Mackenzie | July 27, 2021 | Evenbound
When we talk about paid media, we're talking about anything from Google and Microsoft ads to social media advertising on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Regardless of what kind of paid media services you're looking for, a good PPC agency is one that is certified in and partnered with the platforms you're most interested in.
While there are a number of options out there, the big three partnerships for a PPC agency are:
There are different tier levels for each of these partnerships, but any good PPC agency will have some sort of partnership with at least those three, if not more. These partnership certifications are more than just a badge that signals a good PPC agency.
Skipping the support line. If you ever have an issue with your ads, a PPC agency that is a Google, Microsoft, or Facebook partner has a representative they can contact directly to immediately address problems, rather than having to wait to resolve a support ticket.
Trained & certified pros. These partnerships show that this PPC agency has taken and passed extensive platform-specific training programs. For you, that means the people building and managing your campaigns know exactly what they're doing, and can deliver the results you're looking for.
Serious results. For most of these partnerships, partners must meet or exceed certain performance requirements to maintain their status. PPC agencies with these partnerships have delivered serious results for their clients, and continue to do so to maintain that partner status.
I don't care who you are or what you do, you can't have an effective PPC strategy if you don't have goals. There are SO MANY ways to run paid media ads — display ads, pay-per-click ads, social media ads, remarketing ads, the list goes on and on. To decide how best to spend your money for the greatest ROI, you need to have set goals.
So, when you're interviewing PPC agencies, pay attention to the questions they ask and the advice they give you right off the bat. Have they asked you what you're looking for?
And they'll want to know your goals before they start offering solutions. If a PPC agency asks you what your goals are for your paid media strategy, and you don't have a great answer, a good agency will put it back on you to decide what you want before they start telling you how best to build those ads.
Amidst a range of marketing and advertising tactics — from content marketing to website optimization — paid media can feel a bit more high stakes. Why? Everything you test and try costs money. And you immediately see those dollars come out of your bank account in a way you don't when you start blogging or emailing.
That's why it's so important to look for a PPC agency that uses data to inform their decisions. Good PPC agencies look at a whole host of metrics before they build out your campaigns.
Any PPC agency you interview is going to tell you how much of a difference they can make for you. A good PPC agency will show you exactly what changes they plan to make, and what data they used to arrive at that conclusion.
When you're talking to a great PPC agency, it'll be pretty obvious by the numbers, charts, and examples they use that they're big into data. But asking the questions above can help you get a better feel for how they plan to use that data to manage your paid media campaigns.
There are plenty of marketing tactics that don't require a ton of industry experience. Paid media isn't one of them. When you're trying to figure out how to choose a good PPC agency, look for someone who has worked in your industry. If you manufacture bolts, you don't need to find an agency that only advertises for bolt manufacturers, but you should look for agencies that regularly work in the manufacturing industry and who understand how to advertise highly technical B2B products.
Choosing a good PPC agency means more than just choosing someone who knows how to set up ads. Finding an agency you can trust who has worked with clients in your industry can provide a wealth of benefits that typically translates to better results, faster. They'll have plenty of examples of how certain campaigns have performed for clients like you in the past, and they'll have a wealth of knowledge on how and where your company is likely to see the best results.
Paid media services are an important marketing tactic, but they don't exist in a vacuum. A good PPC agency recognizes that paid media is just one (very important) component of your entire marketing plan.
For example, did you know that your Google Ad campaigns are more likely to gain first-position placement when your website is already ranking well in organic search results? A good PPC agency does.
There's only so much an exceptional paid media campaign can do for you. If you don't have a kick-ass landing page and an optimized website, the leads you're pulling in from your campaign are likely to bounce right off. That's why a good PPC agency will offer suggestions beyond just which keywords to bid on and how much you should be spending on social media ads.
There are a lot of things your company wants to invest in that are hard to put a number on. You might not know exactly how much you'll need to spend on a website until you start building it. You might not know exactly how much a content manager will cost you, or how much you'll spend over the year on trade shows.
You should know how much your paid media services will cost. A good PPC agency is great with numbers. As we've already discussed, they're confident working with data and they have historical data on how much companies in your industry spend on advertising. That means they have the information they need to be upfront about how much a PPC campaign that can meet your goals will cost.
The cost of a PPC agency's services breaks down into a few key expenses. While every agency is different, the big numbers to look for and ask about are:
Onboarding & campaign audit costs
Essentially, how much it will take for this new agency to poke around in your existing ad campaigns, audit them, and develop a solid plan for the next steps that bring you closer to your paid media goals.
This is the cost of running the ads themselves. No matter what platform you're running ads on — Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc — it costs money to run those ads. A good PPC agency will be very upfront about what they'd like you to spend, and what you're likely to get out of that spend.
(Pro tip: Paid media strategists know that every company has a different budget. Many quality PPC agencies will offer pricing options in a good, better, best format that helps you understand what results you'll see for the money you put in, and how they can help you maximize that PPC budget.)
Ad campaign development & management costs
This is the money the agency actually gets for putting together, managing, and running those ads for your company. It's important to remember that campaign development & management costs are separate from ad costs. Your ad spend is going directly to Google, Facebook, and more, while your development and management costs go to the people who create and manage those ads.
In short, there's a lot of money floating around when it comes to paid media. You want your PPC agency to be upfront about how much they'll need to achieve your goals, and where exactly all of that money goes.
The last (and maybe most important?) thing to look for when choosing a good PPC agency is transparent reporting. This team will be in charge of your paid media campaigns, after all. They should be pretty upfront about where your money is going, and what it's doing. A good PPC agency will give you all the access, information, and analysis you could ever want (and possibly even more than you can handle!).
In general, most PPC agencies want campaigns to gather enough data to be statistically significant before they report on results, but once your campaigns are rolling, you should expect monthly reporting.
If you don't care too much about the numbers behind your paid media campaigns (as long as they're delivering results), that's great, but you should still seek a PPC agency that is happy to share results, analyze performance, and offer options for continuous improvement. Any agency that doesn't let you see how your own ads are performing is one you should run from.
Finding, interviewing, and hiring a good PPC agency can feel like a long, arduous process, but putting in the effort now will pay off in dividends later. If we could offer just one tip to anyone looking for a good PPC agency, it would be to really do your research to make sure that this agency is one you want to work with for a while.
Once you've put in the work and found an agency you like, make sure you're keeping up with them! The longer you work together, the more historical data you'll collect, and the more refined and optimized your ads can become. That's why it's so worth it to find a good PPC agency and work together to tackle the hard work upfront. With a solid partnership, you'll start to see the results you've been looking for in no time.
If you have more questions about choosing a PPC agency or if you're not sure your PPC ads are performing the way they should, schedule a free consultation with our Director of Paid Media, Spencer! He'll walk through your existing campaigns, let you know where you're doing well, and offer a few suggestions for improvement as well.
Not ready to talk to a real person? No worries! The checklist below is an amazing resource to help you optimize your PPC ads (no human interaction required!).