I’ve been assigned to a series of new clients recently as we shepherd them through their first 90 days with Hanapin. Additionally, I have been auditing accounts for prospects through our pre-sales process. In every instance, the accounts are pre-existing and have or would become an ‘inherited account’ situation. These accounts are currently not meeting goals and have a previous history of under performance.

This situation begs the question of how to identify and gain key wins in these inherited PPC accounts. Ultimately, our goals are to achieve positive performance and prove worth to our clients.

Below are some of the things I look to do that have helped me convert under performing accounts I’ve inherited and turned them it into well-oiled machines.

Identifying & Addressing the Low Hanging Fruit

Upon inheriting a PPC account, I immediately move to identify three areas that are significantly underperforming and what simple fixes can be implemented to improve performance quickly. In most instances I find that areas of underperformance are connected to:

  • Account Structure
  • Click Thru Rate (CTR)
  • Mobile Traffic Performance

Structure is the backbone of a great account. I very rarely see a well laid out account underperform and almost always see poorly structured accounts fail. First thing I do is identify ad groups containing more than 20 keywords. I reorganize those ad groups into tighter themes to create a tighter bond between keywords and ad messaging.

Once the reorganization of those greater than 20-keyword ad groups have been completed, I immediately begin implementing A/B ad tests. The goal of ad testing is to both increase click thru and conversion rate. CTR helps raise quality scores and lower CPC’s while conversions bring in the additional leads or sales clients are craving.

Finally, I address mobile performance. If mobile is under performing, I increase the negative percentage of the bid modifier (or implement bid modifiers for the first time) in place to reduce cost per click of mobile traffic. In instances where performance is particularly bad, I will bid -100% (essentially pausing mobile traffic) temporarily and see if overall account metrics improve. In addition to adjusting bid modifiers, I will institute mobile preferred ads if they do not already exist in the account.

Growth Initiatives

Once we’ve addressed the low hanging fruit and gotten some quick wins under our belt, my next step is to find new areas of growth. This part of account management is my favorite. In this phase, I identify what is not being done in an account and begin doing it. Below are examples of questions I’ll ask.

  • Are Google Display Network (GDN) campaigns running? In many instances GDN is not part of the mix. GDN provides a chance to increase conversion, brand awareness, and fuel the size of a remarketing list.
  • Is there a remarketing program in place? I’m still shocked when I don’t see accounts with remarketing campaigns or ad groups. Remarketing is a huge missed opportunity as these users have already visited the site and are likely to convert with a little bit more prodding.
  • Are ad extensions in place? Ad extensions have proven time and again to increase click thru and conversion rates. I also see stronger cost per conversion numbers when extensions are deployed through an account. While many advertisers are using sitelinks, they are not taking full advantage of other extensions, such as call extensions to the extent they should.

In addition, I am finding in most of these new accounts I’ve inherited that Bing Ads are either being very under utilized or not being used at all. Bing Ads provides a tool that allows for easy importing of Google campaigns into a Bing account. Importing a Google account into Bing can bring almost immediate incremental conversion volume.


Inheriting a PPC account under the best of circumstances is not an easy chore. It takes time to both learn the account and understand underlying reasons why items were set up the way they were. Things get even more complicated when the account being taken over is not performing to expectations.

However, identifying and executing those quick win projects can turn performance around in a hurry. Since there so many variables from account to account, I suggest reading “PPC – The Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Marketing” for additional perspectives on what to look for in an account in addition to what I’ve outlined above.

Following up these quick win projects with a full on growth initiative can turn your inherited old rust bucket of an account into a shiny new sports car!