Mark Subel was nominated by Ryan Whiteside for a PPC spotlight profile in May of 2022.
How long have you been working in PPC?
I technically started managing my first PPC campaign in 2012, as I was thrown into a client’s Google Ads account to manage it. To say the least, I had no idea what I was doing. I eventually started learning on my own, taking the Google exams, and getting a chance to manage some other accounts as time went on.
How did you get started in PPC?
Prior to getting into PPC, I started in the affiliate industry as an affiliate manager for an online gaming group – online poker and online casinos at the time. My job was to manage the program and recruit affiliates to drive more traffic to the gaming sites. I didn’t know a lick of SEO or PPC or anything at that time, but by going to conferences and becoming friends with the affiliates I was managing – I started to teach myself SEO. I ended up buying an affiliate site that one of our affiliates was selling, and then I started taking what I was learning and started actually doing it. I learned how to organize a website for maximum SEO effectiveness, develop content that would drive traffic and attract links, and start to earn commissions on my own affiliate site. The experience in SEO led me to start consulting with small businesses on the side to help them drive traffic organically and then naturally my curiosity expanded into PPC and paid search.
If you went to college, what did you study? If not college, do you have any other degrees or certifications?
I attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. I started out majoring in marketing, but early on I felt like I wanted to learn something that was a little more concrete of a skill – so I quickly shifted to Finance. And then I also expanded and picked up a minor in “Telecommunications”, which at the time I was in college, was more about traditional media like radio/TV, but sort of was a precursor to what I eventually got into with digital marketing.
What was your first job that involved PPC?
One of my early clients asked if I could manage their PPC campaigns on Google. I loved learning new things, so I quickly jumped in. I didn’t know anything and I made a lot of early mistakes, but quickly learned from them, adapted, learned more, and started getting a hang of account structure and all the other basics. So it was as a consultant helping one of my clients with their Google Adwords accounts.
What is your current position and how long have you been in it?
I am the founder and chief strategist of my own boutique digital agency in Columbus, Ohio called Two Wheels Marketing. Our team specializes in PPC, Paid Social and SEO. I technically formed the company in 2010, but have had a more consistent client base since about 2013-2014 when things really started expanding in the PPC and SEO realm.
What kinds of things do you currently handle or manage in PPC?
Everything from management of the accounts, the strategy behind the PPC campaigns, the landing pages that we are sending traffic to if it’s lead gen, the lead nurturing – whether we develop the plan for the client or consult with them on best practices, to even setting up email drip series emails for certain clients that need that assistance. We do a lot in the lead gen arena and professional/home services as well as some retail/eComm, with a wide variety of clients in different niches.
In addition to PPC, we do a lot of paid social campaigns from Facebook/IG Ads and LinkedIn Ads, to newer platforms like TikTok, SnapChat and Pinterest campaigns depending on the client. We’ve been lucky to work with clients that really look to us for advice and are willing to test and experiment a new platform if we think there is opportunity there for them. That’s allowed us to really experiment in other platforms and learn what works best.
In addition to our paid campaigns, we do a number of SEO campaigns where we are helping clients generate more long-term organic traffic.
Has your career path had any hiccups or nontraditional aspects that you’d like to share?
I think my entire life career path has been nontraditional and I still don’t know how I got here. :). Early on after graduating college, I still had no clue what I wanted to do in life and digital marketing wasn’t really a big thing at that time. I just needed some time to figure things out so non-traditionally as a Business School graduate, I started playing in a band and serving/bartending :). After about a year or so of that, I was ready to figure out the next step. I randomly met someone who said their brother worked for an online gaming company in the Caribbean and they needed marketing help. I guess playing in a band and serving/bartending was the perfect fit for them! This ended up being the beginning of my venture into digital marketing, as I was then hired as an affiliate manager to help recruit and manage affiliates. And the rest is history.
My only hiccup was not doing more with my affiliate knowledge back in the early days of online poker. If I knew then what I know now, I’d be back on a Caribbean island in retirement right now!
What are you most proud of in your PPC career?
Really my proudest moments are the accolades we receive from our clients or those emails you get from them saying how impressed they are with your work vs. that “other agency”, or how their business has grown X% or leads have grown X% since starting to work with us. That just feels great and why we love doing what we do – it’s just really rewarding every time.
What, if anything, do you wish you could “do over” in your PPC career?
I’m not sure I would do anything over as I really believe that you’re on a certain path for a reason. Since I never really worked for a big traditional PPC agency in the past, I think I would have liked to have seen what that was like and how a larger enterprise agency does it, just so I would have learned how to do things quicker with my micro agency. Some additional early on experience at a PPC agency would have helped me learn quicker.
If you could give advice to someone either considering or just starting out in PPC, what would that be?
You’re not going to learn without doing, so if you haven’t started yet, see if someone can give you a chance at managing an account and be a mentor to you. Also read a ton – join industry chats like #ppcchat or online communities where you can learn from other practitioners who are really doing it. Read articles on PPC from industry websites and learn how other people approach it and their strategies.
I find myself still learning a ton of new things from reading other’s articles and just finding new strategies or new ways of looking at things. Continue to learn other non-PPC skills like general marketing concepts that can help you understand how to communicate via ad copy, landing pages, and even email marketing. It’s not just good enough today to manage campaigns – you must also think about the entire marketing process from the ads you create, to the landing page you develop or consult on, to helping clients improve THEIR processes on the backend so that your efforts are maximized.
Are you interested in speaking opportunities? If so, what topics are your jam?
Sure, I haven’t thought about which topics, but certainly anything PPC, paid social strategies, and then developing a digital marketing mix and digital marketing plan to drive client goals – typically more leads or sales.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have 2 boys (Elias and Ezra) and my wife owns a Hummus business (https://DaristaDips.com). I love to ride my bike and play basketball in my spare time – and also still play in a band when I’m available to do so.
Where can people find you to connect (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?