Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a classic marketing strategy that’s commonly used to supplement organic traffic, but it’s hardly the most straightforward way to increase your site’s audience. In fact, from a technological perspective, it’s a rather fussy practice. That’s why brands that want to include PPC marketing in their overall strategy need to work with an experienced agency. Agencies facilitate ad distribution, track clicks, and calculate fees – and the best ones can help their clients thrive. Unfortunately, there are a lot of subpar agencies and bad actors out there, and you need to know how to spot them.
So, how do you know if it’s time to fire your PPC agency? Keep an eye out for these 9 red flags. They could indicate you’re working with the wrong agency and that it’s time to make a move.
Companies leave their PPC agencies behind for all sorts of reasons, but according to a 2015 report by the Society fo Digital Agencies (SoDA), the most common reasons include outgrowing the agency’s capabilities, cost overruns, and dissatisfaction with their strategy. These are all valid reasons, and ultimately many of them can be reduced to an agency’s failure to generate any or enough growth. After all, disliking the agency’s strategy isn’t likely to be much of a problem if that strategy is generating major growth. Similarly, a brand is unlikely to view itself as having outgrown the agency is their accounts continue to grow.
Ultimately, what these different reasons for firing PPC agencies demonstrate is that, any way you slice it, no one wants to work with an agency that isn’t making them money. So, while it might take a little while for your PPC ads to gain traction, if you’re not seeing growth based on the launch of or changes to your PPC campaigns, it’s time to move on to a different agency.
While most brands work with a PPC agency to run their campaigns, it’s not only possible but advisable for you to set up your own accounts with the major PPC platforms, which include sites like Google AdWords, Yahood, and Facebook. Still, if you’re not the most technologically savvy, it can be tempting to let your agency do it for you. Don’t give in to the impulse. Instead, ask them to guide you through it so that you can ensure that you’re the one with owner access rights.
Unless you have the owner access rights to your company’s PPC accounts, you can’t be sure you have unmediated access to your campaign metrics or feel confident that you’ll be able to transfer your accounts to another agency or bring them in-house if needed. In other words, you agency could be misrepresenting results to you or could refuse to relinquish control if you end your contract. You need to retain those rights and then give your PPC agent the appropriate permissions to manage your campaigns. If they balk at this arrangement, show them the door.
Typically, when you look at your company’s profile on a site like Google AdWords, you’ll see that your PPC agency has set up specific goals to help your business grow. These commonly include such metrics as Cost Per Acquisition, Return On Advertising Spend, and Cost Per Lead, though there are plenty of other valuable metrics that are worth tracking. Such measurements assure you that you’re spending your marketing money in the right place, help you budget for ad spend, and offer insights into what’s working and what isn’t.
Unfortunately, you’ll occasionally encounter PPC agencies that fail to set up these metric reports, and they’re not to be trusted. Even if they claim to be using an in-house system, it’s your right to demand they use the standard reporting system for each PPC platform, and to fire them if they refuse to. Dashboard-based metrics exist to provide consistent measurements regarding the success of PPC campaigns ad those are the numbers you want to reference.
In a similar vein, some PPC agencies skip the core metrics noted above in favor of less valuable but more appealing “vanity metrics.” Vanity metrics don’t help your business make money and they offer limited insight into your operations. Examples of vanity metrics include any campaign value based on impressions, engagement metrics that don’t drive conversions, and even many of the behavior-based metrics that used to be considered the gold standard in website evaluation, such as bounce rate or time on site.
Ultimately, vanity metrics don’t serve your company because they can be created artificially. An untrustworthy PPC agency might drive up engagement numbers by sharing a great meme on your brand’s page, which will drive likes and other reactions, but won’t actually funnel clients to your site or create sales. Similarly, you can get a huge number of impressions by getting your PPC ad onto a very popular site, but if no one is clicking on it, all you’ve got is a tally of how many people visited someone else’s website.
Having the right metrics is important, but if you’re going to meet your goals then your PPC agency needs to be adjusting your account settings regularly to refine your campaigns. At minimum, that means accessing your account to monitor and fine-tune the settings at least once a week. Such regular check-ins allow your agency to quickly adjust your campaigns based on updates to the search engine algorithm, catch any mistakes that could cost your company money, and even react to competitors campaigns.
Be sure that you not only ask your PPC agency how often they access and update your accounts, but that you’re also checking your accounts regularly for updates. The reality is that, although many companies run PPC campaigns, only 10% of AdWords accounts are updated weekly. If your PPC agency can’t meet that standard, ditch them for one that will stay on top of your campaigns.
Just as your PPC agency needs to be fine tuning your accounts regularly, they should also be reporting back on your campaigns at least monthly. While seeing week-to-week progress would be great, as with many kinds of growth, this can be hard to evaluate. Comprehensive, monthly reports, on the other hand, can help you see what your agency has been doing on your behalf, how your accounts are growing, and allow you to be an active participant in your marketing strategy.
Never settle for a company that doesn’t offer substantive reporting. While great reports may offer added insights from your account manager or more labor intensive explanatory work, the majority of PPC reporting is automated – any company that doesn’t provide it is just lazy.
It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll speak to the same person every time you contact your PPC agency; that doesn’t even happen at your bank or your doctor’s office. That being said, there should be one person who acts as the lead on your account because that allows them to master your brand’s voice, develop a big picture strategy, and generally build up a knowledge base around your brand’s needs and preferences. They might be busy or out of the office occasionally, but anyone whose experienced both approaches – a core account manager and a rotating cast of agents – can tell you that having a point person makes a difference.
If your PPC agency doesn’t have you working with a single, core agent, you may want to ask a few questions to get a better sense of what’s happening. Do they have an unusual in-house strategy, or are they having trouble with employee retention? Do they think it doesn’t make a difference? You can also request that they place you with a single representative, but if that’s not their standard practice already, you’re probably better off going elsewhere. It just doesn’t bode well.
Google AdWords isn’t a new program and there are plenty of other PPC programs out there, but if an agency is committed to this work, then they should have complete Google’s AdWords certification program. You can check on this by asking them to show you their Premier Partner page – it really is that simple. Not having one isn’t necessarily the worst offense a company can commit, but it’s a good indicator that you can do better and should commit your ad spend elsewhere.
Did you pick your PPC agency based on their portfolio of appealing ads? That’s a great starting point – it certainly indicates that they can do high-quality work – but it’s not enough if they’re not actually showing you your brand’s ads before they launch them. Obvious, right? It should be, but many entrepreneurs have been duped by PPC agencies who tell them that their ad is similar to another ad product; the client, not wanting to be pushy, walks away with their own notion of their brand’s ad, and meanwhile the agency may not have done any work at all.
Your PPC agency should be giving you the final say on all your ads, so if you’ve supposedly got a campaign running and you haven’t seen your ads, ask to see them right away. Odds are good that if your agency isn’t showing you your ads before launching them that they either don’t exist or they’re extremely low quality. Great PPC agencies are proud of their work and they want you to see it. Anything less should raise concerns.
Hiring an agency to manage your PPC campaigns will obviously cost more than just the fees for the campaign itself, but the costs involved in running ads with your agency shouldn’t be confusing. That’s because, ultimately, your money should only be going two different places – to the agency and to the ad platform – and everyone at the company should be clear on the split. So, when we say you should be wary about confusing fees, we’re not talking about total cost (that’s a matter for you and your budget), but rather about how the money is split up. For any payment there should be the fee to the agency and the ad spend and it should always be obvious what the division is there.
As popular as PPC marketing is with businesses today, many of the agencies that execute these campaigns don’t do a very good job. They’re wasting your ad spend and your time, and you deserve better. That’s why you should switch to PPC.co’s PPC Management Service.
At PPC.co, we’re committed to ensuring that your ads are reaching the right audience and we know that most agencies just don’t deliver that. Starting from our understanding that website conversions often top out at 2%, we emphasize PPC marketing that pairs first contacts with retargeting efforts to ensure that your brand remains a top-of-mind solution for past visitors. A non-converting visitor is often just someone who hasn’t seen the right content yet, and we want to help you make those connections.
What else makes our PPC Management program stand out? With dual Google Ads and Google Analytics certifications, we have a deep understanding of the systems that get your ads seen and can use tracking data to its fullest potential. In fact, that’s why we start every client engagement with a full PPC audit, because even when we’re not leading the campaigns, our skilled professionals can quickly see what’s working and what’s falling short in your current campaigns. From the start, we put our expertise to work for you.
If your PPC agency has exhibited any of the above warning signs, you can’t afford to wait around for progress. It’s time to fire them and move on – to PPC.co. Contact us today to learn more about our PPC Management Services and say goodbye to wasted ad spend and rock bottom conversions. Once you’ve seen the difference a top PPC agency can make in your campaigns, you’ll never believe you let anyone else handle your PPC needs.