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PPC Agency Audit – How to Choose a PPC Partner

Unlike traditional ad placement, much of the thousands of dollars placed by your pay-per-click (PPC) partner aren’t as readily visible as big billboards or radio play. So how can you separate the best PPC management agency diamonds from the set-it-and-forget-it rough?

This DIY-PPC agency audit can help in proving or improving your current PPC vendor – or serve as a checklist for how to select your next PPC agency.

Success Based on Goals Aligned with Your Business Objectives

Paid traffic is rich in its own metrics and impressive use of abbreviations, but the key performance indicators (KPI’s) which matter most are those core to your business.

This is why it’s important to ensure your accounts are configured to ultimately deliver the highest returns on your investment. A quality PPC partner will be on board with your goals, and should ask for frequent updates into the success of leads or engagements generated by paid traffic, and adjust the strategy accordingly.

How to Check if PPC Goals Are Aligned with Business Goals

Ask your PPC provider how they’re defining the success of a conversion.

At a minimum, you should ensure form completions and inbound phone calls are being attributed back to PPC. If you sell online, you should ensure transaction values are being recorded accurately.

Facebook, Bing and other platforms have their own variations and limitations, but a high-performing PPC agency should be able to work with you and your platforms to ensure goals being tracked and used as conversion improvements data are as close as possible to your business’ KPIs.

Attention to Multiple Stages of the Funnel

With access to paid search traffic, behavioral display and social platforms, paid traffic has no shortage of ways to place your brand in front of the right potential customers – but each of those potential contact opportunities represent prospects at different levels of the decision-making funnel.

Ensure your PPC partner is working with multiple kinds of offers and opportunities from your resource library, promotions and content – so that you’re attracting and continually engaging potential customers from early awareness through existing customer growth as your budget allows.

By implementing this approach into our own strategy, we’ve had clients see 200% or higher growth in high quality leads generated year-over-year (YoY) from the same PPC channels, budget and product offering.

How to Ensure Your PPC is Communicating to Multiple Stages of the Customer Journey

Look for well-segmented campaigns and ad groups in your PPC channels. Promoted content and offers should match closely with the most likely state of an individual in the targets used.

A campaign targeting search terms such as “best online degree” may perform best offering top-of-funnel ‘research’ content. Retargeting ads for the same website may emphasize requests for information and online applications depending on the specific degree program users viewed on their website.

Purposeful Testing of Bids, Keywords, Ads and Offers

Purposeful testing is more than trying out a flight of nearly identical ads. A high-performing PPC campaign manager should be able to speak clearly to the nature of optimization efforts, and the hypothesis behind each, so that the results can power better results

PPC agencies that have a dedication to testing help ensure your campaigns don’t languish in set-it-and-forget-it, and that paid traffic can continue to be an ROI positive, reliable investment.

How to Ensure Your PPC Agency is Testing the Right Stuff

Because of the complex nature of tests, the technicalities change whether they’re geographic, demographic, messaging or on entirely new platforms.

If your PPC provider isn’t communicating the results and nature of ongoing testing and conversion efforts, this can be a warning sign that your account is under-managed.

Responsibility for Post-Click Metrics

The best PPC partnerships will show a similar care for the results of your investment beyond impressions and click data. It’s too easy to launch a campaign capable of flooding forms with poorly targeted leads, and a PPC manager who doesn’t keep an eye on down-stream metrics could have an incorrectly optimistic view of performance.

Vital has an earned a reputation of uncommon care of metrics from website traffic through sales success.

In a recent industrial B2B account, this dedication to down-steam data allowed us to pivot on a set strategy, changing direction to dramatically improve the quality of leads earned and earning potential of the campaign.

Is Your PPC Agency Looking at the Big Picture?

Your PPC agency should be reporting on, or initiating regular discussions about the contacts, leads and opportunities generated by your investment.

This may require additional software, access to your CRM, or simple campaign updates to feed campaign information into your systems, but the result is a more clear and shared value of ROI.

Emphasize Integration with Other Marketing Efforts

The best PPC agencies will coach clients to use paid traffic as a way to amplify the results of other marketing efforts.

This can be difficult if the PPC partner is completely separated from your other marketing efforts – or if they’re only a specialty provider of that one service, without a broader knowledge of your marketing efforts.

Seek PPC agencies that have a diverse team who will meet with you and review strategic approaches regularly.

Many of our highest performing PPC clients also hold retainers with our digital marketing team. That’s not a coincidence. The returns on your PPC investments can yield much faster depending on how embedded your PPC strategy can be into your larger marketing plan.

For a B2B SaaS company, Vital’s integration of PPC to amplify inbound marketing content (and a focus on multiple parts of the funnel) allowed leads generated by PPC to increase 476% year over year – with only a 6% increase in ad spend.

Access to, Not Reliance on, Automation

From Adobe Media to WordStream, there are dozens of PPC automation platforms employed by agencies. High-performing agencies will often use these tools to help manage bids, optimization efforts and even reporting. However, be sure your agency isn’t simply taking your money to put you on autopilot.

For a Vital higher education client, custom automation allowed precise, daily bid adjustments in a highly competitive landscape – this use of home-brew automation help increase prospective students from paid search by 207% YoY, with an 8% decrease in ad spend.

That kind of result couldn’t have come from custom automation alone – it was paired with hands-on management and working closely with the client in adjustment of ad copy, keywords and campaign structure.

Is My PPC Agency Just Automating My Account?

A trusted PPC partner will discuss openly where the value of their tools comes in – and where the importance of their craftsmanship takes you further. Find a PPC partner that takes as much pride in the user of automation tools as they do the craftsmanship of your account and results generated.

Uncomplicated Reporting

Uncomplicated reporting from your PPC agency requires an extreme dedication to both your business’ KPIs and transparency of the health of your campaigns.

With dozens of signals and KPIs across multiple channels, hundreds of ads and thousands of keywords and targeting criteria, PPC reporting can be overwhelming.

Too many agencies rely on this in overly-automated reports littered with charts, graphs and metrics that aren’t connecting to leads and sales.

Every single one of these data points is important to PPC management, but like a great doctor/patient relationship, our communication to you should emphasize:

  1. How is PPC contributing to your success?
  2. What was learned from adjustments and testing in PPC?
  3. What can be done to make that contribution to your success better?

Is My PPC Company Hiding Behind Complicated Reports?

Are you having regular conversations with your PPC pros, or receiving the charts and graphs monthly with no notes, conversation or human-added-value?

Looking for a PPC Partner?

Choosing the best PPC provider can be a challenge. While your industry is unique in many ways, it’s less important that the agency has experience in your industry and more important that they’ve built a practice and dedication to actual business results, continual improvement and proven returns in your investment.

If you’re in the market, or want to know if PPC is right for you, contact us or start a chat in the bottom of the screen.

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