Pay-per-click agencies can be like used car salesmen.
They’re all over the place.
Some are comprised of talented individuals who know what they’re doing, while others seem to be as dedicated to the pay-per-click marketing field as they are to a diet on January 1st.
So how do you choose the right PPC agency that will actually get you results? Check out this 12 point checklist on how to pick a winner.
1) Is the company actually certified?
Many individuals/companies are not certified through Google AdWords or Bing Ads. This means that they haven’t taken the time or thought to showcase their understanding of how pay per click marketing truly works.
Make sure you find a PPC management company who shows their certifications on their website, and most importantly, make sure the links take you to a certified company profile hosted with Google or Bing. Don’t be fooled by simple static images that aren’t clickable.
2) Do they tie you up in a contract?
Don’t let anyone do this to you. A PPC agency should always be able to keep you as a client by showing you the results they’re creating for you and the value they bring to the table.
The only companies that require contracts are the ones who are afraid to lose you because they aren’t producing results. Work with a PPC agency who goes month to month and allows you to leave at any time.
3) Two heads are always better than one. Right?
There are many agencies out there that are just one man bands, feverishly playing all the instruments at the same time. But what do you really get out of that?
As the saying goes, two heads are better than one, three are better than two, and so on. And by just working with one person, you sell yourself short when it comes to getting creative ideas from several people, as those ideas are often more ideal than just a single brain.
Choose a PPC agency that has several people certified that can work together on your account, to then produce results far greater than the average person can.
4) Do they set your account on autopilot using software?
Software is great, just not when you’re paying an agency to manage your account, only to find out they’re letting a software program do all the work.
Certain programs are necessary to make bulk changes (like AdWords Editor), but there’s no need for you to pay $500-$10,000 a month to a company when you can do it yourself for $50 a month.
Not to mention that PPC software really only works best with e-commerce.
5) Are they completely transparent with your accounts?
There are many PPC agencies out there that will pass a 5-second change for a whole month’s work.
There’s an option within Google AdWords and Bing Ads that allow you to see the changes that have been made to your account (known as “Change History”). Make sure you take a look at these on a consistent basis so you aren’t duped for work you think is being done.
Also, is the agency willing to remotely share their screen to show you how things work? It’s very important to be part of the process and come with your own input too. After all, you know your business better than anyone else.
6) Is there actual proof of success?
Internal metrics are important within pay per click marketing, but many people fail to realize the business side of things. Is the phone ringing, are people buying, and are you profiting?
Click through rates, conversion rates, quality scores, and average positions are all great metrics, but are they actually giving you a good return on investment?
Be sure to find a PPC agency who cares about your success, and not just improvements in internal metrics that mean nothing to you.
7) How often do they test their own site?
Landing page testing is a HUGE part of PPC success. If a company isn’t testing the layout of their own website to convert better and better, how do you expect them to do that for you?
The same thing goes for their own text, image, and rich media ads. Do they consistently show the same message in their ads? Then they’ve gotten lazy and aren’t trying to continue to push their own ROI.
And if that’s the case with their own marketing efforts, how do you expect them to continually improve your success?
8) Do they penalize you when payment is late?
9) Are they proactive?
Many PPC agencies will do the regular routines of account maintenance, but do they ever take initiative to discuss new areas of potential growth?
New beta tests, opportunities, and strategies are vital to stay ahead of the competition and gain market share. Make sure who you hire isn’t bottlenecking your growth.
10) Do they openly tell you about pricing?
Some PPC agencies decide to hide their pricing, and won’t show or tell you about it until you’re deep into the sales process.
The industry pricing standard is either a flat monthly rate, or a percentage of monthly ad spend. Make sure that the PPC agency you hire continues to drive your costs down, even though they might lose money doing so (this applies if you pay via percentages).
11) Do they charge your per campaign, per ad group, and per keyword?
Many companies set a max limit on how much they will create for you, and anything after that, costs extra.
Getting fooled into a situation like that doesn’t allow you to test out new ideas without being charged for them from both the marketing channel and the agency. That’s not fair. 🙁
12) Do they know how important landing page testing is?
It’s great to focus on keywords, ad groups, and campaigns. But not so great if that’s the only thing you focus on.
Without looking at the last step a consumer takes before making a decision; the landing page, many PPC agencies fail to realize where the biggest opportunity in growth is – the landing page.
Landing page optimization is crucial for continued success within paid search marketing. Make sure the PPC agency you hire offers that option.