What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency

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What is it that makes PPC a winner amongst many business owners across the globe?

Duncan Parry, Co-founder of Steak Digital once said that “PPC is like a cross between Scrabble and Sudoku”.

Your location targeting may be constricted, but your choice of keywords is practically endless.

In fact, last year it was reported that 41% of clicks go to the top 3 paid ads on the search results page. And according to Google’s Economic Impact Report, businesses are currently making an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.

Not convinced?

In the mid-2000s, a group of businessmen decided to make a change.

They were troubled by the environmental impact of traditional five-gallon water coolers.

They set out to protect the planet and designed a bottomless water cooler that would have a minimal effect on the ecosystem.

Cleverly, they named their product Quench, and business was slowly on the rise up until 2009.

In a bid to maximise their returns, they decided to focus on Google Ads as a source of revenue.

From 2009 to 2011, Quench received these results:

  • 100% growth in revenue
  • 75% expansion in employee base
  • Growth in the market, from 15 to 35 local stores.

As it stands, 2/3’s of sales are generated online.

All because they made the decision to adopt sponsored search advertising into their marketing approach.

You may be thinking, ‘why pay someone to do my PPC campaign when I can potentially do myself?’

Well, outsourcing your PPC campaign to the right agency is a solid investment.

It allows you to free up your time and resources, meaning you can focus on what matters the most.

Business growth.

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Not only will they take responsibility for time-consuming tasks, but they will achieve levels of success that are hard to come by on your own.

Even though there’s an ocean of choice, making the right decision isn’t easy.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

PPC is an industry that suffers from many afflictions.

Whether it be a misunderstanding from the client’s perspective or overselling from the vendors.

The technical nature of PPC is not something people have an intuitive understanding of.

With that said, it’s easy for the bad eggs to use this as a way of fooling clients into paying them for lousy work.

However, these people shouldn’t put you off your search when trying to find a PPC agency.

Luckily, once you know what to look for, they’re easy to spot.

Below we’ve outlined a few red flags that you should bear in mind when it comes to choosing a PPC agency.


More Salespeople Than Strategists/Specialists

I don’t think there’s an industry in the world that’s more blighted with snake oil salesmen.

Personally, I am aware of too many churn and burn agencies who use the mystique of something unknown to pull the wool over someone’s eyes.

In the SEO industry, they’re easy to identify.

If someone is offering you a guaranteed 1st-page placement on Google…


Any 1st-page placement worth ranking for is very difficult to achieve.

Instead of getting traffic and customers from an organic source, you’ll end up with ranking for a shoddy term that no one searches for and empty pockets.

Most PPC agencies usually offer SEO services alongside.

How confident are they that they’ll get you to the first page?

It simply goes against intuition.

In this case, the less confident an agency is, the better the choice.


All Talk, No Action

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the old idiom ‘the gift of the gab’ as:

What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency - www.ruleranalytics.com

“The ability to speak easily and confidently in a way that makes people want to listen to you and believe you:
She’s got the gift of the gab – she should work in sales and marketing”.

Some people are great at talking the talk, but lack the ‘doing’ part.

Thankfully, there’s a very simple way to diagnose whether a PPC agency is backing up their chit-chat with actions.

Simply log into your Google Ads account (if you don’t have access to this, you should. If they don’t let you, leave them.)

In the top menu go to ‘Tools’, dropdown and select ‘Change History’.

What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency - www.ruleranalytics.com

Here, you’ll be able to see every change that was applied to your account, when they were made and who made them.

What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency - www.ruleranalytics.com

Bing Ads has a similar feature, also called Change History, but this time it’s located within the Campaign and Ad Group sections.

What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency - www.ruleranalytics.com

Image source: Wordstream

For your PPC campaign to grow profitably, you must expect changes on a regular basis to your account.

If you sign up to a PPC agency and don’t see changes, then you may need to ask some questions as to why.


They’re Reactive

Being reactive is one of the easiest ways to become mediocre, in your marketing, in your life, and beyond.

If you only hear from an agency when they’re prompted, then there’s a good chance you’re not going to receive the service you deserve.

A good agency will let you know what steps they’re putting in place to improve your campaigns.

Any barriers they’re attempting to manoeuvre, plus mistakes they’ve made that could potentially impact your business before it’s too late.

You can spot a reactive agency in how they communicate with you;

“I can’t…”
“I have to…”
“If only…”

Reactive agencies don’t take responsibility for their actions, it’s never their choice and there’s always something else to blame.

Instead, look for an agency that says;

“we can…”
“we will…”
“we prefer…”

When discussing how they will tackle your challenges.


Riding The High Horse

Most clients aren’t as knowledgeable as the agencies employ – why would you employ someone to help you with something you already know?

For some reason, a few agencies are abusing their position of knowledge.

You’re well within your rights to ask questions.

If you don’t ask questions, how are you meant to understand how things work?

If an agency is as good as they as they are, then it shouldn’t take them more than a few moments to form a reasonable answer.

It’s like the popular mantra says:

What To Look Out For When Choosing a PPC Agency - www.ruleranalytics.com


“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

If an agency refuses to explain things to you, that tells me that they don’t understand it well enough.

Or they don’t value the importance of human communication.


No Domain Experience

An agency may be able to explain the technicalities of Google Ads in extreme detail.

But, do they have experience working with other businesses in your industry?

All of these factors will have a huge impact on how your campaigns are assembled.

If an agency can’t back up their technical knowledge with industry experience, take your business elsewhere.

With some things, there really is no experience without knowledge – unless you want to play the part as the guinea pig in their experiment?


No Focus on Unit Economics

A PPC agency might think that their job is to spend your budget on as many clicks and conversions as possible, but they’re wrong.

Their work should be to make your pay-per-click campaign a self-perpetuating investment machine.

Money in, money out, at a ratio that fits your business.

This may seem a little complicated, but an agency should always aim to be acquiring customers at a percentage of what those customers are worth.

Companies look to acquire new customers at 20 – 80% of the customer’s lifetime value.

This, however, depends on where your growth priorities lie.


Metrics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

If you’re a results-driven person like me, metrics will be the lifeblood of your work.

PPC is an incredibly data-rich practice. However, just because the data is there doesn’t mean it’s being utilised properly.

We’ve outlined the 3 phases of reporting that tends to happen.


The Ugly: we got 500 clicks from paid search.

What’s dreadfully wrong with this?

If you walked into a shop and tried to buy something with a click someone would call the police on you. A click has absolutely zero value in isolation.


The Bad: we got 100 conversions from £5,000 spend.

What’s wrong with this?

OK, we’re getting better, but we’re still dealing in arbitrary terms. What exactly is a conversion? Has someone joined my newsletter mailing list, or has a fortune 500 company taken out a yearly contract at £100,000 per month?


The Good: we generated 212 customers who are worth/estimated to be worth
£10,500 in revenue over the next 12 months, representing a 2x Return on Ad Spend.

What’s right with this?

Now we’re talking in terms of what matters – revenue! Marketing is an investment and should be treated as one. It’s important for you to make sure the money you’re putting in is creating more value or you simply don’t have a business on your hands.

With this format, you know exactly how much more money you expect to realise on your bottom line from the investment you’ve made.

Including, timescales and forecasts allow you to budget more effectively.


What Have We Learnt?

Sadly, just like any other industry, there are people out there who only care about making a quick dollar.

Even if it’s at the expense of someone else.

Just remember, you’re in control, you’re the boss. If something doesn’t sound right, question it!!

Stay focused, the purpose of finding a PPC agency is to help your business grow profitably.

I hope I have inspired you to make the right choices when it comes to choosing your PPC agency.

…and maybe I’ll see your PPC ad in a search engine near me soon.

Written by

Director at Ruler Analytics with a background in online marketing, lead generation and analytics. Ian’s role includes designing automated workflows and integrations to help clients attribute the marketing effectively