Internal QA of Agency Accounts

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Internal QA of Agency Accounts.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Does your agency/company have a process for auditing accounts under your management? How does it work?

  • No formal policy but we routinely review each account as a group to cover any interesting ad tests or insights into performance. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • Yes. A list of reports for specific data that are cross-referenced. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Nope. We are a pretty small agency and no one above me really understands paid search. I’m my own boss. Good and bad. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Ideally, other team members should audit from time to time…unfortunately, there isn’t always time. – Matt Umbro
    • That’s the bottom line, time. There are definitely benefits to something like this, but too many other fires to put out. – Luke Alley
  • Nothing formal. Have tossed a few ideas around, but in the end it’s the top level KPIs that I’m looking at. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • No formal process, yet. We seek out each other’s thoughts, but otherwise no formal reviews. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Yes. Called “lever audits”: Focus on event history to audit change frequency, distribution, & focus on most influential objects. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Not at this second, but we’re just formalizing new processes and this will be part of it. – Ira Kates (@IraKates)
  • I believe regular audits by someone not managing the accounts should be the norm. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)

Q2: How do you identify account problems before your clients do?

  • 1) watching KPIs, 2) being in the account more than them, 3) proactively approaching clients about said problems. – Luke Alley
  • Obsession with Year Over Year delta change percentages. Anomaly detection and contribution analysis finds what is weird & why. – Chris Haleua
  • Automated rules are helpful to send emails. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Daily analysis of fav reports give me a quick-look at major fluctuation from normal activity & helps catch problems quickly. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Work with clients (B2B Industrial) who have no idea how AdWords works. They have 100% trust in you. – Joe Martinez
  • WordStream’s monthly success report that highlights key changes month over month. i use it to quickly assess their account health! – Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
  • Also continual monitoring of longer-term account activity can help to recognize odd fluctuations that need to be investigated. – Kirk Williams
  • Theoretically, clients should always know what is and isn’t working – where effective communication comes into play. – Matt Umbro
  • Daily monitoring of the account helps us identify problem areas. Staying in the loop. – Michelle Morgan
  • KPI’s but also what pipes into those KPI’s if we know sales match to clicks in cetain DMA’s if those fall we know sales will. – Ira Kates
  • I would have thought you would use the same audit process as you would for a new account, done by someone else. – Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
  • My biggest preach point is being integrated with whatever advertising in market and their business goals and reporting! The days of us being “Keyword Guys” off in the corner are over! – Ira Kates

Q3: How do you breach conversations with fellow employees after reviewing unsatisfactory accounts?

  • Take them into a dimly lit room, bring another manager, and play good cop/bad cop. Try to get a confession. Seriously tho, haven’t done this. But if people know there are audits going on, expectation should be set for a review of audit. – Luke Alley
  • Failure rarely caused by laziness. Instead often busy w/ less important tasks. Reset priorities w/ balanced optimization habits. – Chris Haleua
  • Our PPC dept. meets at least once every other week to go over accounts that are down or to toss questions out there. Extra eyes. – Joe Martinez
  • Present the data then provide guidance and suggestions for improvement. Allow the data to speak for itself. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • I try to understand their reasoning first – I then explain where I believe the gaps are and what needs to be corrected. – Matt Umbro
  • Haven’t run into poor mgmt, but there are sometimes opts to be made. Share ideas openly as everyone’s goal is to do our best work. – Michelle Morgan
  • I usually see 2 types of search marketers: bid addicts or testing zealots. Both need to be balanced. Cant just do what is easy. – Chris Haleua
  • The earlier the better! that way, you can work together to address the issue before it starts to spiral. – Erin Sagin
  • Most cases I see is “being a creature of habit” in optimization and not treating each client as an individual account. – Joe Martinez
  • If you have the right culture you should be able to look at this as a win, rather than a personal assault! – Josh Devlin

Q4: As an agency or sole practitioner, how do you ensure your accounts are up to date with latest industry trends/features?

  • Keeping up with news, keeping in contact with agency reps, check SERPs every once in a while. – Michelle Morgan
  • Follow the right people on Twitter. Get news early and often. – Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
  • By having PPCChat up on tweetdeck all day (seriously) to learn about said trends. – Kirk Williams
  • Reps, research/blogs, spot check audits quarterly, webinars. – Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
  • I read a lot of blogs. Follow this hashtag. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • New ad types & ext get ignored for too long. Watch like a hawk and jump in on experiments w/ new options. – Chris Haleua
  • Purposefully working into account maintenance the time to add new features/experiments for all clients. – Kirk Williams
  • We have a weekly lunch for SEO/PPC marketers. Get in a room & discuss blogs, articles, etc. that we’ve seen to stay up to date. – Joe Martinez
  • Set aside 15min at the end of the day/during lunch to pour through blogs, articles- then team meetings or a “read this!” email. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • I also conduct weekly ppc meetings with the team to go over new and existing tactics. – Michael Knight
  • I make sure to stay up to date myself, and if it is fitting for the client, I write up a plan to implement it. – Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
  • One area where I’ve actually found reviews w/ Google reps helpful. Always flagging opportunity to try new features. – Timothy Jensen
  • Company weekly ‘Big Picture’ meeting goes over industry news by the team. – Michael Knight
  • Now that I’m solo I rely on webinars/blogs, PPCchat, harassing reps for beta invites, and lots of testing. – Mori Yagi (@mori_kun)
  • A pinch of Google Reps, a handful of #ppcchat, a splash of blogs & lots of industry/account analysis = Recipe for PPC Freshness. – Nicole Mintiens

Q5: When having the “fire” calls with clients, how do you frame the conversation?

  • Depends on the client – usually starting out by asking questions that will dig deeper to find true issue – not always the same. If questions don’t resolve – apologize. find solution. fix. move on (when possible). – Michael Knight
  • Acknowledge fault (if any) up front. Tell how it’s being fixed & how it will be prevented in future. Move on. – Robert Brady
  • Just like minority of objects influencing majority of success, bring focus to few causes responsible for most of fire. Then act. – Chris Haleua
  • Depends on the client, I usually try and get as much info as I can before I start talking. Every situation is different. – Derek Ostler
  • “I don’t think my agency is able to provide what you need.” Because 95% of the time, problems develop because the client can’t/won’t provide what’s needed. – Theresa Zook
  • What’s the issue & why is it important? Let me dig deeper, follow up ASAP with data & solutions to solve to move forward. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Acknowledge what isn’t working and present plan to fix – can be tricky not to shoot yourself in the foot. – Matt Umbro
  • Be responsible & take ownership of as needed, then explain next steps and future plans. – Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
  • Usually get as much background info on personality as possible prior to call. So I can tailor from there. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • It’s problem solution. Never, ever go to the client without a solution to the problem you are bringing them. – Ira Kates
  • Also, make sure I do research before I call. What happened, when, and have at least two possible “fixes” just in case. – Theresa Zook
  • And always ends with a “and here’s how we’re going to make it right…” – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Apologize & C.R.I.B.: Commit to mutual purpose, Recognize purpose of strategy, Invent shared focus, Brainstorm new strategies. – Chris Haleua

Q6: When you do review colleague accounts that aren’t performing well, what do you find to be the biggest issue(s)?

  • Little time being put into the account. – Luke Alley
  • Adhoc. I like them to feel comfortable to come to me when they are having issues. It has often stopped issues before they start. – Ira Kates
  • Generic copy throughout account – not specific enough to each individual ad group. – Matt Umbro
  • Account settings that have been overlooked. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • Usually not enough time or inexperience or newer team members who just need a helping hand and strategy direction. – Michael Knight
  • Doing what we are best at, what is most familiar, & what is easiest rather than what is most important, balanced, & impactful. – Chris Haleua
  • Oversights due to workload and prioritization of accounts/campaigns. – Nicole Mintiens
  • In other words, giving up on the need to always be learning, stretching, and experimenting with new optimizations & ad types. – Chris Haleua
  • Agreed with generic ad copy plus bad ad formatting is usually the first things I see the most. – Joe Martinez
  • Master blocking chart of campaigns and client goals. Do a check in at quarter and mid points. – Ira Kates
  • Also, accidental limiting of the potential of accounts due to initial targeting and keyword settings. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Not pushing the limits with new ideas, branded only/bottom of funnel keywords, limited ad types, not reaching for new audiences. – Maria Corcoran
  • Haven’t seen anyone mention this one, but when the client complains! – Ira Kates
  • Stale campaigns, lack of effort in analyze & adjust stages. Knowing what the cost v profit/revenue margin is & acting on that. – Maria Corcoran


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)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris Haleu (@chrishaleua)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Derek Ostler (@DerekOstler)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
• Ira Kates (@IraKates)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
• Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Mori Yagi (@mori_kun)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcaps have no need for QA.

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

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