Introduction:  

Are you tired of constantly putting out fires for your PPC search teams? It’s time to empower them to thrive on their own! Learn how to effectively manage your teams and watch them excel without needing constant hand-holding. Let’s put an end to the chaos and start achieving success together. 

So often, great PPC managers become disengaged due to frustration on needing help to cover all fronts, from client relationships management to administrative tasks and KPI reviews. This causes team development to take a back seat in the proverbial to-do list.  

The solution? Structure. Some items that need to be in place are as follows:  

  1. Job descriptions that are concise and depict the essential responsibilities and definition of a task well executed.  

  1. Clear career path.  Show realistic opportunities to grow and be prepared to discuss a capped path. (For lack of a better term) 

  1. Actionable feedback that is tied to effectively enhancing the outcome of a task or process.  

  1. Effective coaching that is aimed at eliciting core behaviors tied to the overall performance of the team member.  

The absence of an effective support structure leads to learned helplessness, which is nothing more than the team members becoming dependent on the manager for everyday tasks they should carry out independently, thus compromising the time a manager can invest in coaching them.  

A clear example is when an account manager asks their manager for advice for a client account that is performing poorly, and the manager (due to lack of time) supplies a list of items to optimize; However, the account manager leaves the session unaffected, by unaffected we mean not having learned any specific skills that would help to tackle the problem on their own; Moreover, the next time a similar performance scenario comes up, the session will most likely repeat itself and the ineffective cycle persists.  

So, let’s dive further into this scenario. How do managers break the proverbial ineffective cycle?  

Preparedness, we have coached managers on preparing to provide actionable feedback for account managers. This is just one method based on independent observation and analysis of the account manager’s work, otherwise known as earning the right to coach. 

Some considerations before we move on: 

  1. You are not auditing campaigns; you are looking for behavioral cues; that is right, just as you would observe and interpret someone’s body language, you would also analyze the campaign looking to solve the changes implemented on it.  

  1. You need sufficient data to confirm the cause of the behavior observed. You would not want someone to form an opinion on you based on that one-time in…  

  1. You must focus on one core behavior that will most impact the efficiency with which this team member performs his day-to-day tasks.   

  1. You must share your findings constructively.  

  1. You must commit to the team’s development; continuity is not a Netflix show; in this case, the manager must guide the group until they can seamlessly execute the task because of their behavior.  

Most importantly, coaching is a privilege that tends to be abused and even weaponized in specific “work” environments. These tools we will provide are not meant to build a case but to build team members up.  

TL;DR ?  

Let us get coaching your PPC Team. 

Investigate. 

  1. Select three accounts representative of the manager’s portfolio: similar budget range, account complexity, campaign type, and goal.  

  1. Use the Pomodoro technique and spend 25 minutes auditing the campaigns with the most data. You can use our excellent audit form to carry out this task.  Whichever method and resources, ensure they can be shared and depict the behavioral cues we are trying to uncover. Here are some common findings in three campaigns managed by a less-tenured campaign manager.  

    1. Exhibit A
      • The change history of the search campaign reflects changes that are not coherent with the campaign’s performance, e.g., disproportionate increase in Target CPA at the account level, disregarding the performance of ad groups level CPA.
    2. Exhibit B
      • The bidding strategy is not congruent with the conversion data, e.g., the search campaign bidding strategy is running manually, despite plenty of conversions steadily registered over six months on a lead generation campaign which is not limited by budget.
    3. Exhibit C
      • The campaign’s conversion actions do not correspond to the KPIs meant to be tracked, e.g., click-to-form conversions are set as primary actions in a campaign with a Target ROAS and eCommerce keyword structure.

Prepare

  • Prepare a brief set of discovery questions to determine the cause of the behavior observed. You have found the behavior, and you have a plan to improve it; the catch is, you can’t simply tell people what to do, they’re adults, and thus they should arrive at that conclusion with your help, not because you said so. Solution? Discovery questions. Let’s see:
  1. Exhibit A Questions
    • How do you calculate the target tCPA during your optimization process?
    • What factors drove the decision to change tCPA at the account level?
    • How often do you review your tCPA goals?

Set the Stage

  • Here’s what you’ll need:
  1. Meeting room
  2. Documentation (Forms)
  3. Supporting Materials (Media)
  4. Do Not Disturb Mode (Calendar / Phone)

Execution (We heard you like coaching plans, so we put a coaching plan within a coaching plan)

  • FRAME.
  1. Let the manager know what your expectations are and what you are hoping for them to learn.
    • What would you like for both to achieve during the session?

UNDERSTAND

  • Describe in detail the pattern or behavior discovered.
  • Demonstrate with documentation and supporting materials.
  1. We recommend solution-focused questions.
    • What change stood out from the difference log?
    • What was the outcome you pursued with this change?
    • What would you have done differently today?
  • Listen attentively as you get the manager’s input on the information that they were presented with.

EXPLORE

  • Provide alternative techniques, instructions, or workflows; it would be better if it could be done as a result of brief sparring with questions like these:
  1. How will you determine tCPA goals next time around?
  2. What resources are available to achieve this?
  3. How can you verify the accuracy of the new tCPA goals?
  4. How will you know whether to set the goal at the campaign or ad group level?
  • Summarize the solution agreed on.
  • (You can use your coaching method of choice, we’ll use WOOP this time.)
  1. Wish
    1. What is the account manager trying to achieve?
      1. Reduce the occurrence of client turnover.
  2. Outcome
    1. How will the account manager know the achievement was complete?
      1. 1.5% reduction of unwanted client turnover over the next quarter for lead generation clients.
  3. Obstacles
    1. What could hinder the account manager’s ability to reach that outcome?
      1. Lack of knowledge of bidding strategy optimization techniques has led to poor performance reviews and client turnover.
  4. Plan
    1. What strategy and tactics are available to achieve that goal and overcome the obstacles? You can use the EXPLORE part of the session to complete this plan.
      1. Weekly review of tCPA for high-priority accounts.
      2. Side-by-side coaching and actionable guides for bidding management.
      3. Opt-in of bid management software for high-priority accounts.
  • The tactics within the plan can be simplified if you use an IF / THEN approach; for example: IF I find myself doubting how to set a bidding target, I will schedule a session with the next available SME.

“There is an excellent Instagram post on the WOOP method, be sure to check that out.”

Document accordingly

  1. Forms 
  2. HHRR management software/solution

Agree to reconvene upon achievement of a milestone.

    1. Get a date in for an update on the ongoing developmental process, meaning check on the account manager and determine if:
    1. The goals are trending negatively; assess the reason behind it, whether it was a lack of implementation or external factors; this is the time to readjust the strategy and reinforce best practices to get back on trend.
    2. The goals are trending positively, asses if additional support is needed at the time, and further encourage positive behaviors.
    3. The goals have been met, a great time to praise and encourage; also, time to work on secondary goals (if present).

To foster critical thinking and autonomy within a team, it is essential for team leaders to conduct coaching sessions aimed at developing team members. Are there any other areas of managing PPC search teams that you would like to know more about? Feel free to share, and we will be happy to give our insights.