Taking Over New PPC Accounts

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Taking Over New PPC Accounts.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: When inheriting a new PPC account, what is the first initiative you take? Why?

  • Research and audit – see what worked and what didn’t. – Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
  • I find out what the allowable cost per conversion is. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Change all Broad Keywords to Exact and BMM versions. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • Sometime better to transition away from broad match. Otherwise you risk cutting traffic. – Jeremy Brown
      • Sometimes… but not often from my experiences. Usually I’m inheriting it because it’s in poor shape. – James Svoboda
        • I’ve seen broad match perform relatively well in rare cases. Don’t throw baby out with bath water. – Jeremy Brown
          • I respect you Jeremy, but I’m never going to agree with you on this one. You can always add broad back in later if needed. – James Svoboda
          • Broad Match is amazing – it’s existence gives PPC consultants an easy way to save client money – by ditching it. – Michael Madew
      • Lately I’ve been auditing accounts that are in good shape, but aren’t getting regular attention. – Luke Alley
  • Get to know the business. Perform a test conversion to understand visitor experience. Identify top terms & kill loss leaders. – Chris Haleu (@chrishaleua)
  • Look @ account history + make sure Analytics is set up properly, w/goals, b/c there’s lots to learn from past data. – Johathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
  • Make sure proper conversion tracking is in place! Need to start on stable (and accurate) footing. – Matt Umbro
  • Separate the combined Search & Display campaigns. Because you know there’s always at least one. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Look through the settings, then the historical data and set up a call to discuss goals, history, etc. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Usually account structure clean up, cutting spend fat. Tightening up relevance. – Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
  • Onboarding survey then call with the new client. You need context around goals, budgets, and other info. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Decide between overhaul or gradual adjustment. – Sam Turner (@turnersam000)
  • Full account audit, then make a decision on whether a restructure will suffice or if we need to start from scratch. – DBD Media (@dbdmedia)
  • Get the account stable so I can take the proper time to get things in order. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Current performance, missing basic elements (ie sitelinks, etc), past performance, KPI goal initiatives & a comp analysis. – Cassandra McClure (@imcassy)
  • Understand conversion tracking & funnel. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Audit it. Might need quick changes. Might hurt if you make changes quickly. All depends. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • Goals and KPI’s discussion happens before we touch anything unless there are obvious problems. Then we plug opts while we talk. – Heather Cooan
  • Account audit. Check conversions and analytics goals. – George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
  • Definitely research. Don’t start making changes until you’re sure of the goals and have studied past data. – ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
  • It’s a very long list, but my first check is ALWAYS Campaign Settings. There’s always something wrong in there. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
  • Something I’ve started to do at the beginning of new account takeovers is run the broken link script. – Matt Umbro
  • Add any and all ad extensions that make sense. Too many clients ignore them. That’s free first page real estate – use them! – Jeremyah Grigery (@JeremyahGrigery)
  • Check Settings, Delete Off Search & Display Campaigns, Change Optimize for clicks to Rotate Indefinitely, Then Research. – James Kravic (@JKravic)
  • Another big thing is to make sure all tracking is working and accurate. I’m amazed at some things I see in new accounts. – Heather Cooan
  • Second thing is definitely conversion tracking health check and clean up. If you’re not tracking, you’re flying blind. – Michelle Morgan
  • Address which campaign is using most ad spend and change match types, bid levels & pause too broad of kw’s w/o conversions. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Q2: Do you tend to build new campaigns right away or modify existing campaigns? Why?

  • Usually always build new right away, so its in the best shape off the bat, otherwise you are doing double duty. – Michael Knight
  • If you want something done right do it yourself. Create campaigns that you understand top to bottom. – Neil Sorenson
  • Better to start fresh with a properly configured campaign than to start adjusting existing. Also gives client option to revert. – Jonathan Maltz
  • Depends on history/data, prefer to start new, but if account is decent, then I’ll revamp. – Mark Kennedy
  • Modify existing initially, just so I’ll have time to build new (if necessary) without too much bleeding. – Michelle Morgan
  • It depends. Usually it’s best to start new with fresh data, but some campaigns are salvageable. – Scriptilabs
  • Modify first. Can always shift impressions. Good to keep any data and quality scores. – Tyler Purcell
  • Building new helps for historical comparison v old structure & client can always convert back. – Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
  • Existing campaigns have better chance of success due to historic CTR. Depends on work involved though. – Michael Madew (@IntelligentPPC)
  • Depends on account. If there’s a lot of past data I generally at least start by modifying existing. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Usually try to refine existing campaigns to simplify year over year performance comparisons. – Chris Haleua
  • Depends if existing campaigns are producing results. If It’s already getting results, small modifications come first. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Modify existing. Mostly to keep history and not rock the boat too much. If need new, then add new. – Jeremy Brown
    • If the account is performing well I won’t be as liberal with new builds, but ultimately I reorganize to my ideal structure. – Matt Umbro
  • Most often, I keep what’s working well running, pause everything else, and then build build build! – Matt Umbro
  • Unless it’s a train wreck, I modify. (A) easier, (B) keep history. – Steve Gibson
  • Usually New. It’s rare to keep something that was not performing well, regardless of who built it. – James Svoboda
    • If it’s performing close to goal, it would be odd to get rid of it. That’s why transition often makes sense for us. – Jeremy Brown
      • If I inherited an account that you built, I’d consider it. Otherwise, often too many off-target search term matches. – James Svoboda
  • It all depends on quality scores. If the account has a long history of bad QS, it might be worth starting with fresh kw’s. – Jeremyah Grigery
  • I took over a big ecom acct last yr & worked on improving existing elements until getting fully familiar, 60 days later=restructure. – Neil Sorenson
  • I will also build in stages, keeping best performing running while worst gets the upgrade first and build over a few weeks. – Michael Knight
  • Very much depends on account history and what’s found in audit along with conversations w/ client. – George Gilmer
  • Most accounts we inherit need to be started from scratch. Old accounts can be useful for ad copy and Neg Keyword Research. – James Kravic
  • Depends on structure / history & potential risk of costs/lost revenue by starting afresh. – Chris McCarthy-Stott (@mcstot)
  • I’ll start with new campaigns to see how they compare with existing. – Amy Middleton (@amyxmiddleton)
  • My guess is that after you’ve had it a bit, it’ll look very different from when you got it, even if you revamp. PPC evolution. – Mark Kennedy
  • Prefer to start anew but historical data is gold. some inherited accounts are like, “wth is going on here?!” – Cassandra McClure
  • I honestly prefer starting from scratch, but it’s such a time suck. So usually, I do a metered transition to a new structure. – Leo Sussan
  • Even if account is performing well, I like to build my own campaigns because I want to set according to my tactics. – Matt Umbro
  • Depends completely on the metrics and structure of the existing campaigns. Each account is unique – fix what’s broken, keep what works. – Ryan Moothart (@ryanmoothart)
  • Modify existing first but then rebuild if necessary. If you move keywords with their ads QS is much less affected. – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Every account is unique. 1st review historical data. Then starting with brand terms which convert best, build new campaigns. – Thomas Rasinen (@Rasinen)

Q3: How do you handle new accounts that are in good shape (as opposed to ones setup poorly)?

  • If in good shape, do housekeeping tasks, then move on to expansionary efforts. – Robert Brady
  • Accts in good shape usually get some adjustments to basic best practices & naming convention, but then I run with them. – Michelle Morgan
  • Even a good campaign can fail if client and manager goals are not aligned. Need to know why they switched. – Mark Kennedy
  • That is when I focus on growing volume (targeting, query mining, maybe even GDN) instead of stressing about efficiency as much. – Chris Haleua
  • Gotta take steps to make sure we know what’s working, why it’s working, & what hasn’t worked in the past. Client communication 101. – Michelle Morgan
  • Generally my first optimization task in new campaigns is to cut the fat…even good accounts have inefficiencies to cut. – Matt Umbro
  • More cautious with changes, in more of a “tweak and see” mode to start. – John Budzynski
  • Still do an account audit to decide what needs the most attention then create a strategy matrix for clear timelines. – Michael Knight
  • Perform a SWOT or some similar analysis to lay out what exactly is working well & what could use love. easy to lay out a POA. – Cassandra McClure
  • Creative and destination URLs most often need total overhaul. – Paolo Vidali (@PaoloRobot)
  • Once you know the why, then you can rework (or start new) to accomplish the right goals. – Mark Kennedy
  • Step 1: Rejoice! Step 2: Account Audit. Step 3: Begin Ad Copy Testing. – Leo Sussan
  • There is usually something to improve on, like regularity of changes, neg. kws, bid mods, etc. We just tread lightly. – Luke Alley
  • I typically wouldn’t take one on – unless they just wanted out outsource PPC management. And, if I took one on, I’d just do what I’d do if I was managing an a/c I’d optimized myself. – Steve Gibson
  • See if it can be built out along the same lines to build on current working foundations. Intro new features like RLSA/Ad Ext. – Niki Grant
  • We move a little slower with changes for strong performers. More aggressively with the dead fish. – Jeremy Brown
  • Start diversifying immediately to hedge future risk. Diversification is a luxury for an account with solid performance. – Jeremyah Grigery
  • Test: minor adjustments to ad copy, Sitelinks and more. – Thomas Rasinen
  • I’ve seen accounts where people got too aggressive with changes too quickly and hard to diagnose. – Jeremy Brown
  • I look for untapped keyword segments and conversion leaks. – James Svoboda
  • Audit account & find gaps. Push minor adjustments. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • I would also say to look for keyword conflicts. In other words, any opportunities to neg a KW in one campaign/ad group vs another? – Matt Umbro
  • If structure is fine, expand ads. Add suitable extensions, Betas. Target competitiors. Else: sensibly build granular structure. – Philip Oppenheimer (@philip_a)

Q4: How do you handle an account/individual campaign that breaks all best practices, but is performing extremely well?

  • That’s tough. I keep it as I build others and then SLOWLY work out of it, while imlementing strong practices to keep performance. – Mark Kennedy
  • It’s rare, but I’ve seen campaigns that haven’t been touched in years still have $0.10 CPCs and great exposure. – Matt Umbro
  • Pull out the factors that are performing well (keywords/queries, ad copy, etc.) & use in restructured campaigns. – Timothy Jensen
  • Then go back to main strategy and make it better and to best practice standards. – Michael Knight
  • There’s always a reason for good performance with a best practice inside of it…even if it’s hidden under layers. – Paolo Vidali
  • Either the best practices are wrong or it isn’t performing as well as it could. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Build a campaign that should work well long-term and slowly shift traffic from one to the other. – Michelle Morgan
  • Dissect as much as possible – try to find some source of the success. – Scriptilabs
  • Don’t throw baby out with bath water! Transition more gradually, but be open to leaving certain things. Best practices are there because they are usually correct. That doesn’t mean always. – Jeremy Brown
  • Identify what’s driving performance, see what small optimizations you can modify & apply. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. “Best practices” can be somewhat subjective depending on the nature of the account. – Jeremyah Grigery
  • Check change history for adjustments that possibly led to its setup. otherwise minor/slow baby changes expand upon its success. – Cassandra McClure
  • Refer to client’s goals – if client wants to grow profits, then I’d make a re-structure plan and manage client expectations. – Ryan Moothart
  • I often find that these accounts have built up historical QS and Keyword Click & Ad history that changes are tricky. – James Svoboda
    • Exactly – For better or worse, whatever you try to do will mess up that history. – Matt Umbro
  • Looked at a campaign recently where it has 4 brand keyword on broad match and getting .02-.03 CPCs. Hard to improve. – Jeremy Brown
  • Investigate if your best practices are assumptions. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • I’ve usually seen accts employing poor strategies to be enjoying temporary success. Not a ? of “if” it goes south, but “when”. – Neil Sorenson

Q5: Do you make Bing optimizations/new builds in tandem with AdWords or do you wait? What is your reasoning?

  • Work with smaller accounts, so I like Adwords to be really strong before I roll ver to Bing. – Mark Kennedy
  • Generally wait. Have been putting more effort into Bing the past yr, but focus is still where the volume is. – Timothy Jensen
  • Wait for Google to be built as I can just port over to Bing – as we all know, in its current state, its harder to optimize. – Michael Knight
  • I usually start with Google since that is where the volume starts. Bing also makes campaign copy super easy. – Chris Haleua
  • For the most part, yes. Generalizations made from data from one search engine does not necessarily translate to the other. If a test is worth running in AdWords, it’s worth running in Bing (the exception being functionality restrictions). – Leo Sussan
  • Depends how heavily Bing’s being used. Little to none: wipe clean & sync with AdWords. If good volume: optimize separately. – Michelle Morgan
  • Use Googs first to build efficiencies then move over to Bing. once in Bing, optimize both separately for different searcher base. – Cassandra McClure
  • I wait with Bing, because it sucks to use and has never contributed more than 15% of total conversions. – Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
  • My experience is that Bing has lower-quality users. I tend to work on Google first, then bring only what works over to Bing. – Ryan Moothart
  • I prefer to optimize the heck out of an AdWords account then migrate a solid campaign to Bing. – James Svoboda
  • Wait on Bing optimizations because the lower volume means bigger wins are possible with AdWords first…except for the SQR. – Paolo Vidali
  • After I have both AdWords & Bing Ads set up, I tend to optimize them as if they were mutually exclusive. Different behavior. – Ryan Moothart
    • Quality depends on industry and demographics. Bing/Yahoo skews older with some other differences. – Jeremy Brown
  • Adwords first because more data and faster learning. Exception: dead fish in Bing account need to be dealt with. – Jeremy Brown
  • Prev only used what worked in G into Bing, but found different KWs converting on B while failing on G. Opt separately if possible. – Neil Sorenson
  • Often too limited volume in Bing to test in tandem. Best to implement what works in AdWords. – Tyler Purcell
  • I’ve also found that keywords labled as Low Search Volume in AdWords, usually ARE in Bing. Avoid enter Ad Groups of these. -James Svoboda
  • Wait for AdWords to be successful, Get everything you can out of adwords, Then expand to Bing. – James Kravic
  • Not sure what you guys are seeing, but my revenues / CPAs in Bing are pretty solid. I can’t afford to treat it like a stepchild. – Leo Sussan

Q6: What alerts, scripts, and/or automated rules do you setup when taking over new PPC accounts?

  • I just do the basic alerts, but for everything else, wait until its running smoothly manually and then start adding in rules etc. – Michael Knight
  • Daily / Weekly / Monthly Reporting Script. So much time saved. – Leo Sussan
  • Nothing right away. I want to manage that mess myself. – Michelle Morgan
  • I typically wait until I have a good feel for the account before I set up any scripts or automations. – Mark Kennedy
  • We have a bunch of internal processes. We are currently evaluating a few scripts to add to that list. – Jeremy Brown
  • I set the broken link checker to run weekly and also set myself to receive all ad disapproval and billing alerts. – Matt Umbro
  • Honestly, nothing right away. In the beginning, there is so much account monitoring that automation isn’t too necessary. – Scriptilabs
  • Aggressive pos rule for brand. conservative pos rule for high rev general. ROAS rule w/layer of non-conv cost decrease for rest. – Chris Haleua
  • I set up alerts but i’m more “manual” for inherited accounts at first while i get acquainted w/ them. – Cassandra McClure
  • I run the broken link checker daily. With so many sites being down lately at any given time, you never know. – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)

Q7: What timeframe do you give clients before you “make your impact” on an account?

  • If I’m not seeing results in 90 days, my strategy isn’t working. That’s enough time to know. – John Holland (@hollappc)
  • 1 month to prove myself. – Michael Medew
  • I don’t. I’d rather set the expectation of better than last week every week until we hit their goals. – Heather Cooan
  • I generally tell clients that we should at least be moving in the right direction after 30 days. – Matt Umbro
  • I work month-by-month, so they should expect to see results within the first month. – Steve Gibson
  • No promise of hitting goals in a certain time frame. Start convos about strategy & what might happen, then move forward together. – Michelle Morgan
  • In lead gen, [it depends] on the length of the funnel. My impact cannot fully be seen until lead quality is assessed. – Jeremyah Grigery
  • Generally, 1st month is analysis, restructure/etc., and testing. Should start seeing results in 2nd month. – Jeremy Brown
  • Making an impact is often quick, but benchmarking and SHOWING improvment can take longer. Conversion tracking FTW! – James Svoboda
  • It does depend… my baseline is a 3 month infancy period. inherited acct’s are still new to me & clients must understand. – Cassandra McClure
  • Try to answer that question in the context of annual seasonality. Need to make sure month over month slump is not natural. – Chris Haleua
  • Usually 2 months. Although it depends on the technicalities of the account and the desired outcomes. Traffic vs. Acquisitions. – Juan Restrepo (@JuanRRestrepo)
  • Explaining transition process is necessary but exact timeframe can set up for failure. Manage & pass on improvement as it comes. – Tyler Purcell
  • Depends on how acct is before taking it on but usually ask for 3 months | set CLEAR definition of what we will measure against. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Middleton (@amyxmiddleton)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Cassandra McClure (@imcassy)
• Chris Haleu (@chrishaleua)
• DBD Media (@dbdmedia)
• George Gilmer (@GeorgeGilmer)
• Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooan)
• James Kravic (@JKravic)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Jeremyah Grigery (@JeremyahGrigery)
• Johathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• John Holland (@hollappc)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Juan Restrepo (@JuanRRestrepo)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
• McCarthy-Stott (@mcstot)
• Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
• Michael Madew (@IntelligentPPC)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• Paolo Vidali (@PaoloRobot)
• Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
• Philip Oppenheimer (@philip_a)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Ryan Moothart (@ryanmoothart)
• Sam Turner (@turnersam000)
• ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Thomas Rasinen (@Rasinen)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Taking Over PPCChat Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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