5-Point checklist before choosing an AdWords (PPC) service provider

Most people love to hunt for a bargain or have a shop around or just to engage in a hallowed Australian past time of tyre kicking, whether it for the latest little gadget or vital service needed.

As a service provider in the AdWords/PPC space, it’s not irregular where we chat with potential clients, but both realise that we are not a suitable match (for a range of reasons). But rather than to leave them high and dry I prefer to leave them with some tips to help them along the path of discovery for “the one” who will deliver them to glory.

So in light of this and to help some of those bargain hunters out there, here is our recommended list of important questions you should ask when shopping around for a managed AdWords PPC service, whether it’s a consultant or agency – it’s all relevant, even for other online marketing services.

#1 – EXPERIENCE & QUALIFICATIONS

Are they qualified? The pay-per-click advertising model used to be relatively easy to start and manage, with relatively low competition and costs. However after more than 10 years of development and now with significant market penetration, this form of advertising is becoming ever-complex with multi channels and significant tracking and analytical experience required. Plus the costs seem to be getting higher and higher, unless you know how to navigate your way through the PC labyrinth.

For example, are they a Google Partner for starters, which requires fundamental exams to have been completed and consistently adhere to best practices? Having such qualifications has the added benefit of being able to leverage from promos, other services or get extra assistance when something doesn’t seem right.

#2 – PRICING

How do they charge for their services? Typically in the market you will find one of three models.

Percentage of spend: this is where the management fee is determined by the amount spent in ads per month. Rates that we have seen range from 10% -30% of spend. It will often be accompanied by a base price of (e.g. $500). Meaning, if the % of spend rate is 10% and you spend $6,000 in ads for a month, then you pay $600. However if you spend below $5,000 in ads for that month, you will still pay $500 for management fees. Generally we advise to steer clear of this model as an underlying concern is that any advice could be biased by the agency’s desire for increased revenue.

Fixed management fee: Basically the management fee is completely independent of the spending habits in the account. The fee will largely be dependent on the level of complexity anticipated/evident in the account. It also means the agency or consultant can really work towards advising what is best for your business, regardless of spending levels.

Performance based: This is less common, but is manifested in various ways. Some examples are: a charge per lead/sale on top of the advertiser costs per click, cost per click reduction on average, average decrease in cost per acquisition, traffic increase, or some other performance metric. Some potential issues are: it can get a bit tricky to monitor, who will ensure the figures are correct. Secondly, numbers can often be manipulated to suit the service provider’s agenda.

In summary, our preferred method is to have an independent fixed management fee. Sometimes this can be coupled with some performance based targets to provide further incentive for results.

#3 – CONTRACTS

Is there a lock-in contract period, e.g. 12 months, or is it purely a month-to-month service?

A locked contract period can often stifle proactivity and performance, and in extreme cases be a source of complete apathy, because if the service provider knows they are guaranteed an ongoing monthly fee, regardless of results, then you have to ask, what is actually motivating them to perform?

Most would ask, why should any business be locked into something they don’t need or if they are not getting any benefit?

In our experience we genuinely believe that a flexible, un-restricted relationship is best for both parties. The service provider is constantly motivated to perform and the client has the freedom to make the right business decisions depending on the circumstances.

Long term this should work best. You keep the happy customers and the others can pursue alternate avenues for their business needs, with each party’s honour intact!

#4 – ACCOUNT VISIBILITY & OWNERSHIP

There is no reason why you should not have 100% visibility of your account within the AdWords (or other) portal. You should be able to log in whenever and from where you want. Obviously if you do have full access, you should treat this with respect and not undo or undermine the activities of the service provider.

Cautionary tale: In one case a client of ours allowed an overseas, yet official rep from the advertising supplier to make some changes to their settings and costs nearly tripled overnight. This advice was given without any consideration of the conversion goals of the client. Fortunately we picked it up within 48 hours of the changes and fixed them.

If you do part ways, you should be able to retain your account access to do with it as you please.

#5 – FINALLY – WHO PAYS THE BILLS?

If the agency is billing you directly for your ad spend, then how do you know how much actually goes towards the advertising supplier, such as Google. We have seen this too often and feel this is a BIG RED FLAG. What are they hiding by not letting see how much of YOUR money is being spent!

SO NOW WHAT?

Do your due diligence, get good advice, ask real, results focused questions to get the answers you need so you can make an informed decision.

It’s pretty straightforward if you know what you want & what your goals are. Be discerning enough to separate the steak from the sizzle.

Hope you found this short checklist helpful.

To find out more about our approach, give us a call on 1300 74 11 45.

About the Author

Digital Advocates was founded by Raph Sebbag, with over 15 years’ experience in sales, marketing and training, mainly within the digital arena. After being immersed in the Online Marketing space for much of this time working with the likes of Allied Pickfords & RACV, and hundreds other small to medium business across Australia, Raph started his own accredited Premier Google Partner AdWords agency in Melbourne. His motivating philosophy is aimed at injecting integrity back into the Online Marketing space providing businesses with transparent, practical and measurable AdWords services with a profit-driven approach to client results.

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