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Hiring A PPC Agency: 10 Critical Questions To Ask

Finding the right PPC agency is hard work. They all make amazing promises of huge ROIs. But then you start a campaign and get nothing. These are the questions that you need to ask to make sure you’re working with the right people.

A great PPC campaign can make a huge difference for your business.

On average, PPC leads to you making $2 for every dollar that you spend.

And there are plenty of examples of companies doing much better.

Take Rocketship Growth. They spent $343.38 on an AdWords campaign, which had a return of around $4,500.

This means they earned $13 on every $1 spent.

So why isn’t your business hitting those sorts of figures? Why do others make great returns on their investments, while you’re struggling to balance the books?

It all comes down to your campaign.

You may have the greatest product or service in the world. But the wrong campaign means you lose out.

You may:

  • Target the wrong audience

  • Use the wrong platform

  • Spend too much on inefficient keywords

  • Send the wrong adverts to the wrong people at the wrong stages of your marketing funnel.

All of these issues mean that your campaign doesn’t work.

And what can you boil those issues down to? The team behind your campaigns. 

Inexperienced or misaligned PPC experts set up basic campaigns. Sure, they’ll build ad groups and get some ads online.

But they won’t get results.

You need to avoid them and these are the questions that you have to ask to do it.


1. How Much Experience Do You Have?

This is an interesting one because you’re not looking for years of experience. Even a bad agency can sustain itself for a few years if it just about achieves results.

Instead, you’re looking for answers that show they understand PPC beyond the basic structure.

You’re looking for examples of how they worked with similar clients to get great results. Look for them to share their stats, such as Cost-Per-Click (CPC), Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA), and general return on investment information for previous clients.

Look for answers that talk about challenges that they’ve faced and how they may link to challenges that your campaign will face.

You’re looking for experience. But the number of years does not always make an experienced PPC practitioner.

It’s how they can relate their experiences to your project that really matters.


Question #2 - Do You Have Any Certifications?

Did you know that many PPC platforms operate their own certification programs?

Google AdWords splits theirs across several categories:

  • The fundamentals of the platform

  • Display advertising

  • Search advertising

  • Video advertising

  • Mobile advertising

  • Shopping advertising

Each of these categories covers a different aspect of the AdWords platform.

A Google Certified Partner qualification in any of them shows that an agency takes itself seriously. It’s actively learned more about the platform it uses, which means you get a better experience.

Google AdWords isn’t alone here.

Facebook’s Blueprint certification offers something similar.

Someone without the certifications won’t necessarily do bad work. But they also haven’t gone above and beyond to learn about the platform they’ll use to promote your business.


Question #3 - How Transparent Are You?

You’re trusting your agency to get results for your business.

And let’s be honest, you’re going to have to produce those results. When the CEO comes calling, you want to show that the campaign has achieved a strong ROI.

A lack of transparency means that you have no idea about the result.

Be wary of anyone that won’t offer access to your own AdWords campaign. This means that they don’t want you to see the raw data.

Also, avoid any agencies that offer inconsistent reporting.

They should be able to provide information on leads, sales, and other important matters. You need to know your CPC, your CPA, and everything in between.

If you don’t, you're dealing with a lack of transparency that could seriously hamper your results — and put you in a world of trouble down the track. 

Ask about what they’ll tell you and when they’ll tell you. If they hem and haw around an answer, then you're not the right fit. 


Question #4 – How do You do Keyword Research?

Every PPC specialist does keyword research.

But it’s the quality of that research that really matters. Anyone could find a million keywords for your ads. But if none of them lead to conversions, then what’s the point?

So, what are you looking for?

The right PPC partner should provide an extensive list of keywords as standard. But you’re looking for more than that.

Ask about match types. Do they know the difference between a Broad Match and an Exact Match? How are they going to use match types to refine your campaign.

What about negative keywords? The keywords that you’ll target matter, but so do the keywords you that you want to avoid. Will they use them? And how will it determine the negative keywords for your campaign?

There are other considerations too. Will they offer a good mix of short and long-tail keywords? What tools do they use to select keywords?

It’s all important information. And if someone can’t provide the answers, then it's best to stay clear. 


Question #5 - Who Owns the AdWords Account?

Ownership of the AdWords account is one of the most important things to discuss .

More specifically, you need to make sure the agency gives you full ownership of the account.

This is important from a transparency perspective.

Plus, the data that your ad campaigns generate can inform other marketing efforts. Great ads can show you where your audience is. They can show you what keywords to target and help with strategy elsewhere.

Then there’s the practical aspect.

What happens if you were to end your relationship with the agency?

If they own the account, they’re keeping all of that data.

Make sure that you’re an Administrative Owner of the account. They can create the account, but you need to have those access rights.


6. What Do You Know About Landing Pages?

The quality of your landing pages is vitally important to the success of a PPC campaign.

Here’s why:

Landing page quality affects your Quality Score in Google AdWords. A bad landing page means a low Quality Score. That’s means a higher CPC.

But that’s not all. The number of landing pages that you have has a massive effect too.

In fact, businesses with 40+ landing pages get 12 times the amount of leads that business with 5 or fewer landing pages.

You need an agency that understands why landing pages are important.

They also need to know how to optimise them.

Do they conduct A/B testing? Are they experienced web developers?

Do they know the best practices for landing page copy?

Bad landing pages damage your campaigns. So do unoptimised landing pages. And having one landing page spread across dozens of ads will never raise your conversion rate.

Remember this simple fact:

Your landing pages are as important as your ad copy.

If a specialist doesn’t think the same way, they don’t understand how to increase conversions and reduce your costs.


7. What Strategy Will You Use?

This is undoubtedly one of the most important questions that a potential PPC partner must answer. What’s more important is that you listen to the answer carefully.

You’re looking for them to start talking about your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

What are these crucial metrics?

  • Cost-Per-Click

  • Conversion Rate

  • Cost-Per-Acquisition

Are they talking about those benchmarks? More importantly, are they talking about the steps they’ll take to improve those metric? Or what the average benchmarks are for each of them based on your industry?

If they’re not, they aren’t creating a deep enough strategy.

Here’s the key with this question.

You’re looking for a transparent and data-driven response. Just talking about keywords and ads isn’t enough. You need to know why that’s important and how the agency will use that data to create and refine your strategy.


Question #8 – How do You Handle Pre-Existing Accounts?

Let’s say that you’ve been burned by an agency, freelancer or even inhouse team before. You have an account and it’s not performing as well as it should.

How will a new agency handle it?

It’s actually very rare that a good agency will need to start from scratch. Most can take what you have and improve on it.

You’re looking for someone who completes a full account audit to see where the current account stands.

Importantly, they should also talk about using the data from previous campaigns to build new ones.

Even a poorly-made PPC account has useful data. For example, a good agency can use the account to see what keywords and ad copy don't work. They can even pull data about how well the ads performed at different times of day.

All of that goes into building new campaigns based on better data.

Be wary of anyone that says it has to start all over without giving very good reasons. If they don’t even want to look at the old account, they’re missing out on some valuable data.


Question #9 - How Client Centric Are You, Really?

Too many PPC advertising companies give their analysts too many accounts to manage at the same time.

You want to make sure that this doesn’t happen with the agency of your choice.

The reason for this is obvious. If your analyst has to manage too many accounts at the same time, they won’t be able to devote enough time to your business.

That’s how you end up with subpar results.

For this reason, you need to ensure you're gaining a consultant who will dedicate the time on your account.

They need to make sure you’re not just one of the crowd, but rather an individual client that expects results.


Question #10 – How Can You Reduce Excess Spend?

A PPC campaign is only successful if it delivers a return on your investment.

You can get tons of leads and conversions.

But if it costs tons of money to get them, the campaign hasn’t done its job.

Great agencies know that efficiency is the key, so they’ll know how to reduce excess spending.

Look for them to talk about using negative keywords to ensure you don’t spend on traffic has no chance of converting. They’ll mention how they target different demographics and how they tailor ad copy to where the intended audience is in your sales funnel.

If you’re working in Google AdWords, they should also mention Quality Score. Every ad you create has a Quality Score. The higher this score, the less you have to bid to get clicks.


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