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11 Organization Tips to Keep SEMs Sane

Published: September 14, 2016

Author: Heather Scott

Working on multiple SEM accounts can at times be overwhelming, as if one was stuck in a world ruled by disorganization with never enough time in the day to get everything done. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful in putting some order to the chaos.

Task management

Choose a task management platform to be used by all team members

Keeping everything in one place makes it much easier for everyone to stay abreast of what is in the queue and what members are working on. I recommend including start/end dates and level of priority if team bandwidth is limited so that team members are clear on what they should start on when another task is completed. If different teams have to use different task management platforms for whatever reason, at least figure out a place where you can have all of your tasks in one place. I just learned about Wunderlist, which seems quite user-friendly and came highly recommended.

Create tasks immediately

Even if you don’t have the time to lay out all of the guidelines of a task for your team or if you are unsure of whether something HAS to be done, at least create a task and assign it to yourself as soon as it comes up (from email/client call/etc) so that you don’t lose sight of it; again, keep all of this in one place so that you aren’t rummaging through various platforms/notebooks to figure out where you may have made a note of something. Should you find upon revisiting the task that it is no longer necessary, happy days. Either way, you no longer have to worry about forgetting about it. As noted by David Allen in “Getting Things Done,” one of the starting points of relieving stress is getting things out of your head.

Gmail organization

Create labels for each of your accounts/buckets

Labeling each of your accounts in Gmail will allow you to easily filter for an account. You may, for example, set aside a time per day to review each account and can thus easily filter for said account. You can create labels from the right side of your inbox or by clicking on a message and choosing the label icon above your inbox.

Set up rules for emails to receive labels automatically

Create a filter from the dropdown in the search bar above your inbox. For example, for Client A, you could add your client’s email address in the from section, click on “Create filter with this search”, then “Apply the label” and choose the appropriate label. Set up as many filters as needed to bucket all messages pertaining to a specific account. When a new message appears for a label, the label to the right of your inbox will be bolded.

Create email alias for larger teams

If you have multiple people on an account and use email for client communication, create an email alias that includes all team members and ask your client to use it rather than emailing members individually. This may take a bit of training if clients are used to emailing whomever they feel might be best able to handle their request, but it is worth it to keep everyone on your team abreast of client communication.

AdWords organization

Create labels for ad tests/launches/anything that can be bucketed

While label reporting under dimensions won’t give you all the metrics you might need (bounce rate, YouTube views, separate columns per conversion type), it at least provides the basics. And even if you do end up needing to pull a report from elsewhere and rolling up the data manually, labels keeps everything bucketed for you. I most commonly use labels for ad testing to quickly review tests per ad group bucket and new keyword launches. This helps to easily filter and review performance of newly launched keywords and quickly update bids if necessary.

Commonly used sites and Google Docs

Pin your most commonly visited sites

While you can obviously bookmark your most frequented sites, you can save yourself a few seconds by pinning these in your browser so that they will remain open. Simply right click on tab and select pin tab.

Create folders for each of your accounts/buckets

Before setting up bookmark folders, I often found myself searching high and low for some random GDoc created by the client or team members. In an initial effort to overcome this time-waster, I saved links to each GDoc that came up to an Admin doc, but this still required an extra step to access. Now, I create a folder for each account and save to the bookmark bar for easy access to all client GDocs, obviously adding each to the appropriate folder as soon as they are created. I also recommend creating other folders for easy access to things like HR links, SEM links, etc.

Client-facing roadmap

Accounts can often have multiple initiatives competing for time, and on more complex accounts, it may be difficult to keep track of which initiatives should have priority. Having a client-facing roadmap keeps everything in one place and gives the client the opportunity to voice preference for one initiative over another. A roadmap also gives you a reason to push back on certain initiatives to accommodate last-minute client requests as you can provide the client with a visual of what will need to be bumped.

Internal Admin/Updates doc

Keep a record of all logins

Especially as you branch into multiple channels, it is helpful to have all logins in one place so that your whole team can access them easily. This also makes account transitions easier as you can simply provide the link to your logins to the new team.

Keep an internal record of updates

The client is not likely to be interested in seeing every update made, but having a record of this can be quite helpful when preparing for QBRs or trying to determine source of performance changes. Obviously it would be too time-consuming to include every single detail here, but I do recommend calling out things that could impact account performance. For example, say you discover a negative in place blocking a number of keywords and remove said negative. While you naturally would be able to see when this was removed by reviewing your change history, it is much less time-consuming to simply check your internal updates doc.
Any other helpful tips you’d like to share that can save us all some time?

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