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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 12

These tips will help you select the digital marketing agency that best fits your needs.

Paid search is an ever-changing field. For marketing professionals whose time is already at a premium, finding the time to stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and nuances can be challenging.

If you’re new to the SEM field, you may feel under-experienced to be running campaigns. Hiring a PPC agency may be the best way to boost ROI and free up your time for other channels.

Agencies often prioritize learning. They understand that to remain effective, the teams that work for them must stay on top of the latest trends and techniques. Account representatives are experts in their field, and they typically have access to systems that help them increase effectiveness for clients.

In the same way that no single marketing strategy fits all companies, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for PPC management. These tips will help you choose the right PPC agency for your business.

1. Have a list of goals and objectives

Before you begin your paid agency search, make sure you know what you want to achieve, whether it’s building brand awareness, fueling your pipeline, launching a new product or service, increasing conversions, or improving online revenue.

The more specific you can be about your objectives, the better chance you have of partnering with an agency successfully. Goals are crucial for ensuring strategies developed and the tactics used are in line with your business needs.

2. Identify which services you need

Perhaps you want to run paid search ads or add content to boost your SEO ranking. When making the list of agencies to contact, make sure they have experience with the services you need.

You may want to screen out any that only focus on one area, such as SEO. A PPC company that integrates paid search with other online marketing services can work with you to a higher degree and help you understand customer behavior across various digital channels. Over time this can improve campaign results and increase ROI.

Services that paid search agencies typically offer, include the following:

· Paid Search (SEM, PPC)
· Content Marketing
· Conversion Rate Optimization
· SEO
· Social Media Advertising/Paid Social
· Shopping Feeds
· Display Advertising
· Remarketing/Retargeting

3. Have a budget in mind

You may have an estimate of what you can spend for a PPC company, whether it’s a percentage of your overall marketing budget or based on what you’ve spent in the past. When searching for an agency to work with, ask for their opinion: Is the amount adequate to obtain your objectives? Is PPC the best way to go, or should the funds be spent on a different channel?

The way they answer these questions demonstrates whether they can explain it in a way you understand and can believe in. If they don’t think you’re budgeting enough, does their reasoning make sense? Ask if they recommend an alternate channel where the spend may be more effective.

4. Determine the fee structure

When it comes to pricing, the terms should meet your budgetary requirements. There are several options to consider, such as:

· Flat monthly fee
· Percentage of the advertising spend
· Hybrid approach

There are pros and cons to each. But what deliverables are included in the services you’re signing up for? Are there any hidden fees? Will you need to hire additional resources to get the job done? Discussing such questions with the agencies you interview can help you decide which will work best for your business.

5. Find out whether they are a culture fit

Finding the right culture fit is essential for the success of your relationship with an agency. This is because not only will they work with you or your in-house team on some aspects of the campaigns, but a shared perspective enables effective collaboration.

Even if it looks good on paper, if you don’t share similar values, the teams may not mesh and work well together, which can affect productivity. You want a firm that is motivated and passionate about what they do and takes pride in the quality of work they provide.

How to Choose the Right PPC Agency: 12 Steps to Selecting a New PPC Agency

Before retaining an agency, you should discuss what your expectations are in terms of communication. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Get to know their communication style

Before retaining an agency, you should discuss what your expectations are in terms of communication. Is receiving a weekly email with updates enough, or do you prefer a phone call? Do you want specific information in the reports? The firm should also make their preferences regarding communication clear. Do they recommend regularly scheduled meetings and updates? Is the whole team involved, or just the account manager?

You should also discuss what the agency needs from you and their expectations. Will they be partnering with you to strategize and execute, or simply providing recommendations for your team to carry out? When both sides communicate clearly, the partnership can proceed more smoothly.

7. Understand their experience and expertise

When discussing the possibility of retaining an SEM agency, find out who will liaise with you regularly and learn more about who will be working directly on your account. The agency you hire must be able to navigate today’s complex landscape and have the chops to make your PPC campaigns successful.

· Account strategists help you reach your goals by directing the account and setting the overall strategy.
· Tracking experts and analytics specialists set up campaigns, track analytics, and analyze the results.
· Conversion rate optimization specialists continuously test landing pages for improved ad performance.
· Graphic designers ensure your ads and landing pages look great and attract – and convert – the right traffic.

Not every agency will have dedicated teams with all of these positions. Some have senior managers who own several of these roles, while others may use junior talent and freelancers. It’s important to understand the level of expertise you are getting and whether it is commensurate with the fee.

8. Ensure you own your data

It’s possible that, over time, you may decide to find a new agency or build an in-house team to work alongside or in place of your agency. Prepare for that in advance by ensuring that the Google Ads accounts, landing pages, and creative assets, are all yours.

When you work with an agency, not only should you receive experienced PPC management, but your creative assets should build. Make sure the account is set up using your e-mail account and that you have full access to any paid ad accounts, but grant the agency full access so they can create and manage campaigns as needed.

Having historical data is crucial to optimizing your campaigns. If the Google Ads information isn’t yours, you’ll have to start over again, which wastes valuable resources. When the partnership with the firm ends, you should be able to take everything with you.

9. Determine your key performance indicators

List which performance indicators are most important to the success of your campaigns. This can help you measure results and how they help you attain your goals.

Some of the most common KPIs include:

· Cost per Acquisition
· Return on Investment
· Conversion Rates
· Sales Closing Ratio
· Customer Lifetime Value

10. Look for transparency

Reporting results can be subject to interpretation. The paid search agency you hire should be willing to share the complete, unaltered information related to your KPIs.

In addition, the reports they design should match your internal metrics so that you can get a consistent view of performance. The data they contain should be detailed and up-to-date, not days or weeks old.

11. Ask about certification

One factor to consider when choosing an agency is whether they’re Google Ad certified or a Google Premier Partner. This accreditation is earned by individuals that attend training and demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of Google Ads features.

Some team members may specialize in areas that can benefit your campaign, particularly if you serve a small, specific niche.

12. Request flexible contracts

Look for firms that offer flexibility in contract lengths. Consider whether they are willing to accept short-term contracts. When professional agencies that offer this option, it usually means they’re confident in their ability to provide the best services for your business. Before you sign, read the out clause and understand what your options are if you want to leave the agency.

The great thing about digital marketing is that it can be done from anywhere. You can choose the best agency for you, regardless of location. This opens your campaigns to a new realm of possibilities that you may not have had the opportunity for previously.

When deciding on an agency, look for the best service, cost, and team that fits your needs — not simply who’s the closest by. With video calls and messaging services, location really shouldn’t matter.

Pay-per-click advertising campaigns can deliver targeted, highly qualified traffic when developed correctly. At HawkSEM, we provide a customized approach based on your particular needs. Our passion for results and drive to meet goals ensure we do right by you, generating a higher ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help dramatically improve your digital marketing results.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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