• http://www.facebook.com/barbara.young.524381 Barbara Young

    Great post Matt – thanks for sharing your (reporting) pain! We agree that finding the perfect system that doesn’t further bog down the process can be a challenge.

    That said, we find Google Analytics annotations to be very helpful. They are quick and easy to set up, can capture the “why” of a change, and serve as a historic reference point for future changes in traffic, goals, and ecommerce metrics.

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Good idea, Barb. We’ve added notes in Analytics, Adwords Editor (comments), which are good contextually, but still don’t do what I’d like. I’d love to be able to place all the unstructured data from screen shots, emails, testing reports, etc into the history, and even draw maps and schema to show how things have evolved and changed over time. It sounds like a lot of work, but really, it is just organizing all the inputs that went into any decision making along way as changes were considered and made. A project management system could work, too. We just haven’t created / found the best way to collect and protect this as the valuable corporate asset it should be.

  • http://twitter.com/SteveOneClick Stephen Hall

    I love this article! Reducing the millions of data points at our disposal to an elegant and actionable recommendation is one of the most challenging and rewarding things about paid search. With that said, it’s hard as hell to accomplish!

    One thing that helped me immensely when I first started working in paid search was keeping a running Google spreadsheet with different tabs for each of my accounts. Any time I made ANY change I wrote it down with the date, the campaign/ad group, the reason I made the change, and an empty space to write the results of the change. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referenced that spreadsheet over the past year to look for performance clues…it’s been a lifesaver.

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Thank you for your note. Great to hear the self-discipline you’ve got to document your change management. Do you do it for all changes, including bids? Would love to see how you’ve done this and talk with you about it. Drop me a line if you’d like.

  • Bill Scully

    Hi Matt. I’ve used different techniques but I’m not consistant in my documentation and I’d hate to think I would ever have to share it. But you got me thinking about this problem. I don’t have experience with it, but what about using a tool like EverNote Premum? It allows access to multiple users, you can store screen shots, link to urls and docs, and it will sync with multiple devices.

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Hi Bill – thank you for contributing. Evernote is worth exploring – I haven’t used it yet, either, but it certainly does look collaboration-worthy. I am downloading it to give it a try out. Thanks for the idea!

  • Jeroen Maljers

    Hi Matt. Thanks for the article. This is very recognizable. We struggled with client reporting for a long time. We used screenshots, Excell etc. At some point we started making a tool for ourselves that we used internally getting data from the adwords and analytics API. We also included projects, task management and time sheets and Google docs integration some time ago. We did this mainly because project management tools on the market focussed on real projects, like building a house or organizing a party. Once the house is built you archive the project. But our job is more a recurring monthly project with monthly reporting. Last year we quietly gave access to the tool to other agencies. Feel free to check it out at http://www.swydo.com and give us feedback how to further improve the tool. That would be highly appreciated.

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Thank you, Jeroen. Thank you for suggesting Swydo – I took a quick glance at it – and even started a demo project with it (setup is so easy!). Looks like you are addressesing many of the unique needs of online marketers.

    For reporting, I have been using Acquisio for years and really like it for data visualization. (so much so, that I subsequently joined their advisory committee).

    I am looking forward to working with you tool and will definitely give you feedback as I go.

  • http://twitter.com/harveybennett harvey bennett

    This is definitely one of the greatest challenges in digital media (not just search). Having one place, that even a stranger could reference to understand why a change or set of changes took place. I’m going to look into swydo but some of the methods I’ve used in the past include Google calendar (allows you to search for entries which can be useful when trying to understand the last restructure when you inherit a new account). Worked best with a large, global team based in different markets. And more recently mindjet. We’ve been taking advantage of the collaborative elements of mindjet (which is also searchable) to document the why’s for 5 months. It really lends itself to it very well and you can assign priority, task, date, color codes etc. Worth exploring

  • http://twitter.com/mvanwagner Matt Van Wagner

    Exactly, Harvey – the challenge of organizing and distributing collective intelligence from structured and unstructured sources is a universal one. Mindjet looks very promising – I am reading it through. Thank you for weighing in – good stuff!

  • Jeroen Maljers

    thank you Matt, appreciate it.