You might be thinking to yourself, “Really?  Build it right?  Is that all you’ve got?”  While it is not sexy or earth-shattering, not “building it right” is the number one mistake we see clients make in their digital marketing efforts.

Over the course of the last several years, 360Partners has conducted more than 100 pay-per-click search audits.  Across the audits, more than 50% of the accounts the team looked at had significant issues with their account structure.  They simply did not build it right.

So why is building it right so important?  To answer that question, step back and consider the dream situation for any CMO or head of marketing.  They want:

  • PPC/digital marketing bets to pay off
  • Data and insight
  • Flexibility and agility to quickly make changes

If your accounts are not built right, you simply cannot achieve these things.

Let’s look at a tactical example of a hosting company and how simply restructuring their account resulted in a dramatic performance increase.  For this illustration, assume that the hosting company sells only two different products: dedicated servers and cloud hosting.  The company has similar margins for both product types and set a cost per lead (CPL) goal of $45 with a budget of $100,000/month for Google pay-per-click search.

A typical account structure might look and perform like this:


The campaign met its goals by acquiring 2,230 leads at a CPL of $44.23.  So everything is good, right? Well, maybe.  While the campaign met its CPL goal, could it have performed better?  By structuring the account with a single campaign, Google, not the hosting company, controls how much of the budget is allocated to the different products and brand terms.  Does giving Google control maximize performance?  Usually not.  It’s not that Google is evil, but rather Google is optimizing to maximize its revenue and not the hosting company’s.

If the hosting company were to take the time to restructure their account (aka “build it right”) and separate the products and brand terms into their own campaigns, control over spend allocation would be shifted from Google to them.  Results look very different after the reorganization:


Voila!  Without changing anything except the account structure and budget allocation, the hosting company was able to get 700 more leads (a 31% increase) at a $10 lower CPA (a 23% decrease).  Additionally, the company now has the flexibility to quickly increase or decrease spend by having more control over where their budget dollars are being spent.

So, why don’t more companies “build it right?”   The challenge is that it is one of those “important but not urgent” items on the long list of things to do.  Marketers generally are always thinking about and are tasked with innovation.  What is the next new trend or channel?  How can I leverage it for my company?  Worrying about account structure simply does not fall high on the priority list.

Maybe it should.

Questions you can ask to determine if things are built right with your accounts:

  • Are your digital marketing activities meeting goals?
  • Can the digital team articulate exactly why or why not? Specifically, what is working and what is not working?
  • When the digital marketing team makes a change to something, do they see the desired effect or are results all over the place?
  • If someone makes a data request, can the digital marketing team quickly get the answer?
  • If the digital team were challenged to grow leads by 20% in the next two weeks, could they do it efficiently?
Jim McKinley

Jim McKinley

If the answer is “no” or “maybe” to any of the questions above, it might be time to re-examine how your accounts are built.

Next Post: Pitfall #3 – Focusing on the Wrong Metrics. In the meantime, read up on Pitfall #1: Speed Thrills & Kills.

This post was authored by Jim McKinley. If you need help with strategy or your online marketing accounts in general, contact us to find out if 360Partners is the right SEM partner for you!