Having now worked in the paid media industry for a couple of years, I have created, received and witnessed many handover notes. Whether it be internal account changes or changing agencies, each time I realise more and more how important they are. I have been on the receiving end of some great, and not so great handover notes, and have no doubt written some that fall into both those categories.
At first, it can seem like just a silly old formality, where you think, ‘yeah, yeah, just give me the basic run down of the accounts and I will use my immense brain power to work out the rest’. And then you start on the accounts, and clients are asking you all kinds of questions, and you’re rummaging through the handover notes, only to find none of this information is there. You don’t know what to reply to the client and you’re cursing the paid media gods for putting you in this situation.
Despite this, there are a few key points that can save you a lot of trouble.
This is the overview; who the client is, what their company does, what they are trying to achieve and who are the key people involved. Whenever there is an account transition, clients will always be wary, as the person they have become accustomed to and built a relationship with is now no longer there and a completely new person will now be taking over their paid accounts. New relationships will need to be built. The goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Working in paid media, we all know that there are many aspects of the job (e.g. paid search, paid social, programmatic etc.) and we know that the client will have a variety of people looking after each of these. Knowing who to contact, and what role they play and what ways of workings have been established will help the transition that will show you and your agency in a great light and will put to rest any initial concerns the client has.
Perhaps the most important of them all, the accounts. This section of the handover notes needs to be detailed, clear and precise. It will most likely be the most referenced part of the handover notes moving forward. Key things that need to be recorded include the following:
- Account structure
- Account history
- Work in Progress
An overview of how the account is set up, including campaign naming conventions, campaign layout, match types and ad group layouts. I can say from personal experience, I have taken over accounts (from another agency) and the campaign names may as well have been written in Swahili. It will save a lot of time trying to decipher what they all mean. You will want a clear understanding of why the campaigns have been set up the way they are.
A quick rundown on what settings are currently running and the reasons why this is the case. This can include things such as locations targeting, ad scheduling, automatic rules, scripts, etc. There are so many things that you just won’t think to ask during the transition, so to have them written down, with reasoning behind them, will save a lot of confusion in the future.
This is one of the most important. If tracking & analytics details are not in the handover notes, you’re going to have a bad time. As all paid media specialists know, tracking is imperative. There is no point running a campaign if you can’t track the value it brings. You will need to know what you’re tracking, how you’re tracking it and why you’re tracking it. I have witnessed the result of when this is not properly prepared, and it is not pretty. It can lead to confusion, inability to answer client questions, missed optimisation opportunities and reporting mishaps. The more detail, the better.
This section should give a history of the accounts in terms of past strategies, tests and results. It should focus on what worked and what didn’t. This is greatly important as it gives the new account manager some background to what has already been tried and what hasn’t. The last thing you want is to start implementing strategies within an account, only to find out later that they had already been done. That is a waste of everyone’s time and is not a good look to the client.
Work in Progress:
All unfinished work the previous account manager was working on, all work that was in the pipeline that had been organised with the client should be here. Having this information will save a lot of awkward conversations when the client asks you how that piece of work that you had no idea even existed is going.
KPIs – Perform, Perform, Perform!
We all want to perform, right? Well how are we meant to perform if we don’t know what the KPIs are. This is an absolute must in the handover notes. You will need to know what you are trying to achieve in terms of results. It will guide all your optimisations. If you don’t have these for reference, you are essentially optimising blindly. Different campaigns may have different KPIs due to varying value, and this is information you are going to need if you are to knock the account out of the park. And let me tell you, it will not be a good look if after the whole handover process, you suddenly ask what you are trying to achieve in terms of results for your clients.
Ahhh miscellaneous, the perfect place to put things when I have no idea what category they belong to.
In this section belongs all date related details. These should include client WIP dates, Report dates, passwords, and the location where everything important is saved on the company server, and anything else of this nature. The last thing you want is to suddenly think ‘when are we meeting the client next’ or ‘what day is this fortnightly report meant to be sent over’. You can save yourself and everyone a lot of hassle if you make sure this section is filled in with these types of details.
And there you have it. I hope whenever you are writing handover notes or receiving them in the future, you really sit down and think what you/they will need as reference to really hit the ground running. It will make the transition that much smoother, which will in turn let the client know their account is in good hands, and it will save everyone a hell of a lot of time and awkward conversations moving forward.