Now that you have your paid search account up, running, and are able to pull basic reports, it’s time to start setting up your schedule for handling all of the various tasks required to truly steward a successful SEM program. The amount of work you’ll be putting in will mainly be dictated by the scope of work you and your advertiser (or boss) settled on before the account was launched. If this PPC account is supposed to be a big part of your job description, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time working in it to ensure success. However, if you have several accounts under your stewardship, it may require less of your time.
Usually, budget is a big determiner in how much time is actually going to be needed—if it’s a big investment, then it makes sense to dedicate a portion of that budget to make sure it’s effective as possible. Here are some common PPC tasks and how you might want to handle them based on a daily, weekly or monthly basis for a medium sized account.
Performance and reporting
- Daily: As a best practice, many search engine marketers opt to perform a daily idiot check to make sure that nothing incredibly negative has affected the account such as the budget running out, flight dates ending, etc. Simply put, it’s a basic top level, two-minute check to make sure the accounts are spending correctly and the major key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversions, average positions, cost per click, etc are not spiking or dipping too much.
- Weekly: Most advertisers are going to expect some kind of weekly reporting. Usually, this will consist of the week-over-week performance of the KPIs along with some data visualizations such as charts and graphs to make it easy to interpret the results. Depending on the size/importance of the account, these results could be at the campaign level or even deeper at the ad group or keyword level. Some analysis of the ads will be expected such as which offers/messages are performing better than others.
- Monthly: Monthly reporting is usually a summary of the past month’s results along with some deeper level dives and visualizations. Many of the people seeing this report will not have any expertise in PPC, so detailed, written explanations including a well-executed summary page will help better explain what’s going on as this document gets passed through the advertiser’s organization. Don’t expect them to completely understand what they’re looking at—especially whether it’s reporting good or bad results. A listed “drop in CPCs by 20%” might be amazing in your eyes but people without search marketing expertise may have no idea what the benchmark for success should be.
Optimizations and testing
- Daily: During the daily idiot check, you may want to tweak certain bids here and there, especially if they’re high volume terms and constitute a good portion of your budget. For many PPC accounts, the Pareto Principle (i.e. the 80/20 rule) applies wherein a small percentage of your terms will most likely be the most important to your account. Usually, these are brand and product terms or very high level general terms. Because they spend so much, even small adjustments to their costs and quality scores could end up being very powerful optimizations. Tip: try bringing down the max bids on your top terms by one cent every day while closely watching your clicks, average positions and conversion rates until they start to drop. You might be able to shave a $1.00 bid down to $.90 and still achieve the same performance. That may not be a lot, but you’ve just saved 10% which can now be reinvested into the campaign.
- Weekly: Weekly optimizations are going to be much more involved. You really need a good week (or two) to begin to see even the immediate impact of changes. So, small tests done at seven day intervals will be helpful from week to week. We’ll get into more of how to perform tests (and what kinds of tests you can try) in later posts.
- Monthly: Major optimizations and testing can be done at the monthly level. After four weeks, you’ll have a very good idea on how those tweaks and changes really have impacted the account. Creative changes, for example, might take this long to have an effect, especially if they’re not receiving a lot of daily impressions.
Advertiser communication and meetings
- Daily: Unless you’re working on a huge account or the PPC represents a bulk of the marketing budget, you probably won’t need to check in with the advertiser daily. However, for some larger accounts, a daily meeting might be invaluable to getting the crucial feedback you need from the advertiser’s key contact to course correct every day. This may sound like overkill, but if this account is spending millions annually or literally the only marketing that this company is engaged with, then you really can’t wait a week between talking to the main decision maker.
- Weekly: Weekly meetings could be brief and simply a time to check in and review the weekly report. The advertiser can also ask any questions they have and can get clarification on any outstanding issues. They can communicate any new campaigns or ad groups that need to be built for new products or marketing initiatives. It’s also good for the advertiser to hear how your time is being spent so that you can start building good expectation levels for them on how long various PPC tasks take to complete. After awhile, they’ll be able to anticipate how long requests will take for you to finish and know that you’re on track and not wasting time.
- Monthly: Monthly reporting meetings should be very in-depth. In fact, the main advertiser contact may want to invite other members of their team (maybe even the head boss) so you can answer the questions they’re getting internally that only you can answer. Monthly meetings can also be the best place to have discussions on how well (or poorly) the account is performing as the tests and optimizations decided upon at the last monthly meeting can be reviewed and new action items can be added to the task list. This is also the right time to discuss high level account topics like budges, fees, marketing direction, etc.
Maintenance and competitive analysis
- Daily: You probably do not have to do much of this on the daily level.
- Weekly: When compiling weekly reports, you might be compelled to perform some basic wear-and-tear maintenance on your accounts, such as making wide-level CPC changes and completely pausing non-performing keywords. You also may want to check out your flight dates and budget caps to make sure they’re still in line with whatever account changes or advertiser directives that have been implemented recently.
- Monthly: At least once a month, you’ll want to pull some ad level reporting to make sure you’re not getting any creative wearout. Signs that your creative may have reached its peak would include lower clickthrough rates, quality scores or conversion rates. It may help to pause some old creative and add in some fresh ones to see if you can breathe some life into your accounts. Also, each month (maybe for your monthly reports), you should really check out your keyword landscape to see if any new competitors have entered the marketplace which you need to be aware of and react.
There you have it. That’s basically the life of a paid search marketer from a daily, weekly, and monthly perspective. Of course, you’ll have to take into account all of the nuances and personalities of your advertisers to really understand what they expect of you in the working relationship. Some are more hands-on than others. As well, a brand new account may need more tender loving care at first and less after the major optimizations have been implemented. If you need more time (or fees) to handle an account, talk frankly with your advertiser. Don’t simply spend too much or too little time on an account just because it was agreed upon months or years ago. Keep the lines of communication open and honest and make sure to manage the relationship as well as you manage your keywords.
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