I’ve worked in the PPC industry for 7 years now and nothing shocks me anymore when I take over ‘previously managed accounts’. Here is what you need to look for from your PPC agency:
Account Change History
Always check the change history in an account. When I first started freelancing I was asked by an agency to go in and improve all of their Adwords accounts. Not only were the accounts set up terribly but no changes had been made on any of the accounts since the day the campaigns were created. In some cases the agency had been charging a management fee for 2 years without having made any changes to the accounts. It’s not just small clients that this happens to – two of the companies were spending over $100,000 per month.
Scarily, this is quite common and I’ve seen it numerous times, from numerous agencies. One client had been paying a management fee for about 5 years with only the odd ‘essential’ changes made to an account during that time due to Google upgrading campaigns.
It depends how much your daily budget is but you should at least see management changes being made to your account on a weekly basis. Anything less than this and you should start looking for a different agency.
Tip: Go the the change history inside Adwords and make sure that changes are being made to your account regularly.
Implementing New Google Features
Google release new features regularly and when this happens you should be made aware of this by your agency. In my time managing accounts Google have made two major changes. First they created ‘enhanced campaigns’ and last year they launched ‘expanded text ads’. Google forced all Adwords accounts to implement these. Within two weeks of launching expanded text ads I had upgraded all 150+ of my Adwords account to have expanded text ads in them. I left the old standard adverts live so the new text ads could build up data. 6 or 7 months later I was still being given big accounts where their old agencies had no implemented expanded ads. There was no choice in implementing this, so a good agency should have done this for clients straight away.
When Google launches different kinds of campaigns (e.g. Gmail campaigns) or ad extensions (e.g. structured snippets) that are not forced upon you I will typically wait a few weeks after they are launched to see how they perform for other companies and will look for best practice feedback online or from Google. I will then test them on a few accounts before I roll them out across all of my accounts. I’ve never been someone to implement something just because it’s new. In my opinion it’s better to do something right. BUT the main point I make here is that I always let my clients know that a new feature has been released and I keep them updated every step of the way. If an agency is not updating your accounts to include new features and is not letting you know about new features then they obviously do not have their eye on the ball when it comes to new developments and you are losing out as a company. I still see accounts now that don’t have call out extensions added to them. These were brought in by Google about 2 years ago.
Tip: You should be notified about new features inside Adwords. If your agency doesn’t keep you updated then either look elsewhere or ask them each quarter if any new innovations have been released that can be added to your account.
Are you paying too much?
I white label my services for several agencies. Whilst I charge a 10% management fee, most of my clients charge between 30% and 40%, whilst one charges a 100% management fee. Essentially I hear from none of my agencies unless the client requests that they want something added or changed on their account. They outsource the work to me and let me get on with it. This means a lot of the clients I look after are paying a premium for to their agency just to be a point of contact with me. Why would you want to pay a 90% surcharge for nothing in return?
The easiest way to find out if you are getting work done by an agency or whether it is being outsourced is to look at the change history. The change history inside Adwords has an email address next to the changes that have been made. If this email address is not the email address of the company you are working with then it’s likely that you agency are outsourcing the management of your account and you are paying more than you need to.
Tip: Check what email address is making changes to your account. You may be paying a surcharge for no reason.
Do you have access to your account?
A good PPC agency WILL ALWAYS give you access to your Adwords account. Without access to your account you can’t see if any changes are being made and if it is your agency making the changes. Most importantly if you don’t have access to your account then you do not own the Intellectual Property inside that account.
All the time I see clients who want to change their PPC agency but the current agency refuses to send over access to their account or any data. The new agency then has to start from scratch. It can take months to build up an industry specific negative keyword list, to work out what keywords work and which ones don’t and so on. Without access to previous data then your company and your new PPC agency effectively start from scratch and are both at a massive disadvantage.
Tip: Make sure you have access to your account so that you gain the most you can from an agency managing your account and so it’s easy to change PPC provider