Getting Organized: The First Step to Successful PPC Accounts
Produced by Hanapin Marketing
This year, what is your top priority as an account manager? If you don’t have any ideas, a great one to work on is staying organized in the landscape of PPC management. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some practical tips and tricks to organize your PPC life and make your day to day task easier so you can excel in your long-term goals.
In this first section, we’ll talk through some really basic, practical suggestions to de-clutter your space and get your materials in order. As I made my list for my own accounts, I took a holistic approach that I’d like to share with you. My strategies fell into four categories – organization of my space, my time, my resources, and my workload.
Organizing Your Space
1. Ensure you always have the tools you need.
Keep an organized space dedicated to an abundance of pens, paper, notebooks, et cetera. This way, you’ll never be on an impromptu call scrambling to find extra pens or paper around the office.
2. Make use of your physical assets.
I’m a visual learner, and one of my favorite tools is a printed copy of the month’s calendar with my due dates and reminders highlighted. If you’re visually motivated, I recommend making a list of the things you most frequently reference, and keep a physical copy taped up at your desk!
3. Categorize and label those assets.
I suggest designating separate spaces for your notes, lists, and reminders according to whatever categories make sense for you. At an agency, for example, this could be physical organization by client/account.
4. De-clutter regularly.
Once a day, or once a week, go through everything you keep on your desk and determine whether you need to file it or toss it. A clean space gives you a fresh start and adds ritual to an often otherwise chaotic schedule.
5. Put physical reminders where you can see them.
Post-its are great for those quick notes that are pertinent in the short-term, especially when you’re on a call or in the middle of a conversation. Stick them somewhere on your desk that you look at frequently. Avoid keeping them for more than a few hours, putting your reminders in your calendar or to-do list when you’re able.
6. Give it a personal touch.
Lastly, your space should not feel impersonal and uninviting! Modify any of the above suggestions to fit your preferences, and bring things to your workspace that make you feel happy and comfortable. Decorate your space with photos, art, or whatever else will make the space uniquely yours.
Organizing Your Time
1. Make the most of the beginning and end of your day.
When I start my morning, I do a “morning check-in.” This involves checking emails, scheduling the tasks that I plan to accomplish that day, and gathering any resources I will need for the day’s meetings or workload. Then I put these things away for the morning and get to work.
2. Utilize your calendar and reminders.
Your calendar is not just a scheduling tool for meetings. I use my calendar primarily as a time-blocking and notification tool. Any task that I’ve determined I’ll do for the day in my morning check-in gets a scheduled slot on my calendar (set to private, so that only I can see it), and any deadlines coming up in the next week (or month) get two reminders scheduled – one for two days before the deadline, and one on the due date itself.
3. Prioritize your tasks.
This is also part of my morning routine, but it can happen as tasks come in as well. I use a very simple, 3-letter prioritization system. “H” for high, “M” for medium, and “L” for low. I determine task priority subjectively, but there are more quantitative methods.
4. Avoid back-to-back meetings.
While sometimes back-to-back meetings are unavoidable, I think it is important to try to take time before and after meetings to prepare and process. After every meeting, I like to have at least 10 minutes to organize my notes, set my calendar reminders for deadlines, and jot down to-dos resulting from the conversation.
5. Don’t break up [client] work.
The most helpful tip a coworker ever gave me was to dedicate a specific day of the week to just one client or project. While I may work on several other tasks on a Tuesday, if I dedicate Tuesday primarily to the week’s work for Client A, I get a sense of completion and a holistic idea of the progress I’m making in the account.
6. Set time limits.
Some tasks cause more head scratching than others. If I know that I regularly get stuck in data analysis-paralysis for a task in a client’s account, then I schedule no more than the amount of time I think the task should take if I am working efficiently. This allows me to get more done in a day, and gives me the ability to get a fresh look at the task later if necessary.
Organizing Your Resources
1. Keep your computer desktop and files organized universally.
I immediately name my files with this naming convention: Date_Client_Account_Task. At the end of the day, I move any of these files residing in my downloads folder or on my desktop to a well-organized client folder.
2. Make a running list of account changes and completed items.
I keep a word document with a master list of any changes I have made to each of my accounts on a given date. This is a great reference tool if there is ever question about when work was completed.
3. Record your notes from all [client] communication.
Similarly, always transfer your notes from calls or meetings to a master document that you can store digitally. I love pen-and-paper notes, but I consistently compile them digitally for future reference and reporting.
4. Organize your inbox.
Hanapin uses gmail, and I continually set my emails to be auto-tagged and categorized. I have a folder for each of my clients, platforms, etc. You can play around and come up with a system that works for you, but an organized inbox is another great reference tool when your other notes aren’t quite as robust as you need.
Organizing Your Workload
1. Make a to-do list, and keep it in one place.
There are many free apps and websites for task management and to-do tracking, and when I first started at Hanapin I tried to use them all. I found that keeping just one digital to-do list, no matter how simple the format, was the best option for me. I use a very basic spreadsheet with columns for the client, task, deadline, and status.
2. Checklists are rewarding!
A to-do list in a format that allows for marking things “complete” or checking a box is actually psychologically satisfying and can increase your productivity. I like to write my checklists down on paper from my to-do list each day – I break to-dos into smaller tasks that I can physically check off with pen and paper as I complete them.
3. Schedule (and keep a list of) recurring tasks.
Keep a PPC task list and schedule the ones that you need to do on a recurring basis. For example, I schedule my SQRs in my calendar as a recurring event for each of my accounts. Here is a PPC task list from PPC Hero that you can use for reference.
4. Accountability is necessary.
At Hanapin, many of us keep a Status Doc that we share with our team and/or our clients to hold us accountable for the work that we say we are going to do and when we are going to do it. Having a solid accountability system in place keeps you in check and ensures all parties are updated on the information they need.
5. Automate wherever possible.
There are so many tools for automating tasks that can save you tons of time throughout your week. Automation is not always the solution, but as these resources get more sophisticated, there are plenty of tasks that don’t need a manual touch.
Implementing solid organizational habits in your everyday work process is crucial for success in this industry, as there are so many moving parts to keep track of. This is a long list that could be broken down even further, but I hope it is a good start for those of us looking for ways to keep track of the myriad pieces to the PPC management puzzle! Next, we will discuss how to bring some organization to your PPC account audits.
So, you got an account to audit. Where do you begin? There are a lot of details to research and discover in an Adwords account alone that you need to dive into to help the client reach their goals. But how do we get to the point where we have our laundry list of suggestions?
Step 1: Ask the current manager of the account the right questions
Current Manager of Account: Can you audit my account for me?
Your Team: Sure, can you give us some insights & details on what you need?
Current Manager of Account: You’re the expert, you should tell me what I need.
Well, she/he could have been nicer about it, but they aren’t wrong. You’re in charge of bringing the ideas to the table, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask questions going in. At the very least the following should be relayed your way before starting the audit:
- What’s your typical monthly budget?
- What is the end goal from your advertising efforts as a whole (lead gen or direct sales)?
- Directionally what needs to improve the most (more leads, more revenue, better CPL, better ROAS)?
- Do you target different location segments differently?
- Do you advertise on multiple networks (Search, Display, Shopping)?
- Do you target Search Partners?
These are just a select few of the questions that can be answered very easily by a person who has been in the account – and it can save you time in terms of next steps off of these questions.
Step 2: Develop the team for the Audit
Once you have all your questions answered up front – develop the team based on that information for the audit. Things to consider when developing the team include:
- Team Members Capacity
- Make sure this is looked at to assure the rightful amount of time is put into the audit in order to bring quality work back to the account.
- Balancing the Roster
- In terms of the team put in charge of the account audit – be sure to have a great balance across the team in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, experiences, amount of experience, etc. Always keeping a balanced roster across different projects in terms of skill sets helps to not only make your team stronger as they learn from each other – but makes your work stronger as different mindsets come together to solve problems on the account.
- Aligning Team Strengths
- As you balance the roster – you’ll also want to be sure you align your team strengths to how the previous account manager answered the initial questions. Make the team somewhat eCommerce experienced heavy if the account is eCommerce. Bring in leaders on expansion and different platforms if the goal is to grow the lead or revenue volume. Assure that your teams strengths align with the needed strengths on an account to make sure for a great audit.
Step 3: Decide What Reports Will Be Needed
Diving into an account with a mission in mind is much easier than diving in without a clear goal. This is why the upfront questions are extremely important. From there – you’re able to decide what reports would be most useful based on the account needs. Below shows a shorter example of what this might look like in terms of alignment:
The details behind what reports we would run come from some of the answers we received in Step 1 as seen here:
The point here is to connect the dots from each step – and assure that the work being put in on the audit is not only quality work, but usable work as we move onto the fourth and final stage.
Step 4: Complete Analysis & Suggestions
The final step in the process is to take the reports pulled, along with other account findings performed based on the account details given – and create a deck that provides guidelines and next steps based on the findings.
Aligning the data from the reports to what is currently in place in the account compared to what the data shows should be in the account is where everything comes together.
The perfect, simple example of how the process works on a small scale:
- You’ve been told the audit is on a Lead Gen account that needs to improve CPLs
- You put together a team with an experienced leader on Lead Gen accounts, a top bid/budget management team member and a fresh mind who has less experience but is extremely sharp at the numbers game
- You run reports that align with the situation & use metrics that also align (ie: Device Analysis, Time of Day Heat Maps, Geo Analysis, KW Level Bidding process analysis, etc. with Conversion Rate and CPL metrics in mind in terms of the performance side)
- Your team then completes the reports and develops an analysis on what bid adjustments to make and what other adjustments can be made based on the reports and other findings given the situation
Seems simple enough, yeah? These 4 steps are crucial for audits to go smoothly and assure: No time wasted on unrelated analyses, quality work from a balanced team and making sure everyone across the board is on the same page. But the tips don’t stop here – we have 6 more that will help you take your organization to the next level.
Take it One Step Further
1. Take Notes, Lots Of Them
We’re reiterating this point because you have a short attention span. It’s true. Your brain can retain a lot of information but as the old saying goes, “better safe than sorry.” From the moment you take on an account or begin working in an account, pay close attention to detail and write everything down. If you never look at your notes again, cool. However, you may save yourself later on from having to ask an embarrassing question because you forgot or didn’t think it was important at the time. Here are a just a few examples of things you may think you can remember, but should take notes:
- Budget: No need for explanation.
- Location: If you are working with an ecommerce client, be sure to take note on where the products are manufactured, shipped from, etc. This information can help you in terms of ad copy and location targeting in the future. You will be a step ahead if you already have this information.
- Legal stuff: To avoid seeing any emails from Google with the words “suspension,” know what you can and cannot say in your ad copy. This information may come up in general conversations but the minor details could be beneficial later on.
- Past strategy: Sometimes conversation regarding what worked and didn’t work in the past will come up. Make sure to take notes. Knowing this information will allow you to go back in time to figure out why something didn’t work and how to better optimize in the future instead of completely considering the strategy a loss.
This list could go on but the key takeaway is to read between the lines and prepare yourself to have answers to questions that may arise in the future.
2. Post-Its Are Colorful For A Reason
We touched on this briefly before, but if there is anything you absolutely cannot forget about, write it on a post-it and place it around your work area. From basic tasks like pulling a search query report to building an entirely new campaign, make it known that the task needs to be completed. You will see the post-it and have it has a physical reminder rather than one you can hit snooze.
One good example is when you have time sensitive ads. You have them labeled and an automated rule in place to pause/enable them. Having a simple post-it to check in on the status of the ads can save you an awkward conversation as to why some of the ads weren’t paused or never enabled. Automation is great but can encounter errors.
3. Make A To-Do List, Or Two
Again. Make lists. Lots and lots of lists. Categorize those lists and mark items as complete. Don’t delete them. Not only will you have a running record of tasks but you will feel a huge sense of completion when you check something off that list.
You can do this by creating your own excel sheet, physically writing a list in a notebook, or one of the many online to-do list options. Below are just a few great options:
4. The Past Needs To Be Remembered
Whether you use Basecamp or another form of client management, keep track of completed items. This allows you to keep a running record of completed items for a month, quarter, etc. It also allows you to easily report on the performance of said item and exactly when it was implemented.
On the flip side, you can use it to your advantage. If a certain strategy didn’t work, would it be worth trying during a different quarter or season? By having a running record of items, you will have all of the information you need to further test in the future.
5. Excel Has No Mercy, Hit SAVE!
I just thought I would throw this quick reminder in here. That save button is your friend and you never want to create the biggest pivot table of your life and then not hit save.
6. Email Alerts Are Your Friend
Sign-up for email alerts. By taking this action you are ensuring that anytime something needs attention, you are in the know. From the campaign, ad group, or keyword tab, select “Automate > Send email when…”
At this point, you can determine what you want to set an alert for. A few example are as follows:
Spend reaches a certain amount, Impression share drops below a certain percentage, ROAS drops below a certain percentage, Status changes and Bounce rate exceeds a certain percentage.
We all want to be the organized PPC Hero and not the unorganized PPC Villain. Part of being a hero is to save the day and not let the day wreck you. Stay organized and be prepared for anything that may come your way. Finally, we will talk about 7 ways you can ensure organization across your PPC Accounts and PPC Team.
7 Steps to Consistent Organization Across Accounts (and Your Team)
Often overlooked in PPC account management are organization and prioritization. When managing multiple accounts you need organizational structure for how each process gets done (bid management, ad testing, reporting, etc.), but also for new initiatives being rolled out (launch of new platforms, betas, etc.).
How do you keep moving forward with excellent account management and client satisfaction when new initiatives are being rolled out? The answer is organization and structure. The tough part is coming up with ways to be more organized. What follows are seven ways to keep accounts and the team organized.
1) Have A Great Training Program That Keeps Alignment But Allows New Ideas And Autonomy
Sending new employees through the same 10-week training program allows for company alignment across the board. This training keeps the values of the team and the structure of the team aligned, but the open communication involved allows for new ideas to be brought to the table. It also allows idea generation to be a part of the team’s thinking as a whole. Consistency is a great idea as long things don’t become stagnant.
2) Create An Agency-Wide Campaign Naming Convention
In terms of organization within the account itself, it is fantastic to keep to a common naming convention. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions here and it is far from plausible to get 80+ accounts using the same naming convention while following practices that align with each clients’ needs. However, keeping similar themes in the naming conventions can be key.
For example: always using “_” for segmentation in accounts. Beginning all accounts with “Search Engine_Network_Category..” such as “Google_Search_Shoes”, and then adding anything else that needs to be added to that particular account such as:
- Match types
- Funnel level
These naming conventions can all be tactics to help with organizational alignment across all accounts with the entire team. It goes back to making it much easier for teammates to read an account as soon as they get into the interface, and allows the whole team to feel organized right away even if new faces are brought in.
3) Have Common Account Practices
Agency-wide account practices are a good way to bring extra value to clients and also a great way to keep the entire team aligned with certain practices. An example of keeping similar practices across accounts is Hanapin’s Creative Testing Cycle. Each account uses the cycle in a different way that works best for their situation (ie: account-wide testing, campaign-level testing, ad group-level testing). All accounts use similar strategies within the cycle to start with a broad test and end with a smaller test to get the best ad copy possible.
Different metrics are reviewed based on account goals, but again, the common theme is the idea of A/B testing. How your team does placement analysis, bidding strategies on certain types of accounts, etc. can all be driven by a top level strategy. These common practices within your agency will help keep organization with these different practices across accounts, keeping your team aligned.
4) Create Internal Account Teams
A helpful idea is to create an internal account team for each account. For example, set up a system where each account has a director, manager and analysts/production help assigned, adding up to 3-5 people per account. Rather than having an Account Manager assigned to an account, and only gaining help when needed, we’ve found it is extremely helpful to create internal account teams.
When an account gets extremely busy you’ve got a team who can shift their focus when needed and align priorities across multiple accounts and set expectations. This also helps with training alignment and abilities for different team members to do the same tasks when workloads begin to grow with new initiatives.
5) Create Internal Status Docs
Status docs and road maps can be great with client communication, but they are even better for internal use. As long as the account manager communicates with the client in some way to assure alignment, you don’t always need a status doc between the two parties (though I do recommend one in many cases). However, internally some sort of status doc is crucial to successful alignment in priorities across the entire team. Assure that the tasks that arise from the strategy in place are evenly organized across team members in the doc, and assure that prioritization alignment can be visualized in the doc.
This document can be as simple as a to-do list across all accounts within a Word document or segmented with a different tab in Excel for each client. The choice here is yours but it should be something easy for each team member to visualize and understand their roles and priorities for the week, such as the document shown below.
6) Have Go-To Team Members Or Specialists For Certain Aspects of Management
In order to assure there are no weak points within the structure of the team, assign people as go-to team members or specialists for certain topics such as:
- Social paid search
- Bidding processes
It can be a great way to assure everyone has a go-to person on topics that they may need help. This member can work across different teams, but be brought in for these more specific situations.
7) Hire an Awesome Leadership Team
For all of step 1-6 to be implemented you’ll need an awesome leadership team who helps put these types of structures in place. At Hanapin, we have a great group of leaders, including Jeff Allen, Carrie Albright, Jeff Baum and Diane Anselmo who work hard to assure a great structure and organization across the PPC accounts and the team. (I also just needed to suck up to the leadership team a little bit here, so I added this 7th way to assure organization).
Pictured: Jeff A (@JeffAllenUT), Carrie (@albright_c), Jeff B (@jeffbaum71) and Diane (@diane_anselmo) (I’ll let the audience decide who’s who, feel free to tweet your thoughts)
We hope all of these tips help you develop a master organizational system that works for you. Pick and choose in these tips to find the method that suits your personality, tendencies, and client work. We hope you find that your day to day tasks are easier, and stress levels lowered. Enjoy that extra hour in your day and full night of sleep.