Profit Partners: Finding the Perfect PPC Agency
Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is a core part of the digital marketing map for companies in a range of industries. On the face of it, you get a much better return for your spending since, in theory, only the people who are genuinely interested in your product or service will click through—and you only pay when a click takes place.
Unfortunately, the reality of an effective PPC marketing campaign is that it is a time-consuming, data-intensive, and skilled job. This is why so many companies turn to a PPC agency: an external company that has the experience and expertise to implement, manage, and optimize your PPC efforts for you. With so many PPC consultancies around, here is our guide to finding the perfect agency.
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First Things First
The first thing you need to know is that there is no single perfect PPC agency. What there is, and what you need to find, is the perfect agency for you and your company. That means looking beyond return on investment promises, the portfolio of previous and current clients, or years in the business (all important factors, to be sure) and asking questions to find out how the agency will work with you and your team.
For example, if your company is made up of remote workers from around the world, you will likely not want to engage an agency that makes a habit of requesting face-to-face meetings. Likewise, you will probably benefit more from an agency that has expanded availability (24/7 rather than 8/5) so that different team members in global time zones can still engage when necessary.
For the agency to be truly perfect for you, they need to work seamlessly alongside you and incorporate your preferred ways of working, reporting, and discussing so that they seem like an extension of your team rather than an outsider.
Some businesses want to simply ‘set and forget’ — hire an agency to take care of the pay-per-click marketing for you and then leave them to it. That is a perfectly valid option, after all, you are paying for a service. However, if you are more hands-on in your approach, you will need to make certain at the outset that there is a good level of responsiveness.
If you request a change to be made, or a new approach is taken, and it takes two or three days for someone to come back to you, then you will quickly become frustrated and disappointed with the relationship — particularly as the world of pay per click is extremely fluid and dynamic, and that delay may mean missed opportunities.
Will you have a dedicated point of contact within the agency? If not, who can you call or email when you have a question or issue — and will you have to waste valuable time explaining your situation and what you want each and every time you make contact?
On a similar note, consider how reports are shared with you. If you struggle to interpret complex graphs and charts, then you will need an agency that translates the raw data into clear, usable terms for you. Likewise, if you need real-time data for internal use and you only receive a report every month or quarter, you will soon tire of chasing down the information that you need.
Finally, make sure that the agency will conduct frequent PPC audits to ensure that your money is being well spent.
When you engage with a new pay-per-click agency, or when you have whittled your list of contenders down to a top three or four, you will need to find out exactly how they can help you meet your targets. This will, of course, mean that you have set the targets in the first place: be sure that you have a defined, tangible picture of what a successful campaign looks like and then articulate that. Be as specific as you can — if you want the campaign to increase traffic by 400% or turnover by 50%, then say so.
Any agency can make generic promises, but when it comes to a data-driven goal, you can quickly see who is serious about the work they can do.
Being up-front is not restricted to just your goals, but also what you expect from the agency — how often you want to be briefed, how much input you want into any change in strategy, etc.
On the subject of setting your goals, you will need to listen to the feedback you get from your agency. If they suggest ways in which you could surpass your original targets, then that is obviously great. If they tell you that the goals are unrealistic, then it is an opportunity for you to find out more about the reasons behind that and either adjust your goals or change your approach. The fact is, you are employing these consultants because they have skills that you do not — take advantage of that at every opportunity.
One thing you should beware of is the agency that blindly agrees to your targets without any discussion, analysis, or consideration. There is a chance they can deliver, there is just as good a chance that they will not — either way, if they are not fully engaged with your company and goals at this stage, they never will be.
At What Cost?
The cost of hiring an external agency is always an important factor. The PPC model is designed to be as close to a guaranteed return on investment as there is, but the services of your agency need to be incorporated into the equation. There are a few different pricing models that are prevalent in the industry, including a flat-rate, percentage of spend, and performance-based — each comes with its own positive and negative points.
For the objectively most accessible model, you should look for an agency that will give you a hybridized version of those payment plans — that way you get the best of all the options.
Ultimately, whichever your preference, you should only engage with an agency that has up-front, transparent pricing. Not only does this denote honesty and client-focus, but it also ensures that you will not be hit with nasty surprises or unexpected fees during your (hopefully long-term) relationship.
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