Being an account manager in one of the fastest evolving industries in the world sure does have its challenges.
Working as a Digital Account Manager…
You’ve got to be strategic, empathetic, organised and thick skinned.
Ryan, Account Manager
But it’s also a lot of fun!
A sense of humour isn’t mandatory, but it sure helps to have one.
While a digital account manager’s skill set has to be broad, there are a few standout tools every manager needs to have in their toolbox.
You need a lot of business acumen
Despite what a lot of people think, gaining improved keyword rankings, acquiring links, getting reactions on a Facebook post or getting clicks on an AdWords ad isn’t that tricky.
If you understand the basics of each digital marketing channel, have a bit of flair, and a great team around you, you can pull the numbers in.
Being a digital account manager isn’t just about the stats, you need to make a difference to your client’s bottom line. And you’re really put to the test when the numbers are down.
Whether that’s driving enquiry form submissions, generating eCommerce sales or motivating people to download brochures, there’s no hiding when these numbers aren’t going the way they need to.
No one cares about new keywords when sales are falling.
Keep up to date with industry developments
If there’s one thing that is universally true about all aspects of digital marketing, it this:
They’re always changing.
Google algorithms change all the time. For example, they recently changed how Google ranks secure and non-secure websites. They also changed how interstitial pop ups affect a site ranking.
Then the EU changed how you’re allowed to collect and use client data.
You’ve got to know it all. Google changes and bigger concerns like legislation, that can impact you and your clients.
That’s for a couple of reasons.
- Your team
- Your clients
You need to know for yourself because if you fall behind on this knowledge, you’ll soon find yourself stressed and scrabbling around. Meanwhile all the other account managers (and their accounts) are flying high.
You need to know for your team because they look to you for advice. If you misinform them you’re not only damaging the quality of the work you turn out but you’re also harming their development.
Having a happy, motivated and well informed team supporting you, is one of the single most important parts of successful account management.
Let them down and you let yourself down.
You need to know for your clients because they look to you to be an expert in your field and know what’s best for them.
The moment you can’t confidently answer one of their questions you lose some of their faith. There will sometimes be moments when a client is believing and trusting in you based on faith alone and it’s at times like this when lack of trust can be your undoing.
Having said that, you don’t have to answer every question straight away. There’s no shame in going away from a conversation letting the client know that you need more time to be sure about what you’re saying.
It’s better to reply informed than reply in haste.
Knowledge is power and that’s infinitely true when it comes to digital account management.
You have to keep everyone happy
When you’re a digital account manager there are a lot of stakeholders invested in you.
Your clients look to you to consistently deliver fantastic value and results. Your team relies on you to ensure their workload is reasonable and that they’re being supported. Your manager needs to be confident that you can turn a profit and help your agency grow.
What happens when a client feels that their results haven’t been good enough, but your manager feels you’ve already overinvested in the campaign?
How do you handle the fact you need content produced before the end of next week, but your team is already stretched?
How do you report on a poorly performing month despite the fact your team have done fantastic work and you’ve gone above and beyond for the account?
How you handle these situations is a combination of your instinct and your strategic thinking.
Do the best for your account. Keep everyone happy.
That’s your ultimate aim.
Organisation is your best friend. Poor organisation is your worst enemy
This one cannot be stressed enough.
To someone who isn’t organised, keeping all the plates spinning may seem an impossible task. But run a tight ship and this is certainly achievable.
Developing your own internal processes and properly utilising all the tools you have around you are absolutely critical to this.
Prioritisation is also central to successful account management. There are often a million and one things to do and there is no chance you will be able to achieve them all.
It is in situations like this that you need to pick the right thing to do at the right time. Most of the time emails can wait, so can signing off work. You can even put off strategy scoping for a little while.
That meeting you have with one of your biggest clients tomorrow morning though? That can’t wait and neither can the preparation for it.
Invariably, no matter how organised you are, life happens. You need to be agile to maintain control of your accounts.
If you’re in a pickle, take a deep breath and look at the big picture.
Things will go wrong at some point
Despite your best efforts, and even when achieving all of the above, there is absolutely no doubt that things will go wrong at some point.
Generally speaking, a worst case scenario situation is when a client walks away.
Best case scenario, you’ve got a client on the end of the phone expressing their displeasure at your work or your results.
It can also be unpleasant when someone on your team doesn’t agree with feedback you’ve passed to them.
Situations like these need to be viewed, and treated, as learning experiences. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a mistake, or slipping up, as long as you learn and develop as a result of it.
Ultimately, this is what separates a successful account manager, and account, from an unsuccessful one.
Being able to take ownership of problems, and the actions required to put them right, will build respect and trust from those all around you.
Account management is not a straight and steady climb.
If you can keep moving forward during the troughs you’ll be able to fly over the peaks.
All of these things combined, plus a bit of flair, and a whole lot of honesty, will allow you to sustain a successful agency relationship with any client.
Thinking of becoming a digital account manager? You’ll probably want to know a bit about what it’s like to work in SEO first.
If you’re reading this because your current agency’s account manager is coming up short find yourself one that can deliver.