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All hard-working SEMs occasionally need a break. We all need some time off to use those vacation days. Although, as we all know, action on our accounts continues 24/7. We all occasionally need someone to watch our accounts; we all occasionally need to be the babysitter (for good PPC karma). Here are my 5 best tips of what to watch for while keeping an eye on someone’s account while he or she is out.

1)  Make sure the daily budgets don’t run out

daily SEM budgetIn someone else’s account, which may be a well-oiled machine, it’s easy to assume everything is set continue running smoothly. However, often, at certain times when being out of the office is more popular (such as the holiday season), search behavior might not be typical.

Google and Bing are usually awesome at letting you know you have an opportunity to spend more money with them, but it’s always best to double-check. It’s a good idea to check in on the current day at points and see how much of of the daily budget you’ve gone through. If you happened to run out of budget the previous day, in the Google UI, on the Campaigns tab, you can segment by hour (see below) to see right around when the budget ran out to guesstimate how much you might need to up it, or where you might need to day-part, in order make it last appropriately.

hour by hour PPC performance

2)  Check the day-over-day view in the Dimensions tab

day over day view PPC

This is always a good place to notice drastic changes. In addition to our basics (clicks, impressions, cost, conversions, revenue), I also focus on average position, CTR, CVR, and average CPC. I look for any major day-over-day changes, which are usually indicative that some action should be taken or some recommendation should be made. I find it’s good to look at the account on the whole, as well as all individual campaigns (provided there aren’t too many); one major change in a campaign (such as, it stopped running), might not be as noticeable if one is looking only at the account on the whole.

3)  Make sure you have contact information for the client and, if necessary, schedule some times to talk

It sounds like a no-brainer, but if your colleague is going to be gone more than a couple days, it wouldn’t hurt to jump on the last call prior to his or her vacation just to get better acclimated with the client’s communication style and understand the expectations. Also, I’ve found that if you pre-schedule some chats with the client, or make him or her aware of how you plan to communicate with them (e.g. “I’ll email you at the end of the day every day with a recap”), his or her mind will be more at ease, and it’ll enable more of a sense of confidence that the account is being handled with extra TLC.

4)  Make sure you have someone you can go to for help if something goes haywire

We SEMs all have different areas of expertise and different experience. There’s a decent chance that the account you are babysitting might be doing something you don’t have much experience with (PLAs, Facebook Sponsored Story Likes, Remarketing for Search Ads, etc.). It’s quite all right if you don’t have experience working with these kinds of campaigns; just make sure you know of an in-agency contact who is familiar with whatever the account might have running that you don’t know much about. I find that being prepared for the inevitable usually wards it off from happening.

5)  Know the goals for the account

Another no-brainer, but make sure you know what the client expects in terms of conversions, revenue, profit margin, and/or CPA. If you need to make some adjustments (bids, active status, etc.), know what you ultimately need to be working toward. Know the current CPA and the CPA goal. If the client has several different offerings, know the goals and expectations for each portfolio, instead of just the account on the whole.

These are some of the things I’ve learned from watching other’s accounts during their vacations over the past year.  Any other tips out there on this subject, fellow SEMs?

– Jaime Sikora, Account Manager