If you are trying to hire an ad agency to assist you with your Google AdWords campaign, do not bring any company on board till you’ve done your homework. Though some of these questions carry more weight than others, none of them are insignificant. See how many of these you can answer by researching the sites of the agencies you have shortlisted. Following that, talk to each agency directly to get answers to everything else.
- Did the person who is going to be managing your AdWords account learn AdWords with their own money? This is the acid test for account managers. There is something about learning how to make your Google campaign profitable using your own money that makes you get clever quicker than anything else. Your mistakes are directly debilitating, and you never forget the lessons you learn.
This is in stark contrast to the worker who is guaranteed three square meals a day no matter whether the traffic converts or not. The two are not even remotely comparable.
If you are going to hire an agency ask them to show to you that they built a successful, profitable campaign with their own cash. The next best thing after that is the contractor, employer or agency who learned on somebody else’s dime but was incentivised by commissions to produce a successful campaign. Again, they will need to show you that they made the campaigns struck pay dirt.
- Is the agency actually an agency or only a one-man band? You want an agency with plenty of resources, a great deal of experience and a lot of personnel. You do not need your AdWords account to be neglected because your lone employee has gone on vacation or come down with the flu.
Now mind you, there are pros working solo, without a huge staff around them. They understand AdWords inside and out, and work with other specialists when making tactical decisions. But they are an exception to this rule.
- What services does the agency offer? The best answer? They focus in pay-per-click (PPC) and little else. If they also provide search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, web design, print fulfilment and a lot more, this is a red flag. Some multiservice companies will say that they provide PPC when it is really only a side-line.
If you need knee surgery, you do not go to a general practitioner or a heart doctor. You contact a specialist. PPC campaigns aren’t any different. You’re searching for stone-cold, PPC-obsessed professionals.
- How did you hear about the agency? The absolute best conditions under which to employ an agency are:
- A trusted colleague recommended the company for you, or
- You heard one of the agency’s senior managers give an impressive presentation at a networking event.
Always get references or case studies from current or previous clients.
If you hire a service that contacted you out of the blue by email or by cold calling, without you seeking them out first, what exactly does it mean? A company like this usually has other priorities–they are more focused on grabbing market share than on doing a high-quality job for you the customer.
- Have they worked with anybody else in your particular market? Otherwise, it is not a deal-breaker. But it’s a great sign if they have previous experience in your business. Every market has its own idiosyncrasies.
- How do they record their results? The first answer you’re searching for is: They will join your AdWords and Analytics accounts and will always report your AdWords leads to the context of your other traffic information.
Beyond that, you will need to know what sort of reporting cycle they have and the format in which they will deliver it. They ought to provide what you want–weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly and anything in between!
- What key performance indicators (KPIs) do they use? Bad agencies discuss variety of impressions, number of clicks, clickthrough rates as well as the position of your ads. Superior agencies talk about price per activities, volume of conversions, and gain.
- What accounts management system do they use? Agencies can hold back specifics in the early stages of their negotiations with you. That’s not uncommon. The main thing is to understand they have a system and that they don’t just manage accounts on an ad hoc basis.
- Who will be working on the account? When the relationship starts, your account is handled by one or more highly trained PPC expert. Do not be afraid to ask for details about the men and women who’ll be physically working on your accounts. Even better if you’re able to meet them in person.
- Is the agency certified? It ought to be at least AdWords certified and part of their Google Partners™ program. Do not be fooled into believing this automatically provides the agency legitimacy; certificate requires passing a few rather easy exams, in addition to maintaining a minimum monthly AdWords spend of $10,000–that is a rather low bar in the scheme of things. When an agency does not even have Google certification, you are dealing with amateurs
- What does your gut tell you? Don’t be horrified by this question. PPC isn’t a precise science. There is always a level of artistry that goes into the equation. Similarly, selecting an agency cannot be made solely on cold, hard truth.
Continue to speak to the service until you feel comfortable with your choice, whether it’s to employ them or look elsewhere. The perfect AdWords agency will talk the talk, have good business sense, communicate without using impenetrable jargon, understand the essential components of your company, and have an in-depth understanding of the AdWords machine.
If you have positive responses to the first of the aforementioned nine questions, and you instinctively feel that the agency knows you and your organisation and what you’re trying to accomplish, you might just have found your own winner. And remember to stick to the specialists, there’s no need to an agency that doubles as a professional web design company when all you require is someone competent in AdWords.