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How to appoint the right PPC agency

In the fourth instalment of a series of 'How To' pieces that aim to help provide insights on how marketers can source and hire appropriate agencies correctly, intermediary The Drum Recommends takes a look at what should be considered while seeking the right Pay Per Click (PPC) agency.

 

Do you understand the meaning of AdWords, Quality Score and Click-Through Rates (CTR)? Have you got to grips with the latest Google algorithms? Do you know the difference between search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC)?

 

If the answer is no to all of the above, then fear not. You don’t have to comprehend how everything in the world of digital advertising works in order to choose the right people to do the job – and do it well.

 

In a world of keywords – long-tail, brand, commercial, low intent, negative or otherwise – broad, phrase or exact matches, conversion rates, CPAs and so on, the digital tricks and protocols deployed to boost sales can vary across all platforms and even from agency to agency.

 

So, how best to choose a team of PPC experts who can meet your goals?

 

For the uninitiated, SEO is all about organic searches – free traffic that can be optimised at no cost to you (other than the agency that may be helping with this area of growth).

 

PPC, however, is an umbrella marketing term that covers all paid digital marketing campaigns (paid search) where your business pays publishers and platforms to direct traffic to your website.

 

Sitting in the middle is the PPC marketing agency. These are manipulators of search engines with a keen eye on the prize – to send your target audience hurtling towards your website, hitting the bulls-eye time after time.

 

This gathering, interpreting and manipulating of data in order to link your brand to your ideal ‘purchasing’ customer depends on both organic and paid searches – and there may be some crossover, with one influencing the other at times.

 

Arguably, however, even if your business is ranked high organically, there is a need to syphon off some spend on paid ads – i.e. those that show up above any organic listings.

 

Using PPC strategies will therefore help you to gain traction and can have enormous advantages over its less-in-your-face organic cousin.

 

Indeed, paid ads take up the whole screen on a mobile, so it important for your business’s visibility that you do have a firm footing in the PPC arena.

 

PPC also has the additional benefit of using words and phrases that have been created for an advert to precisely to ‘sell’ your product and services rather than rely on copy created with a less ‘salesy’ pitch. In effect, running ads gives you the option to say exactly what you do on the tin – or, in this instance, on the first page of Google.

 

To click, or not to click

Any PPC agency you choose should have its finger on the pulse of current trends and adept at trialling new features to test performance for its clients. Invaluable to you is the fact that, as they are handling PPC for lots of other accounts, they will have a wealth of experience and expert-level knowledge upon which to draw.

 

To begin with, you need quality content that is written to inspire. Then you need to match your business to the right agency. Getting the brand recognised early to achieve instant recall is a good place to start. A reputable PPC agency will assess your current online presence and offer insightful advice to either tweak weak areas or even suggest you undertake a full-blown makeover before taking beginning any PPC campaign.

 

This may mean you spending some time improving your landing page as well as ensuring your adverts are compellingly written so that the PPC agency can maximise the benefits.

 

Most platforms employ a bidding strategy for their ads, which means multiple advertisers bidding on a keyword. In effect, those willing to pay the most will have their ad shown.

 

the top of the tree, unsurprisingly, are Google Ads and Facebook – market leaders in PPC spend.

 

The bids specify the maximum amount that you are prepared to pay each time a user clicks your ad. 

 

You should have confidence in your chosen PPC agency that it will respond effectively and minimally adjust timings, targeted keywords and so on in order to push your brand up the pecking order to maximise impact and reap benefits – all without blowing your marketing budget.

 

The agency will need to get to know your ideal audience before taking any action.

 

The more they understand your customer profile, the greater scope there is to make sure your ads are shown to the right people as well as kept away from the wrong people.

 

They will collate demographic profile information – based on gender, devices used, platforms and location. And then they should tailor targeted activity for each of these.

 

Do they base your ad targeting on search term usage, need and intent as well as use-submitted data?

 

Some will test the waters before instigating a campaign. Often, agencies will create ad test parameters (perhaps 1,000-2,000 impressions) to see where the winning formula works.

 

Additionally, you need to have updates from your agency regularly in order to hone these targeted ads. Ask if your account manager will meet with you monthly to discuss conversion rates, keyword successes or fails and monthly overall results – and then redraw any plan of action for future campaigns and investments.

 

‘Depending on how much access you have to your campaign metrics, you will need to receive periodic updates from your chosen agency to know how your ads are faring. Proper communication is paramount in accomplishing the goals of your business. Don’t work with someone who is unable to give you regular updates’

Jason Hall, founder, Five Channels

 

When it comes to the cost of your campaign, most PPC agencies can match budget to activity and you will still see results. There needs to be a discussion about long-term goals as well as shorter ones.

 

Fickle finger of fate

Online marketing is built upon the unique and subjective relationships between a specific brand and its customers and it can sometimes feel as if the destiny of your business lies in the fickle finger of fate – to click or not to click?

 

These days, the customer experience needs to be as streamlined as possible and the PPC journey direct and instant.

 

Any PPC agency worth your investment will ask you about your advertising goals and should be able to align and improve the customer journey with bespoke PPC strategy.

 

Ask to speak with existing clients who have been happy with the agency’s work. Communication is key in any marketing relationship and PPC is no different. Whether your business is new to PPC or you are an experienced advertiser looking to take your campaign to the next level or revitalise an existing one, a PPC agency should offer customised service to suit your requirements as well as your budget.

 

The agency should pull out all stops (given your budget) to tailor activity to drive an audience so that they cross that important divide – from browsing to positive engagement. Put simply, at the critical decision-making point, your PPC strategy should make them click – tick boxes and nail sales.

 

If you're on the hunt for a Pay Per Click (PPC) agency, you can start your search here