When Eric Maas and I started Finch 4 years ago, we did it to fill a very specific need in the market. We had been running an eCommerce SaaS platform that had done over US$1 billion in sales for our 400 clients by managing multiple channels (website, eBay, Amazon, Google, Overstock, Shopping.com, BizRate, and many others). We did not do Google AdWords and attempted to partner with a number of agencies that specialized in PPC. It was a disaster every single time, because they did not understand the unique needs of our eCommerce clients.
A failed attempt to acquire a PPC company eventually lead to the start of Finch; now focusing on solving the problems we had uncovered and experienced. We had limited knowledge of PPC at the time but knew a lot about eCommerce after living it for 10 years. We could clearly see why the traditional way of managing PPC for eCommerce by agencies was failing, and we believed we knew how to fix it.
The first thing we did was to start automating everything that could be automated easily to avoid being dependent on people for non-creative and repetitive tasks. We automated a lot and built technology that was invaluable for managing large-scale AdWords campaigns. We got great results, and our client base grew rapidly. The Finch way worked!
We figured out some very cool stuff in the process, including how to structure campaigns and ad groups in a way that, if you track Value (dynamic tracking of revenues from the shopping cart after the PPC clicks), you can optimize for revenue. We were killing it for most of our clients, and our bidding engine was highly differentiated and unique.
Then we lost some clients, and then we lost a few more. Hard learning took place fast as we took each of the losses personally. The PPC industry is an industry with a lot of churn, but that is for others, not for us. We learned a few lessons that helped us get better:
- Knowledge about AdWords for the eCommerce market is extremely limited
- Technology alone is not enough; people want to deal with people
- Educating prospects and clients that PPC for eCommerce is different takes time
Right about the same time, AdWords started to rapidly add eCommerce-oriented features and functionality. During the last 1+ year, there have been more enhancements within AdWords than in the past 10 years combined. Out rolled endless Ad Extensions, Long headlines, Remarketing for Display and for Analytics (soon to also be for Search), Ad Parameters (Quantity and Price), Enhanced campaigns, and lots more. All great stuff to help advertisers who are on top of their game to compete more effectively to buy the clicks that help their business grow faster than their competitor’s business.
We realized that the game was changing and that we had to help clients take advantage of it. The Finch Client Development Program was born. During the past 9 months, we developed a program to help our clients get more out of Google AdWords: More revenue and more profit. Our path forward was defined. We had great technology that delivered great results for our clients, but we needed a growth roadmap for each of our clients to take advantage of all the current and upcoming Google AdWords enhancements. We wanted a program ensuring that clients were getting educated, implementing new Finch and AdWords enhancements early, adopting best practices, and able to have a strategic dialog with us about how to best achieve their objectives. How do we execute it?
We had the skeleton of what we wanted to roll out, but needed help putting the meat on the bones. We were lucky to bring Morten Barkfeld onboard who was working for Google in Dublin at the time helping AdWords advertisers get the most out of their budgets through education and best practices. Morten confirmed what we already knew; that Finch’s approach to handling eCommerce customers was revolutionary but needed a personal touch. The initial program went through many iterations working with many clients and learning how to serve our clients better with this new structure.
Currently, eCommerce advertisers on Google AdWords have an amazing opportunity to differentiate themselves where it matters the most and execute their campaigns in a way that turns Google into their biggest commissioned sales channel. The complexity has grown exponentially over the past year, and the case for automation and software is stronger than ever. However, and this is a big however, without a clear roadmap based on full understanding of what is possible combined with best practices, most will fail at competing effectively for the most profitable, highest revenue clicks.
Today we are announcing the Finch Client Development Program, and I am very happy to share it with our clients, partners, and prospects. You spoke, we listened, and now we are all performing better in our business. You need a bidding engine (software), and you need the people who are engaged in your success. Luckily we had the software to start with!