5 Steps to Plan Your PPC Account Restructure

In my last article, we walked through 55 questions to consider before restructuring an account (and that isn’t an exhaustive list). However, before you dig into those restructure concerns, there are a few high-level strategic actions you have to take. Account restructures need to have a clear vision and strong sense of purpose and making these considerations will make sure you are set up for success.

Define Specific Goals for the SEM Program

Don’t aim without a target. If you don’t have specific goals for the SEM program, how do you know what direction to take the account? This may seem like a “no-brainer,” but I’m surprised how often campaigns have unclear goals. If you are launching a restructure or a major optimization effort, this is the perfect to establish or revisit all success metrics for the SEM program.

The other tactic to remain goal-focused is to keep them front-and-center at all times. You don’t want put in the work of nailing down targets just to lose sight of them. The success metrics for the SEM campaign should be the touch point for all discussions, meeting agendas, campaign reports, and strategic initiatives.

Delineate the Core Issues of the PPC Campaigns

Don’t solve old problems just to create new ones. If you complete the first step and arrive at clearly defined goals, then you can holistically review a PPC campaign to see if it is meeting these objectives. Also, while keeping these goals in mind, you can determine the root cause of any recent performance issues.

For example, revenue may be down year-over-year but you need to determine the core reason. Is this a traffic issue? Is this a conversion rate issue? Has average order value (AOV) decreased when compared to this time last year?

After you answer these root questions, then dig deeper into your answers. Let’s say AOV has decreased year-over-year and this is driving down revenue. Now, you dig deeper to determine what is happening here. Perhaps the makeup of the products this year skew at a lower cost, or maybe there are more special offers.

You need to dig into these questions until you arrive at root cause for any goal that isn’t currently being achieved. You could have more than one goal, and some goals may have more than one root cause issue. This analysis will make sure that your restructure tactics are focused on solving issues that are keeping the account from hitting the right goals.

Determine the Appropriate Optimization Tactics

Don’t forget the details. This is where my previous article comes into play. Yes, you need to ask at least 55 tactical questions before taking the first step on your restructuring journey. Each tactic should apply to a specific issue within the account, and that should be contributing to the core success metrics.

Also, please keep mind that all actions may have an equal counter action. For example, if you think broad match is slowly bleeding an account with low-quality clicks, then you may consider migrating over to broad-match modified keywords. That would make sense! However, remember that tightening match types can constrict ad distribution. In this instance, traffic quality may improve but overall volume will decrease.

Create the Restructure/Optimization Schedule

Don’t wander into a restructure; be purposeful with a plan. By now you should have goals in place, a list of core issues within the account, and a plan to address these problems with a restructure, and now you need a launch schedule.

You should not launch an entire restructure at the same time. Major changes should be tiered out over a few weeks (at least, if not longer). To ensure clear communication and expectations, you should have a schedule on when new campaigns will be launched and when old ones will be paused.

As you get deeper into the restructure, your timeframes will change so your launch schedule will be a living document. It will change frequently. Some elements of your optimization will go faster and others will go slower than expected. That’s OK. Just make sure to broadcast any alterations to the original plan.

Establish Performance Parameters and Notifications

Don’t lose sight of the details while making big changes. As there are numbers, keywords, ads, and other elements of your account shifting, make sure that you keep a watchful on all of the details (because that’s where devil hides, I hear!). I suggest setting up notifications for each new/old campaign based on your success metrics. This way, if you launch a new set of keywords and any of them under-perform, you’ll receive a notification for these errant terms and corrective action can be taken.

You can set up notifications within AdWords or Google Analytics. In general, I love notifications and they help keep me sane. When you are doing a major restructure or optimization effort, these can save you time by alerting you to anything that isn’t performing as planned.

Conclusion

This concludes my two-part series on restructuring PPC accounts. This article focuses on high-level planning for your account restructure and first article gets into the nitty-gritty details. Honestly, this series could have been 22 articles long.

Account restructures are a huge deal. They are one of the most difficult undertakings when working with SEM accounts. Be sure to lay a solid foundation with thoughtful planning and strategy, with careful execution and quality assurance.

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