Vetting for Credibility & Performance
Finding the right search marketing (SEM) manager or AdWords agency takes research. To help you find the best match for your business, we found that asking some very specific questions can avoid disappointment. The following questions should make your interviewing list as the answers will help you discern the seasoned professionals from the newbies.
1. Are they a certified Google Partner?
Google has the highest market share of all search engines (63.9% according to Search Engine Land). As such, they have the biggest audience for online advertising. Their AdWords management platform is complicated, even for seasoned users. And new functions are rolled out frequently. Ideally you want your AdWords agency to be a certified Google Partner for these reasons:
- They passed at least two exams (renewed annually). It shows they have knowledge of advanced features and keep up-to-date on their craft.
- They manage at least $10,000 in AdWords campaigns. This separates the hobbyists from the professionals.
- Their accounts are regularly monitored for quality and performance. Google actively reviews quality scores, ad extensions, bid strategies, etc.
- They have direct access to Google via exclusive account representatives.
- They receive advanced training opportunities, keeping their skills sharp and up to date.
2. Do they outsource your PPC account management? If so, to who and where are they located?
Some digital marketing agencies outsource AdWords management offshore in order to cut costs and increase their profits. It’s vitally important that your PPC expert understands language nuances and applies them appropriately to keywords, ad, and landing page copy. You’re looking for native speakers as well as those with relevant cultural knowledge. Why? Because your AdWords agency should also determine proper negative keywords — words that should be excluded from ads — as these search phrases won’t bring you qualified prospects. The context of your business needs to be understood, not just the content.
3. Do they use A/B testing to optimize accounts?
We are huge proponents of A/B testing; this is where you test one ad or landing page against another to determine which performs better. It’s not uncommon that small changes — one word, phrase, graphic or call to action — can affect click-through-rates. Appealing to your buyer’s emotions can make the difference between a sale… or not. Make sure your AdWords agency or account manager has a deep understanding of optimization and testing techniques so you best position your product with ad copy and landing pages that entice prospects.
4. What do they use to monitor online advertising performance?
The short answer should be: through Google Analytics. Online advertising can get expensive… quickly. If you’re not tracking results and ROI, why bother? We suggest digging a bit deeper into ad performance by asking your potential AdWords agency on how they optimize the account. For example, do they optimize for clicks, conversions or CPA (click per action)? There isn’t one right way to do things. But you need to know if they have a plan.
5. How do they track calls? What systems do you recommend?
One of the many benefits of online advertising is the ability to track performance on a granular level. We highly recommend using a call tracking service to more accurately gauge campaign performance and tie those calls directly back to sales. We like using CallRail because of its affordability and simple integration with Google Analytics and your website. If you can track performance in your CRM (like Salesforce) even better. But do they have experience working with these systems?
6. Who owns the account?
You, the client, should always own your data. And have access to your data. Period. You can designate administrative access to your AdWords agency while maintaining control of the account. That way, should you part ways at some point, you haven’t lost important account history. The same applies to your Analytics, website domain and call-tracking accounts. You should also be paying for your own account. Not the agency paying on your behalf. This gives you ultimate control over how much is spent.
7. When you create landing pages will they match my website’s design?
The right answer is… yes! A prospect going to your AdWords landing page may not be ready to buy. They may be interested in researching your company further by reading testimonials, blog posts or more details on your products/services. By having your landing page design match your website, you avoid confusing your visitor. Even subtle changes can break the “scent.”
8. What is their average ROI for the accounts you manage?
Depending upon your industry, online advertising may be a great way to complement your White Hat SEO strategy. We’ve found that ROI can vary widely based upon the product and service as well as a company’s geographic targeting area. For example, if you track true profits — taking into account returns/refunds, repeat business and a customer’s overall lifetime value — your ROI can be more accurately measured. Lastly, ask your potential AdWords agency for statistics and related experience to companies like yours. This is a vague question, but how the agency answers it will show you how they think about online advertising.
Is Your AdWords Account Leaking Money?
Are you wondering if you’re wasting money with your online advertising? We often find leaks in how an account is set-up, where campaigns run without uber targeted ads and landing pages or mismatched geographic areas and time zones.
As you can see, having a certified Google Partner as your SEM agency has many benefits. What other traits do you look for in an online advertising partner?
How can we help?
Launching a website and need help with design? Or, are you tweaking your landing pages to improve sales conversion?
We are the spectrum group online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.