How to Hire a PPC Agency You Actually Enjoy Working With
If you’re finding it difficult to manage your own PPC campaigns and are considering using an agency to do it, chances are you’ll find the latter task just as daunting. So before you go with the first company you talk to, or talk to 100 potential agencies before giving up, take this post for a whirl so you know what to look for right away to narrow your search down to the right agency.
Here are the Top 8 Things To Look For In A PPC Agency:
1. Are they Google AdWords Certified?
You want to work with the best, so make sure the people at the agencies you consider are at least AdWords certified.
This shows that they’ve taken the time to understand PPC advertising and are willing to prove it by passing Google’s AdWords program, which requires answering hundreds of questions regarding search and display advertising, the AdWords platform, and strategies behind successful campaign management. These certifications do not guarantee competence, but they do show a certain level of professionalism when an agency requires it of their employees.
As a side note, Disruptive Advertising even makes their sales team get AdWords certified! 🙂
2. No Long-Term Contracts
This one is really important. A lot of agencies will get you locked up in a 12+ month contract, making you feel trapped when the results from your campaigns drop off after month three. A lot of times agencies have very good reason for doing this: The costs and resources to bring on a new account are significant and most agencies don’t actually make money on an account until they are several months in. In fact, clients tend to see a better return initially than the agency does.
However, agencies can show the client that they have some skin in the game by offering minimal contracts. This way, you as the client can see that they are confident in their skillz (yes, skillz with a “z”) and their ability to show you sustained results month-after-month.
If an agency is not showing you results, you have every right to fire them. At Disruptive, we like to say “life’s too short to work with people you don’t like,” and that goes for our clients as well as us!
3. Everything Should Be Yours To Keep
When it comes to creative assets, landing pages, and AdWords accounts, IT’S ALL YOURS! Or it should be. Too often, companies hire an agency to help with their PPC campaigns and after 3-6 months, results decrease dramatically and they are again on the hunt for a new agency.
When they are ready to make the switch, after assuming the whole time that they own their AdWords account and all the creative from their PPC campaigns, the bomb gets dropped that they don’t own any of it. They have to start from scratch all over again.
First, when you work with an agency, not only should you be receiving top notch PPC management, you should be building up your creative assets the entire time as well. Second, giving up ownership of your AdWords account to an agency gives them the ability to sell that information to a competitor, and also strips you of all the historical data you’ve accumulated.
You probably already know how important your historical data is to your campaigns, so I won’t go into that here, but starting over from scratch means you have to spend time and money building data all over again. Don’t work with an agency who does not give you complete administrative ownership over your AdWords account.
4. Transparency is a Must
You deserve complete, unaltered transparency with regard to every aspect of your campaigns. Google instructs their partners to share all costs and performance metrics of all Google ad campaigns.
The best way for you to have access to all this information is to maintain complete, administrative ownership over your account. Without this ownership, the numbers you are given by a third-party agency , if given any at all, may not be accurate (either by accident or intention). Your agency of choice should be providing you transparency into every ad account, every landing page, every cost, and every performance indicator from your PPC campaigns.
5. Look For Strategists, Not Just Account Managers
With Pay-Per-Click management becoming more of a commodity, a lot of agencies worry only about hiring account managers and don’t think about the strategy that must go into a winning PPC campaign. Disruptive makes it very clear to their account managers that their job is to be an account strategist.
At the end of the day, almost any person with thumbs and half a heartbeat can gather up the low-hanging fruit in PPC. What makes worlds of difference, though, is having a strong strategy for sustained performance and improvement within your campaigns. Make sure the agencies you consider have a systematic approach and personnel in place to continue to show results after all the low hanging fruit has been gathered.
6. A Proven Track Record
Not only should agencies have a proven track record as shown by the results they’ve provided their clients, but they should have also proven their track record by building their own business the way they plan to build yours.
There are too many agencies out there that put up a smoke screen to appear to be something they really aren’t. These include the one-man shops, agencies that appear to be US based but all the work is really done overseas, and agencies that struggle to pay their own bills because they can’t retain clients.
Disruptive Advertising grew from $0 to $2.5million in revenue in just one year (http://blog.ispionage.com/search-marketing-agency-interview-johnathan-dane.html). How? Through their own PPC efforts and by retaining clients (without contracts, mind you). Ask any agencies you’re working with to show you their business model!
7. Do More Than Just Drive Clicks
If an agency proposes that clicks will be their main metric to measure success, RUN FORREST, RUN!
Pay-Per-Click means that clicks are what you pay for, but they’re not what pays you. An agency’s focus should not only be on driving clicks, but also on converting those clicks at the highest rate possible and helping to turn clicks into clients. A good agency will always talk more about your profitability and ROI than the number of clicks you get. Disruptive approaches PPC advertising in three simple steps:
1. Get the right traffic, at the right place, in the right time, with the right message.
2. Convert those clicks at the highest rate possible using custom, dynamic landing pages and conversion rate optimization.
3. Have the analytics in place to determine precisely the ROI of different portions of your campaigns, all the way back to the keyword level.
At the end of the day, clicks cost you money, conversions make you money.
8. Be Really Good At Ping-Pong and Foosball
That’s right, if an agency is no good at either of these two tabletop sports, they’re no good to work with.
Okay, not really. I guess an agency could still be good at PPC and lack Bruce Lee-like Ping-Pong skillz (yep, there it is again), but my point is this:
If your agency is not fun to work with, don’t work with them.
As mentioned before, we often say that life is too short to work with people you don’t like. Make sure that the agencies you look into are fun to talk to, fun to work with, and know how to get the job done. There must be always be a balance between work and fun, but if that balance leans too far in either direction, expect disaster.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these 8 points will help you to quickly whittle down the agencies you consider. Let me know in the comments below some of your criteria in choosing a PPC agency to work with and feel free to challenge me to a foosball game, if you dare.