Troubleshooting PPC Account Issues

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) decide to hand over the task of running the chat to Luke Alley (@LukeAlley), and he led with yet another great question set titled “Troubleshooting PPC Account Issues.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What are the most common account issues that you troubleshoot?

  • Card declined. – Chris McCarthy-Stott (@mcstot)
  • Tracking. Tag managers are a mixed blessing. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Inconsistent goals and no understanding for CPA. The client tends to take a “optimize all the things!” approach. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Performance declines, lead quality, drop in volume. – Luke Alley
  • Ad disapproval’s is definitely a big one! – Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
  • This would be a really long list, but the most common thing I see with new clients are wrong Rotation / Targeting settings. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
    • True. I be the list is going to look a lot different for new clients VS existing clients. – Luke Alley
  • My personal favorite is tracking issues. aka, they have never actually set up or validated any conversion tracking whatsoever. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • Crappy QS. Low CTR. Setting Issues. Mostly w no traffic when I expect it. – Travis Phipps (@phipps)
  • Because I work with a number of clients here in Spain – language settings are always hard for clients to understand. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • Tracking code issues, so aggravating. – Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
  • Conversion tracking….when tracking breaks a developer mysteriously disappears…just say’n. – Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
  • Tie between ad disapproval or conflicting negative and active keywords. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • For new clients: inaccurate conversion tracking & not linked up properly with Analytics. – Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
  • Position slipping. Is it competition? Bids? Ad Copy? KW’s? – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Probably tracking or lack of it. Makes it bloody hard to benchmark as well. – Chris McCarthy Stott
  • Campaign Settings for new clients, Attribution goals for older clients. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • Varies so widely! Basic settings, bad search terms eating up budgets, only one ad for everything, no conversion goals. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • In take-over accounts, (1) settings fails, (2) overly-general ad groups/campaigns (3) poor Neg KW practices. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Time Zone Issues. This is also a lack of enough conversions issue, but still. Managing ad schedules effectively. – Travis Phipps
  • TRACKING ISSUES!!! and “Why am I getting clicks from outside the UK, even with UK targeting?” – Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
  • Interface reports still crap since AdWords dark ages. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • One ad and one landing page. 1,0000s broad match keywords. – Steve Cameron
  • Forced platform or policy changes too. – Julie Bacchini
  • “Low search volume” “Not showing due to low ad rank” – Niki Grant
  • Merchant Feeds! Google Shopping. How could I have forgotten? – Travis Phipps
  • Also the damn irrelevant placements and all the spam websites I have to weed out. – Roxana Hassel
  • AdWords credit cards going down and campaigns turning off wihtout warning. – James Svoboda (@Realiticy)
  • Clients would say either costs or results. (Maybe I’m not understanding the question). For me, w/new clients, it’s usually poor campaign structure. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Is phone call tracking set up properly. – Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
  • I’ll toss in another one: Broad Match Keywords (+ managing their negatives). Even with a shared library it’s time consuming. – Andrew McCarthy

Q2: Do you have a process for troubleshooting specific PPC issues? If so, what is it?

  • We’re actually hiring an “implementation specialist” solely to set up conv tracking, call tracking, etc. for our clients! – Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
  • Start at the foundation (tracking, goals, settings) and work the way from there into the details. – Nate Knox
  • Yes. (What is it? Which specific PPC issue are you talking about? In other words–it depends!) – Theresa Zook
  • Start by looking at YoY, WoW and MoM by campaign for context & to zero in on problem area(s). – Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
    • YOY is one thing so many forget to look at. Seasonality plays a bigger role than most recognize. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
      • Agreed – and if you do it by campaign you can pinpoint where there may be a hole in the bucket! – Amy Bishop
  • Check campaign settings – languages, locations, ad rotation, etc. For conversion tracking I’ll run a “test conversion” – Margot da Cunha
  • Simple Tag assistant manager checks on landing pages, simple awnser to a common problem w/ new clients. – Lawrence Jones
  • Often times getting the right context upfront from the client can help in most situations! – Gil Hong
  • There’s no one set process for us since each problem is usually unique. – John Budzynski
  • Incognito window plus ?gclid=test visit tracked in real time GA window is a blessing. – Steve Cameron
  • File this in the “things I don’t do well” category from a chat a few wks ago. Not so good w processes. – Travis Phipps
  • Check the change history for both the PPC account as well as on page changes via the CMS’ change logs. – Joe Martinez
  • Analyze from all angles – AW data, Analytics data & client’s internal data to get full picture before action. – Julie Bacchini
  • Seriously–it’s so rarely ONE thing causing problems. – Theresa Zook
  • Has the site been updated recently? Yes? Have them reinstall tracking pixels and Remarketing tags. – Bryant Garvin
  • Exclude so all apps from display. Except campaigns for apps where I can control candy crushes easier. – Roxana Hassel
  • Scheduled automatic reports are a godsend! Take the hour and set them up at least on a monthly basis, you can thank me later. – Andrew McCarthy
  • Check YoY data, check seasonal trends, check for potential changes with clients/other teams. Cry. – Niki Grant
  • Not enough CTR: Take ads with great copy and put them in new ad groups. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)

Q3: What system do you have in place to notify you of campaign issues or performance declines?

  • I look at all of them every day. – Theresa Zook
  • You can schedule emails with Automated Rules, or if you use 3rd party reporting/management there should be options. – Gil Hong
  • I try and keep notes whenever I make a significant change in accounts. Similar to change history but my own. – Garrett McGregor
    • I use a similar method for accounts I tag team on with columns for changes, notes, and dates to follow up for impact! – Gil Hong
  • Scripts are great for this, or rules if you use big mgmt platforms. – Melissa Mackey
  • Automated rules emailing when campaigns hit low impression volume helps identify credit card issues. It’s also nice that you can now get them to run during the day instead of at midnight. Quicker response time. – James Svoboda
    • I seem to get all ad disapprovals & billings issues alerts over night. – Kirk Williams
      • When you set up automated rules you can selsect data from Same Day and choose a time. – James Svoboda
  • Custom alerts. – Chris McCarthy-Stott
  • Log in every day. A click-click here and a click-click there. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Manually checking in on them mostly. Would love to automate this part of my management more effectively. – John Budzynski
  • Should be a mix of automated rules to help catch abrupt shifts, as well as good ol fashioned constant monitoring. – Kirk Williams
  • Scripts that send automatic email notifications. – Joe Martinez
  • Automated alerts are a good baseline, but there is no substitute for someone eyeballing accounts daily, unfortunately. – Julie Bacchini
  • I’m pretty much on top of my accounts throughout the day. – Lawrence Jones
  • These days, I have a couple of Automated Rules in place, and I use Scripts for more nuanced notifications. – Leo Sussan
  • My eyes! I don’t like to automate unnecessarily but do use automated bid rules. Graphs are your friends for identifying issues! – Niki Grant
  • Agreed, agreed, checking in every day to make sure nothing crazy is going on. – Margot da Cunha
  • I also have some scripts in place to help with tracking. – John Budzynski
  • Rules, keeping eyes on them, and regularly calling and testing call tracking numbers. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)
  • Good old fashioned eyeballing and regular reports. – Jason Zellie (@JasonZellie)
  • Let’s not forget having something in place to test client’s response and/or site function AFTER the click! – Julie Bacchini

Q4: How do you tell if market changes are affecting your PPC account?

  • Analyze, analyze, analyze. – Theresa Zook
  • Impressions, costs, conversions, CTR. – Roxana Hassel
  • Impressions share, auction insight plus just having a bit of a Google is enough to get started. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Auction Insights? Events? New unrelated queries triggering keywords? – Gil Hong
  • Usually quickest to jump out is spike in CPC. That makes me look at everything, including macro forces. – Julie Bacchini
  • Checking your Search Query reports will often show new query versions during market and seasonal changes. – James Svoboda
  • Also try asking the client – they almost always know more about the big picture of their market than me. – Richard Fergie
    • Exactly. They have their ear to the ground for their industry and can give some insight. – Luke Alley
  • Also, checking recent weather for regions where trying to drive walk-in traffic! – Theresa Zook
  • Your conversions from retargeting suddenly drop. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Auction insights or by paying attention to competitor ads on TV etc. Check competitor websites for offers. – Niki Grant
  • Google Alerts can help with this. – Melissa Mackey
  • Search queries, acution insights and a good old Google journey! – Lawrence Jones
  • Comparing historical reports/data for similar trends. – Tyler Purcell
  • Constantly monitor competitors activity as well as tools like Google Trends to see if keywords still make sense in your market. – Joe Martinez
  • Depends on the network, but generally I compare CPC vs. Max bid vs. average position. How these three stack up says plenty. – Andrew McCarthy
  • Negative keywords toggled during different seasons. – Gil Hong
  • Unexpected boost in conv rate. Happened on V-Day. I had a theory, turns out it was prolly right. – Travis Phipps
  • There is “comp wants to get in a bidding war” type market changes and then there are much wider things too. – Richard Fergie
  • Also take into consideration industry trends. – Margot da Cunha
  • Yes, there are things a client just knows – and thinks everyone knows about their specific business. – Steve Cameron
  • Clients may have useful information regarding seasonality or trends. Good starting point for new accounts. – Garrett McGregor
  • Check other non-paid traffic sources & past years for similar seasonal trends. – Amanda Sides

Q5: How often do you need to get Bing or Google support involved?

  • Often it’s with tracking issues. Like the UET stuff right now. – Melissa Mackey
  • Not too often thankfully however its nice to be partnered to get insights when accounts go live. – Lawrence Jones
  • Usually never, but if an issue like deleted sitelinks from the Editor comes up, then immediately. – Nate Knox
  • Definitely check Auction Insights & Google Trends. Also analyze multi-channel funnels. – JD Prater (@jdprater)
  • As little as possible. Only when I’m at wits end with a problem. If I wanted advice from an intern I’d hire one. – James Svoboda
  • As often as it takes! If we can get a clear answer on an abnormality, it can be applied to all clients. – Gil Hong
  • When something is malfunctioning or there is weirdness in data that makes no sense, conversions stop tracking, etc. – Julie Bacchini
  • Generally only for actual technical issues. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Google support only when I’m seeing weird new UI changes or GA reporting problems. Less than once a month. – JD Prater
  • Some clients have dedicated account people to help out with things. In that situation, I’ll use them for a lot, like beta set up. – Nate Knox
  • There’s value in a 2nd pair of eyes–esp for those of us who are one-person agencies! – Theresa Zook
  • Only with issues that seem un-solvable. Would rather solve internally with other WordStream experts. – Margot da Cunha
  • Not often. It’s almost easier to troubleshoot yourself. Last ditch effort if nothing else works – contact Google. – Amanda Sides
  • Bing more often than Google. For example now when my CPC/Brand terms is 10x as Google charges. – Roxana Hassel
  • Q5.1 What’s the WORST piece of advice you’ve been given by a support rep? Google or Bing. (besides raising bids)
    • In response to my questions re: low volume keyword impacting acct performance, end answer “do whatever you think is best”. – Julie Bacchini
    • “Change your idea of conversions” – Nate Knox
    • Usually, increasing budget–as though I could just spend more of the client’s $$ that casually. – Theresa Zook
    • Add location, call, etc. Extensions to an account that does not need it is pretty bad. – James Svoboda
    • Turn on mobile, when the client doesn’t have a mobile site & conversions can’t happen on mobile. – Melissa Mackey
    • Enabling the latest feature they have rolled out, with no regard to whether it suits the client’s account. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
    • I’m pretty sure some of them have consulted on match type strategy… Yes, I purposefully don’t want to be on broad match! – Luke Alley
    • Increase mobile bid modifiers for a client where mobile is a terrible performer. – Julie Bacchini
    • Raise your bids (even though positions were already at the top). – Joe Martinez
    • Have you tried ________? (It’s always spend more money.) – JD Prater

Q6: How do you get yourself a dedicated non-sales rep?

  • My understanding is it has a lot to do with account spend. And that’s all my understanding knows. – Kirk Williams
  • Make sure your MMC has a lot of ad spend. Then you will get assigned a team. Which is nice to have. – JD Prater
  • Caveat: one that lasts for more than three months. Have had some decent, knowledgeable reps briefly, but they then disappear. – Timothy Jensen
  • Had one ages ago and lost him. Was the only one I actually enjoyed going over the account with constructive feedback. – Roxana Hassel
  • We have huge spend (6 figs) and still no rep. – Melissa Mackey
    • Account size hasn’t been a factor for me, most of the time. – Theresa Zook
  • When your a Google Partner you get the sales side as well as a technical rep, however that’s just my experience. – Lawrence Jones
  • Call Google and ask to speak to the person already assigned to your account. – Theresa Zook
  • We have dedicated Bing rep tho, & our Bing spend is proportionate to our Google spend 60/30. Others have dedicated Bing reps right? – Luke Alley
  • Google is not interested in providing dedicated support to agencies. – Julie Bacchini
    • Not unless you sign up to become a Google Partnered agency. – Lawrence Jones

Q7: Where do you go to get help troubleshooting PPC issues?

  • PPCChat first – Kirk Williams
  • And also a good old Google search, lots of help from the guys & girls on here! – Lawrence Jones
  • The Adwords forum. – Steve Cameron
  • I have a couple of groups of folks I go to. – Theresa Zook
  • Ask friends/connections, look for blog posts, then call 1800-Google as a last resort. – Nate Knox
  • I’ve found the AdWords forums to be pretty helpful on most of the technical components. – Joe Martinez
  • The Avalaunch Media team, industry friends, PPCChat, Facebook groups. – Luke Alley
  • Google of course! I jump to organic listings though, everyone knows those paid listings are junk. – Andrew McCarthy

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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.

• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amanda Sides (@amanda_sides)
• Amy Bishop (@Hoffman8)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• Chris McCarthy-Stott (@mcstot)
• Erin Sagin (@erinsagin)
• Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• Jason Zellie (@JasonZellie)
• JD Prater (@jdprater)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Lawrence Jones (@HomeOfJones)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Margot da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Niki Grant (@TheNikiGrant)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Travis Phipps (@phipps)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Troubleshooting Streamcaps…I kid, there’s never anything wrong with them!

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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