5 MUST Do’s In PPC Management

This article first appeared on agencyside as A Day in the Life of a PPC Manager where Mike Swan, Director of Search Marketing Strategy at Liberty Interactive Marketing is a guest columnist as well as a panel speaker on topics for search marketing strategies.

Often when asked how I spend my day I answer “living the dream”. While I sometimes get a chuckle from those who are also fans of the movie “Wedding Crashers”, I usually get a look of bewilderment. While I get much satisfaction from this, sometimes there is an unlucky soul that asks me to elaborate on what dream I am living. It is those people who actually enjoy the “geek speak” to whom I am dedicating this post.

Professional PPC management has two facets; it is one quarter creativity and 3 quarters creatively analyzing data. Those with no aptitude for numbers need not apply; there is little chance for success without a highly analytical mind. Efficiency and processes are of paramount importance, especially as the number and complexity of the accounts increases.

Here are 5 things that must be attended to on a regular basis. How regularly depends on 1) traffic of the account and 2) industry.

1) Are All Systems Go – Rule number one, know what campaigns should be running and which should not. Realizing that a credit card was declined or the account balance has been depleted a week after it happens is never a glorious moment. Avoid it. I review two types of reports every morning. Both are Account Reports that contain the results for all clients. The first is the month to date. This gives me an overview of how the accounts are performing, what my budget utilization is and serves as my quick reference guide for broad inquiries on the health of the account either to the client or a team member. The other is the Yesterday report. This tells me what happened the day before, so if I see any weird results, like no traffic, it allows me to identify a possible issue within 6 hours or so of it happening. This can be a lifesaver.

2) Watch your Positioning – Know where your sweet spot is and manage to it. I also make sure the account average is in a narrow band. If it starts dropping, is it one aspect of the account or is it account-wide? This can help you identify competitive trends or Quality Score shifts before the account train wrecks.

3) Utilize Search Query Data – I like to keep a lot of broad match terms in my accounts to keep a good pipeline of search query data. This gives you a look at search volume, it helps you identify terms that you may want to go after. It also can show you some glaring holes in your campaign in both the opportunity sense and the negative sense. Negative keywords that is. This report will save your client many thousands of dollars of wasted traffic when you see some of the undesirable terms you are showing for. This is also a liability protector. The last thing you want is your client stumbling upon their own ad showing for an unsavory search. (Not to say clients ever search for unsavory things).

4) Budget Utilization – Due to the nature of PPC, there is no precise guarantee that you will spend your exact budget; in fact the guarantee is you won’t. What many don’t realize is that when you make a campaign budget change in Google, it is not a sophisticated system. It was explained to me by our Google rep (Do you like how I passed the buck on this one?) that when you make a budget change the system assumes it was made in the middle of the day, so the system will try to spend 50% of the newly set daily budget. What does that mean? Basically, if you make the change early in the day, you will spend less than you expect to, and if you make the change late in the day you can potentially spend quite a bit more than you expected. While over an extended timeframe it all evens out, if you are trying to make a significant end of month adjustment you could get burned. Moral of the story, watch your budget allocation.

5) Landing Pages – Is Conversion Code Tracking? – Often times we don’t have access to our clients’ web hosting server and more often server protocol is not in place, therefore leaving you vulnerable to getting tracking code overwritten, removed, deleted or your landing page throwing a Page Not Found error. Enter mayhem and dollars lost. Daily, check that your landing pages are up and running and that your conversion code is tracking (and still present on the page). If you don’t, this will hurt your bottom line, your credibility and your Quality Score.

This list is far from exhaustive, and does not address how to manage and improve PPC campaigns, just some of the things that you need to stay on top of.

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