If you’re an online business, using PPC to boost your marketing strategy is a no brainer. Brands make an average of $2 in income for every $1 they spend on Adwords (source). Aside from driving revenue, paid search is a great platform to build awareness of your brand and establish an online authority.
That being said, not all PPC efforts are equal. In a world where your mother’s basement tenant can set up their own agency, brands need to be extra careful with who they trust to handle their pay per click advertising.
How can you tell if you’ve picked the right man for the job?
Trying to navigate and understand PPC can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the process and the lingo. Fortunately, there are a few glaringly obvious checks that will help you determine if the agency you’ve chosen for your PPC is worth their fee.
So with no further ado: we bring you the top 5 ways to check if your paid search agency is doing their job.
1. Do they communicate & offer transparency?
Pay per click advertising is a 24/7 gig. When you shut down your computer and head home, your ads keep running! This is why it’s extremely important to engage with an agency that communicates with you about your PPC performance on a regular basis.
The best agencies will send you a report once a week with progress and updates. This report should be used to keep track of your ad’s performance, monitor data for insights and update you on tests being carried out in your account.
Besides a weekly check in, you should be able to communicate with your PPC team as often as you’d like. If they are around to answer questions about your account, it shows they are keeping a watchful eye over the day-to-day performance. The last thing you want is to hire an agency and have them go silent while you’re bleeding cash on bad PPC.
Before you begin any work with a PPC partner, you should set clear targets for how you both expect your paid ads to perform. This ensures everyone is on the same page, and will help you measure if your agency is meeting your expectations.
Don’t let vanity metrics confuse your interpretation of your paid campaigns. Figure out what is important to you and ask for regular updates on the status of your goals. We often set goals with our clients for specific ROI targets, percentage increases in monthly lead volumes and decreases in costs per lead, to name a few.
Tracking and Transparency
Setting goals is great, but you also need to make sure your agency has set up a full tracking system to measure said goals. They should give you a pixel to install into your site which will enable them to track the actions important to you – sales, leads, video engagement, whatever they may be.
You should have access to your Google Analytics, Adwords and any other reporting systems used so you can log in at any time to see what is going on with your ads.
It is a serious red flag if your agency is reluctant to grant you access to your own accounts, as it indicates that they may be hiding something from you.
Your billing details should be set up within the ad platform you are using, so you are billed directly for your immediate ad spend. Be weary of agencies that offer one flat fee for ads and their service – often times they will pocket the extra cash, giving you less bang for your buck.
The bottom line is transparency is key. If you engage with an agency that is open, honest and straight forward you have nothing to worry about.
2. Are they active in your account?
Your agency may talk the talk but there is one quick and easy way to find out if they are walking the walk: the change history report.
By accessing this report, you can see all changes made within your account from any set date range. A good agency will make weekly, daily, even hourly changes – depending on how much you spend on ads.
This is so important because as we mentioned earlier, your ads don’t stop running when you do. If something isn’t working and it’s not caught quickly, you could be paying for ads that are harmful to your business goals.
You can find instructions for viewing your change history report from Google’s support blog.
Seasonality and age of the account play a factor in how often changes should be made to your ads. Things you should see in this report include: addition of negative search terms and display placements, adjustments of keyword bids and updating of ad copy. These are all part of the day to day optimization efforts of a solid PPC agency. If you don’t see any changes here, it might be time to have a conversation about the efforts being taken to maximize your ad spend.
3. Is Your Account Set Up Correctly?
When it comes to account set up, attention to detail is key. Your ad account needs to be built in a highly granular structure: with keywords grouped into tight themes. This allows themes (such a service types or products) to have tightly controlled budgets and straight forward insights into performance. It also ensures ads exactly match the user’s search query.
Matching your ads to a user’s search query tells Google or any other search engine that it’s highly relevant to what that user is looking for. This triggers the search engine to give your keyword a higher quality score, which in turn allows you to pay less for each click. More relevant ads and cheaper clicks means your brand will stand out from competitors more often: creating opportunity for increased conversions within your budget.
You should be worried if you find your agency is running your entire account through just one campaign.
A healthy ad account should contain multiple campaigns, which house even more ad groups. Each ad group should only contain the keywords for one specific service or product. Campaigns and ad groups should be grouped together in a way that makes sense for your business.
4. Do They Use Custom Landing Pages?
This is one many agencies get wrong. Countless hours are spent tweaking and testing your paid ad campaigns, and the ball is dropped when users are sent to a page that isn’t optimized to drive conversions. We often see brands direct ads to their home page instead of deep linking to a more specific product page. This not only wastes dollars on ineffective ad spend, but it frustrates users who are looking for a specific product.
With online competition as fierce as it is, even just deep linking to a relevant page is often not enough. Most advanced paid search agencies are using landing page testing software to constantly test different messages, images and layouts and determine which message works best to drive conversions for your specific user base.
Most users will remain on a site for only around 59 seconds – making the time they spend on your pages even more crucial. If your ad agency is already using deep linked landing page strategy, you can rest a little easier.
If not, consider grilling them on why they are choosing not to customize your user’s experience. This is another indicator that they might not be doing their job for you.
5. Do They Have A Strategy For Mobile?
Last but not least, does your agency have a plan for targeting your ads to mobile devices? The mobile apocalypse has been looming over our heads for years, but it’s importance is now more clear than ever.
Last year 50.3% of all web traffic was done from mobile devices. We’ve crossed the threshold and more than half of all online searches are being done by users on their smart phone. Ignoring devices in your PPC campaign targeting is a critical mistake.
Targeting mobile is now easier than ever with mobile exclusive additions to ads like call and message extensions. Bid adjustments should be set by device, ad copy tailored to smaller mobile screens and more. Mobile specific call to actions include phrases like: ‘Call Now!’ or ‘Find A Store Near Me.’
A successful agency will have a strategic mobile plan in place that utilizes the unique user experience of mobile devices.
Is your PPC Agency dropping the ball?
There you have it: the five most telling factors of a solid agency management. If you’re currently engaged with a PPC management team and you feel they are dropping the ball, it’s probably time for an open conversation.
If you’d like to hear more about how your PPC campaigns should be run, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a message – we’re happy to answer any questions!