When I first got into PPC management, I had basically no client management skills. I got into PPC because I read a book called The Future of Music (I’m a musician) that explained to me how digital distribution was changing entire industries and how the Internet made it possible for anyone to sell anything to anybody. Then, I found out that people actually made a living from helping others reach their audiences online with their stuff. I knew right away that it was a gig (pun intended) I wanted.
But like I said, I had never managed clients in my life. I was good at the study, analysis and optimization side of things naturally. Taking care of clients was a whole new world to me.
My mindset when it came to client management in the first year or two was that clients would be happy if I just did one thing – make numbers go up and to the right. After all, that’s why they hire us right?!?
I had a lot to learn.
As time passed and I cut my teeth in the industry over the first couple years, I learned fairly quickly that although getting results and growing businesses is why we get hired, we don’t always have control over this happening. Therefore, I can’t necessarily measure success from something I can’t control. Although all of my activities are geared toward getting numbers to go up and to the right, there are just so many factors outside of my activities that determine if this happens or not. Some of them off the top of my head include…
- Industry Disruption. Tech industries are notorious for this. Companies kill each other and products off as they create new ones.
- Competition. While I can do a good job of competing, I can’t control where competitors are advertising, what their budgets are, etc.
- Client Approval and Implementation. In a perfect PPC world, clients would implement all of my recommendations. Sometimes they have legitimate business reasons for not doing so and sometimes they don’t. I can’t maximize results if my recommendations are implemented.
- Client Investment. If I only have 10 hours a month and a competitor spends 40, it’s not a level playing field.
- Weather. If I have a client that sells ski clothing and it’s a mild winter, well…
Because of these things, all the stakeholders in a PPC management relationship should be careful to avoid the illusion that a great PPC manager should be judged upon only what happens with the numbers. Think about this…
- Any agency can show account success with numbers. Just because they’ve had some success with some accounts, that’s probably all they’ll show you. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to have a good experience. I’d estimate the majority of the accounts I’ve taken over through the years came from other agencies the client was sold on, yet ultimately didn’t deliver to a satisfactory level.
- Getting good results can be (just sometimes) fairly easy to do. Every account is different and to be completely honest, even a poor account manager could find it quite easy to get good results at the start. They won’t get the best results, but they can still do well for you. I’ve had accounts that were like shooting fish in a barrel because they were simply great businesses with little to no competition. Good results aren’t necessarily the sign of good management.
What PPC Management Is All About
OK, great. So now that I’ve established that it’s not all about the numbers, what IS it all about?
I’d submit to you that it’s really about how they care about your business.
Ultimately, the numbers are the by-product and this is the prime product.
Wouldn’t you know it, here’s some figures on reasons why customers leave a company…
Signs You’re Business Is Being Cared For
Of course, as a client, you can generally feel if you’re being cared for or not. But, here are some signs you can look for when it comes specifically to PPC management that show whether or not a manager is really caring about your business…
- They ask lots of questions in an attempt to understand your business and its customers. If it feels like they just go through general campaign build and optimization motions, they’re not caring for your business. But, if they converse with you on a level that shows they are truly trying to understand your business, that’s a good sign.
- They up their game when times get tough. If expectations aren’t met or mistakes are made, they’re highly motivated to make it right quickly.
- They’re proactive at diagnosing problems and offering solutions. It’s not that you’ll never be the first one to bring up a problem, but what’s the pattern of behavior you’re getting from your manager? Are they regularly offering analysis, insights and specific actions for moving the dial? Or do they just report numbers and give general optimizations they’ll be doing?
- They’re quick to suggest new ideas to test. We operate in a fast moving industry. Things change literally daily. Moving the knobs and gears on PPC platforms and campaigns isn’t difficult. It’s knowing which knobs and gears to move when for the biggest impact and keeping up with how things change to be able to react quickly and efficiently.
- You hear from them often. How often depends on your level of service of course. But, you should hear from them a minimum of once per month for small accounts. The larger the account, the more you should hear from them.
The Truth About Audits
In our industry, audits are extremely popular. Now, I’m not going to say they’re bad or that they shouldn’t happen. There is value in them with diagnosing account and strategy issues so you’re aware of where your account may fall short and the scope of work you’re looking at for improvements. But, the effort put into an audit to win your business isn’t necessarily the effort that will be put in to care for your business. Most of the time, the person doing that audit isn’t even the person that will be responsible for caring for your account. If you’re taking the time to reach out and get an audit of your account, you’ve probably already reached the point of knowing that your account is not being cared for to a satisfactory level.
So when you’re looking for a good PPC management service, don’t just find out how your account is currently being cared for (which is what an audit does). Do the best you can to find out how it will be cared for.
Where the Value Lies
A PPC manager’s value is not solely in ever-improving results. To a point, yes, we work to get results. But, there are just too many factors involved in results to make that 100% the mark of good management. Sometimes simply keeping pace with past results can be a great thing as long as there’s an appropriate business reason for it. The bulk of their value lies in how they care for your account within the level of service you’ve purchased. Results are just one (albeit important) slice of the care factor.
At Granular, we truly care about each and every client. We take pride in helping grow their business and it shows by how long they stay with us, and in the kind words they say about us. Check out our Testimonials for a small sample from our clients.