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How to Choose the Best PPC Agency

I’ve received a lot of feedback recently related to PPC agencies and the quality of service they provide. Sometimes the responses are encouraging, and other times they are somewhat disheartening. My hope is to squash these feelings and to provide anyone looking for quality service with a template to assess their prospective (or current) agency.

My advice is really quite simple: Do not be afraid to ask tough questions at any time during your relationship with your agency. It is simply unacceptable if at any point you feel slighted. To me, this is a sign of poor communication and lack of transparency.

You’ve entered into a partnership and, as such, the relationship is mutually beneficial OR detrimental. Take the time to work out the kinks and develop a solution that really works. In the long run, it will benefit both sides.

Do a Little Q & A Before Committing to a PPC Agency

Transparency is key in order to build a trustworthy relationship between you and your agency. Consider the questions below if you have any doubts before signing the dotted line. It’s better to ask questions now than pay for it later.
 
Q: Who owns my AdWords account?
A: You do of course!

I am shocked at the number of business operators I’ve talked with who do not have ownership of their own AdWords account and its associated data. If you listen to any advice on this page, I hope it’s this: Always create your own AdWords account with login and billing information of which you are the owner. The best agencies will always ask you to complete these first steps or guide you through them. They will then request access to your account via their My Client Center (MCC) account. This should be the standard as far as I’m concerned.

This should be your first area of concern because Google AdWords makes tools specifically for agencies, like the MCC. If your agency is not using them, it could be at the detriment of your account… or worse, your business.

If the agency isn’t being upfront with you on this very remedial level of service, then you need to reconsider if they are a trustworthy partner. After all, it is a partnership you are entering in to.

thumbs-upWHEN YOU HAVE ACCOUNT OWNERSHIP:

  • Access to complete account history
  • Transfer & give access to anyone you want
  • No hidden charges or fees

thumbs-downWHEN YOU DON’T:

  • Loss of account history & data
  • Difficult to transfer to new account manager
  • Possible “release fee” to get your account back

 

Q: Do I have access to the AdWords account?
A: Yes, feel free to review recent actions. We do ask that you please not make any edits without consulting us first.

If you’ve followed the first recommendation this should not be a problem. This is the primary reason you should want to own the account yourself. Having access means that you can review every detail in the account from billing to user permissions to the latest changes made.

Having access to the account does not necessarily mean that you should actively be making changes. You’ve hired an agency to manage your account for a reason, so let them do just that. It is important, however, that you understand the changes that are being made and the impact that they can be expected to have on the account.

thumbs-upWHEN YOU HAVE ACCOUNT ACCESS:

  • Full view of bidding & budget strategy
  • Full access to reporting options
  • Accurate error-checking and cost analysis

thumbs-downWHEN YOU DON’T:

  • Zero administrative privileges
  • Unable to measure KPIs
  • Unable to conduct cost analysis

 

Q: What is our frequency of communication?
A: We recommend having a monthly meeting to review account performance and discuss updates or immediate concerns. Plus, we should have regular email communications for standard account maintenance and document review.

Your input is critical to the performance of your account. Discussions of keywords and relevancy should constantly be in flux. It is also vital that you make the account manager aware of any updates that will affect the account – event or promotion updates, changes to the website, new service features, etc.

You should strive to review performance of your account with your agency regularly. We recommend meeting at least once per month, but, depending your availability and the size of your account, quarterly meetings might be appropriate.

thumbs-upWHEN YOU HAVE GOOD COMMUNICATION:

  • Account manager is always up-to-date
  • Gain a full understanding of the platform
  • Learn minute details about account performance

thumbs-downWHEN YOU DON’T:

  • Uninformed about your account
  • Promotions may be outdated
  • No knowledge of your data

 

Q: What level of reporting will I receive?
A: You will receive a standard monthly report with detailed analysis, which may be accompanied by ad-hoc reports when relevant to a discussion. Plus, we’re always happy to meet any reporting requests you might have.

It’s important to receive a report with some sort of analysis. The agency should provide a story to explain the data trends. Performance swings are a common occurrence, and it is up to your agency to help you make sense of your account.

A really great agency will also make custom reporting available at your request. If you want more detail into how a particular promotion performed, or you want to see how branded search compares to non-branded, or you want to see how performance stacks up on a day-to-day basis. The possibilities are literally endless here, but if you can dream it the agency should be able to build it.

thumbs-upWHEN YOU HAVE REPORTING:

  • See positive and negative effects taking shape
  • Receive explanation of account management
  • Gain understanding of your audience

thumbs-downWHEN YOU DON’T:

  • No knowledge of account performance
  • Relying solely on trust of agency
  • Zero insight into individual campaigns or keywords

 

Q: What certifications does your agency have?
A: We are a Google Certified Partner (or Certified Individual).

Your agency should provide some sort of proof of their experience. If you want a quality solution, you should make sure that they are a Google Certified Partner, and, more specifically, that your account manager is a Google Certified Individual. When judging the agency, you should even go as far to check that they are specifically Google AdWords Certified and/or Google Analytics Certified.

thumbs-upWHEN YOU HAVE CERTIFICATIONS:

  • Accountablity & reliablity are assumed
  • Guaranteed management experience
  • Learn the ins & outs of the platform

thumbs-downWHEN YOU DON’T:

  • Potential lack of experience
  • No quality guarantees
  • Lack of platform knowledge

Have you asked these questions? You have? Great! You’re already on the path to success. You understand what is really necessary to build a lasting, working relationship with your agency.

If you haven’t, you really need to take a closer look at your PPC service. Now, ask these questions: do you feel like you have control over your account? Is your money being put to good use? Are you seeing an acceptable return on investment? So on, and so forth.

Are there other pressing matters that have been on your mind?

Stephen Kapusta

About Stephen Kapusta

Stephen Kapusta is a Senior Paid Search Analyst who is drawn to search engine marketing on account of his interest in consumer behavior and propensity for all things digital. His infatuation with paid search thrives on unlocking the mystery behind search intent, then using that knowledge in conjunction with his background in promotional writing and landing page optimization to complete advertising goals.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2014/03/18/choose-best-ppc-agency/

One Response to “How to Choose the Best PPC Agency”

Mavis Flixar says:

One of the best Google Adwords tips I ever got, from a guy named Simon, was to include a solid mix of the three (four including modified) match types, with the correct proportions of broad, phrase, and exact within each ad group. Most people that get started on PPC don’t think to do things that way.

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