PPC Blunders: Downright Dirty, Inexperienced Or Overwhelmed? 


We’ve all been through it: inheriting a PPC account that someone else has managed. And we’ve all had that “WTF” moment after looking under the hood, when we’re baffled by how the account even survived to this point.

But you never truly know what drove the previous PPC manager to do what they did — were they being downright dirty, were they just inexperienced, or were they overwhelmed with so many other tasks that they got sloppy?

It could be any one of those circumstances. And hey, it’s a small world, so the last thing you want to do when inheriting a PPC account is bash the previous agency or professional to your new client or boss. It certainly does take some restraint as you’re pulling apart the logic of an account that doesn’t seem to make any sense.

My agency recently inherited an account with some major blunders, and it’s been haunting me as I try to figure out why they made the choices they did.

I wanted to share with you today some of the poor practices in that account that stood out, and you can guess with me if you think these were a result of being shady, inexperienced or overwhelmed.

Who knows? You may be facing some of the same PPC blunders in your next inherited account.

Branded Keywords In Non-Brand Campaigns?

We’ve never included branded keywords in non-brand campaigns because — and I think most would agree — they are completely different animals. That’s why we were scratching our heads that this account co-mingled branded keywords under the non-branded keyword campaigns.

Previously, the client believed that the non-branded campaigns were doing fantastic. But looking under the hood, we found that it was actually the branded keywords that were driving the conversions, not the non-brand keywords.

When we restructured the account, we separated the two. Consequently, the client was confused at the “strong emphasis” on branded keywords we were taking and mentioned they didn’t typically bid on brand. They had no idea that they had actually been bidding on brand all along.

Not only that, but the account had tons of duplicate keywords throughout — within most campaigns, they included some form of their branded terms, which caused duplicates — and the Quality Scores were awful.

So was this a case of being downright dirty, inexperienced or overwhelmed?

I say dirty.

My assessment of the situation is that the previous agency was so pressured to get results for the client (Did I mention they had a performance-based contract that would make them return fees if they didn’t get results?) that they stuck the branded terms under the non-branded campaigns knowing they would convert well and hoping nobody would notice.

What do you think?

Remarketing To The Entire US With State-Specific Creative

This one is special. The previous agency created state-specific ads for their remarketing campaigns that featured the name of the state on the display ads.

As we got going with this client, we started seeing their remarketing ads during our web travels. My colleague in Texas started seeing display ads for California, and I was seeing ads in Massachusetts for Oregon.

“A” for effort. It looks like the previous PPC managers were trying to have really targeted ads for some of the states our client prefers to do business in, but when we looked at the account, the agency had set the targeting to the US for all of the display ads.

Would you say this one was downright dirty, inexperienced or overwhelmed?

I say inexperienced.

What about you?

Lots Of “Dead Zone” Campaigns

If you’re going to have an ad show up in Position 8, you might as well not have an ad at all. This particular account had many campaigns that had low daily budgets (like $5 a day) and loads of keywords below Position 7.

Sure, we all have “sleeper” campaigns, and they are great because they don’t spend a lot of money. Except they have to be driving revenue over time — otherwise, they should die.

For example, you might have a campaign that spends $10 per month, but if you look at it from a six-month time frame, it may have made the company, say, $500. In these cases, we’d usually let the campaigns live.

But in this case, there were several campaigns that only spent a little bit each month but didn’t drive any revenue all year. That’s just noise — extra stuff in the account you don’t really need.

So what do you think about this one – downright dirty, inexperienced or just overwhelmed?

I say overwhelmed.

Sometimes PPC managers are so busy managing a ton of accounts that they are barely treading water, and they don’t set aside the time to do quarterly or half-yearly analyses to figure out which campaigns need to be dumped and which need to be optimized.

In Conclusion…

When you inherit a PPC account, it’s usually for a good reason — the previous PPC managers just weren’t working out.

What you discover in an audit can be downright crazy and sometimes comical, but the good news is that almost any account can be nursed back to health.

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