What I Learned During My First Year in PPC

By Rachael Law | @Law_Rachael | Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing

My 1-year anniversary at Hanapin is this month, and what a year it’s been! From the ten-week training program, to getting my first client, to my first on-site client presentation, it has been a rollercoaster. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on everything I’ve learned (which has been a lot). Not only the ins and outs of PPC, but soft skills like internal and client communication.


How To Communicate (With Clients & Coworkers)


The client relations aspect of the Account Manger role was one that I was a bit anxious about when I first started. To build successful relationships with your clients, you need to not only communicate performance and the inner workings of their account in a way they can understand, but you also have to learn your client’s communication style.


It’s one thing to manage PPC accounts and increase performance; it’s another to communicate your work to clients. This also means that you’re communicating areas that are truly important to the client and not bombarding them with tons of metrics that don’t correlate to revenue (or leads).  Jeff Allen, our fearless leader, has written many articles on client management. It’s easy to get preoccupied with the day to day aspects of account management and forget to take a step back to think about the relationship with the client, but it’s very important that this is not ignored.


As far as communicating with coworkers, I’ve learned how to communicate exactly what I need in a clear and concise manner. This is especially important when working in a collaborative environment, as things can easily be missed or misinterpreted. Just like you have to learn how your clients prefer to communicate, it’s just as important to understand the communication styles and preferred methods of your coworkers to make account management less stressful.


How To Use Data in Meaningful Ways


There is tons of data in PPC. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, and you need to learn how to sift through all the piles of numbers to a) figure out what you need, and b) use it in a meaningful way.


When I took over my first account, I wanted to look at ALL the data, ALL the time. I was excited to have an account of my very own, and I wanted to optimize constantly. I ended up wasting a lot of time and was not very efficient. I didn’t need to examine every little piece of data, so I had to learn what metrics were most important and how to optimize the account.


It’s also easy to get bogged down in the numbers and lose sight of the account as a whole or the client’s business model. Instead of focusing on why a particular keyword or ad group isn’t performing, I learned to see the bigger picture of how our PPC efforts align with the company’s other marketing strategies and end goals. While it’s important to look at all the data, don’t get too wrapped up in it.


How To Learn From Mistakes


When you’re new to PPC (or anything), mistakes are bound to happen. I view mistakes as opportunities to learn, and while they might be a little painful, it’ll help you be a better Account Manager in the long run. Thankfully, a lot of mistakes were made during the training period, where another Account Manager was likely to catch the mistakes before it was actually implemented in an account (phew!). This lesson was very valuable to me, so now whenever I have a newer person on the team doing a task for me and I find a mistake, I point it out in order to guide them in fixing it so they can have the same learning experience.


If you do make a mistake in an account, you also need to learn how to approach it the right way with your client. Usually this means being honest about the mistake, and having a plan on how you’re going to fix it (or what you’ve already done to fix it).


How To Be Proactive, But Patient


Being proactively patient is one of the few paradoxes of being an Account Manager. To be successful a successful PPC Account Manager, you have to always be proactive with next steps, strategy, and the ever-changing competitive landscape. While this thinking is great, you also have to be patient while you test to see what is working for your account. Waiting for statistical significance may feel like it’s taking an eternity, but it’s important to receive accurate data. On my first accounts, I wanted to make all of the changes right away, but I didn’t always have enough data to warrant optimizations.


Another reason it’s important to be patiently proactive is when you are working with a team. This team can consist of clients (there may be several people on the client side), Google reps, and whoever else has a hand in the account. With large accounts in particular, you may end up waiting on multiple people for necessary assets that. Learning to strike a balance between being patient and keeping things on their radar is key.


How To Be Flexible


While I’ve always been a flexible person, working at a PPC agency has taught me how important it really is to be flexible. With the industry changing every minute it seems, and with clients who are constantly changing their minds, it’s important to keep an open mind and always be thinking of creative solutions for whatever problem pops up. The nature of working with clients also implies that flexibility is needed, as you have to work around their schedules and their demands. Being adaptable and able to think on your feet goes along way.


Final Thoughts


My first year here at Hanapin has been great. I’ve learned so much from everyone here on the team, both PPC related skills and just life skills in general. There have definitely been ups and downs, stressful times and fun times. PPC account management has a learning curve, and there are certain things that aren’t fully understood or appreciated until you have your own accounts to watch over and grow.