How To Choose A Digital Marketing Company
Are you looking for a complete guide to
Well, this probably isn't it. Hopefully though, this will get you pointed in the right direction.
While I would love the opportunity to work with your company, my focus here is some transparency into our industry and my agency. I'll also touch on what to look out for, and questions you need to ask of the company (or individual) you seek to work with.
I realize there's a lot of content here, so I'm dividing it up into a few sections. Grab a coffee, write down your questions so you don't forget to ask, and jump to a PPC topic within this article:
Final ThoughtsWrapping up, and my contact info if you have questions about anything. I will not solicit you, nor will you be added to an email list. If I don't know the best answer to your question, I'm willing to bet there's someone at our agency who does.
DIY PPC Advertising?You can DIY your PPC, but watch it like a hawk. You may be interested in these "Learn With Us" posts I've written:
Don't hesitate to tweet me your PPC questions if I can help further provide guidance. @AdHouseRyan
Everyone & Their Dog "Does PPC"
Only a few million self-professed experts to consider.
Here's a few things to watch out for:
High aspirations for a campaign are a great thing, but exaggerated promises are a sure sign of inexperience. For example: no Google Partner Agency (like us!) will tell you that you're guaranteed a top ad position. In actuality, the top positions may not even be your most profitable.
Clicks, Clicks, Clicks!
Traffic to your site is great! For most situations however, Clicks shouldn't be a primary focus. Remember: the click costs you money. Clicks without conversions (phone calls, leads, contributions, eCommerce purchases, etc.) just have a cost without an associated value.
Asking for Passwords
I don't need access to your Google account log-in information to manage your AdWords account. Nor do I need access to your log-in for access to your Analytics information. Don't. Share. Your. Account. A professional AdWords Manager will simply need your AdWords CID Number, and will request access into your account. Alternatively, they can be added by you directly (same story with Analytics). Check out the AdWords support guide for managing users. Note: we guide our clients through the data integration process, and ensure data is secure.
NOT Asking for Your Data
The work that we do managing accounts for our clients requires accurate data, and lots of it. Access to your website Analytics is a prerequisite for working with us. We depend on terabytes of data to make informed decisions regarding digital marketing spend. I can't even provide an accurate quote without it!
If you're not happy, why stay? I suggest committing to goals, but results aren't instant. Don't judge your digital marketing company too harshly based on the first week of your campaign. Do clearly define goals and estimated timelines for achieving those goals, as well as the course of action if targets are not achieved. We form long-term partnerships with our clients because we enjoy who we work with, and we love bringing them success. Our measurable results are why we have a fantastically low client turnover.
Allowing another entity to manage your online presence is a major marketing decision. Whether you're seeking an AdWords account manager or a full-fledged digital agency, understand and set the expectations. We expect a high degree of interaction between our clients and their digital team. Campaign seasonality planning, performance indicators, new offers, variation testing, content enhancement, etc. -- An expert internet marketing company shouldn't be expected to provide overnight success, but instead to make an investment in your company's growth.
What experience do you have in my industry?
Ensure your digital manager is actually experienced with your target market. Not all businesses are the same; you shouldn't be the guinea pig account for your online ad company.
Who else are you working with in my industry?
You may not want to be working with a company that manages your competitors. However, if a web ad manager handles companies similar to yours, but in different markets, you may have much to gain from their experience! Ask about relationships with other companies in your industry.
Who will be my point of contact?
Discover who will be accountable to you for performance, reporting, strategizing, etc. If you have a question, who should you contact?
Who will be running things?
Will someone at the advertising agency or PPC company be directly managing your account? Or are they simply resellers who are outsourcing your account? (with markup!) Note: while our video production division, Edit House Productions does produce video advertisements for other agencies, our agency division does not allow other agencies to white label our services.
Pay-Per-Click Company: Goals & Analytics
You absolutely must spell out goals for your digital marketer!
How will you track value generation?
Regardless of your business category, you have some form of trackable goals once visitors click to your site. eCommerce? Track the most lucrative transactions down to the campaign and ad that initiated it, influenced the shopper, and sealed the deal. Those interractions may take minutes, or days, but they can be tracked and optimized for. Service industry? Sales? Offline Retail? Track phonecalls and lead generation! Content site? Track visitor engagement, down to per-visit value and lifetime value of a user/customer.
We offer phone number provisioning (local and toll-free), call tracking, recording, forwarding, and advanced call+digital ad integration.
How will you communicate goal progress?
Here at our digital agency we plan, organize, test, analyze, optimize, and report on complex digital campaigns as your partner and on your behalf. It's your data, and you should have access to it. An online marketing company should provide detailed and insightful reporting at the bare minimum. At Ad House Advertising you will receive timely reporting, both summarized and detailed. Want to see data as often as you need? That should be accommodated as well. Your data is your data; don't settle for anything less. Digital marketing companies don't own your data.
Digital Creative: Who's Job is It?
Quality ads don't just create themselves. (Actually, well-managed dynamic ads do, but that's a different article!
How will I approve ads before they run? Will I have oversight?
Ads represent your brand and must respect your company. Digital ads exist in a large number of formats and sizes. I caution the urge to micromanage thousands of ads being deployment for you, but you should absolutely have an approval say on every ad. You should always approve a design theme, an offer, messaging, copy, etc.
What inappropriate content might appear next to my ad?
Firstly, it's not 100% foolproof, but utilizing some simple tools available to advertisers does a pretty good job. Ensure that your advertising company puts effort into when to block an ad from appearing. It's as important as defining when an ad should appear.
"I'm not asking a question, I'm making a statement: don't use cookie-cutter ads"
Your company is unique, and deserves a public-facing message that helps instill a positive user experience, with better performing ppc ads. See my thoughts below on SEM, search experience marketing. Cookie-cutter ads, where every other competitor's ads match your own, is an insult to the user experience. A PPC company should not bill you for that disservice.
Cost, Investment & Transparency
If you've acquired even a passing knowledge of the SEO industry, you're familiar with black-hat services, and probably a few just plain bad business practices. There's always going to be disreputable online businesses, so do your reasearch. There's also a number of great online advertising companies. As a Google Partner, Google Partner Community Ambassador, and Google Small Business Community Advisor (among other roles), I have met a number of great PPC professionals! They are out there! Just remember: don't pay for bad ads.
What is the cost for your PPC Company?
Work costs money. A professional digital marketer turns the cost into an investment in your company's growth. Determine how you will be billed, and how you will be billed when your account grows and changes. Is there a flat fee? Are there nickle-and-dime charges galore? A retainer?
How do we part ways?
If you have a powerful and results-oriented digital agency, you won't want to leave. With properly defined responsibilities and an objective-focused plan, a good business arrangement should be mutually beneficial. At Ad House Advertising, we want to see you succeed. That's why I'm writing this! Hopefully these questions will help you identify a great digital marketing partner.
We have several clients who have been with us a decade or longer. How? Service and results retain our clients, not a contractual ball-and-chain.
Wow! That was a long article on PPC.
I'm barely scratching the surface. If you read all of this, you're a trooper.
If you found this at all helpful, or even if you think I missed something, I'd love to hear about it.
My philosophy on Search Advertising: "We need to redefine SEM/SEO (Search Engine Marketing / Optimization). Let's rebrand the concept as Search Experience Optimization. This isn't about marketing to Search Engines. It's about reaching out to the right people, with the right message, at the right time." Rankings, quality scores, bids, CPMs, KPIs -- all that aside -- pay-per-click advertising should be about connecting with customers, people - and doing so in as effecient and effective a manner as possible.
I am always happy to take questions! I actually wrote this article based on questions from my followers on Twitter: