If you manage pay-per-click
campaigns, at some point
you will inherit an account
that you did not build.
You may inherit an account from
a colleague if you work in-house,
or you may work for an agency
and acquire client accounts on a
regular basis. In this article, we’ll
lay out a plan to successfully inherit
a PPC account and take it to
the next level of optimized performance.
Gather Mission Critical Information
Before you make any adjustments to a new campaign, you
first need to understand the previous performance in context.
Run historical reports and discuss what you find with the previous
account manager or the client. You need to understand
how the account has been trending.
However, the most important aspect of this conversation
needs to focus on which direction the account needs to go.
The most important question to answer during this conversation
is, What does success look like for this campaign?
Define Goals, Budgets, and Other Critical Metrics
Once you’ve defined what success looks like for this campaign,
next you need to get into concrete details. You need to
work with your supervisor or client to determine the monthly
advertising budget as well as realistic goals for the campaign.
Keep in mind, however, that budgets and goals should adjust
according to seasonal and cyclical patterns of your business.
Confirm All Conversion Tracking
Do yourself a favor and confirm all tracking associated
with the campaigns. Upon inheriting accounts, I often find
that the PPC tracking has not been established properly. Make
sure to review Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter and
Google Analytics tracking as well as any third-party or internal
Testing all of the tracking gives you a chance to analyze
the actions that are being monitored, and you should determine
if these are the right conversions to drive your
optimization efforts. For example, we inherited an account
that was triggering conversions for product searches,
time on site and other user interactions; but the most
important action we needed to monitor and optimize for
was actual purchases.
Unearth the Buried Quick Wins
Once you’ve determined in which direction the account
needs to go, there will be tactics you can implement that
will boost performance quickly. We call these tactics,
“Foundation Strengthening Tactics” because you aren’t aggressively
re-organizing or expanding the account. Rather,
you are shoring up the load-bearing pillars of the pre-existing
Here is a short list of quick wins that we find frequently
within accounts. If you inherit a PPC campaign, this is a great
place to start in order to improve performance quickly:
• Campaign settings: These can be silent killers. Within
AdWords and adCenter, you should review the settings for
every active campaign. Make sure that ad rotation (rotate
evenly) and ad delivery (accelerated) are set properly. Also,
review all geographic and day-parting settings. If you find
a campaign has aggressive day-parting (increasing/decreasing
bids or turning ads off completely), make sure to
ask why this was implemented. Adjusting campaign settings
is an easy fix that can improve performance with a
few quick clicks.
• Network distribution: Make sure Search and Display
network distribution are separated into different campaigns.
Also, within adCenter (and forthcoming in AdWords), you
can segregate the Search Partner network as well.
• Keyword match types: A common source of mistakes
within campaigns is incorrect match-type implementation.
Often broad match is over-utilized, and exact match is
under-utilized. Upon inheriting an account you should review
all of the broad-match keywords to see where spend
is being wasted. You can rein in this spending by adding
new exact- and phrase-match keywords, lowering bids,
and even pausing broad-match terms that are generating
clicks but no conversions. For broad-match terms with
high volume but low conversion rates, you may also consider
building out your negative keyword list or switching the offending terms to modified
broad match. This can help qualify
• Device targeting: If you don’t
have specific plans for mobile
devices, and if you don’t have a
mobile-optimized website, then your
campaigns may be wasting clicks.
Run a segmentation report within
AdWords and adCenter to see if
mobile devices need to be removed
from your distribution.
• Ad split tests: Split testing is one
of the most effective ways to optimize
your campaign. Testing ads can
help improve your click-through
rate and conversion rate, enhance
your Quality Score, and lower your
CPC and CPA. However, split tests
can be easily neglected and often forgotten.
When you inherit an account,
make sure to review all of the
current split tests. Pause any underperforming
ads and this can give the
account a quick boost.
Normally, supervisors and clients
want to see an immediate lift in performance
when a new manager steps
in, even if it’s only a small bump. However,
long-term plans for continued
optimization can take weeks to plan
and implement (good plans do). This
plan can help you get acclimated to the
account and improve ROI quickly —
and then you can get to the business of
About the Author: Joseph Kerschbaum is vice president for
search and social advertising agency
Clix Marketing and a regular speaker
at search and advertising conferences
such as SES and SMX. His writing on
the SEM industry appears regularly in
numerous publications, and he coauthored
the book, Pay-Per-Click SEM:
One Hour a Day.