Having worked in the industry for almost six years now, the majority of that time managing people running PPC accounts, I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to the job.
In this post, I’ll share a few pointers on the common character traits of amazing PPC account managers I’ve known.
A PPC manager’s world is much like the scenario pictured above. Cheese isn’t given out freely — you must be proactive in trying to gain it. The same principle applies to gains in PPC, which means an amazing search account manager seeks out opportunities.
A proactive mindset is actually the most important trait for success in this space. With the landscape constantly changing, your accounts will need new features applied to them the moment new capabilities are rolled out so that you can gain some competitive advantage from them.
Being a proactive account manager also means that you’ll conduct more testing in your accounts, and you’ll be on top of the results from these tests and use the learnings to think up new concepts to employ.
A lack of proactivity leads to stale accounts that are behind the curve when it comes to competitor activity.
In addition to asking themselves why cat pictures are always a good addition to any blog, great account managers should always be questioning the results in their PPC campaigns. This ties in with proactivity but is a core skill in itself.
Here are a few questions you could be asking yourself:
Without questioning your data, it’s easy to miss trends or miss out on why your results look the way they do.
A good account manager should also look at the wider picture and regularly ask the client if they know of any external elements that might impact a campaign. They should also try to source information about these external factors — such as new TV advertisements or PR efforts — from Google Analytics or Google Alerts.
Tip: Set up a Google Alert for your client’s brand name so you will be aware when new articles/posts about them appear online, as this might help explain otherwise confusing patterns in your data.
This one is pretty simple. I’m sure any account manager feels behind on industry developments even after just two weeks of annual leave. These pointers can help with staying up to date:
Ultimately, make sure you’re learning about new features as they come out.
Willingness to test new things is key here. If you’re not willing to take risks and test new things in your accounts, then these accounts are going to remain stagnant.
Not all features work for all accounts, but if you don’t give them a shot with a test budget and realistic expectations, then you’ll never know.
One example I experienced myself involved dynamic search ad campaigns. Initially, I was very skeptical of these as you don’t have as much control over the creative, and there’s a high chance random keywords could be matched to your site.
However, when I took the risk to test this type of campaign, I found they work successfully for certain types of sites.
Another key skill for a brilliant search account manager is remaining calm under pressure. If something has gone wrong in an account, it’s best to find the root of the issue, discuss it with your client, and plan how to get things back on track.
It’s always better to admit any mistakes up front rather than waiting for clients to uncover (with dismay) that something went wrong.
Hand in hand with this is the need to be transparent with your client at all times. Give them access to AdWords and full transparency in reports, so they can see brand vs non-brand data and so on.
As well as taking risks on new features/tests, it’s also important to note where the data you have at hand should be applied for decision making. We have so much data, sometimes too much, and it can be easy to just set it aside and make a decision based on instinct.
The best way to run accounts is to base decisions on the data you have at hand. This goes for things like calculating bid adjustments, deciding when to pause/change bids on keywords and when to change ad copy etc. This also helps to back up decisions when explaining your reasoning to clients.
Just as everyone loves a neatly stacked dishwasher (believe me, this is the subject of much office debate), your day-to-day life as a search account manager will be more pleasurable and effective if you are organized.
While this is the last trait I’ll mention, it is by no means any less important than the first. Without effective communication, a client-account manager relationship will break down.
Good communication skills are especially important in these three key areas:
There are so many other traits that characterize a PPC superstar, but the above points give you an idea of what I feel are the most important elements an account manager must master. Feel free to add your own key traits into the comments to get the discussion going!