Editor's Note: This blog was originally published on June 27th, 2016. It was updated in March of 2019 to reflect updated information.
Most businesspeople don't have in-depth knowledge of AdWords. Realistically, the majority of our clients have zero AdWords experience when they come to us for assistance. Not only do they have no idea how AdWords works, but they also have no idea how an AdWords agency works, or what to expect from their PPC advertising agency.
AdWords agencies are like snowflakes - no two companies are quite the same. However, they fall into two general categories: some PPC agencies work by taking advantage of unsuspecting businesses, and others truly put their heart and soul into getting results for their clients. We call the former black hat agencies - check out these horror stories to learn more about bad practices.
How do you know which type of agency you're working with? We've put together ten questions you should be asking an agency before you sign ANY type of contract.
Related: Free PPC Checklist
First Things First: Let's Answer Some PPC FAQs
Like we said before, the majority of our clients have a limited understanding of PPC and Google AdWords. If that sounds like you, then keep reading because this section covers everything PPC beginners need to know before they get in conversation with a potential agency.
1. What is PPC advertising? What does PPC stand for?
PPC stands for pay-per-click advertising. It’s pretty self-explanatory: you pay every time someone clicks on your ad, but ONLY when they click the ad. Impressions (when your ad is displayed) are free.
2. How does PPC advertising work?
Because PPC advertising is so highly targeted, it’s more likely to yield a conversion of some sort versus other marketing and advertising methods.
3. How effective is PPC advertising?
Marketing with PPC puts you into the high-commercial intent category by default. So, creating a PPC advertising campaign will more than double your chances of attracting valuable traffic to your website.
4. What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords is a PPC advertising platform (we would argue it's THE PPC advertising platform). Those who advertise with AdWords reach their targeted audience both through the Google Search Network, and through the Google Display Network.
PPC campaigns are created through AdWords, as well as launched, measured, and tracked through the plaform.
While anyone is able to create an account and run campaigns through AdWords, to get the most out of your investment it's wise to partner with a PPC advertising agency who can help optimize your campaigns.
Still Have Some PPC Questions?
10 Questions to Ask Your PPC Advertising Agency
Here are ten questions that you can ask your current or potential AdWords agencies. They should be able to answer every one of these before you sign a contract.
1. Are you a Google Partner?
This isn't a deal breaker, but an official Google Partner agency can make your decision very simple. You'll know that they have some experience, knowledge, and follow the standard AdWords best practices.
2. Do you have a monthly minimum ad spend?
Many agencies do, so don't get caught off guard. Any agency should be up front with their minimums if they have them.
3. How are your management fees structured?
Some agencies bill you based on your ad spend, some a flat monthly fee, and some based on estimated hours. Have a good understanding of how you'll be billed for management time.
Keep in mind that, in most cases, this is separate from your ad budget.
4. What type of management is included with your management fee?
Learn everything that's included in your PPC management contract to avoid unexpected bills. As always, read your contract carefully before signing.
5. Are we able to see actual spend within AdWords, or do we pay you and you pay the ad spend bill?
If you are paying an ad budget, you should be able to see and track every penny that is spent within AdWords. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In some instances, you'll pay an agency a bulk sum and they will pay the ad bill and not provide you actual spend.
We're trying to give neutral answers to most of these questions, but this is the one exception where we'll say this is a MUST. You should have full access to every penny that is spent on ads, and be able to see how your budget is being used.
6. If we pay you for our ad budget, what happens to extra dollars if we have extra spend?
If you are caught in a situation like number 5, what happens to the additional budget that you have provided if the entire budget is not spent?
Generally, you can expect this should be rolled over into the next month, but you should ask just to be sure.
7. Do you offer full reporting with your services? Are they included or an additional fee?
One of the biggest advantages of all online sponsored advertising is the ability to capture data on every action, no matter how small.
Ask your agency if they will provide reports on a predetermined schedule, and if those reports are included in your management fees. Additionally, ask what is included in those reports. Will they include strictly data, or analysis of the data and expert recommendations as well?
8. What type of strategy do you foresee with our business goals?
At a high level, your agency should be able to discuss some initial PPC ideas or strategy approaches (SKAG, journey based advertising, etc.) that can help you reach your business goals. (This doesn't mean you should expect an agency to provide you with a free AdWords strategy, however.)
Usually, a full strategy will come after you've chosen a vendor.
9. Can you tell us about similar types of accounts you've managed successfully?
They may or may not give you client names, but they should be able to give some high level information about similar AdWords accounts they've managed.
Keep in mind: not all AdWords strategies are created equal. Some are much more advanced than others, some have a larger team to handle larger companies, and some offer to integrate your PPC advertising into a fully functional inbound marketing campaign.
To get the best value from your investment, be sure that your agency can handle your needs and requirements.
10. Can you tell us about your bid/budget management strategies or best practices?
This should give you an idea of how your account will be managed on a regular basis. Any agency worth its salt will have an internal strategy/process for sponsored ad management that they can discuss at a moment's notice. Our suggestion is to look for an AdWords agency that is always looking for ways to improve -not one that sets the account on autopilot and forgets about it.
By asking these questions, you ensure you're getting the best value from your PPC advertising agency.
Don't look for the cheapest and the quickest; look for an agency that is determined to help you meet your business goals for sales, lead generation, conversions, and more.
Have you been considering implementing AdWords into your marketing mix? We'd be happy to answer these questions for you at no charge. Contact us for more info!