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Guide for Experienced PPCers Changing Companies
Produced by Hanapin Marketing
So you’ve started a new job in PPC – how exciting…and nerve-wracking. Whether you’re transitioning from a previous agency or brand, we understand there are several challenges you’ll need to overcome and we are here to help!
In this guide, we’ve gathered some of our favorite tips for organizing your accounts and team, maintaining effective communication with your C-suite, and tips to do your part in training up the next generation of PPCers on your team. Here’s to the great achievements you will make in your new role!
Be the Most Successful Account Manager You Can Be
A successful PPC manager usually results in a happy and informed leadership. But how do they do it, and how can you follow their example?
Successful PPC account managers know the ins and outs of their accounts.
Not only should you be able to spout off performance KPI’s compared to goals, you should know where the performance is coming from and where it isn’t. Have a mental tab of what has been tested, what has worked and what hasn’t worked. You can easily give an ‘elevator pitch’ about what is happening with the company’s accounts at a moment’s notice.
They understand their brand.
Like, really understand their brand. Not only what services or products the brand provides, but where it makes the most money, how much the most valuable leads are worth, as well as the ins and outs of the business.
They make the brand’s problems their own problems.
Not only do they say “our account” when referring to performance in the account, they take on the responsibility of success or failure. You should be this personally connected to the performance of an account, almost to a fault.
Successful PPC account managers are very responsive, even if just to say, “I’ll get back to you…”
Even if you don’t have an answer quite yet, respond back with “thanks for the message, I will get back to you when…” This puts your leadership at ease and lets them know you are on it. Waiting to hear back from anyone can be a little trying, but knowing the message was received and the other person is “on it” goes a long way.
They think strategically and often talk about the big picture.
It’s not always about the tactical stuff. Tactical activities have to happen, but when an account manager can take a step back and talk about an overall strategy and how it will help meet the business’s goals, it is a win-win for everyone. Being able to remind yourself of why you are doing the tactical items is an effective way to keep them on track and a great way of letting executive leadership and your boss know you understand things from a big picture perspective.
Successful PPC account managers structure to testing.
There usually isn’t an ambiguity when good account managers are testing something. You know the objective, the goal, when the test will start, how often you will be checking on it and when to pull the plug. You know all of this BEFORE tests are launched, and always convey this to your supervisor, which eliminates any misunderstandings.
If they make a mistake, they know how to handle it.
Everyone makes mistakes! We are human and mistakes are just a part of life. The best account managers find those mistakes quickly, figure out why they happened, put in place a plan to eliminate the mistake from happening again and then come clean to their boss. No one ever likes to hear about mistakes, right? If you have all the details previously mentioned and what safeguards were put in place so it doesn’t happen again all wrapped in a bow, the mistake seems to become an easier pill to swallow.
They ask other account managers for help or their experience.
Asking for help doesn’t make you inept. It shows that you are open to any and all ideas. Others’ experiences may be beneficial to you and you know it. You should be usually the first to go to someone else after they have exhausted their experience looking for help.
Successful PPC account managers are always open to feedback and oftentimes ask for it.
This last point is an interesting one. Being open for feedback and requesting it is an indicator that you are self-aware. Self-awareness is an underappreciated trait in business. People who are self-aware tend to be more open and coachable. Knowing your strengths and which weaknesses to work on help you become even more successful than you already are.
While there are more than 10 traits of good PPC account managers, these are the traits we see the most and find most important. Take a minute and think about which ones you possess or even which ones you would like to be better at. Remember, being self-aware is one of the traits!
Team Leaders: Start off on the Right Foot with an Organized PPC Life
Often overlooked in PPC account management are organization and prioritization. If you’ll be managing multiple accounts or brands in your new role, you need organizational structure for how each process is performed (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 business satisfaction when new initiatives are being rolled out and you are still figuring out your role in this new company? The answer is organization and structure. The tough part is coming up with ways to be more organized. Keep you and your team organized and successful with these four tips.
Create A Team-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 your brand’s 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 in the future.
Have Common Account Practices
Team-wide account practices are a good way to bring extra value to your brand 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.
Create Internal Status Docs
Status docs and road maps can be great for overall marketing team communication, but they are even better for your PPC team. 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 area of focus. 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.
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.
How to Be More Strategic with your Executive Leadership
To expand even further on the idea of team communication, being strategic and thorough with your supervisors should be your first priority. Key stakeholders expect their account managers and PPC specialists to be strategic business partners, who proactively push their business forward through the use of paid search. What they don’t want is a reactive partner who’s just ‘awaiting orders’ before proceeding ahead with tasks and projects.
A powerful tactic that can be used to implement the consultative approach is called ‘business storytelling’. Business storytelling allows you to demonstrate the overall understanding of your brand’s business and provides an opportunity to convey that understanding in a compelling way that leads to further action.
Using the business storytelling approach also provides the benefit of forcing you to think more rigorously about your brand’s PPC program and where it needs to be. Understanding your brand’s overall situation will allow you the ability to create strategies that bring their PPC to a totally new level and is in alignment with their overall plans.
In this section, we’ll discuss what business storytelling is, how to communicate a compelling, action driven business story to your boss, and tools that can be used to successfully deliver that story.
What Is Business Storytelling?
What’s a more compelling story to tell our superiors?
“Last month your account had 1000 clicks and 10 conversions”
“Last month we learned that only 30% of conversions came from desktop and 70% came through mobile. This conversion split signals a distinct market shift towards mobile and we’ll need to adjust our strategy accordingly to capitalize on this changing dynamic”.
Storytelling is powerful because people relate to them emotionally. We constantly use stories to highlight examples or to drive home key points. When someone tells a story, you can tell through body language or voice inflection if people are engaged in the conversation and connecting with the information being presented to them.
Storytelling also allows us to take a dry topic like paid search and bring it to life. No one wants to sit in meetings or business reviews where all you do is listen to someone drone on about performance metrics without any context as to what those metrics mean and how they relate to the big picture. Paid search can be a very dry topic at times because it’s so analytical, therefore wrapping our work within the context of a bigger business story will help get and keep your executive leadership team engaged.
Your brand’s leadership members are always striving to understand the underlying drivers behind their paid search performance and the only way to do that is to provide context. Telling the underlying story is a tool in your arsenal you can use to assist the business leaders with making big strategic decisions and furthers your standing as a trusted strategic advisor.
Building A Compelling Business Story
How do you build compelling business stories that keeps leadership engaged while at the same time providing actionable information? You can do this by:
- Making sure you have a thorough understanding of your audience. For instance, having a meeting with C-Level executives about paid search is going to be a vastly different conversation than meeting with a marketing coordinator. Having a deep understanding of your audience will determine the kind of information to present and how it’s going to be presented.
- Provide the information that matters most. For example, C-level executives will want high-level insights that inform overall business strategy vs. the marketing coordinator will want more tactical level insights. Build your story accordingly.
- Frame stories so they connect with your leadership team emotionally. Understanding your brand’s business, and their pain points, and how paid search can be used to solve those problems will get your C-suite invested in you more thoroughly.
- Get to the most important point in your story first. Keep in mind that attention spans are short and too much ‘fluff’ will make your boss tune out before you get to the ‘A-Ha’ moment.
Communicating Your Business Story
Now that you’ve built your story, you need to communicate it. Some tips for effectively delivering your story are listed below.
- Begin your story with the biggest, most important take away first. Getting your C-suite’s attention right off the bat will get them involved in the conversation and make them an active participant instead of a passive listener. The active participant is more likely to buy into your plan vs. the passive listener who’s minimally invested in your success.
- Explain how and why the key takeaway occurred. Having command of what the key takeaways are sets up the next phase of the conversation, which are important learnings and the actionable next steps.
- Identifying important learnings in relation to key takeaways proves you’ve learned something important about the account and you’re not just ‘going through the motions’. For instance, competitive analysis can prove a key takeaway such as an impression share drop was the result of stiffer competition. This information sets up the next phase of your story, which are next steps.
- Finally, a business story is useless without follow-up action. Business is all about moving forward. Telling the story is only half the battle. Business stories are really just a set up for what you want to do next, so have solid action items ready to discuss.
Tools for Creating a Compelling Business Story
Now that we know what a business story is and how to create and communicate it in a compelling way, we need some tools to help deliver our story. Fortunately, these tools are the same ones you use almost every day in your account.
The first tool to have in place is a strategy template. Templates can be built in PowerPoint, a Google Doc slide deck, or any other platform where you can clearly present information. Regardless of the platform, the key thing is that the template forces you to think through the overall business situation, what PPC strategies and tactics are in play, whether or not those strategies and tactics are working, and what’s on deck next to improve performance.
Another tool to make use of is having frequent business download meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to have an up-to-date understanding of the current business situation and what the priorities are. Business strategies constantly evolve and past strategies may no longer be applicable. Getting a solid download on new products, services, or how the business is going to move forward is key to aligning your paid search program accordingly.
Competitor analysis is another effective tool. Whether it’s Google’s auction insights or a tool like Spy Fu or Keyword Spy, understanding what the competition is doing can help support your story and determine next steps. In many instances, the business story is a direct reflection of how your brand views and reacts to its competition.
And… the Next Step: Training the Next Generation
Although you’re new at your role, you could find yourself training other newbies sooner than you think. And the next generation needs to be approached in a different way. Why?
Well, for one, humans now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.
In 2015, there was a study conducted by Microsoft on the human attention span. The study showed that the average attention span of 12 seconds had slowly been declining down to 8 seconds since 2000. In comparison, scientists have studied goldfish in the past to have 9-second attention spans.
Addressing Shorter Attention Spans
So lazy this new generation of people, yeah? Not even willing or able to learn new things because of their short attention spans. Not so fast there. With the ability to have a higher attention span for a longer period of time declining, the ability to multitask is on the incline. The ability to learn by doing is also on the incline. People can actually learn things faster than ever before, they just have to be taught in the right way.
*Chart Comes From Society of Human Resource Management
The graph above is from another recent study that compared types of learning and how they correlated with the retention rates. End story – the higher degree of participation, the higher the retention rate. Goodbye to lectures and readings, and hello to discussion groups and practice.
Discussion groups and practice sound great and all for retention purposes, but if the average human’s attention span is becoming shorter and shorter how can we get people to care enough to engage?
To answer that question, let’s ask another: What is the one thing that seems to grasp a person’s attention for 24+ hours?
Motivating The New Generation Of Digital Marketers
How are games (specifically video games) able to forgo the evolution of the human brain that all the scientific data is showing us technology is causing? People can no longer do the same thing for 8+ hours, right? The human mind is no longer capable of working an 8+ hour day because of the much shorter attention spans, correct? So, why is that not also true for games?
Games bring motivational elements to the table that most environments do not bring, including:
- Visible, quick advancement in levels
- The ability to see current status and tasks completion needed to move up in status
- The autonomy to move at your own pace
- Direct rewards for solving problems
Leveling up, moving up a leaderboard, seeing a level completion percentage, and being able to do this all at your own pace gives the brain satisfaction that other environments do not bring.
From there what does common sense tell us to do? Use these methods to assure employee motivation through the training process. Create checkpoints, to-do lists, and levels in your training program that employees can pace themselves. Creating charts that show what percentage of each level is complete as employees go through their training is extremely important to create motivation. The chart below is an example:
Bringing Structure To The Training
Autonomy vs. structure seems to be a back-and-forth construct that quite a few companies have when developing a training process. But why not both? The three words to focus on that help to create both in the training process are guidance, motivation, and awareness.
Guidance can be timeline-based, expectations based, or project-specific based. Within your training process you need to draw lines as to what is expected of your trainees. Are there time tables or is the training process self-paced? How will the process of checking things off their list be dealt with? How will they go about doing and learning about the projects they have on their to-do lists?
Using a reverse classroom structure can sometimes help with giving employees guidance and training while allowing them to work with autonomy. In this structure the training would be done via videos and the classroom setting would be more for discussion groups and direct help with projects.
Pride. This has been the word that has stuck in my head in terms of what is the number one reason an employee is motivated. Through studies done by Erik Gonzalez-Mule, it was learned that while farmers are the happiest group of workers, manufacturers are on the lower end of the scale. Seems to be two jobs that are fairly similar in that they require a lot of physical labor. But the big difference was pride. Finding drivers of motivation to create pride in your trainees will allow for the training process to be better for everyone involved. Some sort of motivation factor should be included in your training structure.
This is the biggest part of having a structure in place where supervisors or senior employees are confident in a trainees work and eventually a trainees self-awareness of their own work. This is typically the hardest balance to hit when dealing with new employees, autonomy vs. awareness. A time-based or expectations-based structure helps to avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The Dunning-Kruger effect of cognitive bias is where someone who does not understand a topic cannot accurately evaluate their abilities on the topic, and therefore they would move forward in a process quicker than someone who may actually have the knowledge to move forward. This is what a structure helps to avoid and why structured autonomy helps to bring full awareness of a trainee’s learning process to the supervisors and to the trainee themselves.
It was probably tough to read through the entire article since your attention span is more than likely shorter than a goldfish’s.
But please, take the following as the key takeaways on training the new generation of digital marketers:
- Use practice and discussion as much as possible over lectures
- Motivate employees with a game-like progress model throughout the training
- Motivate employees by continuing to create a sense of pride
- Create a program with structured autonomy to help create awareness of a trainee’s progress
These tactics should help to create a work atmosphere that new trainees appreciate. But be careful making work like a game as your employees might just get addicted to PPC.
With that, we wish you well on this journey with these tips to make you the best PPC manager you can be. Keep an eye out for more whitepapers and other pieces in our PPC library to help you with more specific issues and reach out to us if you need any assistance.