Deciding to work with a pay-per-click (PPC) management agency or professional can be a huge step for your company. Not only are you ready to put money into an advertising campaign, but you are confident that you will drive new business and expand. Selecting an agency can be stressful, but as long as you choose a reputable company that you trust, it can be the beginning of a great relationship. But with all the flashy websites and technical jargon, how can you cut through the fluff?
1. How are they tracking your success?
The first question should be, “What is our goal?” followed by, “Can we place tracking/conversion pixels on your website?” There are many ways to track success depending on what you are trying to accomplish. The beauty of digital advertising is that you can quantify success. In an ideal world, your PPC management agency will generate a Google Tag Manager (GTM) container code. After that, they will place that on all your website’s pages. They can then use that container to add conversion pixels, Google Analytics tracking, and set up goals without having to enter the back end of your website again. A conversion pixel tells you what landed you your conversion and where it happened. Once the PPC agency reviews the data, they make decisions on how to streamline your campaign. Needless to say, it’s pretty important.
2. How are they going to report it?
Any PPC agency worth their salt will be more than happy to send a polished document with a full breakdown of any key performing indicators and a strategy moving forward. They should also be willing to sit down with you and answer your questions about the data and what it means. One of my favorite tools to use is Swydo, which has an inexpensive automated reporting tool that pulls data from your AdWords, Bing, Facebook, Google Analytics, and even call tracking metrics from Marchex.
From there, the agency can create graphs and charts to better show the story your data tells. Their job then is to compile the PPC data from all your various places, and present it to you in a simple package. An excel spreadsheet also works. Setting up a monthly meeting or call is also standard operating procedure for data reporting. With so many reporting tools out there, there is no excuse to send a client a quick and dirty email with a few line items about campaign performance and a handful of facts and figures.
3. Know the difference between a Google Partner, a Google Certified professional and someone who is not.
Oh, the fancy title of being a Google Partner. The flashy badge at the bottom of the agency’s website gives you a sense of hope, that your advertising campaigns are in the best of hands. But what does that even mean? In a nutshell, Partner status means the following:
- the agency uses best practices as measured by Google
- they have at least one employee with their Google Certification
- they have also spent $10,000 on AdWords in 90 days.
It’s more of a formality than actually proving performance – kind of like a college degree.
Google Partners have more or less proven they are in it for the long haul. Being a recognized Google Partner has some advantages. For instance, access to exclusive Google seminars, additional training, and help with Google products.
When AdWords launches new features, Google helps spread the word faster than a glitter bomb throughout the PPC community. Google does a great job at publishing tutorials and their support teams are excellent, so by no means should you assume that Partners have a stash of trade secrets.
When it comes to who is actually working on your campaigns, the Google Partners badge doesn’t always mean jack. Remember how you only need one person with a certification to have that badge? Don’t be afraid to ask who is on your team and what their background is. Again, remember that a Google AdWords certification is not that unlike a college degree. The tests have gotten much harder over the years and the questions are becoming much more strategy-based. However, the certification isn’t going to measure drive or future performance and there are plenty of ‘study guides’ (cheat sheets) that people can use to help pass their exam. You also can get your certification without actually having managed a campaign in your life.
So where is the happy medium? Always look for a Google AdWords certified professional who has some experience under their belt and can talk about past projects with you. Are there PPC professionals out there that don’t have their Google AdWords certification? Of course. Are they any less capable of managing your account? Hell no. Just be leery of those individuals who brush off the certification exam because they are ‘too cool’ for it, or they think they can ride it out on their campaign performance alone. In our field, passing the certification exams – and even earning that little Google Partners badge – is a great accomplishment and we do brag about it. Anyone who isn’t out there chasing down more knowledge or working towards passing every exam Google has to offer isn’t passionate about their field. When you find those people, run.
4. Do they only do AdWords?
Although Google is by far the most popular search engine for users, it is not the end-all-be-all of PPC advertising. Bing Ads is still very popular, and depending on things like your target demographic or device preference, Bing may be better suited for your campaign. You might have heard of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Yelp. Those are prime social platforms that have PPC advertising. A solid PPC agency or professional should be able to navigate multiple channels of advertising and have the ability to guide you as the client to what the best marketing mix should be for your needs and budget.
If they can’t do it themselves, they should be able to recommend outside resources that they can bring in. The answer should never, ever be, “Well, we don’t do that,” followed by a subtle chirping of the crickets.
I hope you’ve found these tips on picking the best PPC agency or professional helpful! In short, there’s a lot of data out there so find someone you feel comfortable with. The best clients that I have worked with are the ones that want to involve themselves in the process by asking questions and keeping open lines of communication. Know when to take credentials into consideration but at the end of the day pick someone who has passion. As the late Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”