Selecting the right external PPC vendor for your digital marketing efforts can be complicated but selecting a PPC agency for your business or Enterprise is even more difficult. Before selecting the right PPC vendor for your company there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself and the Pay Per Click service providers you are interested in. We want to help you to make this journey a bit easier and help you to understand How you and your marketing team will
choose the right PPC agency for your needs. Let’s go through the different steps that are necessary:
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Step #1: The Research
There are many different ways to find the right Pay Per Click agency and a great one is always “The Referral“. There’s nothing like reaching out to a couple of contacts in your network and get a recommendation from a trusted contact and getting a recommendation from someone who worked successfully with an agency in the past.
But be aware, there might be differences in terms of industry, type of business or simply the direct relationship that contact has with the agency. Referrals are a great way to get some first potential PPC vendors on your list.
Google Search and Ads
Another way of starting your Research for a trustable PPC vendor is, of course, Google Search. You can go for a local approach and combine your searches with the city you are based in, or simply for a more industry-specific approach like e.g.; “B2B PPC agency”.
Depending on the country you are in you’ll see different results and in this particular case it might be interesting to pay special attention to the ads that are showing on the very top of the search results, especially when looking for a PPC partner who’ll be working for your business to achieve exactly that: Creating Paid Ads to position your business on top of the (Search Results)
Your businesses focus or industry
When researching for a potential PPC agency partner you might want to look at the different needs for your business.
While companies with a B2B focus might be more interested in LinkedIn Paid Ads to promote specific services and content on LinkedIn.
An eCommerce business might be looking more towards Shopping ads and gathering more exposure to product-specific shopping results on Google.
The importance is the network and the type of ads you are looking to run for your business. It’s all paid advertising and there is a vast quantity of networks to choose from, so make sure you have a clear idea on what specific Paid Media or Pay Per Click service you are looking for.
In case you don’t know, the potential PPC vendors you are looking at should be capable of guiding you through the process and recommend the best advertising networks that fit your needs to increase sales or leads as a business.
PPC Vendor Comparison Sites
Comparison sites can be a great way to check out all the potential PPC agencies in your area or for your industry.
Great PPC vendors will be present on comparison sites like G2 (Services), Clutch, 99firms.
But be aware these portals have their pros and cons. The advantages of checking out these vendor platforms are the ability to get a great first overview of all the different vendors that are available in your area and the ability to check out the different reviews for each of the PPC vendors.
Important is, that you are thorough when researching because the truth is, that many of these platforms offer sponsored plans which might give a false impression on who the top vendors actually are.
Also, be aware that you have to differentiate between “amount of reviews” and “quality of reviews”. There might an agency that worked with 100s of small customers managing mini budgets of 100-300$ per month on Google Ads but actually never really managed a complex multimarket strategy with 6-digit monthly budgets. So ask yourself: What am I looking for? Small? Big? Focused? Industry-specific?
Hundreds of reviews might be an indicator that the agency is more focusing on generating revenue and acquire a high amount of new clients with a high overturn.
If you are looking for a more focused agency that works with fewer clients and where the PPC project manager cares about your project you might want to be looking more towards smaller agencies with fewer reviews. Truth is, whatever you are specifically looking for, these comparison platforms are a great way to get a first impression of what the market has to offer just make sure that you more or less know what you are looking for.
Step #2: Gathering Proposals
Your RFP (Request for Proposal)
The RFP or Request For Proposal is something mostly used in the B2B/Enterprise space and sometimes not applicable for smaller businesses or simply because of the lack of knowledge.
The RFP can be a great way to line out the different details and items you as a business are looking for when contracting an external PPC agency. When we, as agency professionals receive an RFP from a potential new client, we know: This is serious. This potential customer wants to do business, they know what they are looking for and it’s actually a real pleasure to work with potential clients who know what they are looking for.
Sure, these things don’t have to be “written in stone” because the agency might actually have some interesting suggestions for you going into the project that you and your team did not consider when putting together the RFP.
That said, the RFP, a resume of what you, your team, and your business are looking for when contracting PPC services is a great way to kick off the Proposal-Gathering-Process.
Contacting PPC agencies
Ok, you’ve done your research you have a rough idea on what exactly you want to achieve in terms of numbers, you roughly decided on how much your monthly investment will be on paid advertising – now let’s gather some proposals.
The most important thing is to establish a small process to gather proposals, set up a couple of meetings, and making sure that you collect all the relevant information in one place.
Most of the (good) PPC agencies will ask for a phone call or a short video conference to discover what your needs and objectives for the upcoming months are. They’ll ask you about your experience with Pay Per Click services in the past and if you worked with PPC specialists or an agency before.
This is normal and will give the agency some first overview of how your business collaborates with external partners and if they will be a fit.
The PPC agency will probably also ask you about the budget you were planning to invest (see RFP above) and what your potential customers or target personas are.
Business results will also be discussed and questions will be made around conversion optimization and the ability to do optimization on your website. “Optimizations on my website?” you might ask. Well yes, one of the most important aspects of a well oiled PPC marketing machine is the landing page(s) the user converts on, and in many cases, there’s a great potential in optimizing these pages to get more for your budget.
Make sure that you have a process in place, reach out to agencies via contact forms and email, and set up calls to talk to every single one of them. The way they respond, the speed they move in and how they treat you in these first meetings should give you a great first impression of the PPC vendor and if both companies are a fit.
COSEOM B2B Case:
“B2B SaaS business increases conversion by +50% changing a Call To Action button to an open form on landing pages for gated, downloadable assets”
Step #3: Ask the right questions
The relationship with your new potential PPC partner agency can contribute to the growth of your business, it’s a crucial decision you will take, so getting the information from the agency to be able to make a decision and evaluate their services will be the most important step. So, what are the questions you want to ask the Pay Per Click agency once you’re having the first meetings?
What projects or brands have you worked with?
It’s important to know how long the agency actually exists but what’s more important is the amount and type of projects they’ve worked on. Ask them about the projects. What their achievements were and how the collaboration went. If they are not working with the clients anymore, feel free to ask them why they are not collaborating with that business anymore.
Ask yourself: Does the experience of this PPC agency align with my business goals? Can the agency provide a track record of successful projects and do they maybe even fit my industry? Do they have experience with specific campaign types or bigger/smaller budgets? Do they have experience working in my markets or languages (this is particularly interesting if you are interested in International PPC services). How long does the agency retain their clients?
What is the agency’s know-how, the experience?
Try to understand if the agency in question is able to deliver some know-how! Ask them about their specific services related to PPC and try to find out what they want you to do? This is especially important for Creative design, like banners, promoted content assets, and ad copy. Will you provide the banner design for specific display ad campaigns or LinkedIn Sponsored posts? Will you have to create the video for Youtube ads? It’s very important that you understand if the agency has specific expectations from you as a business.
Many agencies offer additional services surrounding the PPC management – this is the time to clearly understand: What is included in the monthly fee. It’s also important to understand who will be working on the accounts specifically within the agency, will it be the Junior PPC manager or the Senior PPC manager with 10+ years of experience? Does the account manager have specific certifications (like the Google Ads Advertising Professional/Partner Certification)
How will the project and the agency be organized to support my business?
Ask the potential Pay Per Click Agency how they are structured, who the key players are, and which tools they use for communication, project management, or reporting. You can also go into a bit more detail and ask them if they are offering any resources, documentation, or training for people of your team who might not be familiar with the new activity you are planning for your business. Do they have a specific method of planning monthly budgets, growth, conversions, and how they are going to report the results to your team? Who will be attending calls, emails, and meetings and how long will it take until results will show. If you are already running paid advertising accounts on different networks, ask the potential agency what they are planning to do to reduce costs or simply restructuring.
Make sure to ask the agency about reporting and meetings with your team. How will they report and what can you expect in terms of meetings and support in general.
Does the agency have experience to combine SEO efforts and integrate MarTech
SEO and PPC activities often go hand in hand – ask the potential agency you are going to work with if they have experience working with SEO’s you might have in-house or if they have SEO specialists within their team to be able to integrate both of the services.
Are you using any Marketing Technologies that are relevant for your C-Level team, BDRs or Sales Representatives? Make sure that the agency gives you feedback on their experience integrating these technologies and if they have experience in working with Hubspot, Marketo, Salesforce Pardot, Mintigo, or any of the tools your business might be using.
Step #4: Making the decision and signing the agreement
Once you and your team have compared all the relevant offers it’s time to make a decision.
Whatever agency you decide to go with it’s always good to have a second viable option to choose in case things go south during the negotiation or signing process. Communicate with the agency of choice that you decided to go with them and request a draft agreement from them. There are some things to keep in mind here:
Listing the Offers, Pros, and Cons
When I worked as an internal PPC and SEO manager in the past I always used a simple spreadsheet to list out the different offers, pros and cons, and pricing. Collecting all the relevant agency information and comparing via a spreadsheet is an easy way to get a quick overview but also to prepare the business case for the decision-makers (your boss) or for yourself (if you are the boss).
Permanency and contract duration
There are different models agencies apply when signing new business clients, especially when discussing permanency and duration. Especially the duration of the agreement is an aspect that might be relevant for your business. Let’s say that your business is a SaaS start-up looking for flexibility – in this case, it would be interesting for you to find an agency that has certain flexibility in permanency. Some PPC agencies offer a minimum of 6 to a 12-month contract, which may make sense for the agency because you have to understand that they will probably set up an account, help you with setting up the tracking, do keyword research and prepare a strategy which is an investment from the agency side. They want to make sure that this time investment is justified and therefore choose to go with a longer contract of 6 to 12 months.
Other agencies however decide to go with a different approach: The Start-Up fee. The startup fee is a way to make sure that the initial workload for the client is paid for, this way they can be a bit more flexible in terms of contract duration and minimum permanency.
Agencies that charge a Start-Up fee and have a minimum duration are normally top agencies who only work with very established, well-known brands and certain budgets. They can ask for a start-up fee and minimum permanency even though these terms are always negotiable. You as the project owner and decision-maker will have to decide if the mentioned models are within your desired budgets.
Some businesses consider their business a huge opportunity for the agencies and think about it in a certain way that is often controversial for agencies. A commission model. Don’t be surprised to get rejected by many of the agencies if that’s what you were thinking.
An important aspect to understand here is that agencies want to do agency work. They work with several clients selling services, solutions, products and are happy to help other businesses to grow, but entering a commission-based deal with a customer is often an absolute no-go – also for us here at COSEOM.
The reason is simple: While we agencies are interested in your product or service and want to help your company grow a commission-based model doesn’t make any sense for us – not because we are not convinced that we can help you to achieve certain goals, rather because we don’t know how your product will sell, or if your sales team is actually well trained enough to close the deals. Agencies do agency work, deliver sales and leads, and have no interest in being part of your business or depend on it. Agencies simply want to get paid for their services. Sound fair, right?
Agreement clauses and details
When signing the agreement make sure that you will be the owner of your accounts. This particular point is an important aspect for several reasons. If you decide to change the agency, you want to keep control over the account.
You should be owning the Admin Email that controls and owns the account and the agency should get access either using their Partner MCC account or simply by adding one of the PPC specialists of the agency as a user. If the agency is a more than one person operation they will probably ask you for your Google Ads Account ID or request access to your LinkedIn / Facebook account using the corresponding networks.
Also, make sure that the contract establishes the monthly fee for the services. There are several different models agencies tend to use and at the time of signing the agreement should already be aware of the service fees. The month PPC service fee can either be a fixed monthly fee that often comes with certain limitations in terms of budget.
Agency One might charge 800$ for up to 2500$ of monthly budget spent while Agency Two has a minimum budget and charges 15% of that budget spend. The difference or argument is that when managing higher budgets the workload is higher, therefore the percentage.
The higher the monthly spending gets there are often certain thresholds that lower the monthly percentage for the customer. Both pricing models (fixed monthly fee and percentage fee) are legitimate while my personal preference is the fixed pricing model with a clearly established (stable) monthly fee. Obviously it’s a trust thing but take into account that some agencies might be targeting to increase the monthly spending of a customer to increase the monthly revenue with a client.
Just make sure to be aware of the pricing model and take into account the potential growth and dependency you are looking at in the future. Maybe you are not willing to spend more over time but may you also see the huge benefit of running paid advertising for your business and would like to spend more in the future – just be aware of the potential agency fees that come with such an increase in investment when going for a percentage based pricing and establish a clear pricing structure in the PPC service agreement.
Step #5: Be kind and grow
After following all these very important steps you are pretty set to have chosen the right PPC agency for your business. Remember that the agency can provide you with a constant flow of leads and sales for the months and years to come. Keep the relation kind and professional and you’ll see that most of the agencies out there are ethical and highly professional when delivering PPC services for their clients. Their primary interest is to deliver value to your business.