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Tips for Assessing Inherited Accounts

Published: September 7, 2012

Author: Jaime Sikora

Recently, after about a year of learning the ropes of SEM, I began the journey to account management. I’ve had a strong foundation thus far, knew all the basics from my time on the production side, and had good training in place, but of course, I still felt a little bit of that ‘where do I even begin?’ feeling. Here are a couple of suggestions from my experience on what to look for when getting acclimated with an inherited account as an account manager.

1)  Check out the day-over-day view in the Dimensions tab.

It pretty much is how it sounds; it shows impressions, clicks, cost, conversions – all your metrics of choice:
All of the metrics staying steady day-over-day is usually a good indicator of the general health and well-being of the account (this doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t still room for optimization). This is also a good place to look for general patterns – is this account typically higher volume on certain days, such as the weekend? Was there, at some point, a drastic drop in impressions, or a change in average position? Did a new competitor enter the market at this time? Did spend or CPA randomly rise or drop at some point?  Were changes in bids made at this time? (You can, of course, check the change history in the upper right corner if this is the question at hand.)
The day-over-day offering is a good place to start to look for when, exactly, changes (both internal and external) that affected the account took place. It also provides you with a good idea of what you can expect for daily behavior. Once you start making your own changes to the account, it’s a good place to check for whether or not your changes have had an impact and, if so, how big of one. Also, it’s a good indicator of when to sound the alarms – for example, if your account is not showing any impressions yet for the day (extreme example) – this is a very clear, simple place to keep an eye out.
2)  Check out the top 10 search terms and Google them regularly.
Also on the Dimensions tab (a great place, by the way), choose a substantial look-back period up in the right corner (usually the past month will do well, but it really depends on the account), and view the search terms.
From there, I sort by clicks and look at the top 10 terms, give or take. Then, I Google them. This is helpful in a few different ways.
a) It’s a good check to see if my ad is showing and in what position.
b) It’s a good way to keep a watch on the competition’s ad copy and head off any major issues at the pass. Does your ad offer 20% off, and your competition boast 25% off? In spite of your bid and/or position, this might be a major factor in losing the click and potential conversion. This is a good way to catch these things immediately, instead of after the fact (i.e. after numbers are down).
c) It’s a good way to stay on top of new competitors entering the market.
d) It’s another good way to keep an eye on general account health and well-being. Although it’s rare, it’s a good place to keep a watch on funny business happening. (In one very odd incident, I caught one of my client’s competitors running an ad directing to my client’s landing page. I was able to catch it because I recognized that the ad copy associated with the display and destination url was not ours.)
3)  Check the campaigns tab over the past year and segment by month.
This is a good place to get generally acquainted with the account. Segmenting by month is a good way to get a feel for what could be seasonality (was there high volume around the holiday season? or back-to-school season?). It can take checking another place, like the day-to-day tab, to help understand when and where some changes took place that impacted the account, in general. Was there a really low-volume month? Was it seasonality? Did a new competitor enter the marketplace at that time? Was there some other factor (perhaps bad press or the economic climate) that could have impacted the account at this time?
Has one campaign’s volume dropped? Was it perhaps that some of the key terms were moved into a different campaign? It can also be beneficial to look back at the past 60 days (give or take) and segment by week for a more granular feel for the same concerns.
Also, it is good to check the change history – was the the budget or were bids changed at this time? Was a negative keyword added that cut volume?
These are just a few basics to watch out for when taking over and getting to know an account for the first time. I will have more to report on in future posts. Does anyone else have any other suggestions and/or recommendations on things to watch out for  in the AdWords interface when first getting to know a client?
Jaime Sikora, Account Coordinator

25 E Washington Street
Suite 420

Chicago, IL 60602

(650) 539-4124

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