Because we have been doing training seminars on AdWords recently, we get to talk to many businesses about their experiences. We completely understand that most business people won't have an in depth knowledge of AdWords and we wouldn't expect them to. What I have found in talking to them is the lack of knowledge of what type of service, value, etc. they are getting from their current AdWords agencies. In fact, some of these businesses are getting straight up taken advantage of.
So what can you do? First, you can read back through some previous posts about sponsored ads. Also, we'll continue to offer training seminars to help business owners understand a bit more and become educated consumers when it comes to that service, so if you have a chance, please attend. In the meantime here are 10 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.
- Are you a Google Partner? This isn't a deal breaker, but you'll know that they have some experience, knowledge and follow the standard AdWords best practices.
- Do you have a monthly minimum ad spend? Many agencies do, so just don't get caught off guard. Any agency should be up front with their minimums if they have them.
- 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 and keep in mind that in most cases this is separate from your ad budget.
- What type of management is included with your management fee? Find out what is included when the agency is managing your ad to avoid unexpected bills.
- 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 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. I won't try to sway you either way on most of these questions except for this. You should have full access to everything that is spent on ads and how your budget is being used.
- 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? You'd expect this should be rolled over into the next month, but just be sure and ask the question.
- Do you offer full reporting with your services? Are they included or an additional fee? One of the biggest advantages to sponsored ads through AdWords, Facebook, Bing, LinkedIn, etc. is the ability to capture data on every action that happens. Ask if you will be provided reports on a predetermined schedule and if those reports are included in your management fees. Additionally ask what is included in those reports and if they will include strictly data or analysis of the data as well.
- What type of strategy do you foresee with our business goals? By no means am I saying that you should expect an agency to provide you with a free AdWords strategy, but at a high level they should be able to discuss some initial ideas that might help you reach your business goals. Usually a full strategy will come after you've chosen a vendor.
- 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 types of AdWords accounts they have managed. Keep in mind, not all AdWords strategies are created equal. Some are much more advanced than others and to get the best value from your investment, be sure that your agency can handle the job.
- 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 should have an internal strategy/process for sponsored ad management that they can discuss in a moments notice. My suggestion is to look for one that is always looking for ways to improve and not one that sets the account on auto-pilot and forgets about it.
By asking some or all of these questions you can be a more informed consumer and ensure you're getting the best value. Don't look for the cheapest and the quickest, look for an agency that is determined to help you meet your business goals such as sales, lead generation, conversions, and more.
Editor's note: This post was originally published April 2014 and has been recently updated.