Let’s say you’ve just picked up a new PPC client. Let’s say they have an eCommerce site with dozens of targeted demographics. Now let’s add in their 600 products. And oh yeah, the thousands upon thousands of keywords already crowding up their account. Starting to feel a little bit panicked? I haven’t even mentioned their $40,000 monthly budget yet!
Okay. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be alright.
Managing a large PPC account can be a daunting task, but luckily, we have three of our PPC experts here to help. In this in-depth video, Robert Boyd, Jessica Niver, and Bethany Bey walk you through the different ways to organize and strategize large accounts, and in the process, answer these questions:
*How can I organize my account around both products/services AND my different demographics?
*How can I avoid overlap and keyword duplicates?
*Is competition between ad groups a bad thing?
*How often should I make changes?
*Is managing a large PPC account really that much different than managing a small one?
So if you’re just starting up a large account for the first time, or have a big PPC mess on your hands, we’ve got just the help you need.
Jessica Rooney (JR): Hello and welcome to PPCHero’s video blog, brought to you by Hanapin Marketing. Today we’re going to be talking to you about large PPC accounts, and we’re going to be giving you advice straight from the mouths of our expert PPCers. All three of the account supervisors and account executives we have talking to you today have accounts that are large in terms of their spend, their client, and also their AdWords structure, so campaigns, keywords, etc. So, as they answer questions based on organization, strategy, and advice, their answers will be well-rounded and applicable to your account needs. So thank you for joining us, and stay tuned for a very in-dept account for how to deal with large PPC accounts.
Account Structure, Maintenance, and Overlap
JR: So when you have a large account in terms of the actual size, like the number of products offered or the number of components, do you find that generally you divide or organize the account around products and services, or around audiences? And if you do both, is there a way to keep it separate, or is there a lot of overlap?
Rob Boyd (RB): Yeah, I guess the short answer is: both. So you do want to have it separated by products and services. That’s just best practices, right?
Jessica Niver (JN): The spend of the account doesn’t really dictate how much division it needs. How many products and services, and how many audiences it has, really determines what you need to structure it like.
RB: But you may run into a situation where the products and services are the same, but you’re selling those products and services to two totally different marketplaces.
JN: So for mine, they have a decent number of services, and they’re targeting different audiences, so I try to set up a structure where each product and service is in a different campaign. But then you also target different audiences in different campaigns, because that’s the level you can do more detailed audience targeting. Like, I’m not going to put all of mine…like if I’m selling women’s shoes, I’m not going to put all of my high heels into the same campaign if they’re targeting…if one’s high heels for strippers, and one’s high heels for business women. Right? Like I can’t put them in the same campaign because they’re different demographics.
RB: Every audience is going to have different…and especially with the ad copy, that’s a big one too. Your ad copy needs to speak to the desired audience. You may have a nearly identical ad group in a CEO centered campaign versus an everyday consumer campaign, and you need to write your ad copy that’s going to speak to those people in different ways. Like a business decision maker, they’re going to be thinking more about the bottom line, like what does this do to improve my business, where as an end user might be buying on passion, or making a quick decision, or “hey that’s really cool, I want that.” So yeah, it’s important to segment things, I think ad copy number one, but also there’s going to be some overlap in the keywords, but there’s definitely going to be some keywords that are unique to each.
JN: I think that if your demographics are different enough, you might get more value out of separating them, and having some competition between those two campaigns, and determining which works better for certain products or certain keywords, than just saying “well, you know, these are going to overlap, and I want to have the same keyword in both, but I want to target to all of them, so which one do I put it in?” Like, the ads are going to be different, you need to maybe just try to reduce the competition as much as you can, but understand that duplicate keywords aren’t good, and you shouldn’t have them. But testing and allowing keywords in different campaigns to compete to determine where something really should be…I don’t think is necessarily the worst thing. It’s just that if you have a large account that can get out of hand really quickly.
Bethany Bey (BB): There’s 20,000…over 20,000 keywords in our account. And when you pause a keyword, sometimes it will be hard to remember why you paused it because there are so many, and when you go to create a new ad group and you add keywords that can be difficult too because then you may add one thing that’s not in there that may be in a different ad group that you didn’t think about, so you need to definitely have to make sure you’re not adding duplicates into your account. With these large accounts with 20,000 keywords, there’s rarely a keyword that hasn’t been searched already. And I think that you get to a point with larger accounts where you go to do keyword research and you’re like “I really can’t find”… you’re struggling to find keywords. So something to do is look at the keywords you already have, and just see if there are a lot that haven’t done anything, and do you really need them turned on right now if they haven’t done anything. Because I think there are a lot of keywords someone might have added because they think that it might do something in the future, or is that the right approach to take, or should you wait until you know it’s going to benefit your account? I think that’s two different strategies.
JN: So, that’s basically what I’m saying. Yes, there’s competition. Sometimes, the audiences are so different that it’s worth having a little bit of competition and overlap to segment them and get better performance from that testing. Like, you test the segmentation and determine who performs better than just trying to lump everybody together and assume that, you know, you’re going to be running this one keyword, and however it does, it does. Otherwise you should reduce competition by geotrageting differently, or targeting a different demographic. People probably don’t use negative keywords enough to eliminate some of the overlap they have – the only way to eliminate it is not to geogtarget it in two different ways. You can also stop your ads for showing for different things. So anyway, yes, it’s probably more value to separate them than to worry too much about duplication, because there are other ways to stop it.
JR: Do you find that because you do have a lot of data you have to monitor it more frequently?
RB: Absolutely. You know, if you have an account that spends thousands and thousands of dollars a day, and you just don’t pay attention to it…or maybe you make a change and you don’t act on that change or test the change for a few days…that’s lots of money. We have a responsibility to our clients to always know where their money is being spent.
BB: I try to get into all my accounts every day, but with the larger accounts, you have to actually do something every day, like sometimes I look into an account, it’s running okay, maybe make a few changes; but with a larger account, something can happen so quickly that your spend increases drastically on a certain keyword that hadn’t been performing for the last month, and now it’s getting a ton of clicks, and so you have to go in and make more changes that you do on accounts every day.
RB: Part of the other challenge of it is, that small changes can have such a large effect. You know, if you…and testing happens faster. So if you make a change, no, for example. If you have a small account, maybe you make a change, and you can’t make a decision on that change for a month because you need the data to collect, because it’s slow moving, not a lot of clicks, and you need to have statistical relevancy. Well, on a small account that may take a month, right? On some of my larger accounts, I can generate that data in an hour. So it’s a balance between…well, is that hour snapshot statistically relevant? No, it’s still not, because it’s still only one hour of one day. There are so many situational aspects that could have gone into it, why that change may have performed better or worse, but you do need to be careful of it.
JN: Not being too reactive is important because day-by-day data is not necessarily always valid. You have to consider longer term trends. Like, if this ad performed better today, and that’s statistically valid, according to the amount of traffic you received, is there also a Monday versus Wednesday difference in performance? Is there a weekend versus weekday difference? Is there, you know, a longer term difference that I’m not accounting for by making decisions on a day-by-day basis? So you can’t be fooled by your large traffic numbers into reacting to things that might not exist.
BB: Trying to find the balance I think with larger accounts, because there is so much stuff going on, and there is so much you want to do, so you go in there and you make a lot of changes, but then, you know, performance increases, but then you’re like “well, why did performance increase, I did 10 different things in the last week.” But something that I do like is that when you try something out or test something, results come fairly quickly. So you can maybe let a certain campaign run for a week and see the results from it, where in a smaller account you have to let it run for a month before you see any significant results. So, with larger accounts, it’s trying to find the balance between letting things run long enough to see the results, and making sure you’re making those changes.
RB: So what I tend to do is…the longer I’ve been managing an account, the more I have a feel for it. We make decisions based on the numbers, but you can have a sense of how the account is going to react. So I know that on some of the high spend accounts that I’ve been working with for months and months, that what the expected change is, and after a few days maybe, I can make a decision on it, and more often than not, I make the right decision based on the data. And the change you make after that tells you if you made the right decision. Did the account improve or decline?
JN: You need to develop your ability to think of strategy for a large account because, like I said, any change you do make will have an impact really quickly, so you need to kind of have a strategy where “I’m going to grow this account by doing this.” If it doesn’t work you need to react very quickly, so you need to lay out a plan in advance for “if this happens I’m going to… If this happens I’m going to…” And know what you’re going to do, because otherwise in an account that changes quickly, it can be kind of hard to think on your feet.
BB: I actually started thinking ahead and thinking “Okay if this doesn’t work and I have to pause this, do I have another campaign that I can turn on to replace it?”
RB: Having a strategy is super important because if an account is spending thousands over thousands of dollars a day, you need to have a plan going into it. If you turn it on and all this data starts coming back at you, and you’re not within goal metrics, it’s not going to leave a positive taste in the client’s mouth. Like if we didn’t already have some type of expectation of how this thing is going to start, kick off, or if it’s bad, turn around, or if it’s okay, how we’re going to improve it.
JR: What advice you would give someone who has never worked on an account before? What’s your top advice to get started?
JN: Don’t forget everything that you’ve done in smaller accounts, and just, pay attention to it really, really often. The principles aren’t that different, it’s just that things can change really quickly. I really don’t think the principles are that different. You need to eventually need to be thinking about it in a different way if your account is so large and growth oriented that you constantly need to be doing big things to grow it, like that’s different. But I don’t think people should be freaked out about big accounts. All the same principles apply, like in terms of good management initially. I think initially while you’re getting familiar with a big account you need to pay a lot of attention, make sure things are going as expected. I think that sometimes moving from accounts where things move slowly – again, nothing moves that slowly in PPC – but in an account that’s spending you know, like $200 a day versus $4,000 versus $10,000 a day, I think that people don’t always expect to have to go into the account and react as frequently as you do when there’s a lot of traffic in your account.
BB: I think the best advice is to talk to the client. Because you might think “well this is the audience I’m targeting,” but if they’re the client, they know their target market, so make sure you talk to them and get all the information so that you can start focusing on which group of people you’re targeting and which keywords work best for them. So talk to the client first before you just go in and start, saying “oh, I think this keyword will work” or “I think this one will work.”
RB: So that would be my biggest piece of advice is just know the client, know the product or service, know what the goal is, make sure you have very well defined metrics – performance metrics, and have a plan before you flip the switch because you don’t want surprises. They’re going to happen, but you should be at least be prepared for the potential of…what the potential’s going to be. If you’re so far outside of your range then, I mean if you just go into something hastily and make some decisions and turn it on, and you’re just so far out, it’s really hard to backpedal from that. So, that’s my advice.
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