My six year Hanaversary is coming up, so I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on what I’ve learned working as a PPC Analyst. I didn’t start out as an analyst, and didn’t always know this is where I would be at 6 years, but I’m grateful for the journey that brought me here. So whether you are just starting out in PPC, whether you are a seasoned account manager, or whether you aspire to be an analyst, have no fear: I’m here to share some lessons.
In no particular order…
Learn to Code
In today’s PPC landscape, coding is a valuable skill. From an agency perspective, accounts are getting much more complicated, requiring more robust analysis. Companies run PPC ads for multiple brands, business lines, countries, etc. Multiply this by the number of platforms and campaigns for each, and you’ve got a solid chunk of data to handle. Handling the data in a platform such as R Studio allows for scalability as well as more complicated analysis (think Holt-Winters forecasting, n-grams, etc.)
Get Experience Managing PPC Accounts
I started at Hanapin six years ago (my how times flies) as an Account Manager. I was responsible for managing PPC strategy and tactics, as well as the client relationships. After going through our PPC training program I was thrown into the wild to sink or swim.
While I wasn’t fully in love with the Account Manager position (hence my transition into the Account Analyst role), it gave me some really valuable experience. Here are my biggest takeaways.
- In-depth PPC knowledge – understanding how the PPC machine works is crucial to being able to develop tools and analysis for accounts
- Communication skills – while analysts have more of a backstage role, it’s still important to be able to communicate with others. Presentation skills are important!
- Perspective – after spending some time as an Account Manager, you have the ability to understand what kinds of reports or tools are useful, and what isn’t. Having client experience also allows you to anticipate what they might want to show their boss, CMO, etc.
There aren’t always crystal clear answers
Sometimes, the Analyst team is the last stop on the troubleshooting train. This is especially true for technical issues such as conversion tracking, or performance issues like a dropoff in conversion rate. This can cause some frustration if we just can’t find a clear answer. Make peace with a certain level of uncertainty so you’re not spinning your wheels 24/7.
Critical thinking & problem-solving skills are your biggest assets
Recently I had a conversation with a college student studying mathematics. The topic of our chat was essentially “how the heck do you use a math degree after school?”. It’s a valid question, and I vividly remember being in that same spot myself.
While hard skills are certainly necessary, the driving force behind what makes the Analyst useful is the ability to solve tough problems and think critically. The hard skills are only applied once the underlying issues are identified. The logical analyst can:
- Spot problems
- Identify the impact of said problems
- Come up with creative, forward-thinking solutions
- Effectively communicate all of the above
Patience & Prioritization
Ever heard the phrase “patience is a virtue”? I have found this to be true when working on tricky problems or projects.
However, there is a flip side to this. You must be patient, but also know when to pull the plug on a project. When starting a new project, think about these things to help you prioritize:
- Scope / Impact – how many people will benefit from this? How large will the benefit be?
- Difficulty – how difficult is it to get off the ground?
- Time – time is our most limited resource. Will this take days? Months? Is it worth the time spent?
I have started many projects that I was initially excited about, but after thinking about the above questions, I decided to not continue.
Assuming that your project fits the above criteria, be patient once you hit a roadblock (it will definitely happen, don’t give up!). When I start running into problems with a coding project, it’s useful for me to take a step back and either work on something else for a bit, or go on a quick walk. Other times, knowing when to ask for help is key. Don’t sink a bunch of time trying to figure something out if there’s a low-drag way to ask someone for help. (Note – go with your gut on this one, sometimes it’s useful to work through a problem yourself!).
Fix a report, it’s fixed for a day. Teach the formulas, it’s fixed for life
One of the many things that fills my cup is being able to share knowledge and watching other people grow. Teaching is a great opportunity to provide value to the team, and the Analyst team has a hand in teaching other folks in the department hard skills (mostly Excel) and softer skills (how to go about troubleshooting an issue).
This doesn’t have to take place in formal training settings, either. If I create a tool or a report, I like to explain the how and the why behind it to the person who will be using it (or anyone who will listen, really).
The best part of being an Analyst at Hanapin is the continued opportunity to learn and grow. The second best thing is being able to work through challenging problems and then sharing the learnings with others.
What are some major lessons that you’ve learned from working in the PPC industry? Do you want to see more posts like this? Let us know!