#PPCFright2014 Day 8: How to Survive a PPC Horror Story

We’ve all been there. Happy as clams. Minding our own business. Then you notice your desk chair creak. The sun goes down and clouds are rolling in. The birds begin to sound anxious. Then it happens. The inciting incident: data disappears, performance plummets, everyone is in a panic. At this point you realize you’ve just entered your personal PPC horror story.

Don’t panic. You can get through this, but only if you follow some pretty concrete rules. I say “pretty concrete” because let’s be honest, this is a horror movie and you’re never sure what’s going to happen. But decades of Halloween marathons and PPC account management have helped to form this list.

29e1028ac29bafe54b0ea59ea36407a3 Don’t Run Upstairs

Too often we see the main character sprinting upstairs to a place where there is (gasp!) no exit outside of the original entry point. In their desperation, they have cornered themselves. Don’t be THAT guy! When the account is having a bad day, don’t panic and make desperate changes in attempt to BoostPerformanceThatVerySecond (to be said breathlessly, as all one word).  It’s not uncommon to see an account problem made worse by wholesale aggressive bid changes or keyword pauses. Making panicky-Hail-Mary-changes will only put you in a situation that’s worse than the one that you are already in.  Take the time to breathe and analyze the data before you make a rash decision. I’m confident that you’ll find a better solution than running upstairs!

Don’t Be the Hot Chick Wearing a Bikini Alone in the Woods

In other words, none of us live in a bubble. Seek the help of co-workers, industry peers or #ppcchat to answer questions or validate your best PPC theories. So many bad PPC situations, and horror movie situations, could have been avoided had someone reached out for help earlier.

Inept Police Can’t Help Anyone

You know the guys: big hats, a badge, a bad attitude, and the worst marksmanship with a shot gun you’ve ever seen. Sadly, these can be pretty close comparisons to those meant to help us in the PPC industry. We’ve all had our fair share of bad reps at Google, Bing or other advertising channels. If they are inept, push them for answers or ask to speak to someone else. Don’t settle for ineptitude.

There’s Always a Car w/ Keys in the Visor

At least in horror movies. For PPC, the analogous “visor keys” are historical data points. Search queries, placement performance, campaign/adgroup/keyword/ad data, conversions, etc.. If you can’t look in the visor for the keys, you might as well just stay put and wait for the rampaging murderer to catch up!

540681_631461706874844_954436574_nDon’t Show Your Boobs

Set proper client expectations from the beginning. Show all your skills and knowledge and manage the accounts like your life depends on it, but set appropriate boundaries with clients. Let them know that you are happy to over deliver, but aggressive behavior on calls or enforcing unrealistic expectations is not appropriate. And you just aren’t that kind of girl.

Don’t Split Up

At the first sign of trouble, someone will always suggest that you split up. This is not a good idea for horror movies and it’s not a good idea for your PPC team or strategy. From the get go, get everyone on board with what needs to be done. Keep one focused strategy for your team. Do you need to clean up your keywords? Are your ads terrible? Are you getting beat by competitors? Pick one area to focus on and tackle it. Then move on to the next problem.

The same goes for the relationship between your team and your client. Sometimes when things aren’t performing well, agencies and clients drift apart. Sometimes the client isn’t happy or they’re not on board with your strategy. Sometimes the agency postpones or cancels calls, distancing themselves until performance is back on track. Either way, splitting up can be a terrible strategy. Keep everyone in the loop and informed from the get go. This will create trust and the best working relationships.

Don’t Keep Your Back to the Window

Always be alert to external factors. In the scary movies, the killer/ghost/zombie is always right outside the window. Always. The same threat is real with PPC accounts. There are always external factors ready to pounce. Don’t get caught off guard by competitors, seasonality, SERP changes. Know what’s outside your window and be prepared for it!

Don’t Keep Secrets

This ties closely with “Don’t Split Up”.  Too often the targeted victims in horror films keep their plight a secret for various reasons. In the end, this usually winds up risking the safety of their friends and family members, in addition to their own. If there’s a problem in your account, tell somebody. Let a coworker put a second set of eyes on it and let the client know that something seems off. Keeping secrets makes it look like you either didn’t know there was a problem or that you weren’t being completely honest – neither of those bode well for the longevity of the account. Being transparent allows you to better serve the account and manage expectations.

What are your tips for surviving your PPC horror movie? We’d love to hear them!