist, and even if you don’t know what your margins are, there is comfort level of what you’re comfortable with and that that would be the starting number rather than just out of the blue, a number that you’re fixating on that’s not based off of any kind of data. There’s a way to come up with a logical number, even if it’s not one that you’re a hundred percent sure of, that’s based on your business and your numbers, than just Fixating on some random number because you think that’s what you should be at.

Danny Gavin Host 29:21

Yeah, I think that’s that’s fair and I think that’s enlightening should be enlightening for a lot of people.

Caroline Pham Guest 29:26

It’s kind of like. You know, like I, for the longest time I wanted to weigh like 110 pounds or something, but that might not be physically possible for me, as you know like, and that’s not necessarily what is actually a healthy weight for me either because you, you want to look at you, like what your goals are, what your body structure looks like, what you know your fat, what you’re trying to do, and Then you can come up with a Number for you.

Danny Gavin Host 29:53

I think that’s a very fitting parable. We touched upon budget a little bit before, but are there any tools or or other outside things that you use in order to help you with recommendations for a good starting budget?

Caroline Pham Guest 30:07

Before I answer this question, it’s always speed. Speed to action is going to be like the number one goal, because you can spend forever getting as much information trying to get everything perfect, but that’s just not the reality of things. Usually, right Speed to action is going to be you want to lean towards getting things done? Okay, but now into the question. So typically the easiest tool to use is the Google Keyword Planner, your analytics, like Google Analytics or whatever else you use, your search counsel. Those are really really good starting places and most people have those already in place. If you have any other advertising, whether that’s digital, whether it’s offline, any sales information, your CRM, that information can be helpful to help establish goals, to help connect the dots, to help with conversion rates, even click through rates, semrush in the light, there’s a lot of tools like Semrush Heap. Yeah, those are typically where I would start with the free stuff before you get into paid.

Danny Gavin Host 31:12

Any tools which maybe are thrown out there that you’re like stay away from.

Caroline Pham Guest 31:15

I haven’t used a tool where I that was like my initial thought that this is just a crap tool. It just comes down to price. I think that a lot of these tools are getting really outrageous honestly that’s just my personal opinion in what they’re charging for what they do. I mean Semrush, for example, back in the day, started out free and then at one point it was $20 a month. Now it’s just extremely expensive relative. I mean, I know that there’s inflation. It’s been a long time, but tools are really really like. The price of tools has gone exponentially. To me, the question is more about the value that you get out of it and whether you’re actually going to use the information, because a lot of times you’ll pay for a tool and you don’t even have time to use it and that’s just not going to be worth it.

Danny Gavin Host 32:09

Yeah, and that’s why I tell my students often where, let’s say, Semrush is just too expensive. But you know what, if you’ve got two or three projects lined up, just buy a month of it and then use it out as much as you can within that month and then move on. You don’t have to sign up to a tool for a year, and that could help.

Caroline Pham Guest 32:27

Yeah, for sure. So knowing what you’re trying to get out of the tool and then knowing what that value is to you before you pay for it, yeah, but then there’s also tools that, before you can even try it, they’ll make you sign up for a year of it. And yeah, don’t get me started on that. That’s a different type of podcast.

Danny Gavin Host 32:49

Yes, different podcast. I think here’s an interesting situation that a lot of agencies or consultants come to where, like, let’s say, you have an account that started out with an ad spend budget of $1,000 a month or something low, but after running for a couple of months, you’re constantly maxing out the budget early in the month and you’re doing a pretty good job. There’s also that feeling like I don’t want to tell them to spend more. They don’t. I don’t want to try to think like all I’m doing here is trying to get them to spend more. So how do you approach a client, usually about increasing budget, and then, after that, once approved, what strategy approach do you take when implementing a budget increase?

Caroline Pham Guest 33:26

If the campaign is doing well, it’s really easy to make. Have that conversation, at least in my experience. And it’s not. It’s about performance, right, because we’re creating marketing campaigns, because we’re wanting sales and if there are sales then we should do more of it. And that, to me, is a very easy conversation, Because if the volume exists that’s the first part If the volume exists, there’s a demand for it and you can project what the incremental revenue, sales are going to be, then that conversation is super easy and a fun one to have.

Danny Gavin Host 34:04

But sometimes you have a group like so when it’s E-com it’s pretty straightforward, right? Sometimes in like these lead gen campaigns it’s not exactly clear. It’s not 100, you know. So I guess in those cases it’s a little bit harder, where it’s like you know you’re seeing the leads are coming through but you’re not exactly sure the conversion rate of those leads. But you know, think budget is limited. So I guess in those cases it’s going to be a little bit harder.

Caroline Pham Guest 34:27

It depends on how long the campaign has been running for right. So if it’s only been running for a month or two, that may not be enough time to have a good sense of what performance is going to be. If you have a relatively good conversion rate for the industry, then and it’s depending on. So, okay, the first couple of things I’ll look at, right. So what the CPL is looking at like, what the current like CPL to acquisition, what that conversion rate looks like, if there’s any. If there’s none, then what do we think it’s going to be?


What is our current share of voice of the traffic that exists and what does our visibility look like? And so, knowing that information can help you determine are we spending enough money, right, or do we have a good enough chunk of it for this to be a good test? How do we feel about the quality of the leads, as they, even if they’re not converting, there has to be a sense as to whether the leads are of good quality or not. Right, because you’re talking to potential customers and the answers to that question, those questions will help determine whether, how long a test and what the budget should be, and whether a budget increase should happen If the traffic volume like we’re getting maybe 10% traffic share and the visibility is relatively low, then to me that’s a pretty easy suggestion, right? Hey, I don’t think we’re spending enough money to be competitive here, right? We barely show up. We’re getting a lot of closer pain. But for this set of keywords, for this industry, it’s the right budget is probably X amount more based off of the traffic, right?

Danny Gavin Host 36:12

So when you do get an increase, what’s the strategy to implementing that increase? Like, do you throw it in all at one time? Do you spread it out? How does that work?

Caroline Pham Guest 36:21

With budget increases. I typically like to. This is definitely a personal approach kind of thing. Everybody’s going to do this a little different. I tend to prefer doing it more conservatively. Just that’s just how I usually like to do this. Some people will throw it all in right away just because they want a quick read on it. It’s going to depend on the client too, right. You’re going to work together and be sure that you’re aligned with what we want to do with the extra budget. So sometimes the client will be wanting to get the results really fast and then you’re like oh, I don’t know about that, you know, and so there needs to be alignment there as well. But typically I like to go in slowly and see, and I want to say that it takes generally a year to really get a good idea of what your paid search campaign is going to, how it’s going to perform, Like. You want to have at least a good, solid year of good volume to get, To have a good enough data set to make decisions off of.

Danny Gavin Host 37:25

Would you recommend that people who do want to get into paid search for their business Ideally they should try to look at this as a 12-month endeavor.

Caroline Pham Guest 37:33

Yes, 12-month. What is it? What are you willing to? Just try it and see.

Danny Gavin Host 37:39

And you feel like, even let’s say, you got a specific budget, is it better to spread it out over those 12 months or is it better to use it up, let’s say, larger amounts for a short amount of time Do you have? Is there any difference there?

Caroline Pham Guest 37:55

It depends on what the business is, but to generally speaking, I think it’s going to be better for you to have a longer duration of information than a short burst of a lot of traffic. I’m going to generally lean towards and this is my personal preference a longer time, be spreading it, having it a little thinner, but having it over a longer duration.

Danny Gavin Host 38:22

Yeah, I agree. And especially when seasonality comes into play, you just have more of chances to either win or lose in a shorter duration. You’re not going to see it as much.

Caroline Pham Guest 38:32

Yeah, and it’s just less risky because at any point in time there’s always a cash flow question. Right and you’re. It’s just less risk.

Danny Gavin Host 38:42

Yeah, it’s not that this is an investing podcast, but it’s like do you throw all your money in at the beginning of the year or do you invest a little bit over the time? And when you keep on investing over time, that helps because you get the highs and the lows.

Caroline Pham Guest 38:57

Yeah, that’s not to say that you can’t get any wins out of doing the show first, but that’s just typically. That’s my personal opinion on that.

Danny Gavin Host 39:07

Yeah, love it. All right, it’s time for our lightning round. So, to let everyone know that not only are you an amazing digital marketer, but you’re also an amazing mom. And let’s talk about your top kids movies, and it could be things that you’re watching now, or it could be like back when you were a kid like what movies did you really like?

Caroline Pham Guest 39:27

Right now I am watching Charlotte’s Web. I’m reading the book and watching the movie Finding Nemo. We watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory recently and we also watched Babe. I really I love Babe. The message in Babe is so good and that’s just. These are all these movies that I’ve stood to test the time, in my opinion and have really good messages that I want my kids to learn, and I love it.

Danny Gavin Host 39:53

So you’re reading the book and you’re watching. Is that something you often do with the kids?

Caroline Pham Guest 39:58

Yeah, so my oldest, dylan, he is eight and we’re helping, we’re trying to help him with reading, comprehension and his vocabulary, and so I just find that when we read the book and then we watch the movie and we do it together it helps. It really helps seal in the message for him. And you know, sometimes, like for example in Charlotte’s Web, the word trough it shows up a lot and so Wilbur’s trough was full in the. Yeah, he doesn’t know what a trough is and you can explain it to him. Right, you can look at the dictionary definition but the visual of the trough and the sloths going into it, that’s where you get the comprehension right.

Danny Gavin Host 40:36

Yeah, so what’s the next big thing in the world of digital marketing that you’re setting your eyes on?

Caroline Pham Guest 40:41

Maybe okay. So I’m right now I’m continuing to grow my analytical skills. So more expanding outside of the marketing realm, so more moving into business analytics, which you know encompasses marketing as well. It’s really. It’s really a lot of the same thing. The goal is the same, the fundamentals are the same and the goal is to make better data driven decisions in the shortest amount of time possible to drive performance right, but at a greater scale. So that’s really I’m working on, like my sequel and Python skills and then just like the tools that connect data together, and that’s that’s next up for me.

Danny Gavin Host 41:26

Are you using chat GPT at all to help you with some of that? You know some of the queries.

Caroline Pham Guest 41:30

Yeah, yeah, so yes, I have been chat. Gpt is really cool. It’s sometimes it’s really scary and then sometimes it just completely gets around. So I think I think that if you know, if you understand like for somebody who understands an area really well and it’s a really good shortcut to just getting answers really fast, right, but for somebody who doesn’t really know a lot about an area, it could be really wrong. So proceed with caution.

Danny Gavin Host 42:00

Couldn’t agree more, but definitely when you’re looking I know you were talking more about sequel, but when you’re looking for that formula in Excel, it’s just a lot easier to have chat with you than have to go and search on the internet.

Caroline Pham Guest 42:12

For sure. The speed at which we’re moving right now is so crazy, it is crazy.

Danny Gavin Host 42:18

Well, caroline. Thank you so much today. Such a great conversation. It’s always a pleasure, as usual. Thank you for being a guest on the digital marketing mentor and thank you, listeners, for tuning into the digital marketing mentor. We’ll speak with you next time.

Caroline Pham Guest 42:31

Thank you, Danny, for having me.

Danny Gavin Host 42:33

Thank you for listening to the digital marketing mentor podcast. Be sure to check us out online at thedmmentor.com and at thedmmentor on Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts for more marketing mentor magic. See you next time.

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