If you want to hire an agency, or even a freelancer, to help you manage your AdWords campaign, don’t bring anybody on board until you’ve done your homework.
61% of PPC ad spend fails to produce a single conversion, your ability to conduct due diligence will determine whether you generate a successful outcome or waste your money.
We’ve created a list of questions you can ask to any prospective PPC agency to determine who is the best fit for your business.
1. Who will manage your campaign?
When you speak with an agency you’re almost never talking to the person who will actually build and manage your campaign, you’re talking to their sales team. Find out who will actually manage your account, is it managed by one or more highly trained PPC experts or will it be the graduate?
Don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting with both your account manager and the technical guy who will be working on your campaign.
2. Do you advertise using AdWords?
Does the person or agency who will manage your AdWords account learn and perfect AdWords on their own dime?
Spending your own money, and learning some hard lessons, is often the best way to to learn how to build successful campaigns – you’ll never forget the lessons you learn. Nothing will motivate an individual to learn more than seeing their own money get thrown out the window.
While AdWords isn’t always a good fit for every business, due to the cost per click and high competition, most agencies and freelancers will have their own active campaigns. Anyone that works with AdWords knows what an effective source of leads can be to any business.
If you’re going to hire someone to help you manage your campaigns, ask them to prove to you that they built a successful, profitable campaign with their own money
3. How will you measure success?
If you’re getting bamboozled with funny sales terminology and it simply doesn’t make sense, it’s an early warning sign of a bad service.
Bad agencies talk about impressions, clicks, click-through rates or even the position of your ads. Good agencies talk about cost per conversions, conversion totals, margins and return on ad spend.
Profitable campaigns aren’t built by the number of clicks nor are they built by out bidding your competition. Instead, whoever you work with will need to deeply understand each of your services, your margins and bid appropriately to generate the best return.
There’s no point trying to out bid your competition at $30 dollars per click if you’re product is only worth $15 dollars.
4. What strategy do you use?
Each agency will have their own strategy but an agency should be able to discuss a strategy that they feel will get results for your business.
- Do they create campaigns for services and suburbs?
- Do they use bid scheduling to show your adverts at peak times?
- Do they split test ads to find the most effective copy?
- Do they use advanced bidding strategies?
- Do they use call tracking?
- Do they use landing pages or work with your website to improve conversions?
5. How often do you review the campaign?
90% of agencies will only look at your account a handful of times each month, if that. Good agencies will review your campaign weekly, and often more, to ensure they’re minimising wasted spend – especially for a brand new campaign.
Regardless of the due diligence an expert takes when setting up your account it’s critical that it’s reviewed frequently to quickly identify where your campaign is bleeding money. Even the best PPC agency can’t filter all irrelevant searches from the start, it takes time.
The more a campaign is reviewed the greater chance it has of succeeding quickly, good agencies want to get results so that you remain an active client.
6. Is the agency certified?
AdWords certification and the Google Partners program is a ‘bare minimum’ approach to identifying acceptable standards. Don’t be fooled however, the entry point for the Google Partners program is very low requiring a few easy online exams and a monthly AdWords spend of $10,000 to attain it.
Alternatively the Premium Partner program requires 2 certified individuals and a much higher ad spend. Although account performance plays a small factor it seems the more an agency is willing to pay the greater chance they have of achieving higher certifications.
However, due to the low entry point it’s a no-brainer for an agency to attain if they want to be taken seriously, even when the certification holds little merit within the industry.
7. How will I know what work you’re completing?
A good PPC agency will send you regular reports for your campaign, the most common reports is an end of month report.
As part of those reports you might receive:
- A high level overview of your campaign – clicks, click through rate, conversions, estimated or actual revenue generated.
- Detailed conversion information broken down by sales, enquiries, phone calls and other conversions tracked through your website.
- Work completed on your campaign – what adjustments were made, new campaigns and ad groups that have been added, new adverts that were created.
If an agency is reluctant to show you what they’ve been working on then it’s a red light that says “we haven’t done anything at all”.
8. Do you use long term contracts?
In the digital marketing industry, it’s largely considered a suspicious practice for a SEM/PPC/SEO agencies to ask a client to sign a long term contract.
Although long term contracts aren’t always a bad thing, it’s typically something that isn’t recommended until you’ve used the service and know that it works for your business. Low quality PPC agencies often use lock in contracts to force customers to work with them for a period of time, even after you’ve identify the campaign is a failure.
More often than not the customer typically loses out when they discover that the practices of such agencies are poor and doing more damage than good. It can be a challenge to break the contract and even more challenging to revert the bad work they’ve already completed.
Good SEO agencies won’t force you into lock in contracts, however they may still provide you with incentives to sign up long term as it helps with cash flow.
9. Will you own the account or will they?
Bad agencies often like to hold your AdWords campaign hostage, so that you never take your business elsewhere. Good agencies will create your own personal business account and then request permissions to manage it.
Your account has historic information about your campaigns and the search terms that have been targeted, it contains a plethora of information on what’s worked thus far and what hasn’t. If you choose to take your business elsewhere you should be able to take your account and campaign with you, historic information will be a huge benefit to anyone you work with in the future.
Make sure you know upfront who will maintain ownership of your account, should the campaign come to an end, and if they aren’t willing to give you ownership then don’t work with them.
10. What results have they had so far?
Last but not least, don’t just take a PPC agency at their word. Case studies can be extremely helpful in providing insight into how prospective agencies are able to generate successful outcomes. Any agency you work with should be able to produce case studies of current or prior successful campaigns.
In some cases they might also provide you with referrals or testimonials for their clients so you can pick up the telephone and call and speak to others.
Finally, it pays to do your research – check reviews, forums and social media to find any kind of negative review. While you can’t trust everything you read, a trend in negative reviews often makes it clear that the only thing an agency will do for you is take your money.
Go with your instinct
Often from the outside, the difference between good and bad are hard to tell. Call around, ask for referrals, view case studies and source the web for reviews – sometimes choosing an agency simply comes down to your gut feel.
Talk to as many agencies as you need until you feel comfortable with your choice. The right agency will talk to to you as many times as you need, communicate without any technobabble, understand the critical elements of your business and have in-debt knowledge of AdWords and it’s technicalities.
If you feel you’ve been presented with answers for all of the ten questions above and trust what they say, then you might have your winner.