Everyone knows if you don’t give regular care and attention to something it can start to deteriorate. This could apply to your house, garden or even your health and fitness. This concept – called ‘campaign drift’ – can equally apply to your Google Ads or other digital advertising activity. If you allow campaigns to become static, your regular routines to falter or become stale, then even the best performing account can start to suffer.

campaign drift

Optimisation and Routines

Most PPC professionals will have some sort of routine. Some will be very formal and others will take a less structured approach, while still following an internal set of actions. Regular optimisation is of course essential as, depending on the client, the market on Google can be very dynamic. Your client may also be in and out of it with different offers or new products.

Most of your attention is probably paid to the detail of campaigns when a client is first acquired. Whether an existing campaign or one you build from scratch. At this point relationships with clients are new and you are proving your worth, ensuring a demonstrable uptick in performance. This is the best time to make sure the client is happy and their business secured for the future. It’s when you’ll be conducting the initial, intensive work, taking the most meetings and performing data analysis. During this period there is hopefully the closest alignment between the client’s aims and how the campaigns are set up and performing.

Months down the line there is more danger of campaign drift and the metaphorical garden can become a bit less well-tended. Even if you are spending the agreed amount of time on the campaigns on a regular basis, there is the danger of complacency and settling into a comfortable routine. Are you and the client still on the same page? Let’s look at some ways to keep things fresh and heading in the right direction.

Avoid Campaign Drift with Client Business Knowledge 

Communicating well with the client is arguably the most important skill you can have as a digital marketer. The most technically accomplished person will fail if they can’t express clearly what they are doing, or they if they fail to grasp what the clients want and how they are being measured internally. Regular meetings are essential. The important alchemy, however, is to constantly make sure you understand the business you are working for.

Don’t get hung up on your initial goals or the product set that you started to promote at the beginning. Make sure you are receiving detailed updates from clients. Err on the side of getting more information on the business itself. Sign up for their newsletter, keep an eye on the evolution of their website or product offering. Tap into what they are planning for the next few quarters.

Only by doing this do you avoid this sense of drift ,where you have created something that worked well for last year’s version of the company, but is starting to veer away from where the company now is. Things can change quickly and the best work will only happen if you keep your finger directly on the pulse. This information will mainly come directly from the clients themselves, but immersing yourself in their sector via reading publications or social media can also be helpful and prove your commitment to the business. It will also show you “speak the same language” as your contacts. 

Taking a keen interest in the business is not only good for performance, but for maintaining client relationships. Clients want to feel you are on the same team. They want to sense that you understand the challenges in their role and are able to appreciate how their sector works. Your deeper and timely understanding of the business of your clients can only translate into more powerful campaigns that stay powerful. Everyone benefits from your being better aligned with and more reflective of the current state of the marketplace and the products and services they offer.

Sharing Data and Reviewing Ads

Sharing is caring. Naturally you will be sharing some kind of regular reporting with your clients, however, in order to combat this sense of drift, it is essential to maintain transparency. If your client is at all unaware of what’s happening within their campaigns, informed conversation will not really happen. It is possible to fall into the trap of letting things go stale. The worse-case scenario will find you promoting old, irrelevant products or using out of date assets. 

Regular copy reviews are useful. Refreshing images is another good way to keep the conversation going and it doesn’t do any harm to keep checking in with this kind of thing. Clients are always busy and may assume you have picked up something already or have forgotten to tell you something important. Even if things don’t change in your product or service set, ad calls to actions and USPs can become stale. Make sure you’re incorporating the latest messaging in your ads and not forgetting add-ons like assets. Old promotions and campaigns shouldn’t outstay their welcome and usefulness. Black Friday in January is never good.

Keep Abreast of the Competitive Landscape and Market

Focusing on yourself is important, but it isn’t only your client’s business that changes over time. You may have been clear about your client’s competition at the start, but this is another dynamic situation. Depending on the sector, there may be regular new entrants. Competitors may start to use Google Ads either for the first time, or more aggressively than before. Changes to the auction will impact your sales while factors such as CPCs can play an important part in the performance narrative.

A quick, regular search can keep you in touch with who else is there, while other tools can help automate the process. Recognise the difference between the advertising market (which has some of the competitors) and the whole market that a client operates in. Consider the other channels (online or off) which may influence demand on your search campaigns.

Keep on top of Strategy and Relationships

It’s normally very clear what the goals are at the start of a client relationship. How are we going to be measured and which product or service areas are going to be promoted? There is great potential here for misalignment. This could be in terms of performance – top performers drop off or suffer due to seasonality or new products or services take off suddenly. It could also be in terms of strategy.

It is really important to understand the overall sales and marketing strategy of the client. Even more so if this is not something set by your agency or yourself. This is going to change over time due to the market, the product offering, the success of the company, exterior factors, even changes of personnel at the top of the company. Companies can be acquired, merge or even pivot from their entire focus.

Major changes may not be too hard to track, although you need to try to prepare for them. It is the smaller, subtle changes, or the ones that happen slowly over time that need to be closely monitored. With both the answer is the same, as your client is the window into the company and its changing priorities. Try to keep up with the “big picture” and talk about things beyond the day to day of the PPC campaigns. This information is gold dust and can inform your suggestions in terms of new products or areas to explore, as well as tactics to try.

Going beyond your regular contact is another useful approach. Is there a more senior member of staff you should meet less regularly or a different person who has a useful perspective? Although you can’t spend loads of time talking to everyone, it is good to keep relationships with a range of people. This can also help with client retention if your direct contact moves on to another company. 

Maintain your Relationship with Google and Ad Products

Finally the big G itself. Although their salespeople can be troublesome and their suggestions poor, it is important to maintain a good relationship with Google. Partly for troubleshooting but mainly to get the latest and greatest product updates and betas. This can be done more passively, if you prefer, by signing up to newsletters and attending webinars. Or you can be more active, and meet regularly with your Google reps. For big clients the latter is useful and needs to be managed appropriately.

To avoid campaign drift in product selection, be open to new products but not too keen in case of poor performance of untested formats or targeting. New products can be a boost for campaigns that are becoming stale. They could unlock new opportunities for performance or new places to show your ads. Taking the lead by suggesting new products to clients is good for relationships and retention. It’s much better than reacting to Google suggesting it to clients directly or to clients hearing about products and asking you about them. Get out in front!

Don’t Forget to Live in the Moment

Keep your campaigns and client relationships on course by adopting some of these strategies to stay focused, fresh and up to date. Don’t forget the competition and read up on the latest developments for your client sectors and within the digital marketing industry and you should be rewarded by great performance and happy clients that stay with you for the long term.