Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and refreshed content.
Original Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Have you ever thought about what goes into PPC management?
Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming, wishing you could spend a day walking in a PPC manager’s shoes?
It’s a pretty common fantasy these days. (I think.)
Well, good news! I’ve put together a first-person account of not just one day in PPC management, but five days.
Before We Get Started…
Either you’re looking into the PPC management game for yourself, or you’re already doing it and you’re curious to see what we do differently.
Well, today, I’m going to walk you through the joys and challenges of PPC management.
To keep things relevant (no one cares how many times I used the restroom), I’m going to cover some of my regular tasks so we can focus on the major action items of these five days. Trust me, a lot can happen in just one workweek.
Day 1 — Monday
Monday mornings are always packed, as this is when I send out my weekly update for the performance of the seven days prior.
These reports are crucial because they are the primary indicator of the value and continuous effort that I’m providing as their account manager.
It’s kind of like these reports are a weekly sales pitch on why your PPC management services are worth your clients’ continued business. If you’re tracking metrics properly and doing good work, the results should speak for themselves.
What Goes In Weekly PPC Reports?
What do I put in my reports? It differs from client to client according to their needs.
eCommerce businesses, for example, look at different metrics than companies that rely on lead generation. Some things, however, stay consistent throughout.
I typically break up my reporting into four steps:
1. What Was Done to Improve the Account
2. Wins and Losses
Hopefully, you have more of the first than the second, but you can quickly outline both of these aspects through the Reports tab.
One of the most common uses of the Reports tab is to show the rising competition in the account. For those of you who do not know how to utilize this tool, I’ll show you now.
I used a line graph to demonstrate the rising CPC in this example.
3. Explain The Losses (With Improvement Ideas)
I explain the causes behind the losses and what we’ve learned so we can improve moving forward.
One of the most important elements of the reports is to touch on the negatives. This provides an opportunity to you can improve as clients will eventually see the poor performance. It’s always best, if you’re bearing bad news, to show that you’re also proactively finding a solution.
4. What I’ll Be Doing in the Upcoming Week to Improve the Account
Some of these will be repeating from what you did last week, but there should always be some unique improvements that you can do. For experienced PPC Managers, there’s a plethora of optimizations you can make (Audience building in Analytics, RLSA, etc.)
Day 1 — Afternoon
After grabbing a sweet Chick-Fil-A Cobb salad — trying to be healthy since I’m 6’7″, so I need to keep my heart healthy if I want to live past 50 — I dive into my main task for that afternoon. I’m building out new Facebook campaigns for a new client I just received.
When diving into their account, there were a couple of key things right out of the gate that I could improve with our new campaigns.
First, they were an eCommerce business that was only going after mobile traffic. Unless you have an absolutely killer mobile checkout process, desktop is usually the highest converting device medium for online purchases. To correct this, I duplicated each mobile campaign and changed the setting from “Mobile Only” to “Desktop Only”.
Side Note: As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to split your campaigns up by device and platform. This will provide the greatest grasp on how to improve performance.
Second, they were using (2%) lookalike audiences which were driving up CPA. When deciding where to spend budget first on Facebook, the chart should look like this in ascending order.
Prioritizing Facebook Budget in PPC Management
Lookalike (2%) w/ Lookalike (1%) excluded
Lookalike (3%) With Lookalike (1&2%) excluded
Naturally, I went in and created ad sets that followed the image above.
The results? We achieved a 400% increase in volume.
Lastly, I noticed that we had some landing page optimization that needed to be done.
In this case, it was typical CRO updates. Clearly defining the CTA above the fold; laying out the page to more clearly explain the product and its benefits; and some mobile optimization to wrap things up.
Being optimized for mobile is especially important when you’re pushing an eCommerce product. Social platforms like Facebook can drive a ton of high quality mobile traffic to your page, but it’s up to you to convert the user once they’re there.
Thus completed my Monday workday. I proceeded to go home, work out, eat, and binge-watched my new favorite show — Frontier (a must watch!).
Day 2 — Tuesday
Tuesday was quite a busy day for me. I started with a 9:30 a.m. client meeting to discuss another way that they could generate leads.
Before this meeting, we were primarily using Google Ads to go after bottom-of-the-funnel traffic looking for this client’s service.
Their issue was that visitors filling out the landing page contact form were not high-quality leads, which was causing lead opportunities to decline. Their product was capable of serving enterprise-level companies, as they had worked with several in the past.
With all of this in mind, I called a meeting to discuss ABM (Account-Based Marketing).
For those of you who are not familiar with ABM, it’s a relatively new type of strategy in which you use your advertising dollars and other marketing efforts to focus on specific companies for whom you would like to sell.
Instead of a one-to-all marketing strategy, you have a one-to-one strategy. Some of the benefits of ABM include: clear ROI, reduced resource waste, delivering personal and highly targeted messages, sales alignment, and much more.
A quick note about ABM if you’re intrigued: it typically works best for companies who are targeting enterprise (1,000+ employees) level companies.
If you want to know more about ABM, and some of the strategies and tools that I use to make this effective, please comment at the end of this post and I’ll write another blog dedicated to ABM. It would be too much for this post and not our focus for today.
After 90 minutes with my client, I dove straight into a QBR (quarterly business review) with another company to review our performance over the past three months.
Quarterly Business Review
Presenting to each client is extremely helpful in PPC management. It shows the client that you have one eye on the past, knowing what happened (wins, losses, overall performance) and one eye looking toward the future.
This particular client had tons of customer data in their HubSpot account, as they had been killing it on Google Ads for their particular service. My suggestion for expanding was focused on upping our Facebook budget, as our Google Ads bottom of the funnel quality traffic had plateaued.
Quick side note: there’s always going to be a limit on the bottom of the funnel traffic that you can obtain from people actually looking for your product or service. This doesn’t mean that it’s the end of what you can do with Google Ads, as you can go after more general top of funnel keywords and boost a cold offer like an eBook or percentage off campaign for eCommerce.
But because this client had a ton of user data, I believed Facebook was the clear option due to Facebook’s lookalike audiences capability. Also, since they were a software company, expanding to Capterra, was a no brainer.
Day 2 — Afternoon
Around 2 p.m. I received an email from a client to let me know that their CPA was too high for them to continue with Google Ads profitably. So, what are the first steps to take when you need to lower your CPA?
Let’s walk through my process for reviewing CPA in Google Ads:
Six Steps For Reviewing CPA in Google Ads
Step 1: Identify what the goal CPA for the account is. This will be your north star when monitoring CPA and ultimately success for your client.
Step 2: Go into your AdWords account and click on the “Keywords” tab.
Step 3: Filter only the keywords that are above the CPA threshold.
Step 4: With newly found high CPA keywords, to lower CPA quickly, you can mass lower bids.
Step 5: After lowering bids to get the immediate upper hand on high CPA keywords, you must remember that almost all keywords (if you have the right negatives) can be high performing.
So I went back to my high CPA keywords, selected all of them, and viewed my search terms like so:
Pro Tip: You can speed up the negative keyword mining process for larger accounts by using a script called N-Gram. Learn more about N-Gram scripts here.
Day 3 — Wednesday
After I finished responding to my morning emails, I jumped on a post-kickoff call with a new client. I had just started working with them the week prior and wanted to go over the progression of our new campaigns vs their legacy campaigns.
So, what did I want to go over? Obviously, the key metrics, comparing the difference in clicks, conversions, cost per conversion, and total cost.
On a follow-up call like this, it’s always helpful for the client to know what we did to improve the account, as they don’t want to feel ignorant. How did our PPC management generate a 26% conversion rate when theirs only converted 15%? What did they do wrong, or right?
The main reason for our success, of course, often comes back to one infamous acronym: SKAGs.
A Quick Primer on SKAGs
Structuring Google Ads campaigns with Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) gives account managers the ultimate visibility into keyword performance and bid management.
You can click the link above for more information, but in its basic form, a single keyword ad group is an ad group with the same keyword in exact, phrase, and broad modified match types. So, if your ad group is “Best PPC Agencies,” your keywords would be: [best ppc agencies], “best ppc agencies”, and +best +ppc +agencies.
Taking the time to screen-share your account and walk your client through your work and the results can also help you build a sense of trust and security. (Even though it might feel like a waste of time sometimes.)
I’ve learned that keeping in constant contact with your client does wonders for their happiness and your personal retention rate.
Day 3 — Afternoon
Wednesday afternoon was focused on an account that I love to work on. Why? No limit to their budget, and unlimited testing (as long as we stay within a certain CPA).
I’m going to take a minute to explain a newer strategy that I’ve found quite effective for expanding conversion volume within a designated CPA.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Target and Bid RLSA. Basically, Target and Bid RLSA is a type of search remarketing that allows you the ability to bid on keywords for people who are searching, but have already been to your landing page previously.
You can find this option under the Audiences tab like so:
What’s so cool about this option? Well, since they have already been to your page, you know:
- That they know who you are
- That they know, to some degree, what you offer
- How interested that visitor was based on certain audience builds (e.g. session duration > 30 sec)
So what does this mean for my Target and Bid campaign? It means I’m more free to bid on broad, less relevant keywords that I typically would not advertise for. Because of the three reasons above, I can at least test the waters a bit.
Here’s an example.
I had a client that was all about algorithmic investing, which is a niche within the day trade investing market.
Most of my keywords were centered around the specific niche combined with trading like: “algorithmic trading” or “day trading.” But in my Target and Bid campaign, since I know they have been to my page, I’m willing to go after keywords like “trading”, “invest”, and “algorithm”.
In a typical campaign, these words would bring in 95% junk by themselves. But in this case, they may bring back interested customers.
Day 4 — Thursday
On Thursday morning, I started with a client call to review lead quality.
Now that I’ve worked in PPC management for a while, I’ve learned that Google Ads conversions mean nothing to clients if they’re not seeing a relative increase in sales. In other words, your metrics are all for show until you connect them with your clients’ data to corroborate lead quality.
If you’re not tracking keyword performance for your clients, my suggestion would be to immediately stop what you’re doing and add UTM parameters to your account. How do you do this?
Adding UTM Parameters For Keyword Performance Tracking
The simplest way is to add UTMs to your URL options on the relevant page in Google Ads. See below:
Enter your UTMs and click “Yes” for Auto-tagging to add these parameters to every ad.
The issue with this method is that the UTMs are static, so you cannot track on the keyword level. For that reason, we use hidden fields on our landing pages and use GA tracking parameters to dynamically insert important fields from our AdWords campaign into our Unbounce pages.
Here are the parameters we use:
After implementing these parameters, you can have logical conversations with your client about what keywords are seeing the best performance on your end.
And as you might have guessed by now, during my morning client call, we found that the converting keywords did not match up with sales dollars on their end.
What we found was that even though 50% of the campaign was converting lower with a much higher CPA, they were leading to more opportunities and, eventually, higher sales dollars. The other 50% of high converting keywords were junk leads and led to zero sales.
Without this information, we would have assumed that all of the campaigns were doing well. After all, they were making money! We definitely wouldn’t have known to cut off the underperforming 50% and spend it on better keywords.
So, please, track your keyword and lead quality with your client to make sure you’re making the best use of your advertising spend.
Day Four — Afternoon
Thursday afternoon was dedicated to onboarding a new client. As a growing company in the tech industry, their largest problem was return on ad spend (ROAS). They had even bigger boys competing with them on almost every aspect of their campaign, which was making it hard to generate the profit they needed.
This led to an interesting thought. Even if we fully optimized their Google Ads campaign, their costs per click (CPC) were so high that even a 50% conversion rate would make it hard for them to hit their goals. The advertising strategy, therefore, had to adapt or change somehow to succeed.
I reviewed their target market and noticed that they were 90% business-to-consumer. They had the ability, however, to market to the B2B space, which was much more lucrative per deal.
Through reviewing together who we could potentially go after using social platforms (SMB all the way to enterprise-level businesses), we mapped out a new plan of action to maximize revenue per spend, the ultimate goal of any advertising campaign (duh).
Day 5 — Friday
Every Friday morning, we have a full account manager PPC team meeting led by our Director of PPC.
In these meetings, we go over some of the changes, improvements, and overall happenings of our team. It’s a good time for all of us to sync up, share some of the things that are going on in our account, and if needed, ask for advice.
Just as a fun example, in our last meeting, I had an account that was on ? (and not in a good way). I feel like I had looked at the account so many times and could not visualize a new pivot to improve the account. That’s when bringing it up and getting a new perspective was extremely helpful.
The team pointed out some clear wins. For example, Target and Bid RLSA to go after more general keywords, full broad match type campaigns of long-tail keywords with low bids, and a few others.
After this meeting, I had actionable next steps to take to save the account and client. And I had another example of teamwork as an invaluable asset in the life of a PPC manager.
From this meeting, I jumped into reviewing my tasks for the week. I wanted to make sure 1) I finished everything I needed to get done that week, and 2) if I missed anything, to get it done before the weekend.
Too many times, I’ve promised to get things done by a certain date for clients and then, come Monday morning, a disgruntled client emails me because I did not complete what I said I would. So — life lesson for Spencer — if you promise to do something, DO IT!
Day Five — Afternoon
The conversation that I had Friday afternoon is one of the most difficult conversations that you can have in PPC management. This should be talked about early, starting in the sales process and then reinforced many, many times by the account manager.
I’m talking about expectations.
Keeping Account Expectations Aligned With Goals
When talking with the client during our weekly meeting, one of the questions I like to ask is their thoughts on the success of our campaigns and their overall happiness.
With this particular client, I had not done the best job of reviewing our goals and how we were performing in relation to them. As it turned out, they were not happy because they had expected faster, better results. My problem was, when I looked at their goals, we were totally on track.
It was a valuable lesson to learn. Part of my job (arguably the most important part) is to keep the client up-to-date on what we agreed to in terms of performance and timeline.
Without this baseline, even if you do amazing work, you can find yourself on the receiving end of a termination of service email. (The Worst. Email. Possible.)
Wrap Up on Five Days in PPC Management
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking in on the fun life world of PPC management.
Some days, everything seems to be working the way it should, and life is glorious. Other days, you’re basically a digital firefighter.
How do you fill your weeks with glorious days and stay fire-free? Continually refine your skills. Be a student of the industry. Technology is always changing, and PPC management is always developing. If you can adapt, you’ll succeed.
I’d love to hear what your day-to-day struggles are with PPC/CRO, and how you’ve overcome those hurdles.
Let’s chat in the comments below!