It happens often in the online business world.

You hire a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising agency for assistance with an ad campaign, and suddenly you’re costs for marketing and campaigning increase exponentially with no return on investment (ROI).

Because you’re curious about what’s going on, you contact the PPC management provider only to find out that they never had your best interests in mind, just profit, and so your business suffers because of their lack of regard.

So many Australian business owners end up feeling disillusioned due to the poor performance of their chosen PPC agency that they decide to turn away from it altogether.

In order to prevent such an unfortunate scenario from happening to you, knowing how to approach PPC management companies and what questions to ask is pivotal. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard part and put together a list of the top 7 questions to ask a PPC agency before you sign on with them.

First, let’s briefly cover some basics about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Also known as PPC, pay-per-click advertising refers to a type of advertising model where businesses only pay a fee if/when an ad is clicked.

For example, if you are showing your ads on Facebook, you will only pay for the ad if someone from Facebook clicks it, not when they see it.

The most common platform for pay-per-click advertising would be Google Adwords or Google Ads. The advertising platform by Google allows for ads to appear within the search engine results pages (SERPs) and on other Google-owned sites, like YouTube.

What is PPC Management?

PPC ManagementThe definition of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) management is “the process of overseeing and managing a business’ PPC ad spend by introducing strategies and ad buys that also minimise the overall expenditure on said ads.”

A typical PPC agency will typically do the following:

  • Keyword analysis: discovering and targeting keywords and search queries that can become leads for a company or business.
  • Channel strategy: figuring out which channels, such as Google Adwords, affiliate networks, social media (such as Facebook PPC), and other search engine channels that can be considered for PPC marketing campaigns.
  • Competitor analysis: understanding what a business’ competition is doing, which keywords are being used, and determining whether or not it is profitable to utilise the same keywords and long tail keywords that the competitor is using.
  • Monitoring: reporting on keywords and queries that are most often used by a target audience to figure out most common searches. Also includes monitoring overall ROI and using that as a guideline for future tactics.
  • A/B Testing: also known as split testing, this means running dual web pages to see which attracts the most leads and conversions.
  • Negative matching: optimisation of ad spend by controlling who sees an ad, either by geographic location or another factor.

As you can infer, choosing an unqualified and unprofessional PPC agency is a terribly costly mistake.

The Top 7 Questions To Ask A PPC Agency

1. What Is Your Previous Experience?

Let’s say you’re searching for a PPC agency in Melbourne.

You might find several agencies that meet your immediate needs. However, only those with a proven track record should receive your attention.

This reason why is this: the PPC agency will have established a reputation, meaning you can find ratings and reviews online; they will have a representative; press releases and other news; blogs; and other potential links online for you to find.

The more experience the agency has, the better it is for you.

Another reason why you want to inquire about experience is to see how up-to-date the PPC agency is. This applies not only to the ongoing growth of search engine algorithms. Presently, technology is undergoing a revolution.

More people are searching from their smartphones now than ever before. If a PPC agency knows what they’re doing, they will mention how they will develop two strategies: one for traditional PC browser searchers and one for mobile PPC, as well as voice searching.

Follow-up questions include:

  • Does the team know how to do landing page split testing?
  • What solutions do you use for landing page testing?
  • What happens if the initial PPC strategy doesn’t work? Do you create a Plan B? [Qualified and experienced PPC agencies know that sometimes the first plan isn’t always the best and that you need to get through some trials and errors before magic happens.]
  • How often do you run tests and what do you use?
  • Do you do conversion rate optimisation (CRO)? [Because this isn’t easy, only qualified companies will offer to get you quality traffic that actually converts.]

2. What Do You Need From Me?

PPC Advertising AgencyNo matter what an agency tells you, a PPC advertising campaign requires more than one person to ensure success.

Never assume that PPC advertising is as easy as hiring a PPC management company, giving them your money, and then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. It doesn’t work like that.

You want to have an ongoing communication with the PPC agency to help smooth out any issues that could hold you back.

For instance, you might have a fantastic strategy up, along with ads that are getting clicks and increasing traffic. But, if you see that these clicks are leaving the website before they convert or go farther down the buyer funnel, it might not be the ads that are unsatisfactory but the landing page or some other content.

This means that you need to configure your landing page and other content to match the quality of the ads and vice versa.

Conversely, if you upgrade your website then notice that clicks on the PPC ads is falling short of your goal, it means that the ads could be failing at targeting the right people.

Therefore, always ask what the PPC agency needs from you and how you can work together.

3. What Is Your Client Retention Rate (CRR)?

Here’s the thing, as an Australian business owner, you most likely know that getting a new customer means nothing if you can’t retain them.

A PPC management company with a high client retention rate is a clear sign that the PPC agency is able to continuously meet and exceed the expectations of their clients and clear PPC advertising goals.

You want to aim for an advertising agency that has at least 90% CRR.

Follow up questions include:

  • What’s the average duration a client uses your services?
  • How many clients have been with your agency for 2-5 years or more?
  • Can you name a current or former client who is willing to give a reference?
  • Can you provide me with a case study?

If you are reading through reviews, one thing you want to see is how well the agency stayed in contact with their previous clients. A decent PPC agency will understand that a business’ success goes beyond the clicks and conversions.

The agency will want to discuss your ideas and goals, increase engagement on various platforms, and do weekly or monthly check-ins (depending on your contract) to ensure your goals are being met.

4. What Project Resources Do You Use?

PPC Agency MelbourneThis might require you to do some research prior to calling the prospective PPC agency, but it’s worthwhile knowing what kind of resources these companies have at their disposal.

Read up about Google Adwords, BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, SEMrush and other channels then decide if you need a specific kind of management, such as a Facebook PPC agency that only works on Facebook ads.

Ask about the agency’s internal team structure (such as what kinds of specialists they have onboard), what kind of tools and resources they use, and how many people will be in charge of your account.

When it comes to how many are working on your account, you ideally want to hear that a certified employee and senior employee, or optionally, a team of certified employees, will be assigned to your project.

Appropriate credentials include a Google Adwords Qualified Individual certification, as well as something for Search Engine Optimisation, Inbound and/or Outbound Marketing, and Search, Display, Monitoring and Reporting for PPC.

You also want to know what kind of tools are available to you.

When working with a PPC agency, it’s essential that you retain complete ownership of your Adwords account. The login data and billing information should have you listed. A professional agency will only ever provide your business with PPC advertising services through a “My Client Center (MCC)” account.

5. How Will You Reduce Excess Spending?

You want the answer to be clear.

The PPC agency should realise that spending more is not the best way to increase conversions on your website.

The representative you speak with should also mention that the best strategy is a proactive one that works to increase engagement, improve the quality of keywords, the elimination of irrelevant traffic, reduction of non-productive spending, and targeting the correct demographics.

Another question that you might want to ask is “How will my budget be used?”

The answer to the question will help you determine how transparent the agency is. For example, the PPC agency representative might mention how they will divvy up spending between various channels, how much money they devote to different keywords, and strategies to reduce the overall cost.

Additionally, if there is money from the budget leftover, you want to know how they handle that excess. Will they refund you the remaining money? Or do they roll that over into the next month?

6. Can You Explain How You Research Keywords?

One of the most influential pieces of PPC advertising is the keywords you choose. Without the right one, you won’t get the clicks you want.

Keywords determine when your ads will be displayed, who sees them, and where.

See if the prospective agency talks about how long the lists they generate will be.

Ideally, you want a keyword list of 1500-2000 words minimum. These keywords should also be diverse. Multiple keyword searching and analysing tools should be used to bring up long-tail keywords, benchmarking, negative keywords (to eliminate irrelevant traffic), and ways to include various buyer personas.

Naturally, keyword research should flow directly into how the PPC management company looks at your competition too.

7. How Will You Help Me Get Ahead Of My Competition?

Facebook PPC AgencyAn ideal response from the PPC agency is one that is well-informed, transparent, and logical.

You don’t want to hear any get-rich-quick schemes, nor do you want misleading promises.

The response to this question should essay experience and knowledge about PPC advertising as well as examples of previous successes.

If the PPC agency you are interviewing doesn’t have any solid examples, you shouldn’t devote any more time to them.

Secondly, you want to hear about their competitive analysis tools that monitor and analyse other businesses. While the PPC management company might touch on this when you ask about their keyword analysis tactics, you want to again see how it fits into helping you get ahead.

Some tools that a PPC agency might mention include the Analyse Competition feature from Google Adwords or a similar interface like Spyfu.

The right agency will explain the entire process, including how they analyse the competitor information and how they will use that intelligence to improve the performance of your own pay-per-click advertising campaign.

Remember: even if they do the research, the agency should also have a means to work with their findings.

Final Thoughts

The final step is making a list of PPC agencies that have a reputation already.

As you go through your list of PPC agencies in Melbourne (or wherever you may be), make sure that you are asking the top 7 questions on this list to help find the right company for you.

Search for PPC agencies that match your industry and location, then touch on the activities and factors that influence the success of your campaign, such as keyword analysis and selection, landing page optimisation, ad creation, ownership, transparency, conversion and competition monitoring, cost management, and Google Adwords certification.

Best of luck in your search!