5 non-traditional skills to look for in a PPC account manager

Hiring a dedicated pay-per-click marketer is tough.

Just about every two- and four-year university in North America offers a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and some even offer the opportunity to minor or specialize in digital marketing. But you can’t get a degree in the disciplines that correspond to an actual job — PPC, AdWords, Facebook Ads, online ad design, interactive ad copywriting and so on.

So, when you’re looking for new talent, unless you want to do the training yourself, you need to find candidates with prior experience.

A quick scroll through LinkedIn or AngelList shows a common thread of agencies and businesses seeking out a “number-driven, passionate, creative and analytical individual with 3+ years of experience managing accounts.”

The problem is that any motivated would-be marketing hire will claim to possess these skills. So what makes a candidate stand out?

5 skills that differentiate you from the everyday PPC marketer

Top-notch PPC (pay-per-click) marketers need a diverse set of skills to conquer new opportunities, roles and challenges working in digital. For me, a variety of capabilities and a willingness to learn new skills on the job are some of the most valued features in a potential candidate.

I believe that there are five skills seemingly unrelated to PPC that truly make up the Full-Stack PPC Marketer.

Note: I do not talk about Excel or Data Science, though these are important. Search Engine Land already has some great content on Excel (sexy charts, combo charts, mini-series for search) and Data Science (similarities between PPC and Data Science, testing ads like a data scientist).

Skill 1: Design

We’ve all grown tired of the overused phrase “visually engaging ads,” but there’s a reason why it’s repeated so often. Our content consumption behavior is becoming more visual than ever, so a deep understanding of design makes your ad creatives stand out above the rest.

That said, you shouldn’t expect your Account Managers to come up with brilliant, engaging ads from thin air for each new client, campaign and product.

You want someone who understands the guidelines of each platform and is resourceful enough to apply best practices around color, sizing and call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

Frequently, a screen shot of a landing page with a CTA button overlay gets the job done, but this may require a deep knowledge base and the ability to work with a design tool.

Must-have design knowledge for PPC marketers:

Google’s Guide to Display Ad Sizes and Rules
Facebook Ad sizes, Text Rules, and Best Practices (from my employer, AdHawk)
5 ingredients for writing the perfect expanded text ads
A working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or free alternatives like Canva or Pablo by Buffer

Skill 2: Sales

Google’s internal sales training was one of the most valuable assets I gained from being a part of the AdWords team.

I like to give account manager (AM) candidates an AdWords account and ask them to treat me like the client — explaining performance, immediate opportunities and potential for long-term growth. I expect account managers to be able to do these four things:

Educate yourself. Google’s client-first approach requires that account managers do the work necessary to fully understand who they are working with before any sales discussion begins. This means getting to know the business owner, the marketing team, the product and the different customer personas.
Educate the client. Once you understand the business, you can clearly explain what strategies will work for them and WHY. If you and the client can stay on the same page, they will feel that they are still in the driver’s seat in making marketing decisions.
Set expectations. The worst thing you can do is oversell and underdeliver. It isn’t just an awful customer experience; it kills long-term revenue for your business.
Handle objections. The most passionate business owners (the best ones to work with) question strategies, decisions and the lack of changes in their account. They want to make sure you’re on top of things. The way candidates handle confrontation is essential to their ability to build a strong relationship and keep clients happy in the long run.

Sales must-haves:

Strong research skills
Objection handling
Expectation setting
Active listening
Pass Google’s new Digital Sales Certification

Skill 3: HTML & CSS

Understanding how websites work is a critical skill to becoming a full-stack PPC marketer. For everything from ad design to website troubleshooting to conversion-tracking implementation, a basic understanding of HTML & CSS will go a long way.

[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]