Managing Client PPC Campaigns on the Go

Business travel is a fact of life. Your clients expect that professionals such as yourself keep up with the latest industry news. Sometimes this means traveling to conferences, such as the upcoming SES London conference from February 15 to 19 in the U.K., or maybe SES New York from March 22 to 26.

Because we travel, managing client PPC affairs can be daunting — but it doesn’t mean things shouldn’t be firmly under control. Leaving some campaigns unattended 24 hours can spell disaster for your career and business. Let’s look at some effective ways to keep things running smoothly even while you’re away from the office.

Balance Work & Travel

  • Let your clients know what steps you’ve taken to protect their campaigns, and always have a backup manager to handle emergencies.
  • Review all your budgets and look for those that could put your campaigns — and your job — at risk.
  • Set up campaign alerts on Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, and monitor via e-mail.

Transparency = Trust

Companies trust you to manage their interests professionally. Handling communications in a proper manner when you won’t be available to do the usual job you’re being paid for is key to building that trust.

Your client wants you to let them know that you’ll be at SES London for three days learning how to kick things up a notch for the year to come. But you also need to let them know what steps you’ve taken to protect their campaigns.

Who’s your Backup?

Always have a backup manager in case of emergency. Though this may not always be possible, or practical, if you can have a colleague perform your management routine in your place, you’re partly covered.

However, teaching every little thing you do to a colleague to cover for you for three days is a little much. You definitely need someone you trust, with solid PPC fundamentals, on stand-by if the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan.

Budget Discipline

We’ve all done it — the old six figure daily budget. In the hopes of getting more traffic for the best ads, we’ll set campaign budgets so incredibly high there’s no way you could ever miss a single impression.

The problem? The existence of Murphy’s law. Something weird always seems to happen just when you’re not looking, or even worse, you’re looking but can’t fix it.

Before you leave, take some time to review all your campaign budgets and look for those that could put your campaigns — and your job — at risk. Once you’ve corrected the situation, do yourself a favor and keep them down where they should be.

Alerts, Baby

Obviously, the key here is to set up alerts to monitor campaign activity while you can’t do it yourself. Many of us have e-mail on our phones, which makes it easy to receive alerts.

  • Google Alerts: There are two types of alerts you can use while on the go to keep track of your AdWords accounts:
    • Account alerts: By default, Google will alert you by e-mail if something’s wrong with your account — to be clear, Google monitors payment issues, pending budget end dates, disapprovals, credit card expirations, or whatever would prevent your ads to stop running (and prevent Google from making money!).
    • Custom alerts: These are relatively new. They allow you to monitor increases or decreases in specific metrics, such as clicks or cost for example, and alert you when the increase or decrease reaches a certain size. They also can be set to monitor the same metrics and alert you when they reach specific thresholds.

    If you use Google AdWords conversion tracking, then you can also use custom alerts to monitor changes in conversion rate, conversion volume, and cost per conversion.

    Unfortunately for agencies, custom alerts are still only available for accounts that aren’t linked to a MCC. However, if you can login directly into the account, you should be able to set custom alerts even if the account is linked to your MCC.

  • Microsoft adCenter Alerts: Setting alerts in adCenter is easy with adCenter Desktop (beta). Like with the AdWords Custom Alerts, you can create alerts that will monitor the performance of specific metrics and alert you by e-mail if they reach certain thresholds.
  • Yahoo Search Marketing Alerts: Yahoo’s alerts aren’t as sophisticated as Google’s or Microsoft’s. While they will alert you to issues at the account level that prevent your ads from running, setting customized alerts for any given metric isn’t yet available. You can always find such functionality from third party software.

Last But Not Least: Automation

Several excellent third party solutions allow you to automate some of the daily maintenance and to monitor performance and trigger alerts at will. These come at a cost, but for most agencies, such solutions are an excellent investment that comes in handy to protect their clients’ campaigns, and to make sure no details are left unmonitored. Among these are:

So there you have it. In short, don’t leave things to random chance, when you leave the office for any significant period of time. Make sure your clients know about your absence, that someone is available to execute simple tasks on your behalf (like pausing runaway campaigns or ad groups), that your budgets are in line with reality, and that you have e-mail alerts set for every critical component of your campaigns.

One more thing: try to bring a laptop with you and to check on things every night. After all, do you really have to attend all these after-show parties?

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