Keep it Simple, Stupid Part 2: Simplifying PPC Management for Multiple Accounts

April 3, 2015

Recently Randi talked about the importance of keeping your landing pages clean and simple. She opened with a quote from her geometry teacher.

I guess everyone had a high school teacher whose favorite motto was KISS, because one day in sophomore biology Mr. Burton stopped the class after not getting the answer he wanted from five consecutive students and decided to lecture us on keeping it simple. Now, I don’t really remember what we spoke about that day—or much biology for that matter—but after he repeatedly drilled “Keep it simple (stupid)” into our heads, it has remained a staple in all aspects of everything I do—especially paid search.

Simplifying Day-to-Day PPC Task Management

The first thing I do every day is prioritize my task list. Whether you’re managing multiple accounts or a single one, start at the top. Every single day you should review the stats from yesterday and log those into a daily tracking sheet. This may feel like work for work’s sake but it really allows you to see how impressions, clicks, click-through rate, costs, conversions, etc. fluctuate day-to-day. If you are managing multiple accounts, the account with the largest change should get added to the top of your task list for review. If you’re managing a single account, track changes at the campaign level. From here forward, I will focus on multiple account management.

Take this example:

Account One (click to enlarge):

Account Two (click to enlarge):

After logging the metrics for the two accounts we have two scenarios to investigate—one is positive, the other not so much. Account 1 had an increase of about 300 clicks day-over-day, while Account 2 realized a drop from 7 conversions to 1. Account 2 should be investigated first rather than account 1. Although the clicks in Account 1 spiked by nearly 300, the cost-per-conversion actually came down about $5—this is a win! Account 2’s cost-per-conversions skyrocketed from $261.97 to $1,360.46, and unless you don’t care about money, you should start to dig. This morning, Account  2 is going to get the majority of my attention, while Account 1’s owner might get a quick email about the success.

In either case, take a breath and relax. One day’s worth of data may not tell the whole story but at least you’re on top of it before it gets out of control!

Simplifying Paid Search Account Structure

With AdWords and Bing Ads accounts we need to make sure that we are building according to their best practices for a few reasons:

  1. Because they wrote the algorithms and that’s what they want.
  2. If the account is overly complicated there is a strong possibility for mistakes. In every account that I manage or consult with I absolutely need it to be optimized for PPC best practices and also be both manageable and scalable.

A manageable structure will allow you to quickly find where the drop in conversions came from or to quickly pinpoint where the wasted spend is occurring. First identify which campaign caused the dip, then the ad group, then the keyword/search queries. Don’t make decisions on a single day’s worth of data but compare that day to other “normal” days before making a change.

Now, this brings up a slight tangent. I recommend segmenting campaigns by product type or asset (offers like whitepapers, free trials, newsletter sign-ups, etc.). Take the WordStream PPC account for example. We have a variety of campaigns and a number of different advertising assets that each have different parameters for success. At WordStream we are willing to pay more for someone who converts to a free trial of WordStream Advisor than someone who converts by grading their AdWords account or even someone who downloads our Quality Score Toolkit.

Take a minute and think about your own account(s). Someone who is further down the funnel—closer to being a paying customer—should be worth more to you. If we know certain offers attract different funnel levels of lead types then we should be allocating different budgets and making different decisions on the metrics.

The other benefit of a simple, manageable account structure is that is easily allows you to add a new product or offer you want to advertise.

Here’s another example: Let’s say you sell clothing. You should have a campaign for Men’s Shirts, Men’s Pants, Women’s Shirts, Women’s Dresses, and Women’s Pants. With a manageable structure you can easily add a new product line like men’s or women’s shoes. If you had one campaign, with one budget, and one set of settings, you’d never be able to successfully introduce a new product line—it would get lost among the other ad groups and keywords. By adding this new product line as its own campaign you have the opportunity to have unique settings, a specific daily budget, and also give the new keyword additions the chance to perform. Just keep an eye on it!

Simplifying PPC Reporting (and Bragging)

One of the greatest challenges to those who manage multiple accounts is showing (and convincing) your client of your successes. If you have a convoluted account structure that only makes sense to you, it is going to take a lot of relationship management to convince them you’re doing the right things in the account.

Your client (or your boss) should get something tangible on paper on a weekly basis. Schedule a 30-minute meeting to hash out which metrics the person you report to wants to see and then give them what they asked for in a way they can understand. And keep it simple!

Look at this example: This dashboard in this report shows account-level statistics so the client (or your boss) can get a top-level snapshot of what is happening on a weekly basis.

Include a “Top Campaigns” tab and highlight some of the wins and losses on a weekly basis.

By keeping your account structure clean and simplified not only does it allow you understand what is going on but it allows you to remain fully transparent (A WordStream Core Value!) and really helps build trust between you and the person you report to.

Remember at the beginning of this post when I wrote about tracking the account daily? Well, that also allows you to understand what’s going on between those times you pull your reports. Tracking daily allows you to tackle any red flags as they come up.