If you manage paid media accounts of any kind, you probably deal with many requests and questions from clients, bosses and other stakeholders.
Common requests could include launching a new campaign, pulling together a report, or asking for your perspective on a recent platform change or emerging trend.
Depending on your job seniority, you may also be asked to contribute internally to the growth of your organization or department (like helping out on a proposal).
Successful project management means dealing with all of these requests – and more – in a timely, professional manner.
Below are some of the most helpful tactics for handling PPC requests that I’ve learned after over five years of working at a digital agency.
1. Understand and set expectations
The most important part of a new request is ensuring you’re aligned on the goal and the other person’s general expectations.
Once you understand what they’re trying to accomplish, you can better determine next steps, set more realistic timelines, and discuss any nuances or caveats of the task.
If a request impacts another initiative you’re working on for the client/stakeholder, let them know the opportunity cost of their ask, especially if you operate on an hours-based retainer.
This gives you a better understanding of how important the request actually is and allows everyone to prioritize accordingly.
It’s also helpful to position any new initiatives (like a campaign or platform expansion) as a test. This makes it easier to set expectations because it gives you more flexibility.
- A B2B software client reaches out about a new LinkedIn campaign they want to run in order to generate more leads. Assuming their ask is within the project scope, let them know that you’re happy to test that – but make it clear how long the build will take (including audience research and ad copy), how much notice you need before the launch date, what resources you need from them (such as creative assets), etc. Alternatively, you could push back slightly and recommend that they test campaigns on a different platform (like Google Ads).
- Three months later, the new campaign is running, but performance has been underwhelming. Because you framed it as a test, you can end this initiative with the takeaway of “The test wasn’t as successful as we wanted, but it was important to learn and here’s how we can approach it differently next time.” That’s a much different conversation than if you had promised certain results and had to report back that “We failed to generate more leads.” It’s only a minor change in language, but it can make a big difference in how everyone feels about the state of the project.
Additionally, try to approach client/stakeholder requests with an open mind. You both want to achieve the same thing at the end of the day: better results and higher performance.
A successful partnership means you can meet the other party’s needs while also delivering your best quality work.
2. Refer to the overall goals
Project goals should be defined in the kickoff meetings and used as a guide for all of the work that follows.
If someone reaches out about a new task or initiative, ask yourself, “How does this contribute to our goal of X and the overall project?”
In your response, you can then reference specific metrics, KPIs, documentation, etc., that were previously established (if you feel it’s necessary/appropriate). Show that you’re thinking strategically about the impact of their request.
Data is also impactful if you’re pushing back on someone’s idea or request. It helps to offer an alternative solution and be transparent with your reasoning. Even if they reject your alternative, at least you have it documented.
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3. Get everything in writing
Keep a paper trail of requests that you’ve received. This holds everyone accountable, prevents misunderstandings, and helps to define the action items or next steps clearly.
- Example: Send a recap via email to all relevant parties after any calls you have with a client/stakeholder.
Written documentation also ensures you have receipts in case anything goes awry. Unfortunately, some people may try to blame others if performance drops or a target isn’t met (especially if you work for an agency or as a freelancer).
Not every request leads to success, so being able to link back to a specific conversation helps avoid any finger-pointing if it comes to that.
- Example: A client asks to pause some of their top-performing keywords. You respond saying that you don’t recommend that because we will likely see a drop in conversions and an increase in CPA (their two main goals). They say to do it anyway. Three weeks later, they send you a heated message about lower performance, which you can promptly respond to with a link to your last message.
4. Respond promptly
In the absence of information, people tend to fill in the gaps themselves. Don’t leave your clients or stakeholders hanging, so try to get back to them as soon as possible.
Even if the question is more time-intensive, requires a detailed response, or comes through at 5 p.m. on a Friday (we’ve all been there), you can confirm receipt of their message and say you’ll follow up later. That gives you time to do the work you need to do while also making sure they feel heard.
That said, if something rubs you the wrong way (like a rude request or critique), don’t reply right away. It’s better to take a breath and wait.
Return to the message an hour later and ensure you didn’t misinterpret anything. Ask a coworker or manager to quickly review their message and your response. It’s important not to get caught up in the heat of the moment and tarnish a relationship.
5. Anticipate common requests
PPC is a nuanced and ever-changing industry, which leads to a number of questions and requests from people who don’t fully understand the channel. However, a lot of people get hung up on the same issues.
To combat this, try to automate, templatize, and get in front of what you can. The up-front work will save you time in the long run and helps you handle certain questions, requests, etc. faster.
This includes anticipating frequently asked questions so that client/stakeholder requests don’t derail your day.
- Example: A common question from clients is how their ad spend is pacing for the month (i.e., “what are we projected to spend?”). Get ahead of that ask by creating a spreadsheet, custom column, or report that forecasts monthly ad spend at the start of the project.
Creating a reporting dashboard (like in Looker Studio) that the client/stakeholder can access will also help you get ahead of any metric- or spend-related requests.
At the start of the project, ask what the most important KPIs are to them and their bosses. This helps limit back and forth about performance and ensures you’re reporting on what actually matters.
Project plans are another great tool for expectation-setting around deliverables and timelines.
Additionally, set up recurring status calls with the client so you can outline what you’re working on in the short, medium, and long-term on a consistent basis.
These kinds of check-ins and plans allow you to better control the project, avoid surprises, get in front of requests, and ensure alignment on strategy.
Managing requests from clients and stakeholders
When a client or stakeholder makes a request, the goal is to be accommodating but reasonable.
Handle them gracefully, but stay in control of your day by setting realistic expectations, aligning strategy with the overall project goals, and anticipating requests based on other projects you’ve worked on.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.