February 6, 2008
[The following is a review of the paid-search management certification course put on by Marketing Experiments. Enjoy! - Jill]
Marketing Experiments Paid Search Management Course Review
Tasked with seeking out a good online class on paid search in order to expand and strengthen my knowledge in that area, I signed up for the Marketing Experiments Paid Search Management Professional Certification Course. Marketing Experiments is a leading authority on research and testing in the online marketing world, so I was certain their classes would be top-notch.
The course is designed to help paid-search marketers improve the effectiveness of their paid-search campaigns while increasing their performance. The Marketing Experiments experts share their PPC best practices gleaned from a plethora of testing and researching over the years.
In this class you will learn how to build an effective ad, how to build and target new keyword groups, how to implement different bidding strategies, how to organize your campaigns, how to analyze the performance of your campaigns, and how to use the "7-part Paid Search Optimization Formula" to maximize your campaigns.
At the end of the course, you will have the opportunity to become certified as an MEC Paid Search Management Expert by taking the cumulative exam.
The course is presented in 7 sessions, with a session released each week. The sessions are delivered via a recorded presentation in which the presenters narrate the slides that are on your screen, providing some additional commentary as well. Each session covers a different topic, with each subsequent class building upon the previous one. Throughout the entire course, the classes lay out the components of the Marketing Experiments 7-part formula that their experts use to test and optimize clients' PPC campaigns. This formula is the backbone of the course and why it's imperative to view the sessions in order so you have a firm grasp of it.
After each session there is a mini-quiz to test your knowledge and understanding of what you learned. These were a good review, though not incredibly difficult. You can also view the notes from each session, which are basically the same slides for the narrated presentation minus the audio portion. You can print out the notes for each session and follow along to the narrated presentation while writing down some of your notes and thoughts. I found this to be particularly helpful and a good way to keep up and review each session.
Marketing Experiments also has a support forum where you can post any questions or comments regarding the course; I found that the staff was helpful and quick to respond to my questions. There didn't seem to be much action there, however, as not many people were posting. That could be construed as a positive (lack of complication) or a negative (lack of involvement). Most likely it's the former.
All of these sessions lead up to the final goal of the course -- the certification exam. Your certification will identify you as a respected authority (that's the goal at least) in the field of paid search. You will be entitled to use the Marketing Experiments certification seal on your website if you have one and/or in your personal resume.
All in all, I was impressed with the content presented in the course. The tips and best practices presented are top-notch and made even more effective with appropriate case studies from past research. The people at Marketing Experiments know their stuff and have conducted hundreds of tests to prove their results.
Keep in mind that the course is designed as more of a general PPC overview of tips and guidelines, and is geared for the intermediate-to-more-experienced paid-search marketer. I think the course is fine for beginners as well but it's important to note that this course will not teach you exactly how to go to Google AdWords or Yahoo and set up a campaign or anything like that; for that you may want to pick up a beginner book or simply go to Google or Yahoo and read their tutorials. For this course, I'd recommend that you have a basic understanding of PPC, but are looking for ways to make your campaigns perform better.
What you will receive are tons of tips and best practice information on how to make your PPC campaigns, in general, the best they can be in terms of effectiveness and performance. This will come in handy at the beginning stages of your campaigns such as when you're creating ads, as well as in the latter stages, when you're tracking performance through Web analytics, etc.
My only gripe was that the course content seemed to be slightly outdated, as they mentioned a couple of things that had changed over the past few months. This is going to be a problem with any paid-search course or book, however, as things change so quickly in that space. The majority of the content was right on target, but just be aware that some things may have changed.
Overall, I highly recommend the class if you are in the target audience I mentioned earlier -- you will certainly learn a lot.
Update 6/25/08: This course is no longer offered, however, MarketingSherpa (a sister company to Marketing Experiments) is offering a similar (but "live") course on Landing Page Optimization. (Please note that is our affiliate link.)