Maybe you’ve tried running Google Ads campaigns yourself and you’re not exactly getting the results you were hoping for. You’re getting a lot of clicks, but few conversions. Your last campaign racked up a higher bill than anticipated. You’re having trouble reaching the right audience.
You know you need help with PPC, but finding that perfect-fit agency is easier said than done. Especially in this space, which can attract some bad apples who may be poor communicators, or worse, end up blowing through your budget and holding your account hostage.
Here, we’ll discuss what to look for in a PPC agency so you can get the most out of your marketing budget.
Know What You Want
Before you start evaluating different PPC agencies, you’ll want to establish some basic criteria that you can use to guide your interviews.
- How will the agency charge you?
- What is your desired outcome? More customers? Increased brand awareness? Higher retention rates? (It could be all of the above, but you’ll want to figure out where most attention is needed.)
- Do you want to work with an agency with a specialized focus? Think e-commerce, B2B sales, B2C, etc.
- Does it matter if your agency is a Google Certified Partner or a Google Premier Partner?
- What kind of ads do you need help with? Google Shopping, Display, building remarketing lists?
The point is, you’ll want to jot down a few things before reaching out to agencies.
Paid Ads Know-How
If you’re going to pay for PPC, you want someone who knows everything about Google Ads. Unfortunately, you can’t just ask your PPC provider for their digital advertising license.
Anybody can say they’re a Google Ads pro and customers may take their word for it. Google, HubSpot, and others offer all kinds of online marketing badges you can add to your website, but again, those don’t tell you much about how a company can help you grow your business.
Ask how the agency will:
- Track results
- Develop a campaign strategy
- Manage bids
- Conduct keyword research
- Optimize campaigns
- Set metrics
- Measure performance
Granted, if you don’t have much knowledge of this stuff yourself, it may be a bit of a challenge to ask about how the rep feels about single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) or whether they think manual or automatic bidding strategies work better.
Instead, ask the agency to walk you through the process. What do they normally do for clients? How long do they typically retain a client? And what do they do to keep earning their business?
Hopefully, asking these questions will give you a sense of how the agency communicates their process, even if what goes on behind the scenes gets super technical.
You might also want to ask how they approach paid ads for similar clients and what ROI to expect after one month, six months, and so on.
What Kind of Pricing Structure Does This Agency Use?
Up front, it might not be realistic to lock down firm numbers for managing your PPC account.
Still, you’ll want to go over a few things before committing to an agency.
Before choosing a PPC agency, you might already have some idea of what you can spend on paid ads each month. When you talk to an agency, ask them if your budget seems reasonable—does it seem low or are you spending on the wrong channel? What would they recommend for a company of your size?
The other thing to consider is how agencies charge. Some price their services based on the percentage of ad spend, which might look something like this:
While this may seem like a transparent pricing structure—it could mean the agency is less focused on netting you the best return on investment and more interested in increasing your ad spend.
And in some cases, agencies charge based on performance, which means clients pay only after the agency gets them results.
In this case, there’s a risk that agencies focus primarily on trying to get the most leads at the lowest price—so you might be charged for a long list of unqualified prospects.
That said, just because of an agency picks one pricing structure over another doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad company or that you should go another direction.
Your PPC Agency Should Care About Your Business Goals
Ideally, you’ll go into this discovery call with some sense of what you’re hoping to accomplish. Key PPC works with e-commerce stores only, so we might have an initial chat with a potential client where we’ll discuss increasing conversion rates and generating brand awareness.
Being able to tie campaigns to overarching goals is really important. Google PPC ads link customers from the SERP results to landing pages, social media posts, and blog content that match the ad, so it’s important to approach PPC as one part of a holistic marketing strategy.
Here’s a breakdown of vanity metrics versus KPIs. You’ll want to make sure you work with an agency that measures results that directly correlate with growth.
Building on that, you may want to seek out a PPC agency that works within a specific niche. We work exclusively with e-commerce clients and we just do paid advertising. From where we stand, that singular focus means we know the ins and outs of this one niche, and we can really help our customers grow.
That means identifying opportunities to increase conversions, target different customer segments, and so on–we’re not going to bother with metrics like time spent on websites or page views, as they likely don’t tie directly to our customers’ goals.
Communication and Transparency
Figure out what kind of relationship you want to have with your PPC agency. What are your expectations when it comes to communication?
Is the agency hands-on and communicative or will they disappear on you for months at a time?
You might not require a daily update or constant emails, but you do want to make sure you’ll be able to get in touch and that you receive regular progress reports about your account.
Here are some things to discuss:
- Will you have a dedicated point person or deal with a different person every time?
- How can you contact your account manager/customer service?
- If you can’t get in touch, how long does it typically take for them to return your message?
- What is the typical turnaround time for requested changes?
- How often will you receive a report?
- How often will you meet or have a phone conversation to discuss the account?
Additionally, make sure you bring up the issue of who controls the account. This might sound crazy, but there are some real horror stories when it comes to clients having their accounts held hostage if they want to move to a different company.
Can You Read Reviews from Other Customers?
Ideally, you’ll be able to see some evidence that your agency has a roster of happy, long term clients. Check out their website and see if they have any case studies posted. Are there testimonials?
Here’s how we showcase our happy customers:
From there, see what people are saying outside of the company’s website. If people are still happy with the service on other platforms (i.e. the agency can’t pick and choose reviews), it’s a good sign that you’re dealing with a reputable business.
Even better, can you talk to actual customers? Ask for customer references and actually take some time to contact them.
There are plenty of PPC agencies out there, and of course, some are better than others. Our final recommendation is that you ask a lot of questions—cover costs, strategy, communication expectations, reporting, and experience.
If you’re shopping around for a PPC agency that can help you attract more shoppers—get in touch with Key PPC. We’d be happy to answer any of the questions outlined above—or whatever else you come up with.