Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing can offer tremendously powerful advantages for your business, but the key to making the highest return on your investment is choosing the right PPC company for you. While some business owners choose to handle their PPC strategies in-house, hiring a PPC management company can not only save you tremendous amounts of time and money, but the right company can bring vitally important experience and expertise to the table. With so many PPC companies out there, however, selecting the best fit can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve created this guide for what businesses should really look for in a Pay Per Click company to assist you in your selection process.
Here’s what to look for as you research prospective PPC companies:
1. Learn About Their Experience And Area Of Expertise
Just as in any other industry, you’re going to get a lot of PPC companies claiming to be “the best” with “years of experience”, but dig deeper to find out what’s really behind these assertions. Find out exactly how long the company has been working in the PPC field and what their experience has been. Have they worked with many clients for continuous stretches of time, and what is their track record in the field. While a company may not directly divulge their client list, they should certainly feel comfortable to share their success stories, and much can be researched to better understand their claims.
You also want to make sure that they have adequate resources to allocate to focus just on paid search, including one person or a team who is dedicated to PPC advertising. They should also be up to date on the latest trends and developments in the PPC world.
2. Familiarity With Your Industry
The PPC company that is right for you is the one that understands your industry and your target customers best. They should be able to demonstrate a familiarity with your field, including the appropriate language and the behavior of your typical customer. PPC isn’t just a set-it-and-forget-it business. Make sure that their strategy will involve testing and tweaking along the way as they constantly work to improve your results.
You also should find out if they work with any clients that are your direct competitors, as you want to steer clear of any conflicts of interest. And with competitors in mind, find out how they plan to help you stand out from the competition. Ask about strategies and competitive analysis tools that they might use to research competitors and improve your performance in relation to them.
3. Transparency With Your Account
You want to choose a PPC company that is willing to actively share data on progress and results with you. Find out how often you will communicate with each other. Will you get updates weekly? Monthly? You shouldn’t feel like you have to constantly hound them to learn about your results. Make sure that you can have access to your PPC accounts to keep an eye on budgets as well as find out how actively the PPC company is engaged in tweaking and improving your campaigns.
Find out if you can access your accounts when you want without having to go through the company. Anyone who doesn’t want to reveal information about your business should create cause for concern. You should also establish early on how involved you would be in the both the budgeting and creative aspects, including setting budgets, keyword selection, and ad writing. You also want to look for a company that proactively works to reduce excess spending with the help of historical data analysis, negative keywords to reduce irrelevant traffic, and other ways to improve keyword quality scores.
4. Contract Limits And Pricing
Before entering into any contracts or agreements with any PPC company, be sure to read the fine print and find out as much as possible about contract terms and pricing. Be wary of any company that wants to corner you into a long-term contract by offering sweetheart deals or discounts to entice you. You’re likely better off with a shorter contract, such as month-to-month arrangement or something similarly flexible. That way if you’re not seeing results or the fit between you and the company isn’t right for any reason, you won’t be locked into a yearlong contract and can still end your business together without concern of early termination fees. Any company worth their salt should have the confidence that if they work hard and show results those clients will want to continue doing business together.
Find out who will be working on your account. You not only want an individual or team that works directly for your account, but also want a professionally certified senior employee or an experienced team that is lead by one. Find out if they are certified in Google Adwords or any other paid search platform, and if they specialize in Search, Display, and Advanced Reporting and Analysis. Verify that they are actually certified as some companies might make claims on their site and not follow through, or the people actually working on your account are outsourced and not certified.
You should also find out if they are experienced with landing page optimization. They should be familiar web development and creative best practices when it comes to optimizing landing pages, including A/B landing page testing.
6. Active Engagement Without Autopilot Programs
Learn as much as you can about the scope and scale of the company’s client base. You want to make sure that they will be dedicating the appropriate time and resources to your account, but if they’re overwhelmed by too many other clients or bigger accounts, that will be hard to do. Find out how actively engaged the company will be in your account, and how much time they are able to devote to your campaigns. While there are many effective programs that can be used to improve PPC performance or make bulk changes, such as AdWords Editor, you want to ensure that they aren’t relying heavily on autopilot applications.
7. Reporting And Metrics
Find out what type of reporting and metrics they use to analyze your PPC performance and make improvements. And how often do they share that information you (weekly, monthly) and how do they present their findings? At the outset, you’ll want to discuss goals, budgets and key performance indicators, and document any agreements you come to. Learn how they analyze and report on important aspects of PPC such as revenue, traffic, spend, conversion rates, click-through-rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), as well as other advanced metrics. Find out what metrics you can expect to see and if you will have independent access to reporting.
8. Workload Distribution
Ask how many people will be working on your account. While having a specific point person whom you speak with most often is key for open communication, having an experienced team collaborating on your account will help produce better results than just an individual. Some PPC companies attempt to juggle too much at once, attempting to have one person handle many different aspects of an account, but this usually ends up spreading them too thin and comes at the cost of your success rate. Having a team that can collaborate and pool specialized skills and resources, will dramatically improve your results.
9. Proof Not Promise Of Results
Be wary of any PPC company that makes grand promises and guarantees results. You want a company that is focused on creating a long-term, results-oriented relationship, not empty promises. Look for a company that communicates frequently and openly, exhibits proof of performance through reporting and metrics, and directly addresses your needs and goals.
10. Scale and Growth
PPC companies can come in all shapes and sizes, and you want one that suits your scale of business. Are they equipped to handle the demands of a business of your size, whether you’re small, medium or large scale? The ideal PPC company for you should be experienced in working with businesses of similar size, but also be prepared to scale up as your business grows. In the event that your business outgrows what the PPC company can handle or you wish to change companies down the road, find out what kind of access will you have to your campaigns or historical data.
PPC advertising can serve as an effective complement to your SEO strategy, helping to further drive traffic and increase sales. However, it can be a costly investment, especially if you choose the wrong PPC company; so you want to be sure you’re making the right decisions to see a return. Be sure to take adequate time to select the company that is right for you. Make a list of prospective companies based on referrals and recommendations from professional colleagues and contacts, as well as exploring databases like Google Partner Search. Use this guide to compare potential companies and ask questions to learn more about what you can expect from the relationship. Take time to analyze and evaluate their responses and weigh their strengths and consider any potential weaknesses. The process may take some time, but making the right decision will be worth the energy spent.
What has your experience been with PPC companies and what do you recommend looking for in a potential candidate. Let us know in the comments.
- “Introduction to Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing” (KISSmetrics)
- “Search Marketing Reporting: 8 Metrics Clients Actually Care About “ (Search Engine Watch)
- “Choosing a PPC Agency: 10 Questions To Ask” (WordStream)
- “How To Choose A PPC Company For Your Business” (Market Domination Media)
- “How To Choose The Right PPC Agency” (Hanapin Marketing)