For many companies, hiring a PPC agency is a big step into the unknown. You’re not sure what to expect. And you might have some not-quite-accurate ideas about how the relationship will work. We see this all the time with new clients. It’s why we have a formal onboarding process that helps us set expectations and answer client questions. But even so, there are some things you should know even before you start looking for a PPC agency to hire. I’ll use this post to outline four of them.
1. Performance May Not Match Other Channels
Sometimes new clients will decide to launch a PPC program because they’ve been getting outstanding results in a different marketing channel, such as social media advertising. And so, they come with the expectation that they’ll get the same results with PPC. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
It’s pretty standard to have one marketing channel that performs significantly better than other marketing channels. This can happen for a variety of reasons. But in general terms, some channels are just a better fit for some businesses than others. That doesn’t mean you won’t get good results with other channels. However, you can’t expect every channel to match the results of your highest-performing channel. So don’t come into PPC with sky-high expectations based on your success in another channel. You may get great results with PPC. But don’t expect it to blow your mind.
2. The Boss Doesn’t Always Make the Best Account Manager
A good PPC agency will think carefully before assigning an account manager to your account. They want to choose the account manager with the best mix of PPC experience and industry background, and enough capacity to take on the work. At Group Twenty Seven, we’re fortunate to have an excellent group of team members to choose from, with a broad mix of experience and expertise.
Also, we schedule weekly team meetings where we discuss and review every account. This way, every account gets valuable input from every team member. However, occasionally a prospective client will specifically request me as their account manager. While I’m flattered by request, it’s not always a good idea. Because I’m not necessarily the best person for the job! Often, other people on my team will have more expertise and experience in a particular vertical than I do.
They can also give their undivided attention to clients’ accounts daily. That doesn’t mean I’m not involved in client accounts. I work closely with account managers and provide oversight and guidance on every account. And I will serve as team lead for a handful of considerations when it makes sense. But as an executive, my focus is more on long-term client account strategies than day-to-day monitoring and optimizing. Sometimes, I think concerns about staff turnover drive this request. I recognize that having different people repeatedly assigned to your account can be disruptive. But we try to keep these kinds of changes to a minimum. Also, we frequently assign two or three team members to larger accounts to help ensure continuity. However, having a fresh set of eyes on an account isn’t such a bad thing. It can often spark new ideas and fresh perspectives.
3. Not Every Agency Is the Same
If you know what you want—and don’t want—when you work with an agency, ask for it. Don’t assume that every agency is the same or works the same way. For example, sometimes clients are disappointed when they hire an SEO agency after working with us for a while. They discover that many of the processes they thought were standard among agencies aren’t, in fact, standard at all.
In a way, this is reassuring to us. We like to think we set high standards for customer service and account management. Basic things, like responding to calls and emails in a timely matter, are a given. But we’ve heard from some clients that not all agencies are as responsive. Similarly, divergent standards are also found with client status meetings. At the start of each client engagement, we’ll establish a reasonable schedule of meetings to update the client on their accounts. And if the client wants the occasional ad hoc meeting as well, we’re happy to accommodate.
But some agencies are reluctant to meet at all. Others want to meet nonstop. And some refuse ad hoc meetings. Often, these divergent standards can be explained by differences in approach. We take a proactive approach to client accounts. Some agencies take a reactive approach. With a proactive approach, we look at each account as a team at least every week. The account manager will look at the statement much more often, usually daily, sometimes hourly.
We’re actively looking for potential problems as well as identifying opportunities to optimize and improve performance. In contrast, with a reactive approach, accounts are only looked at when a problem is evident or when a client calls with a question. Otherwise, the account is largely left untouched. This may explain how some agencies can assign 80 accounts to a single account manager! So if you know what you want in an agency, whether it’s responsiveness or updates or a proactive approach, be sure to ask for it.
4. A Deal Isn’t Always a Deal
Some companies like to ask for a discount whenever they secure new vendor contracts. While I can see the logic behind asking (who doesn’t like saving money?), this policy can sometimes backfire. For example, one of our clients asked for a discount when he hired a well-known SEO agency. The SEO agency quoted him $10,000 per month; he negotiated them down to $5,000. He was thrilled with this deal! But guess what? The combined experience of his account managers totaled less than one year. Did this SEO agency decide to give my client only what he’d paid for? Perhaps. This “ask for a discount” approach seems silly when agencies usually find ways to accommodate prospective clients with smaller budgets. For example, they could reduce project scope or implement over a more extended period.
I never negotiate our fees with potential clients. I’m very comfortable with the service, expertise, and results my team provide, and I’m convinced we deliver excellent value to our clients. Besides, the focus shouldn’t be fees. It should be ROI because good returns can more than make up for expenses. But when you ask for a discount upfront, you risk poisoning the agency-client relationship before it even gets started. Set Realistic Expectations at the Start If you’ve never worked with an agency before, it’s hard to know what to expect. So consider these four things before you leap. Because when you do, your chances of developing a successful partnership with your PPC agency will significantly improve.