Spring cleaning. Every time Spring rolls around, all you hear is “it’s time for a little ‘spring cleaning’”. I don’t know about you, but when the weather finally does turn pleasant, I do not want to spend my time indoors cleaning. Which is why I am a huge fan of “Dead of Winter Cleaning”. A little elbow grease and organization now means you will be reaping the benefits by MLB’s Opening Day.

To help you spiffy up your accounts and your processes, I have compiled a short list of chores. The “PPC Dead of Winter Cleaning Chores Checklist” does not roll off the tongue, but I promise you the tasks are simple and the rewards great.

Chore #1: Status Check

There are several great project management platforms on the market these days. And several of those platforms have free versions. If you are managing multiple PPC campaigns on your own, or if you are in-house and are not at liberty to allocate company resources to purchase the (oftentimes) expensive versions of these tools, then you might need something else to help you stay organized.

Here at Hanapin, we are big fans of the Status Doc. Over the years, the “Status Doc” has had many iterations.

  • An Excel doc that was updated and emailed to the team/client every week.
  • A Google Drive Doc that was just a long-running list of tasks and due dates.
  • Basecamp notes and to-do lists.

Here is an old status doc I dug up of a multi-brand account. Warning, if you are anything like me, this might make your skin crawl.

Google Sheets Status Doc for Multi-Brand Account

So much going on in that one. No idea what is important. No idea what the colors mean. The current version of the status doc I am using right now is the Internal/External Status doc on the Google Drive.

Here is what it looks like. On the top is the internal status document, filled with tasks, assignments, priority, notes, important dates, etc. On the bottom is the external, an almost replica of the internal, but trimmed down for easier consumption. Here’s the kicker: I only update one of these docs. I use the IMPORTRANGE function to pull the things I need from the internal to the external, thereby providing my clients with an easy way to see what is going on in the account.

Internal Status Doc
External, or Client-Facing, Status Doc

One of the other great things about using a Google Sheet like this is the Comment function. If I need to assign a task to a team member, or get their feedback on an item, I simply right click a cell, hit ‘Insert Comment’ then type “+” plus the team member’s email, hit assign and Google will send a notification to that person complete with a link to the doc.

Chore #2: Get rid of keywords collecting cobwebs

I have a rule in my house: if you haven’t touched an item in a year, whether it be an article of clothing, a cooking utensil, or a decorative pillow, get rid of it. If a keyword is sitting in your account, gathering dust for more than a year, get rid of it. Look at conversions. Look at assisted conversions. Zeros? Time to ask why. Does it have a low search volume? Is the bid set below first page? Basically, is there any work that can be done to this keyword to make it shine or is it time to pause or remove it? Whether you choose to pause it or remove it completely is up to you, I just advise you stick a label on it. The label can be something like “0 Conversions Past Year” or, if you are feeling playful “Lame Duck”.

AdWords can make it easy for you in the Opportunities section of the new UI, but make sure you are doing a thorough check you won’t be negatively impacting your campaigns.

Chore #3: Air out your ad copy

Ad copy can become stale, fast. And while any account manager worth his or her salt is testing ad copy on a regular basis, I like to try something drastically different every now and then. Right now, I am testing very specific sitelink copy to pair with certain campaigns. I’ve never had much success with conversions from direct clicks on sitelinks. But could adding specific sitelinks to specific campaigns at specific times of the year create the punchiness I’m looking for and give the campaign a boost to CTR? Maybe! Once I have enough data, I’ll be sure to report back.

But for now, here are a few suggestions to get you started on refreshed copy:

  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion: this is no new trick, but have you tested it in a while?
  • Ad Customizers: do you have a mobile friendly site? If you do, test out the if/then function in your ad copy. (And if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, read about meeting the needs of your mobile visitors)
  • Value Proposition: you got a USP? (yeah you know me!) Is your USP clear in your ad copy? Can you move it to Headline 2? Headline 1?
  • Using strikethrough text: admittedly, I have never tested this but have seen some buzz about this on Twitter. I think it is a brilliant test and would love to see results!

Chore #4: Fix broken campaigns

We all have that one thing in our house that has been broken for a while, but we keep it around because we know it can be fixed we just haven’t taken the time to fix it. For me, it is the motherboard for the water and ice dispenser on my refrigerator. I have the ability to get water from the sink, and the ice maker still makes ice, so I basically just ignore it.

The same thing can happen in our accounts. A campaign can over time drop off and stop performing. And maybe because all of the other campaigns are doing well, we put a few bandaids on the underperformer and focus on the stuff that is still working.

Time is up! Fix it and move on. A great tool our analyst team developed is the Date Range Comparison Supermetrics Dashboard. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of how to create this Supermetrics Masterpiece (for more information on how super Supermetrics can be, see Dan Rocklin’s January post Unlock New Functionality and Save Time with Supermetrics Queries). But I will show you what this dashboard looks like in hopes of getting those “fix-it” juices flowing.

  1. Start by identifying the last period of strong performance. You can do this at the campaign level, ad group level. I recommend starting at the account level and drilling down from there. Then look at the same number of days for the time of poor performance. Then get out your pencils and start taking notes.
  2. Compare the apples to the other apples. Does anything stand out overall. Did CPCs rise? Why?
  3. Of the keywords that converted during your period of strong performance, what are they doing now?
  4. Anything change with how you are tracking conversions?
  5. How has traffic changed by day of week?
  6. Did you introduce a mobile site? Did it impact performance?
  7. Did you change your landing pages?

As you go through this exercise, chances are you are going to uncover something quite simple. Pat yourself on the back, make the changes, and go back to being awesome.

Chore #5: Plant some new seeds

You may be the lucky operator of a well-oiled account. Performance is steady. Profits are consistent. You are hitting your goals. Fantastic. But whether or not this describes your account, this next chore is for you.

If you aren’t growing your account, one might say that you are stagnant. But I will take that one step further and say that if you aren’t even aiming for just the slightest incremental growth your account, then you are moving backwards. The speed at which our industry is changing, even the healthiest of accounts can be left in the dust if you aren’t growing and changing with it. So now is the time to try new things. These do not have to be big grand new initiatives.

One way to start “seeds” is to create new audiences and set them to your campaigns to observe different behaviors.

  • Create an audience based on time on site
  • Create custom affinity audiences
  • Create audiences based on pages where they drop out of the conversion funnel

Not all audiences will bear fruit. But you might just gain some fantastic insight that could spark ideas for new campaigns, new targets, new bid modifications that will ultimately move that needle that has been holding steady toward increased profits.

Winter is Here, for Another Month or so Anyway

Not all of us are so lucky as to live in an area where winter means a mild 70 degrees and sunshine. If you live in an area like I do, the ground is frozen, the trees are bare, and the air stings your face when you walk outside. No better time than now to cozy up with your favorite account and treat it to a nice “Dead of Winter Cleaning.” I really think the phrase will catch on soon.