Account Management Transitions: Unavoidable Reality & Blessing in Disguise

By Kayla Kurtz | @one800kayla | Senior Digital Advisor at Hanapin Marketing

The only constant in the world is change, and your PPC account management is no different. No matter how mature your accounts may be or how long you’ve been with a particular agency, at some point the “not if, but when” phrase comes into play and someone on your management team has to transition.


The situation in which this occurs can vary – your Account Manager may be:


  • Shifting to a new role but not leaving the agency
  • Leaving the agency altogether
  • Transitioning your account to a different team


Before we dive into all the reasons an account transition can truly be a good thing, let’s go ahead and acknowledge the details of the scenario that make them a pain in the neck…


What Sucks About Account Transitions


Time Is Not Always On Your Side


Depending on the situation, you may have to move quickly. In the event that your manager is leaving the agency altogether, most companies ask for 2-4 weeks notice so that things like account transitions can be handled thoroughly and efficiently. That said, this isn’t always the case. The same goes for if you’re moving to a new team in the agency out of performance need or roles changing. Hopefully, you have time to make the necessary adjustments but if you’re headed into a seasonal peak in revenue (for example), you might want to change things a bit more quickly.


The best thing you can do in a quick timeline transition situation is sit down and organize things with your agency as soon as possible. Also, be sure to utilize the project management tools and remaining team members to your advantage to be certain no stone is left unturned in the move.


What If They Don’t Laugh At Your Jokes?


PPC is a very data-heavy marketing channel, so finding someone who speaks that lingo the same way you do is pretty crucial. Personality matching can be the x-factor of an agency/client relationship so when you find someone that fits, of course, you don’t want to let them go. The best agencies out there know this and hopefully keep that in mind as they reassign you to a new Account Manager (I know we do!).


My Last Account Manager Knows How I Take My Coffee…


Not literally, of course, but the longer you work with an Account Manager or team at an agency, the better they understand the ins and outs of your overall business wants and needs. Like how you like to receive and discuss reporting, when you tend to take vacation, who at your company handles web dev needs…the list goes on and on.


I’ll speak to the Hanapin structure when helping to offset this, as it’s obviously the best example I can provide – your Account Manager shouldn’t hold the only key to your PPC castle. Even if you’re speaking with one person on a more ongoing basis, there should be multiple points of contact at the agency that are familiar with your brand and can be sure no details slip through the cracks or get lost in transition. That Account Manager reports to someone. You had an initial sales rep that got to know you on your way into the agency. Is there someone else you speak to who gauges overall client happiness monthly? Rely on these people as tools to train your new manager (again, in addition to those Basecamp-esque project management platforms that should hold your entire relationship with the agency) so you won’t have to.


What’s AWESOME About Account Transitions


The Right Agency Should Lead & Have A Plan


Whether you’ve got weeks or days to be introduced to your new PPC manager, if you’re agency is of the appropriate caliber, they’ll not only have a plan, but they’ll also lead the charge. Anticipate that they reach out to let you know the transition is happening and facilitate introductions, but let them handle as much internally as they can. Feel open enough to ask questions about how they’ve selected your new Account Manager, but (especially if you’ve been with them a while) trust that they have your best interest in mind as the transition occurs as well. After all, they know you’ll break up with them if it isn’t successful so they’re incentivized to do what’s best for you.


You’ll Get A Fresh Set Of Eyes On Old Stuff


A piece of account management that everyone has to try and balance against is the idea of performance tunnel vision. Most agencies, like us, have internal teams to keep it from happening…but it’s out there! When your accounts transition from one Account Manager to another, that new team member is going to start really digging in, which means some corners of your campaigns or settings that haven’t been audited in a while will get reviewed. I would venture a guess that less than 10% of the time does that audit not result in some findings or opportunities to further improve the performance or something new to test. A new broom sweeps cleaner, as they say.


New Account Manager = New Set Of Ideas


This goes somewhat hand in hand with the previous point, but every PPC manager has areas of paid search that they find themselves drawn to – be it display, remarketing, programmatic, ad copy, CRO or some other aspect of the channel. A new Account Manager means a new set of tricks or strategies coming to the table to help further expand your brand and your market footprint. That’s certainly not going to be something anyone can argue!


A Couple Quick Tips


Time Is Of The Essence


Even if you have a fairly long notice period ahead of an account transition, don’t wait until the last minute to move things from one manager to the next. In fact, I would recommend doing the heavy lifting on the front end that way you learn sooner rather than later what gaps might be there and have the previous manager to assist.


This Is A Great Time To Triple Check Goals


Not to say that the former manager was ill informed or optimizing improperly, but when a new Account Manager comes in to the picture, it’s a prime opportunity to revisit goals and what metrics the agency believes they’re managing to. Consider this a very important game of telephone – do you want to assume the predecessor translated goals 100%, or would you rather spare a few extra minutes to confirm and be certain that the message was delivered to your expectations? Kind of a no brainer, isn’t it?


The bottom line is that most account teams take pride in being sharp enough to get feedback from their colleagues along the way in managing your accounts anyway, so a transition from one day-to-day contact to another shouldn’t be something that triggers concern. Instead, think of it as a great way to confirm the overall purpose and focus of your campaigns and look at new, fresh ideas. At the end of the day, you’re taking…


One half-step back for two steps forward!