Are You Getting Full Value with Your PPC Budget?

5 Signs You’re Working with a Bad PPC Company

Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, every marketing dollar is precious. It is always important to be on top of how your marketing budget is being spent to make sure you’re getting the most value. So how do you know if you’re not getting full value for your PPC marketing budget? We’ll go through five PPC-management red flags that should concern you if they apply to you.

1. You Don’t Have Ownership/Access to Your Accounts

fred flintstone locked out of house

Nobody likes feeling like Fred Flintstone in the closing credits. So it still amazes all of us here at Granular that we still have prospective clients ask us if they’ll have access to their accounts. It seems funny, but there are a lot of people out there who never see the AdWords or Bing Ads interface for their company’s account.

How is this possible? Simple. Many agencies will create the AdWords account for you, then claim ownership since they created the new Google account. Even if they give you access, they can remove you at any time. It’s horrible, but we still see it happen all the time. It’s no different than an agency who has a Google Analytics account, and creates a separate property for each client instead of adding the client’s account. Always own your Google properties, then give access to the people working on your account. That way your business will not run into any roadblocks in case you need to switch agencies.

2. You Only See the Numbers. Never Talk About Strategy

Note to all business owners. Nobody knows your business better than you. So how can a PPC marketer run your campaigns to the highest potential if they never discuss strategy with you? Does your PPC marketer know what the top areas of your business are? Do they know what the most profitable areas of your business are? Do you want to move the focus to get more exposure for a new product or service? If you’ve never discussed these questions with your PPC agency, then most likely you’re not getting the results you truly want. Your reports could show great numbers, but do you have concrete proof those good numbers came from the key components of your business?

Failing to map out a strategy can have negative effects. Here’s a perfect example from years ago when I first started out in PPC at a different agency. I started creating new ads for a client using content on the website as well as competitor research. Because I didn’t discuss this with the client, the ad copy didn’t speak exactly to the services they offered. All the ads had to be redone. Time and resources were wasted. It was a newbie mistake, but one that could have been avoided if I just got proper feedback from the client. It’s okay to ask your specialist questions. If you are curious about the decisions being made, ask or offer your input. I love getting feedback from my clients. It makes my job easier and helps me better optimize your account. Verify with your PPC agency that they know your goals and vision for the account.

3. Even If You Talk Strategy, Are You Sure It’s Getting Implemented?

Talk is nice. Doing is even better. If you have an inkling that no work is getting done on your account, go find out yourself. Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads have a change history that records every, single change a user makes in the account. I’m talking about extreme bidding changes to ones as simple as updating a campaign title. You can find the change history next to the tabs of your accounts.

adwords change history location

All of the changes, in the date range you selected, will be easily laid out. You’ll also get the information of which user made those changes.

Important Point to Remember

Not all of the work PPC marketers do to enhance the success of their client’s campaigns can be found in AdWords’ or Bing’s change history. Here are a few examples of why you might be seeing not a lot of activity in your change history.

  • AdWords and Bing both have editor tools that PPC marketers can use. This allows us to download accounts in the tool, make a ton of changes, then push them live at a later date. So if you only see a lot of changes show up at the exact time on the same date, it could mean your marketer was making changes in previous dates or times before they actually posted it live.
  • If your marketer is trying to improve conversions, any landing page or conversion rate optimization changes mostly involve working on the website. Any changes to the website or third party tools will never show up in the history.
  • Good PPC marketers aren’t always optimizing. We’re doing analysis. We’re doing research. If I’m trying to get more ad extensions to your campaigns, it might take some time to verify a business with Google or search for good reviews to use before adding them. Same applies to negative keyword research. It takes time to find bad search queries. They don’t get blocked in AdWords automatically.

I am far from suggesting that you need to micro-manage your advertiser. I’m simply saying it’s always good to know what’s going on in the account you own, whether you’re managing it or not.

4. Your Current Agency Charges a % of Ad Spend or Revenue

Let’s roleplay here. Say you’re running a big, PR campaign for your online store. That new awareness leads to more searches on Google, which leads to more traffic and revenue via PPC. Now since you pay your agency a percentage of revenue, they get a bigger cut for doing nothing related to your PR efforts. You just got Scrooged.

 What about getting charged a percentage of ad spend? If you have campaigns that are performing great but are also getting flagged for being “limited by budget,” it makes perfect sense to want to spend more to capitalize on missed opportunities. But if all you’re doing is increasing ad spend, why should your agency get more money for not doing more work? PPC pro, Melissa Mackey, has a great quote in her blog, “The Best Way To Charge For PPC Management,” that shows how percent of ad spend is an unstable method of getting charged.

A competitive industry could have a huge spend for a relatively simple account to manage, while a less competitive industry could spend half as much, but require a lot more work in their account to reach enough of an audience to move the needle.

No two accounts are exactly the same. Each account requires a different level of effort. Percentage of ad spend tries to level the playing field, but why should you possibly pay for time that might not be necessary?

It’s Only Fair to Play Devil’s Advocate

  • Percent of Ad Spend – If you’re adding budget to your account to cover new campaigns or keywords, it’s quite possible that your agency needs more time to manage the new additions. The more you add to your account, the more work it takes monitoring it. Just make sure more work is getting done if you’re spending more.
  • Percent of Revenue – Sometimes the work a PPC marketer can take credit for generates big revenue numbers for years to follow. Also, you could have a PPC marketer who puts in a ton of overtime hours to get the best numbers possible. All of the extra effort may be deserving of a some of that revenue.

We like to charge a flat fee or hourly. Pay us for the work that we do. No “what if” scenarios. To what Melissa Mackey said in her blog, you have to do what’s best for both parties. Come to an agreement that is fair for both parties.

5. Most of Your Agency’s Fees Go to Reporting or a Layered Team Instead of Optimization

In a previous blog titled, “Don’t Get Bundled in Digital Marketing,” Jordon Meyer gives a few reasons on how getting a bundled deal with an agency can be hurtful to your accounts. If you’re getting optimization, reporting, account management, development, project management, etc. all in one package, do you know how much time is being spent on each category?

I’m not saying tasks like reporting are unimportant. Reporting is absolutely important, but do you want your agency spending the same amount of time reporting as they do optimizing your account? I doubt it. Again, here’s where communication and transparency is key. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you sign a contract with someone who is going to handle your PPC account.