How does your agency manage accounts? If you’re in house, is it just you performing analysis, or do you have assistance? Here is the breakdown of the Paid Search department at Hanapin when I was hired:

Image of lego pieces
  • Account Manager (AM) – manages and takes ownership of the accounts and conducts weekly client calls
  • Production Specialist (PS) – works on the accounts behind the scenes – more of a task based role
  • Client Manager (CM) – manages client relationships and keeps a “pulse” on each account. Guides weekly client calls and pulls performance reports

I was hired as an Account Manager, meaning I had my own set of accounts to manage (after our ten week training program, of course).

Not too long ago, the department structure was shifted to the following:

  • Account Manager – unchanged
  • Production Specialist – unchanged
  • Account Analyst (AA) – works with back end data and analysis on accounts with an emphasis on underperforming accounts. Works on strategy alongside Account Managers & sits in on calls on an as-needed basis
  • Client Services Manager (CSM) – performs monthly check-ins with clients and no longer guides weekly calls. Still focuses on client relationships

The major changes are the addition of the Analyst role, as well as a slight change in the Client Services Manager description. Shortly after I transitioned to the Account Analyst role. Why did things change? I’m glad you asked.

Why The Change?

When these departmental changes were made, there were three main things in mind:

  • Client happiness
  • More focus put on underperforming accounts
  • More capacity on the team for analysis

Client Relationship

Sometimes we run into a situation where a client doesn’t feel as though we’re doing enough or they aren’t getting enough attention. Or sometimes a client just wants a bit of extra work done on the account (i.e., special project requests).

Having another person available on the account can really ease tensions with the client relationship. In these situations the AA can jump in and perform some extra analysis and sit in on calls.

Underperforming Accounts

This bucket aligns closely with the client relationship, but sometimes even though the relationship is great, performance is still suffering. Here the AA’s job is to jump into the account and do some serious digging.

The AA also serves to take some of the burden and stress off of the AM in these situations. When two people are tackling a problem together, the weight of the world doesn’t rest on one person’s shoulders. Stress levels decrease (at least somewhat) and the world is a better place.

Account Analysis

This task is probably the most obvious reason. In some cases, the Account Manger may not have the capacity to fully dig into a problem and come up with a list of potential solutions. AA’s are a dedicated resource for these situations, and the main goal is turning performance around as quickly as we can. Note that this can apply to any account, not necessarily one that is underperforming

The AA team also has capacity to do analysis and other tasks that the AMs don’t have time for. This not only gets things done, but also ensures that the strategy can move forward in a timely manner. Having an extra person on board not only solves problems quicker, but also means other projects aren’t put on hold for troubleshooting issues.

Why I Transitioned from AM to AA

For me personally, it was a matter of what aspects of the job were making me happy. While I don’t mind the client relations side, I found myself getting excited about performing the back end analysis and being able to help out accounts that needed an extra set of eyes. This is the area that I felt I was making the biggest impact to my co-workers. An added bonus for me is that I continue to manage two of my own accounts, so I don’t completely miss out on these benefits.

Another huge benefit of having the AA role in our department is that I don’t spend all of my time looking at any one account. That way when there is a problem, I can come into it with fresh eyes and pick out things that the AM may have missed (we’ve all done it). Beyond spotting an overlooked issue, having an outside pair of eyes makes it easier to question the assumptions in the account and uncover new opportunities.

The Transition Process

Once the decision was made to change my title, I started dedicating more of my time to reaching out to AMs and helping them solve problems. I also started taking more initiative to dig into accounts on my own and come up with some suggestions for the AM and also discussing strategy.

When the change was implemented, Secret Jake (now a Senior Account Analyst) began working on a formal process for AMs to submit requests to the production team. While switching to a new system is never completely free of kinks, so far it’s been a great way to streamline workflow and allows us to keep track of what’s happening across our accounts.

The Analyst position is still evolving somewhat, and our duties can be pretty fluid. Mostly our focus remains on underperforming accounts and accounts where relationships are strained, but we are also looped in with new accounts that may need some assistance in the beginning of the relationship.

Closing Thoughts

While there was nothing inherently wrong with the structure pre-AA role, I feel this new setup allows us to give more attention to our clients and accounts and focus on doing the tasks that make the biggest impact.

From an Account Manger perspective, I also know that it’s very nice (and comforting) having someone else have an eye on your account, as well as someone to brainstorm strategy. Having been an Account Manager and knowing what it’s like to manage and be responsible for accounts and the client relationships, gives me a better perspective to better analyze and problem solve for tricky accounts.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy being in a client facing role, or more of the behind-the-scenes analysis?