Paid search continues to represent the lion’s share of digital marketing budgets. According to a recent report from Search Engine Journal, 42% of digital marketers allocate most of their budget to PPC and display ads. That means effective PPC management is absolutely critical for getting the biggest bang for the buck. If you, your advertising agency, or in-house team are not optimizing pay-per-click, then you owe it to yourself and your company to end that safari to nowhere.
Regardless of who’s taking the lead in your PPC advertising efforts, here are our top five most obvious red flags to look out for with your account team.
1. Bad Conversion Tracking: Flying Blind on Pay Per Click
What makes online advertising, and pay-per-click in particular so powerful is the fact that it’s extremely measurable. While the analysis may be a bit tricky, there’s no excuse for poor conversion tracking. Engines like AdWords provide reports on:
- What keywords were clicked
- How much those clicks cost
- What the users typed into the search box to see your ads
This is really basic PPC management stuff! When set up for conversion tracking, these reports will also include the number of leads, sales, and other conversions resulted from these clicks. Once you know both cost and conversions, you can easily calculate key business metrics like Cost Per Action (CPA) and Return On Ad Spend (ROAS). These metrics will also help you double down on successful keywords, while discarding those that aren’t generating response – and profits.
But if conversions are not tracked correctly, your PPC management team is flying blind. To get back on the right path, agree on how you will value various types of conversions in your attribution model. Only then can you expect to get the results you’re paying for.
2. Sloppy AdWords Account Structure: Baaaaad Practices
You got it. Your PPC manager is the donkey on this one, when the AdWords account neglects (or is ignorant of) industry best practices. In specific, be wary of the following account faux pas:
- Ad groups with no ads
- Ad groups with no keywords
- Ad groups with too many keywords (30 is a good number to start with)
- Ad groups with no negative keywords
- Campaigns with fewer than 4 sitelink extensions
Again, no good reason for this happening. An account should have ads and keywords for all search ad groups. It should use the most popular extensions (e.g., sitelinks) for all campaigns. When it comes to keyword counts, fewer is better – with an ever-growing number of negative keywords. And nobody likes surprises. That’s just one more indicator that the account team is not properly setting up new ad groups, or ignoring common optimizations. Why? Most likely improper processes for ensuring consistent quality or just not leveraging technologies like AdWords Scripts.
3. Lack of Intelligent Activity
Our ability to make intelligent choices is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom – and a great PPC manager from an adequate one. Your PPC account manager’s job is to help you get the most from your AdWords, Bing and Facebook campaigns. PPC managers have various options, but consistent activity in the account over the course of any month is the true measure of intelligent activity. We ‘re not talking sheer quantity of changes. Too many changes may be as bad as too few. Your manager should be setting the course for the month and making periodic – but certainly not hourly – adjustments. To monitor PPC management, look for months with very low activity or months with inconsistencies in the levels of activity.
4. Client Neglect: A Short Path to Extinction
If you feel caged in and abandoned by your account team; if you feel you’re getting scraps, rather than “gourmet” service, then it just may just be time to look for a new PPC management agency.
It all starts with setting realistic performance goals and level of customized service. Most likely, a minimal monthly fee will not get you lots of manual optimization. It should get you a level of expertise using the tools built directly into Adwords, and perhaps nothing more. Another way to look at it is this: equate the PPC management fee to an hourly wage. Then see if that hourly wage seems in line with the agency’s reputation and expertise. After this exercise, you may need a “reset” with your agency. That conversation may lead to higher fees or the realization that you and your agency are no longer compatible.
5. You’re Asking, “Why Don’t I Have Access to Better Adwords Features?”
It’s just not a great feeling when your competitors seem to be light years ahead of you in your Adwords campaigns. The most logical explanation is that the best PPC management agencies have dedicated account teams at Google, Bing, and Facebook – something you may not have access to on your own. If your agency is not giving you access to the special beta features that come with their professional relationships with the platforms, then ask them why. They should also know exactly how a new feature makes sense for your industry and an advertiser of your size. If you’re not getting access to beta features, or you’re not getting a quick resolution on account issues, your team needs to reevaluate your provider relationship.
6. Fear of Getting to “Yes” via “No”
Healthy client/agency relationships rely on the willingness to ask difficult questions and get answers that can be a real bear to swallow. It’s up to you and your PPC management agency to communicate the good, the bad and the ugly with frequency and with as much detail as possible.
Success (Yes!) and failure (Oh No!) are the responsibility of both sides. Even the best PPC management teams can be caught off-guard by a Google update or a change in consumer behavior. By the same token, the best marketing and sales departments may have glitches in their landing pages that suppress response or pricing structures that inhibit sales.
Mutual trust is earned through communication, transparency and a process that remains open to the discussion of difficult topics and honest solutions. The most effective agency is the one that can help you get to “yes” without the fear of saying “no.”
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