Sarah Stemen was nominated for a PPC spotlight in January of 2022.
How long have you been working in PPC?
I have been working in PPC since 2007. I started on the client side at Nationwide Insurance.
How did you get started in PPC?
I started in 2007 working in marketing analytics and my role slowly involved to incorporate some PPC. On the client side I was responsible for reporting and measuring customer satisfaction and we used an agency for the execution of our PPC and SEO.
From 2007 to 2011 internet marketing (PPC & SEO) became a sensation of sorts and my role evolved quickly into managing PPC and SEO for Nationwide Bank. As my role evolved, with the help of the agency and Google reps, I learned PPC and SEO execution. I wouldn’t be where I was today if it weren’t for hours and hours of training from our digital agency. I will forever be thankful for all the agency mentorship. This relationship with our marketing agency shaped how I interact with clients. I always recognize that there is a client contact eager to learn on the other side. I also feel that if we educate our clients we can work better over time and we can all grow.
If you went to college, what did you study? If not college, do you have any other degrees or certifications?
I went to Bowling Green State University in Ohio and I majored in Management Information Systems. I did my MBA at Otterbein University.
What was your first job that involved PPC?
My first job that involved PPC was when I worked on the metrics team in digital marketing for Nationwide Insurance.
What is your current position and how long have you been in it?
I am currently a paid search strategist for PCG Digital, we are an automotive digital marketing agency.
What kinds of things do you currently handle or manage in PPC?
I am in the ad platforms daily and manage PPC campaigns end-to-end. I build campaigns, create goals, meet with clients, and maintain the campaigns. At PCG we build inventory campaigns, display, search and we use a hyper-local strategy for PPC.
Has your career path had any hiccups or nontraditional aspects that you’d like to share?
Well, I started in IT, so I began as a programmer (SQL, html, visual basic). I then moved into customer service, and eventually into digital marketing. I would say one of the most interesting aspects is that I had the head of learning and development at BMW (my first job) tell me that I should go into marketing analytics.
5 years later I ended up in that role.
There were times I felt I took a step back and years were I was convinced I was “retired”. Having children absolutely changed my mindset. At the end of the day, I would not be where I was if it weren’t for a long list of agency industry leaders. These leaders spend time with me teaching hands on skills and spent time in conference rooms having real conversations. So many lunch and learns, and so much guidance was given, but I also think that our agency knew that if we knew how PPC worked we could do a better job advocating internally.
What are you most proud of in your PPC career?
I am proud that I found a career I love and that I fundamentally understand. I am also proud of the times I have said “No” and moved on. I am a creative person, but I also intuitively understand how numbers move together. I think this is part of why I enjoy PPC.
What, if anything, do you wish you could “do over” in your PPC career?
If I had to do something over – I think I would have stayed at a large agency longer, but a new baby #3 made that agency life challenging. Large agencies can be extremely high stress but they are also places where you learning from the best of the best.
If you could give advice to someone either considering or just starting out in PPC, what would that be?
Well I am biased, but I think it is a great career. My best advice would be to learn to be extremely comfortable with spreadsheets, presentation skills, and how to speak professionally about metrics. Coming out of school new hires have case studies and aspirational concepts but can’t explain how and why data changes. It is really important to learn this skill. It is all about anticipating client questions. Why did things go well? Why did they not go well? And what did we learn and how can we move forward?
Are you interested in speaking opportunities? If so, what topics are your jam?
Of course! I love speaking about bidding strategies, automation, and easy strategies in PPC that are often overlooked. I also love a good round table talking about how the PPC agency has changed. I think since I have worked in PPC and SEO the conversations are always good.
Anything else you’d like to share?
In my spare time I am a mom to 3 amazing kids. I also love working out. Also thanks so much to whoever nominated me. It is a huge honor! I love the PPC community!
Where can people find you to connect (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?