Hiring a PPC Agency: 5 More Revealing Questions to Ask

Many businesses are experiencing the value of a reliable stream of leads and new business using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on Google/Bing, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Sadly, others aren’t.

The difference is often due to the skill level of a PPC agency or consultant. So how can you go about finding a good, reliable agency for your company?

By asking the right questions.

A little work on the front end will maximize the odds of success… and reduce the likelihood of regrets.

1. Do you ever recommend that a company NOT do PPC? If so, why not?

This is a valuable question because it will help you identify those PPC companies that just want to sell you their services.

Here’s the truth: PPC is NOT advisable for every company.

The problem is that some agencies seem to have one club in their golf bag. If all you have is a driver, you think the solution to every problem is “hit it hard, hit it far.”

That doesn’t work in golf, and it doesn’t work in marketing. In reality, there are MANY ways to successfully generate leads and sales besides PPC.

You want your PPC agency to recommend what’s best for YOU, not for them.

2. What results have you gotten for your clients?

Obviously, you want to work with someone who is getting good results on a consistent basis. How best to determine this?

You can review some testimonials and case studies (every agency should have some of these). But, it is easy to cherry-pick the good ones and not mention the ones that didn’t go so well.

A great way to determine the totality of results is by looking at client retention. When many clients work with a PPC agency for a long time, this usually indicates they are pleased not only with results but with the working arrangement.

What's a good retention rate? I would look for agencies that retain 75% of their clients for at least a year.

There will always be client-side reasons that companies move on (their priorities change, they want to do PPC in-house, etc.) so you shouldn’t expect 100%.

One more thing: If the agency requires a long-term commitment, and then brags about their high client retention rate, don’t be fooled. It isn’t necessarily willing retention. Instead, ask them what percentage of their clients renew their commitment.

3. What is your process/methodology for getting good results?

By asking this question, you're not looking for all the technical details (“we use the XYZ platform, we adjust our keyword bids 86,000 times a minute to get optimum results, we do extensive keyword research, blah, blah, blah”).

What you want to dig into is how they approach the marketing of your business online. Make no mistake. Marketing is the heart and essence of what a PPC company needs to be doing for you.

What you want to hear is, “First, we seek to understand your business, your offerings, and your prospects.”

  • What are you offering the marketplace via PPC?
  • Who are your target searchers?
  • What pain points are driving them to a solution like yours?
  • What are the value propositions that can pre-sell your solution to the right people?

The keywords, the ads and all the adjustments that need to happen must be driven by a clear understanding of marketing fundamentals.

Too many agencies get enamored with the tools and tactics and shortchange the core reason for success or failure in PPC: message to market matching.

For example, we took over an account that had ads saying in effect, “Buy our product! Get it today!” Ok, but why? Why would someone pick your product over another product?

Asking a PPC agency to explain their process should yield much about how they will obtain the needed information to effectively market your product or service… attracting the right prospects whose needs are best met by your offering.

4. Who exactly will be working on my campaign?

This question is meant to ferret out two things:

  1. To identify those PPC agencies who spend very little time on your account
  2. To identify those who don’t take a marketing approach

Find out how many other accounts your assigned person is managing. The answer to that will provide additional insights.

For example, there are agencies that have their analysts managing 100+ accounts. Now, think about it like this. If they work 40 hours per week and every minute is dedicated to account management (which isn’t possible), they can spend a whopping 24 minutes/week on each account. It’s just not possible to manage so many accounts effectively, no matter what PPC platform you use.

It's safe to assume that one person can only manage 15-20 accounts – maybe fewer if they are large, complex campaigns.

5. What commitment is required of me?

Some agencies seek to lock you into an annual contract. But, what if they're not getting the job done? Well, you’re stuck.

Instead, you want an arrangement where the PPC agency needs to continually earn the right to work with you. If they do a good job for their client, they keep getting paid. If they don’t, the client can look for someone who will.

If everything else sounds good about an agency, but they require a long-term commitment, you should negotiate that out of the arrangement. If they won’t, consider backing away. It may be a red flag that this is the main way they get client retention (vs. good performance).

Ask the right questions!

As it is in life, when it comes to getting the best PPC agency for your company, asking better questions usually gets better results.

“He who asks the right question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question (or the right question) remains a fool forever." – Chinese proverb

What other questions do you think need to be asked of a potential PPC agency? Leave a comment below.

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Patrick McDaniel | Paid Search & Social Strategist
About the Author
Patrick McDaniel, Paid Search & Social Strategist

Patrick McDaniel is PMG’s Paid Search and Social Strategist. He likes figuring out how people work – in between facts and figures on organic search rankings, lead gen and engagement techniques, you’ll find hints of psychology and buying behavior in his writing. He loves helping readers understand how to reach and connect with their best prospects!