PPC Origins - Aislinn Poe

You’ve heard of Dancing with the Stars, but have you heard of Dancing with a PPC Expert?! For episode 31 of Getting Granular, we put our sashay to the test and sit down with resident dancing queen, Aislinn Poe, Sr. Manager of Paid Media at Granular.


What you’ll learn in this episode of Getting Granular:

  • How Aislinn went from the ballet barre to becoming a PPC expert (02:39)
  • So why did PPC catch Aislinn’s eye as a career path  (05:47)
  • Flashback! What the PPC landscape was like when Aislinn started her career, what’s changed over the last few years (07:51)
  • Aislinn’s specialties, and the skills that help her succeed (12:50)
  • Tik Tok! (18:30)
  • Aislinn touches on her approach to client relationships and strategy (19:10)
  • Circling back to the start, what brought Aislinn to Granular (22:13)
  • What Aislinn thinks THE FUTURE holds for PPC (26:15)
  • Closing thoughts (30:19)


Narrator: Welcome to Getting Granular, the podcast where digital marketing experts from the Agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you are here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rant about digital media, you’ve come to the right place.

Chris: Thank you once again, for tuning into The Getting Granular Podcast. I am your host Chris Cesar, a senior manager of paid media here at Granular. And I am joined today by Aislinn Poe, another senior manager of paid media here at Granular. Welcome Aislinn.

Aislinn: Hi.

Chris: Great to have you.

Aislinn: Great to be here.

Chris: So usually we do these types of intro podcasts when someone’s a new employee, but you aren’t all that new, are you?

Aislinn: No, it’s probably been about nine months now.

Chris: The whole work from home pandemic thing kind of threw everybody off. Could be nine months, could be nine days, could be nine years, who knows? It’s all the same. So I guess just run us quick down, who is Aislinn?

Aislinn: Outside of work, probably my favorite thing is a tie between either dogs and dance. I have a dog who’s, she’s a Blue Heeler. Her name is May, and she’s a lot of energy, a lot of fun, little ball of sunshine. And a lot of times during work, she will force me to play fetch with her all day long. That’s how we function working from home now.

Chris: I can confirm that about every video call I’ve had with Aislinn I see her lean over and throw something across.

Aislinn: Most of the time you can’t see her, you just see me throw things outside of the screen over and over and over again. And that’s pretty much what I do all day long when I work from home now. I strategically place my desk next to a hallway so that it is the perfect place for her to be able to run down the ball that I throw. And dance, I’ve been dancing since I was three, started ballet and I minored in dance in college. And now I’m back to taking ballet classes again, I’ve taught ballet before, I’ve done some choreography, I did a lot of choreography in college, which was great. So it’s definitely a tie between puppies and ballet depending on the day.

Chris: Very cool. So then I guess to get a little bit more into the professional side of things, you mentioned college. Why don’t you walk us through the process of how you got from where you were in college, minor in dance, not something that seems totally relevant to paid search, how you got from there to sort of how you got here.

Aislinn: Sure. So I majored in marketing in college, minored in dance, definitely put a lot of my energy towards the dance side of things, but I majored in marketing, went to UW-Whitewater. They have a really excellent business program there, had some great teachers, but they didn’t really focus much on PPC. I think I had one class where we had a little bit of conversation about the different channels, but we didn’t really learn how to use them at that point. So when I got out of college, I was in a sales job for a little bit and then ended up transitioning to a marketing assistant role, and that was at Quana in Madison at the time. And then from there, just kind of didn’t really know what I wanted to do next and ended up in a PPC role and really liked it and decided to stick with it.

Chris: Was it one of those kind of learn on the fly type of jobs where it was, nobody does this here, somebody needs to do it here, do this.

Aislinn: Pretty much. So what happened was I made a connection at Quana, somebody who I really enjoyed working with. And then when I was moving to Milwaukee, she was able to connect me with a small agency here in Milwaukee, who were looking for somebody to fill that kind of role. And I basically showed up and said, I don’t have any experience in this, but I’m a fast learner and I like learning new things. And I know that I’m a good worker. I’m a good employee. You can depend on me. And later that night I went home and got certified in all of the Google ads, Google search, Google display, all of those different certifications and sent that over to them and was like, hey, I’m certified now. And they were happy that I took that initiative and they ended up giving me that opportunity.

Aislinn: And that was at Credit Union Story, and it’s owned by Kip and Natalie and Kip really took me under his wing. And he taught me everything that he knew about PPC and then kind of sent me out to learn as much as I could so that I would know more than him and be able to help their practice there. So that was great. I definitely, I owe a lot to them for giving me that opportunity and giving me a chance. And they were really great teachers to get me into this industry. And from there, I just ended up going to a digital marketing strategist position where I did a little bit more than just PPC. And now I’m at Granular where I get to specialize, which I love. It’s great to have one thing to focus on and really dig into it as much as you can.

Chris: So what was it about PPC that just made you realize that you really liked doing it and it was something you wanted to stick with has a career path?

Aislinn: I started out as kind of thinking about analytics a lot. I grew up considering doing, being a psychologist, being a therapist of some kind, but also really liked my statistics classes, which like who likes statistics classes.

Chris: I will say that I also did like stats.

Aislinn: Great.

Chris: Calculus, not so much, stats, I could get into that.

Aislinn: It was interesting. It was really interesting finding patterns and making sense of them. And PPC feels like it’s the perfect overlap between those two things where you’re looking at the psychology of people, what are they interested in? What do they enjoy? When is the best time to serve them? And add all of those details and using statistics to make sense of all of that information. And so it just felt really comfortable for me. And it got everything that I was interested all in one place.

Chris: That’s interesting. I also have always sort of had one of those fascinations with the psychology of what we do. I’ve never taken too much of a deep dive into it, but it is something that I’ve always had one of those like tangential interests in that I wish I didn’t spend more time in. So that’s really, that’s good to know that somebody else on the team is actually looking at those more religiously than I am.

Aislinn: It’s interesting. And psychology is such a, there’s so much to know about it and there’s so many ways that it can impact your life. And so to be able to find a way to still use some of that knowledge that I had, because I did take a lot of psych classes to be able to use some of that knowledge that I had, but also not have to kind of be confronted with people in really difficult times in their life on a daily, hourly basis seemed like a better fit for me.

Chris: A little less stressful, maybe.

Aislinn: A little less stressful.

Chris: So I guess taking sort of a quick step back, what did the PPC landscape look like when you first got into it?

Aislinn: There was definitely a lot less automation and we didn’t trust the AI anywhere near as much as we do now. So I think there was even more to know about how to manually pull levers than there is now. There’s definitely still a lot of that we do, because there’s still a lot of ways that we don’t trust the automation fully, but it was definitely even less of that right when I started.

Chris: So aside from all the automation growth. So how would you say it’s also evolved in the last five or six years?

Aislinn: There’s been a lot of changes in data privacy concerns since then a lot of changes. So one of the ways that I’ve seen that the most impacted is in Facebook ads, that we just have a lot less targeting options than we used to and we’re not able to do the same kind of measurement. So I think we kind of had a sweet spot for a couple years of AI being really, really strong and having a lot of data points. And now that’s kind of going away and we’re going to have to, probably going to have to get back into some more of those manual strategies as well as focusing on awareness and just trusting that a little bit more without having all of the data to back everything up. So I think that’s probably one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen and it seems like it’s really impacting Facebook ads the most so far.

Chris: It’s interesting that you mentioned the manual part of it because I think the big concern for me, at least, isn’t so much manual optimizations, but more trying to figure out how to close that feedback loop of someone clicked on our ad, they may have filled out a lead generation form on our website. It’s how do we close that loop back up to the start to tell Google ads or Facebook ads, hey, this person was valuable, they were worth 1.2 million dollars to our company or they weren’t worth anything, so we need to be able to tweak our targeting based on those types of signals.

Aislinn: I mean, I think it’s both, I think it’s both of those aspects of it. And I think we’re going to have to go back in time a little bit to when advertising used to be, it was just, you put a commercial on TV or something up on a billboard and you didn’t really have that data about the effect of it other than seeing the overall effect of your business. There was some trust that had to be part of that, that the advertising was just going to work. And we’ve gotten farther and farther away from that, the more data that we have to the point where there’s a lot of agencies, companies who focus in sometimes I think too much on conversions and wanting to see the effect of every single dollar that’s spent and lose some awareness in the marketplace because of that, issues with kind of not having a full-funnel strategy.

Aislinn: So I think that this is really going to be an exercise for all of us in learning to have some of that trust again and not being able to have all of the data points that we want to have and just kind of trying to make decisions based on the data that we can get.

Chris: That is really interesting because I am, and I have one very specific scenario that I’m working through with someone right now of they’re launching this new product, there’s no direct conversion point on the website to check out and purchase a product, it’s more of a, let’s send you off to one of our partners. And what we’re looking at is how do we leverage both search and display to say, okay, this is a product that exists where if we were only looking at the conversions, we would be extremely limited on what we could do because it’s a newer product. The display and YouTube targeting would get the info out there where maybe we’re creating search volume for it. But at the end of the day, the display stuff may not be driving a large volume of conversions at the end of the day. But to your point, we need that informational piece to get the word out there, so there’s an awareness of this new service offering that we have.

Aislinn: Because we can all make our numbers look really, really good if we just focus on brand, if we just focus on people who are searching for the brand, go through and complete conversion, but is that really building the business?

Chris: So I guess to take this a little bit, looking more inward, rather than outward at the industry, let’s talk about you a little bit more. What would you really say are your specializations when it comes to both verticals and the types of skill sets that you bring to the table?

Aislinn: My favorite to work with is B2B lead generation. I think it’s really cut and dry. Like we have these are the leads that we get and then we get to find out later on, what was the quality of those leads? Did they turn into purchases, contracts, whatever? So one of the things that I like about working with B2B clients is that because all of your targeting attributes are based on their jobs, their job titles, their job descriptions, the kind of work that they do, it feels less intrusive to who they are as people. And it’s also something that I think is going to be a little bit easier to work around when it comes to all of the data privacy laws that are going to keep coming out, going forward.

Chris: I would agree that you sort of mentioned that lowest common denominator of these people will have things in common, you and me, for example, you love pets and dance, two things that I have no familiar with. And as we discussed right before the recording of this, I’m a massive sports fan and Aislinn is not.

Aislinn: I’m not, no.

Chris: Yes. But if there was say some sort of PPC service that Granular may be interested in where people are, you and I would be looking for that type of service, we both would be within that target demographic, even though our personal interests outside of work completely divergent. And to take that a step further is also interesting because in another recent conversation we had in our discussion about B2B marketing on Facebook is that we still are trying to reach the person where yes, you’re advertising to a “business,” but there are still people that are in charge of making those purchase decisions. So it’s just really interesting that you view it one way when someone else views it completely different, but at the same time, they’re both correct answers.

Aislinn: Definitely, it’s personal preference. And the other vertical that I tend to work with a lot is higher education. It’s just where I’ve ended up having more experience in and higher education is really interesting because there’s a lot of competition and a lot of competition that’s doing very similar things. So you just have to do a lot of differentiating between you and those other competitors, and try to find ways to include that in ad copy and a search ad, which is not easy. So I think that part is really interesting as well. And it’s also helping people move towards whatever that bigger, better future is that they are envisioning. And I like being able to have some part in that as well.

Chris: And at the end of the day, higher education advertising really goes back to Legion is what it is.

Aislinn: Yes.

Chris: So with Legion being seemingly the overwhelmingly strong suit of yours, what sorts of skill sets or platforms are you most familiar with, most comfortable working in as you help develop these programs?

Aislinn: So I’ve worked in Google ads, Facebook, we do some programmatic. I’ve also done Microsoft ads, Pinterest ads, Snapchat ads, TikTok, so like been all over in all these different platforms, but LinkedIn so far has been my favorite. I think that Facebook is a close second, but Facebook, as we all know, changes their platform every other day. So you’ll learn how to do one thing in Facebook ads and then the next day they’re going to change how you do it.

Aislinn: So I think one of the things that I like about LinkedIn is even though they have just recently made a pretty big change to their platform and their UI there, it’s generally pretty consistent and it’s more straightforward. They have a lot of levers to pull, but it’s definitely more simple because we have this really specific information that people enter in their LinkedIn profile and then that’s what we’re able to use for advertising. So it’s not as much of kind of the pulling data that Facebook does using its AI with all of those targets now going away.

Chris: To sort of bring it all back full circle, I think one thing that I really like about LinkedIn is the superior targeting capabilities. Where again, if for example, we had a PPC tool we were trying to sell to a company, you and I are both, we’re very upfront about, hey, we are media managers at Granular, which is a marketing and advertising business in the Milwaukee area. People are very generous with their information on LinkedIn and it is overwhelmingly accurate compared to Joe Schmo on Facebook, who’s got his middle name as his last name and he says he works at some place that doesn’t, he works at good burger. So I think that that’s sort of all tied us together and makes a ton of sense. I want to do take a step back though. You mentioned you’ve done some TikTok advertising.

Aislinn: Yes.

Chris: And you are also really big into dance.

Aislinn: Yes.

Chris: Do you see where I’m going with this?

Aislinn: The answer is no, but go ahead.

Chris: Have you done any TikTok dances and then advertise with anybody?

Aislinn: No, I have not.

Chris: All right. I had to ask.

Aislinn: No. I have learned TikTok dances for fun, but I’m a classic lurker on TikTok.

Chris: Yes. I’m not even that, so I’m just going to smile and nod and move on. So moving on, let’s talk about a little bit more about how you interact with clients. What would you say is your personal approach as it comes down to, as it comes to running a paid media account, working with clients, doing types of reporting, just give us an overview of what I could expect if I was to work with you as a client.

Aislinn: So I really like to stick to a full funnel approach as much as I can. Every once in a while we have some constraints with that, whether it’s a smaller media budget that you aren’t able to do a full funnel approach and maybe just have to focus on lower funnel. I definitely prefer to stick with that full funnel, look at the target audience and think about what are all of the different platforms that we can use to reach this person? What’s the ideal order that they are seeing ads in to kind of move them through the funnel and get them from awareness to purchase or filling out a lead form.

Aislinn: When it comes to specifically working with clients, I really enjoy getting to know people in general, but I really try to match their energy. If somebody wants to have some chit-chat time before we get into business, that’s great, but there’s a lot of people who are really busy and just want to get right to it. And if they can have a meeting end early and get a couple minutes back in their day, I try to do that as well, as long as we can get everything covered in that time. So just trying to meet people where they’re at and provide them with whatever they’re needing from the meetings. That’s really what I try to do.

Aislinn: And then when it comes to analytics and measurement, I really try to communicate what we expect from each platform. So one of the examples of that is, going back to what we were talking about earlier is that display, we aren’t necessarily looking for conversions from the display. We’re not necessarily looking for them to be lead-generating. So just communicating to the client, what are the ways that we can measure success for a display campaign if it’s not conversions? Because when you’re focusing on lead generation, sometimes conversions from display ads are not high-quality conversions. So if that’s the case, then we want to focus on building awareness with display ads rather than getting conversions from them. So are we looking at CPM or even cost per click or the click-through rate to just gauge engagement with the display ad. It depends on the content of it and the audience that it’s being shown to.

Chris: So let’s circle back a little bit and talk about what sort of brought you to granular.

Aislinn: So this is another place where I think I can owe a lot of my chances in my career to Kip at Credit Union Story. He brought up my name to Steve and Jordon. I was in a place where I wasn’t really looking for a new job, but had heard really good things about Granular and was open to having that conversation with them. And was totally surprised at how much I enjoyed the conversation with the two of them. It was kind of like, oh, I’ll have the conversation, we’ll see how it goes. And I really enjoyed it. I really liked just their energy and some of their philosophies about how they work and decided to continue with it.

Aislinn: And another thing that Steve and Jordon do really well as they kind of trick you into an interview, you think you’re just having a casual chat with them and then all of a sudden it’s an interview. And it was amazing. It meant that I didn’t have to have all the pre-interview anxiety or overthinking it going into it, it was just a casual conversation that I all of a sudden realized was an interview.

Chris: See, I’m kind of offended here because you’re now the second person who’s told me they were like “tricked” into an interview. When meanwhile, when I interviewed what, three, four years ago now, it was a legit, like come into the office and we’ll interview you. So I guess we’ve just gotten better interviewing, I don’t know what it is, but I had the, what did you call it? Pre-interview anxiety. Like what the heck, whatever.

Aislinn: I think, I mean, they’ve grown a lot, Granular has grown a lot since you started. So I think probably yes, they have gotten better about showing, because we are a pretty casual agency. Our conversations with each other are just fun and casual. We get to know each other. So I think that type of interview fits the vibe pretty well.

Chris: I think I was probably the seventh or eighth employee here, so it’s good to know that we’ve evolved in our interviewing process as the company’s evolved. So aside from the casualness of the conversations and me, of course, what else is it that you like about working at Granular?

Aislinn: I think we have really good culture at Granular. It’s really supportive of each other and friendly, people are not afraid to ask questions. And that is one of the great things about being on a team of people who do what you do and not being the lone person at your workplace who is in PPC is when we have a really detailed question, there’s usually somebody on the team who can answer it or help you get to the answer. And that’s the energy with us too. Nobody is ashamed to admit that they don’t know something. It’s a lot of learning from each other, which is great. So it feels really supportive.

Aislinn: And there’s a lot of that knowledge sharing, but definitely one of my top favorite things is that there’s a lot of fellow dog lovers at Granular. So, for example, I walked into the office today for us to do this interview, Chris and a dog greeted me, which is my absolute favorite thing. So that’s something that I really enjoy. And also nobody judges me that I’m playing fetch with my dog on all of our Zoom calls.

Chris: I will say I was kind of offended when Aislinn walked in and said hi to the dog before she said hi to anyone else sitting there.

Aislinn: If you saw the dog though, you would understand, she’s a cutie.

Chris: I’ll let you have that one. So again, sort of pivoting topics here, we talked about the past, how you got here, what things look like, the present, what you like about working here. So let’s again, take the next logical pivot and talk about the future. What do you see as the future of PPC? Specifically what you’re most excited about?

Aislinn: So we talked about this a little bit already, too. So this is perfect. I think one of the things is getting back into understanding the importance of awareness advertising and building awareness, especially in markets that are a little bit more saturated. We have a lot of competition in basically every field, there’s just less of that. We have this new thing that nobody else has. So it’s about a lot of differentiation, but it’s also a lot of building awareness and building up your audience and starting with that rather than starting with just kind of plucking the low hanging fruit and getting the people who are already in the low funnel. So I think that is something that’s going to continue to be more and more important going forward, especially with the data privacy changes.

Chris: So then what would you say you’re most concerned about?

Aislinn: I think that as a consumer, I definitely am concerned about data privacy, I think less so than a lot of people because I know what the data is that is gathered and I see firsthand when I’m scrolling through Instagram, I would rather get ads that are tailored for me than ads for sports ball or.

Chris: Are you an iPhone user?

Aislinn: I am an iPhone user.

Chris: So it sounds to me like you’ve opted into that allow tracking when you get that prompt from your iPhone.

Aislinn: I think I actually did. And I don’t on all apps, but partially for educational purposes, just to see what that looks like. But I also can really understand that people don’t want to be tracked and they don’t want all of their data going in. And I think there’s definitely concerns about some of that data being used maliciously in the future. And I’ve heard even discussions about health insurance using some of those data points to determine what your premium should be in the future. And I would find that alarming as well, but I don’t mind right now if it means that they’re going to serve me a t-shirt for dancers and dogs versus sports ball.

Chris: Is this a shirt that exists that you own?

Aislinn: Of course, it is.

Chris: Can’t say I’m surprised, but back on topic. Anybody who has listened to previous conversations where we’ve discussed this knows I, similar to you, have opted in and as more of an allow across the board for that exact reason where I would much rather see relevant ads for things that I’m interested in purchasing in, even if some times that’s not stuff I really need, but I’m still going to buy it anyway, as opposed to say pet toys for me who doesn’t own any pets. So I think that’s really interesting and good for you being a marketer who opts in to allow tracking because there are some other people that, like they said, they’re uncomfortable giving people this data, but at the same time, this is the exact data that we’re using to target people with ads ourselves.

Aislinn: Yes. And I will often ask the app to not track when it comes to location data, because I definitely understand the safety concerns there, but with Instagram, I definitely am. And I think what’s great is that then I get the dancers and dogs ads and you get the sports ball ads. It’s perfect.

Chris: Absolutely. So I guess before we wrap things up here, one thing I like to do is ask anybody if they have any words of wisdom. You got anything magical for us today?

Aislinn: I think I have two things. I think one is don’t sleep on awareness advertising, even if you’re not seeing the direct results right away, trust the process.

Chris: Trust the process, I just want to throw that out there has been used heavily in sports recently. So now you know, you’re learning about sports today.

Aislinn: Sports ball. So I think that’s something that I find really important both for people who work in agencies to know, and also people who work with agencies to know. And then the second part, just more about your personal career. I think be straightforward in interviews and say I don’t have the experience in this, but I’m a fast learner and show that you’re are interested in learning, take that initiative. And people might just give you a chance, because I know when you get out of college, it’s hard, it’s hard to get started or to figure out. I majored in marketing, so what part of marketing do I want to get into?

Chris: It’s a very broad, broad spectrum of things that you do.

Aislinn: It is. There’s a lot of options and it’s okay to not know which one you want to do out of college. So I think just be straightforward in your interviews. You don’t have to make up a whole bunch of stuff and you’re going to have much better luck if you’re being honest and straightforward and somebody gives you a chance to learn.

Chris: All right, Aislinn, that was great. Great to learn about you. Thanks for coming in today and we’d love to have you back.

Aislinn: Thank you for having me. I’d be happy to come back again.

Chris: Perfect. And thanks everybody else for listening to the Getting Granular Podcast, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out any PPC tips, tricks or news in the digital marketing world. I’ve been your host, Chris Cesar. Thanks for getting granular with us today.