About a year ago, I made the shift from in-house PPC to agency. With 10+ years of in-house experience, I knew that agency life was going to be a big change for me, with the biggest change having to manage a roster of different clients. Now I like variety as much as the next person, but sometimes agency life can provide quite a bit of it—especially if you happen to have something major going on with several clients at the same time.
With account management sometimes being a complicated juggling act, I was often faced with trying to keep up with regular account tasks (such as ad testing or search query reporting) while handling bigger projects and client emergencies at the same time. Sometimes, the bigger projects would take my attention away from my regular PPC tasks and cause stressful situations down the road. To combat this, I started devising tactics that would help me manage my accounts as best as possible while also taking into account a myriad of unexpected tasks.
Control The Controllable
The first tactic I regularly employ is to control the items that are controllable. For example, I know that I need to run search query reports periodically in each account. However, knowing that I need to do this simply isn’t enough, as impromptu projects are always popping up and preventing me from remembering. To ensure that this task gets done, I go into my calendar and schedule search query reports for each of my clients throughout the year. To take it one step further, I strategically schedule this task for Fridays, as my Fridays don’t include client calls and are usually ideal days to accomplish account work. Though it’s not a foolproof system (thanks to the ability to “snooze” a task into eternity), it is certainly the reminder I need to help me cross that task off of my list.
I follow the same process with any task that I believe is going to come up on a regular basis. I also note my calendar when I want to follow-up on something – for example, I might put a note in there to check the CTR of some new callout extensions 2-3 weeks after I added them. Without that calendar reminder, it’s something that might easily have fallen through the cracks if I were busy with something else.
Not all big PPC projects are unexpected. In fact, many clients have big projects that are predictable. For example, I work with one client who changes all of their campaigns quarterly. Knowing this is going to take up a great deal of my time, I use my three-month lead time to plan properly. Even though I technically could accomplish this project in a week, I certainly don’t leave it for a week before the anticipated launch date, as unexpected projects from other clients may get in the way. Rather, I slowly tackle parts of this project over the three-month period, utilizing any slow periods I may have to knock out some ad copy and keyword research. That way, I’m able to ease into the due date without turning it into a stressful situation.
Create A To-Do List
To add some organization into my workweek, I utilize a status document, which is essentially a to-do list of all the tasks I need to accomplish for a client during the next 2-3 months. This is yet another way to keep things organized and to remember all the tasks that I need to perform for each client. I use this list in conjunction with my calendar to make sure that everything gets completed in a timely manner.
To add a layer of accountability to the status document, I also share this list with my clients so that they can keep track of the tasks at hand and the time frame in which they are completed. This document also helps clients prioritize the projects at hand, as when they see everything laid out in an organized manner it becomes a lot easier to understand which tasks are the most time-sensitive.
In addition to creating a status document, you can also utilize a project management platform, like Basecamp. This program allows for one central location of items such as to-do lists, client communication, meeting notes, and more. Having such quick and easy access to all of your client info in one place can be a huge time-saver. Ever try locating an email that your client sent you months ago? It’s a much faster process if you know where to look.
Perhaps one of the hardest things I had to learn was to utilize resources within my company to help me complete certain projects. Like most people, I usually want to do all of my client work myself. There’s usually that feeling that no one is going to do a campaign buildout the way I do or that it will take too long to explain to someone else how I want the task done. But what do you do when the workload is just too much?
Rather than have the quality of my work suffer due to my inability to hand work off to others, I’ve come to embrace the fact that my agency offers resources to use when the workload gets heavy. And once I started using those resources, my life became a lot easier, as I was able to keep checking items off of my never-ending to-do list while keeping all of my clients happy. And I also learned through the process that there are plenty of people who CAN do a campaign buildout the way I do—perhaps even better!
When I combine these four tactics together, I find that I’ve created a time management machine for myself, where I’m able to complete all of my PPC tasks and keep my focus on each one of my clients. Though we will never be able to plan for the unexpected, having processes in place can certainly help keep things running smoothly when our clients throw us a curve ball.
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