How do account managers at marketing agencies juggle so many accounts and still make sure they’re all meeting their performance goals?

Hear directly from the marketers on the ground to find out. Ashley Luong and Jack Ricciardi, account managers at 3Q, a digital and performance marketing agency, talk all about what goes into building up client relationships, tips for setting up performance goals, and the importance of finding a single source of truth. Listen to the podcast or read the edited highlights below. 

The baseline of being client-based

6:49 Jack - “The first thing is, especially when working with a client and overall with our relationship, you need alignment. You need a consistent alignment, you need to understand their goals, and then find ways to offer suggestions. Following that note, get an order for KPIs, the key performance metrics. Get these together, align with your client about what that means to them and what they want to drive conversion wise, and assign some type of LTV and overall value to what these conversions mean. Some of these can be more nitty and gritty looking at different regional aspects across different OSs, determining exactly what that particular segment of user would be in value, or it can be more broad to the client. All of this needs to be created as a base-line before you jump into looking at the data of UA. Following that, you want to set up some type of regular cadence and reporting automation that aligns these KPIs, these conversions to the LTVs on a daily basis. This is something that you can view alongside your client to keep that alignment going, and also determine to them that you are in fact driving value.”

MMPs always on my mind

8:15 Ashley - “The MMP is always the first thing that comes to my mind when talking measurement. If you’re just getting started with running UA, first off, have an MMP. I’m a huge advocate for having a single platform where you can aggregate cost, performance metrics especially if you’re looking more down-funnel and wanting to get a full scope of what your program is looking like for analysis. Building on top of that, it’s also important to pick the right MMP for you, your team, and your program. Ultimately, the MMPs out there mostly achieve the same things, they have similar capabilities. Think outside the box a little bit and make sure to consider things like what does the dedicated team/resources on their end look like, will they be very involved in partnering with you and working with you to ensure that things run smoothly. What does the usability of their dashboard look like? With an MMP relationship, it’s so important to make sure you’re thinking big picture and long term because you don’t want to end up relying on that partnership so strongly when it comes to ensuring you have a good measurement process in place.”

Mess-ups and busts

10:27 Jack - “One of the biggest mistakes that can be made early on is in the alignment with KPIs and LTVs. It’s not necessarily how they’re set up, it’s usually on the client side when they do LTVs. Definitely at agencies, and different partnerships across the agency, they build out LTV models for the client. Usually you’re dealing with an enterprise client, someone that is already very established, and they already have these LTVs built-in. The biggest thing there is aligning with your clients on what drives that value and then aligning with them more on the intricacies or reporting logic that you might set up.”

12:32 Ashley - “It is also so important to have that MMP be your source of truth. A mistake that can be made on the client side, sometimes, is just not having a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to data. Even if the MMP is your source of truth and you want to believe that the data is accurate the way it is, it’s very beneficial to always have a little bit of a critical eye when it comes to your data. Things can go wrong and technical issues arise.”

Get ahead

14:27 Jack - “One of the things that we’ve set up moving forward with this is, one, you need to make sure you get ahead of these issues. You have to define these first before the client does. That’s always a bad look if the client is finding a data problem or discrepancy that you haven’t noticed yourself and then you have to take time to get back to them. That’s never a good look as we’re meant to be thought leaders and they’re hiring us to be these thought leaders. One good point there is getting ahead of it and one way we’ve become a lot better at getting ahead of it is that we have regular QA checks from each channel owner to look into the main data source and make sure, on a daily basis, that it aligns correctly with our UI. This takes 5-10 mins of your day. Even a step further, we’ve set up automated alerts within our data software which would be Tableau. We’ll send email alerts to different channel owners and to the account as a whole.”

The monopoly behind choosing media partners

16:48 Ashley - “When we’re making buying decisions, that reputational element surrounding what their reporting and data accuracy capabilities are boils back down to transparency and how transparent this media partner is willing to be in order to have that partnership. When I say transparency, I mean: is the media partner willing to share publisher info with us? Can we get the exact name and bundle ID of the app that this ad was served on?

We’ve had some media partners be unable to or unwilling to share impression data at the publisher level, for instance. Things like that come up as red flags for me. It doesn’t inherently mean that anything sketchy or suspicious is going on but we definitely err on the side of transparency is key.”

19:03 Ashley - “One of the first things that I’m looking for when I’m doing my research and when I’m in these intro meetings with media partners for the first time is what their value proposition is, what makes them unique, and what can this media partner offer us that we don’t already have. We are really looking to understand what their product is really about and what is the one thing that they’re driving home when it comes to their product.”

“Outside of that, I’m a huge advocate for basing some of these decisions on how genuinely likable the people are that you’re going to work with.”

Awesome companies you’ve partnered with?

23:03 Ashley - “The first one that comes to mind for me is ironSource’s Aura. The entire concept of the out of the box experience and the intelligent preloads has always been so interesting to me. There’s not many players, in this space, that offer a product like that so the unique factor and differentiator is already there. I also think it’s one that not many mobile app advertisers have tapped into or really even explored tapping into. For us, we did find success working with Aura and it was cool to be doing something different. Their product and the way our program worked with them was so different than all the other channels in our media mix.”

Scaling creatives for newbies

25:10 Jack - “One of the baseline things you have to do is take a look at all of the channels you’re running on and even propose one’s and bring on a new partner. You need a checklist of all the connections that are needed per each channel and per each placement available in that channel. You may not want to run on every placement but it’s essential to have those dimensions breaking out just in case it’s something you want to test, maybe that placement will gain a lot of traffic in the future and become a lot more useful in the industry as a whole. 

“Also, communicating these checklists to the client as well as noting which dimensions can be interchangeable between channels. Although 3Q digital has a very full stacked creative team, very accomplished individuals, our specific clients and a lot of enterprise clients will already have their own creative team that they work with. As amazing as that can be, there can be some bottlenecks.”

“Another big thing, looming off of placements, is understanding how users are engaging with different placements within that creative…. One last thing as far as diversification of portfolios is noting which channels are influenced the most in a flux of new creative and creative optimization.”

So (grand)ular

28:42 Jack - “One thing that has helped us out a lot is being able to standardize this granularity across all of your assets. What I mean by that is being able to pick apart your creative asset to look at things such as messaging themes, CTA, text overlay, and even more intricate stuff like text count or the mix of keywords you’re putting in that text overlay. Access to that data and then being able to link that to back end conversions and even more down funnel events is key in enhancing your ability to do these optimizations.”

Oh, the collabs you can make 

32:03 Jack - “I think an important thing to recognize is that your users are going to interact differently between these products. Someone on Facebook is going to act a lot differently when they see a display ad compared to a Google UAC. There are some collabs you can make. As far as keyword mix, you could link the keywords you’re using and try to define which ones are resonating the most with your audience to a text overlay like your static Facebook assets. Maybe the text that comes in on your static Facebook assets can be aligned on those individual words and see what the grouping of those words are.”

TikTok and virtue signaling

34:13 Ashley - “A big trend I’ve noticed is obviously that people are staying home a lot more often now and we as human beings are social creatures. When there’s that physical restriction to connecting to people and connecting to the outside world, we naturally push ourselves further towards social digital outlets. That means having an increased user engagement across various social platforms and social channels and reprioritizing ad spend towards those types of channels. One that comes to mind immediately is TikTok.”

35:24 Jack - “Another big thing that we’re seeing is an increased emphasis as a whole from users into this realm of virtue signaling. In a crazy time like this, we need to find ways to connect with people and ways to keep connecting with people. A lot of people are taking the avenue of social media and, given the emphasis of our socio-political situation, it’s been more important for individuals to virtue signal their intent and connections to these things. From an agency or industry standpoint, it’s also important for companies to move with their user base and align themselves with this socially conscious content and drive home the fact that they are aligned with their user base as it becomes more relevant to their user base.”

Optimistically optimistic 

36:54 Ashley - “Apple has sent absolute shock waves throughout the industry with their recent announcement about the iOS 14 update… This is really turning our world upside down, particularly in regards to measurement and tracking. A big question is: what does this exactly mean for iOS app programs moving forward. It’s still early and the big players in the space are all trying to figure out how exactly they’re going to pivot. I’m optimistic that as scary, challenging, and disruptive this announcement may seem, we’re an industry full of brilliant innovative minds. I’m definitely optimistic that we will be able to pivot and move forward in a way that does not obliterate iOS apps moving forward.”

38:42 Jack - “One, the higher engagement rates for the industry as far as social media has put a lot more emphasis on it and a lot more traffic coming through. The fact that advertisers are having to focus a lot more on benevolent content, content that aligns with this virtue signaling, it brings marketing into more of a positive light. It allows advertisers to make an impact along with their campaigns as well as be successful.”

40:04 Jack - “As far as digital marketing, you couldn’t come in at a better time in any point of history. I think one of the great things about digital marketing is that you can have that formal background and get your business degree, or you can just start your own business and learn the basics of it.”

41:03 Ashley - “If you’re looking into getting into growth marketing and you want something that keeps you on your toes and never gets boring because things are always changing, I definitely say go for it. There’s always going to be a need for new minds to come in and to innovate and I agree with Jack, there really is no better time.”

Out of the box marketing 

42:18 Ashley - “The one that comes to mind for me is e.l.f. Cosmetics’ #eyeslipsface TikTok campaign. E.l.f. Cosmetics produced an original song or jingle specifically for this TikTok campaign. It was a hashtag challenge and it was insane the amount of user engagement they were able to drive by making this very viral, easily spreadable and popular trend on TikTok, which is a relatively new and still adapting social platform for many people. I thought it was so awesome what they were able to do with that. They were the first big brand I had heard of that was really seeing large scale success with TikTok ads. 

43:47 Jack - “Dominos ran a campaign called “paving for pizza” a few years ago. Essentially, what they’re doing is devoting some type of budgeting from marketing and the company to go into communities that have really bad pothole problems and really bad road work and paying for these potholes to get filled and then putting branding over the top of it… They set up an amazing website with really good UX, really good CRO and they tie it to their product.”

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