An Impossible Venn? Nope.
High volume agencies (otherwise sometimes known as long-tail agencies or small business agencies) face unique challenges in scaling and delivering quality outcomes at affordable prices for small advertisers. These agencies tend to have over 500 accounts, some into the thousands, with the vast majority being small business advertisers.
Let’s just start by saying “thank goodness for long-tail agencies”, as small business owners need great agencies in their corner, now more than ever. However, with small fees and tight margins, efficiency and productivity are critical to the agency’s success (and the success of their clients), and ultimately, both efficiency and productivity are driven by having great processes in place.
Managing And Scaling Profitable Ratios
It’s not uncommon for small business agencies to manage accounts at ratios of well over 100/1. (That’s 100 accounts to 1 manager). In fact, at PPC Samurai we’ve seen agencies scale to ratios of over 300/1 while still doing a great job for the clients.
How? By putting in place robust processes that use well designed automation to consistently monitor accounts and surface issues that need attention, directly to account managers.
- Automation is checking accounts for health factors high-volume managers usually spend most of their time checking for manually
- Account managers know where the fires are, quickly and without having to look for them
- Critical issues that could cost you a client are picked up before clients notice, avoiding that uncomfortable conversation!
- Account managers know where to prioritize their attention to add the most value
Automation Vs Adding Value
Strategically designed automation can be used to surface issues, while also ensuring the critical checks are covered; allowing the account manager to use their skills to drive improvements instead of just checking for account health.
Automation can also ensure that a base level of activity is completed each and every day, for each and every client; improving quality and consistency across the entire agency.
Examples Of Automated Processes For High Volume Account
- For impressions (ie, drop in impressions could mean account issues or zero impressions could mean a failed payment method).
- Page code is okay (ie. no 404 errors)
- Adgroups contain at least one (or two) active ads
- Adgoups don’t contain disapproved ads
- Extensions are set up
- Conversion events are set up
- Conversion events are importing
- Location targeting is set
- Budget is pacing in line with targets
- Bid strategy is still in line with the account goals and conversions
- Sitelinks aren’t pointing to a 404 error
- Changes in conversion numbers (by conversion action)
- Audiences are attached to the campaign
- For shopping accounts
- The GMC feed is still active and serving ads
- Check for disapproved ads/products
- Search terms to consider and then include or neg out based on quality
- If the account is limited by budget, the opportunity to pause poorly performing adgroups/keywords to allow budget to flow to better performers.
- The opportunity to enable previously paused adgroups/keywords if the budget is underpacing
In most long tail agencies, with the amount of time allocated to a client per month, managers would struggle to get close to managing these items, let alone getting to any strategic work. However, if automation can ensure these tasks are taken care of, not only do the clients get better outcomes, but the account manager now has more time to spend on more accounts (scale), but also to do more strategic work that serves the goals of the clients.
Better client outcomes equals more opportunity for up and cross sell within the agency, but also reduced churn and better prospects for new client acquisition.
This is all in addition to the increased client to manager ratios!
For The Account Manager
Automation is a difficult word, nuanced with people’s perception of the impact it will have on their personal value and ongoing employment prospects.
However, as long as the ratio isn’t the primary discussion point with the AM (frankly, no busy person wants to hear their client book is being doubled!) then there are so many positive benefits for the account manager when strategic automation is implemented in the agency.
Ultimately, everyone wants to feel good about the work they are doing and to feel proud of the outcomes they are driving for their clients.
So how does strategic automation implementation help account managers?
- It lowers anxiety that things are being missed, and improves job satisfaction
- It lowers concerns about having holidays or shut down periods. No one wants to feel scared for their accounts if they need a day off.
- It lowers anxiety when clients call
- It improves account manager sense of pride in their work and in the impact they’re having
- It improves their sense of control in their day and can aid in feeling less panicked about their workload. We all know agencies can be chaotic, so having back some control can vastly improve the manager experience.
- It helps account managers to feel productive and focussed, instead of feeling like they need to go looking at accounts to see what “might” be wrong, without time to dig down to really explore individual accounts.
Why is this important for the agency?
- Complex labour market
Hiring good staff at the moment is like a knife-fight in an alley; brutal and fiercely competitive. That’s compounded by the fact that digital already has as a baseline a 17% labour mobility rate, one of the highest around. So if you can lower your staff turnover AND increase your productivity per staff member, it’s a winning (and highly profitable) combination.
- Improved Quality Control
Ensuring a base level of checks and actions are performed on every account means that you can rest easy knowing that your agency is doing a good job. That’s nice to know, but economically it also improves your upsell and cross sell opportunities immeasurably, given a retained client is worth 7x more to the business than a newly acquired one!
- Simpler Staff Onboarding
Automation that delivers outputs you’ve designed means that onboarding a new team member is faster and far more efficient than before, when you were leaving new team members to their own devices, or utilizing check lists. The quality control and oversight this process provides is invaluable.
And Ultimately, All Of These Improvements Are Cyclical
- Happier account managers do better work and are retained by the business for longer
- More profitable agencies can afford more competitive salaries and staff benefits
- More successful agencies can afford better branding and marketing positioning, and to invest in acquiring new customers
- Customers getting a better experience are far more likely to recommend you to their friends, and far less likely to churn
- Customers getting better account outcomes are more likely to spend more in your agency as it builds trust
And you can do all this, by really stopping to consider how you scale your long tail (high volume) agency accounts and by implementing quality automation platforms like PPC Samurai.