If you are planning on hiring a new PPC agency, this blog post is for you. I will highlight some of the most important areas you should research before you start a partnership with any PPC agency.
These guidelines are based on first-hand experiences with my own clients as well as AdWords best practices mixed with common sense.
Have you lost all of your trust in those annoying people calling you saying they will achieve “higher and relevant traffic for your company”?
Do you even know if the person you hired is telling you the truth about your campaign’s performance? Do you know what he is doing to your AdWords account?
I bet you’ve asked yourself these questions over and over again. Nowadays, more and more businesses are running to a PPC management agency to help them because it has become a fast and competitive marketing industry. Let’s face it, back in 2000, how much were you paying per click? How much is it now? The difference is staggering.
Just to give you an idea, I have a client in the HVAC industry, five years ago CPC’s oscillated between $5 and $10. Today, some clicks can cost up to $70.
Without having the proper knowledge, you end up wasting your PPC budget and getting little return on investment. These tips are intended for you to weed the amateurs out from the professionals and hopefully guide you towards a lucrative partnership.
1. Case Studies and Interacting With Other Customers Is Key
Sometimes, you will read outrageous reviews of companies claiming they are the very best at managing your SEM campaign. The fact is that you need to dig deeper, not everything you read online is true. Salesmen will oversell and overpromise.
Running basic research on Google about the PPC agency you’re considering working with will reveal many areas. Everyone will have skeletons in the closet, but how they have interacted with those skeletons is very important.
If you can’t find anything good or bad you might want to ask yourself how long the agency has been in the PPC business (new agencies aren’t necessarily bad).
Another important aspect is to read case studies with similar businesses. It’s even better when the agency has clients in similar industries, so you can call them to ask about their experience with the agency.
- How was the onboarding process?
- Are you satisfied with where you are now compared to the expectations set by your initial
- What is missing from the service they deliver?
You can also decide to take an informal approach. The most important thing about calling your potential PPC agency’s case studies is to confirm they really are happy. Surprisingly, many companies use fake testimonials or copy other companies’ testimonials (just ask our CMO Andrew Lolk – he emails companies who steal testimonials from us on a weekly basis).
2. Expect 100% Transparency or Walk Away
Transparency is the key to earning a client’s trust and confidence and once you’ve gained that, you will have a customer forever. An agency needs to be transparent with their clients at all times.
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I’ve heard some stories of agencies that handle Google AdWords accounts and the clients don’t even have access. Not granting access to clients is a good thing from an agency’s perspective.
Another agency can’t check on your work and the client can’t investigate further. You have full control over the reports and information that your client sees. But you’re not the agency, are you?
When it comes to agencies not allowing their clients’ to access the accounts, it means you as a client are left in the dark to check on the campaign’s progress on a daily basis. This is a huge red flag right there.
You need to approve the campaign before it even launches. It is unhealthy for your business to not even see what keywords are going to be displayed or review the See Search Terms report.
If you as a customer are being alienated and restricted from your AdWords, most likely they are hiding something from you and you don’t want to be spending your time nor your valuable money on a company like this.
Get access to your account or walk away.
3. Be Careful With Hiring PPC Management As an Add-On
Having a team of Google AdWords Certified specialists is an underrated benefit by many business owners. If you think about it, these are trained people that have gone through a process of studying, analyzing, and understanding Google’s algorithm by getting certified with their exam.
Besides taking this test, AdWords certified professionals also work with PPC every day (and night). They live and breathe PPC. Just like you know everything you need to know about your business, a full-time consultant in a good agency knows everything there is to know about PPC.
I therefore highly recommend not hiring someone to manage your PPC advertising as an afterthought. Surprisingly, many SEO or Website Maintenance companies will throw in the management of an AdWords account as an add-on to an already existing contract at a very attractive rate. Really, an add-on?
You spend thousands of dollars every month and you want someone who calls it an add-on to manage your account?
At the same time, hiring a single consultant comes with risks. Have you heard “two heads think better than one”? We are humans and so many things can happen in a day that you tend to forget things easily, but with other people overlooking your campaign, you get to have more qualified attention.
Making sure that the agency you hire offers a team of specialists will ensure higher standards, superior work, and overall higher performance.
4. Do You Receive Any Reports?
Sending out reports is really putting all of your hard work and effort into a PDF file. I’m so used to talking in “AdWords language” that I forget that my clients aren’t AdWords savvy and they need to know what I am talking about.
We are so immersed in our “little” AdWords world that we talk to our clients about CTR, impressions, conversion rate, and so forth. But these are businessmen with so little time that all they want to know is how many sales they got and how much it costs to them, they are all about ROI.
I think this is where most companies lose the thread, and it’s because they don’t send out reports. A single report, won’t take more than 30 minutes and it is only once a month. Heck, for some special clients I have, I send weekly reports.
It’s always good to have any external reports like Google Analytics, or any special Call Log Reports that can back up your results from the campaign.
5. How Often Do You Receive a Phone Call?
Proactive: initiate change rather than reacting to events. Is the agency willing to contact you before you contact them? Or are they just waiting for the volcano to erupt until you give them a call to find out about your campaign?
Having a personalized PPC manager who calls you on a monthly basis to personally walk you through your campaign is an advantage.
Has it been over two months you talked with your agency rep or don’t you even recall the consultant’s name? That’s a really bad sign; especially, in the first couple of months, you need to have that confidence that your campaign is improving and driving profits. Sometimes, all you need is a simple phone call from the strategist to tell you how everything is going.
6. Going Above and Beyond
You know it is always nice for any service, not necessarily only PPC services, to put in a little extra effort into what they’re doing. And I’m not talking about freebies or any special discounts!
I was once at a restaurant and I saw an old lady in her wheelchair leaving and the waiter actually helped her get out of her place and accompanied her to the car. It’s not the waiter’s job to do this, but he went beyond his job description and helped the woman.
Has that PPC agency done something exceptional for you? Perhaps your account manager sent you a new Remarketing campaign at midnight? Did he manage to get you a free mobile website worth $300 value?
You will always tell if an agency cares about the result if they put a great deal of emphasis on their reports and communication skills.
High ROI from PPC Is The Result of Great Collaboration Between The Client And The Strategist
After you decide to hire an agency, it’s important that you collaborate together to have an action plan and establish goals. It is not just about hiring an agency and letting them do their magic, your AdWords will be more successful if you as a client are heavily involved.
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Establishing goals is essential for an agency to deliver the correct results. Creating a plan of action suitable to the company’s budget and size is necessary. As a PPC manager, we’re more like advisors trying to counsel the client to have a better landing page, create discounts and doing certain things to be able to work around this competitive world we live in and ultimately lower costs and drive more sales for your business..
The number one thing most agencies fail at is transparency and communication. You need to be transparent with your work, reports and numbers. As I mentioned before, it won’t matter if they’re keeping you away from looking at your own AdWords account. If the numbers don’t add up and you’re not receiving a return on investment at the end of the day, then the client will cancel the service.
The right agency will be the one that is able to commit and deliver results.
What experience do you have with agency client services? In your experience, what is the number one thing most agencies fail at when providing services?