The Art Of The PPC Account Transition

By Diane Anselmo | @diane_anselmo | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

Whether you work for a PPC agency or in-house, one thing is for certain – you will at some point be engaging in an internal account transition. At first, it may sound appealing to inherit an account where all the groundwork has already been laid by your colleague, but there are times when the account transition is quite complicated.


Image of AdWords account access


No two account transitions will ever be the same, but there is certainly an art to making it all work. However, as you start the transition process, you may find yourself taking on a new persona. Join me as I discuss the many faces of the account transition.


“The Pacifist”


In a perfect PPC world, all account transitions would be seamless wonders, accompanied by happy clients and ambitious account managers. But let’s say you inherit the account of an existing, disgruntled client—one who has lost faith in their former account manager and your agency as a whole. How do you transition into an account where you’re already the underdog? How do you show your client that this experience will be different from the last? How do you get them to stop complaining about the past and focus on a successful future with YOU?


The first step in the process is to arrange a call or in-person meeting with the client. Assure them that their new account manager is excited to start working with them and eager to address all of the issues that made them a disgruntled client in the first place. Get some clues from the previous account manager about where the client’s dissatisfaction was and ask the client the same questions. These questions may include:


  • Were there communication issues with the previous account manager?
  • Were goals not hit?
  • Were goals not understood?


Whatever the case may be, make sure that you LISTEN to what the client is saying and let your actions reflect the message. That will be the first step in reassuring your client that you are going to take great care of their account. Once you have their confidence, they can let go of all that happened in the past and move forward with you.


“The Data Detective”


Sometimes we find accounts thrown onto our laps without any warning—and with the news that the previous account manager has abruptly left the company. And, along with the departure of that person, comes the departure to most of the account information. How do you begin managing a new account without any historical information from the previous manager? How do you show your client that you understand their account and that the transition will be smooth?


The first step is to reach out to anyone else in the organization that may have had some knowledge or interaction with the client. Ask them to share any insights they may have on the client, including goals, strategies and challenges. Once you’ve got some information, dig into the account and start trying to make some sense out of it.


Once you feel armed with information, arrange a call or meeting with the client and discuss the transition process. Use this meeting as an opportunity to ask the client about goals and strategies that have worked—or not worked—in the past. Ask as many questions as you need to, so that the transition can be as seamless as possible.


“The Stalker”


Occasionally, we are assigned accounts when we learn that a colleague has given their notice. Ideally, these should be smooth transitions, as we usually have access to the previous account manager for two or more weeks. But what happens when that person has simply “checked out” during their last weeks of work and doesn’t make himself or herself easily available to you? How do you get the information you need before that person leaves the building for the last time? How do you chase them down without them filing for a restraining order?


As difficult as it may seem, you need to become a bit of a stalker in this scenario. The previous account manager is most likely focused on their next career endeavor and is probably too distracted wrapping up their current employment to be concerned with getting you all the information you need to be successful. As soon as you learn that you are transitioning to the account, send some meeting invites to the account manager so that they have time already carved out to speak with you. Use this time wisely. Come prepared with questions and take great notes because once that account manager has their in-office “going away party,” you are not likely to ever get their attention again.


Final Thoughts


Whichever scenario you are in, one items remains constant—it is up to YOU to make the account transition as seamless and successful as possible. Though the conditions are not always ideal, or even fair, using both your PPC skills and your interpersonal skills can result in successful account performance and a happy client!