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Paid Marketing

20 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a PPC Agency

So, you need some help with your PPC strategy and you're looking at outsourcing to an agency partner. But how do you know you've found The One? Here's how:

12 mins read time
Jeanna Barrett
Jeanna Barrett

Oct 03, 2022

Who wants to play a round of 20 Questions? Except in this game, there’s no animal, vegetable, or mineral — instead, there’s success, revenue, and growth (and yes, it’s bigger than a breadbox).

In this round of 20 Questions, we’re looking at what you should be asking when choosing a PPC agency to support you in your paid advertising efforts. Knowing how to choose the right PPC agency could mean the difference between growth and stagnation for your brand. 

So let’s dive in and explore all the questions you need to ask and all the answers you should be listening for (+ where to find them)!

20 Questions to Help You Choose a PPC Agency

Choosing a PPC agency isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires vetting potential candidates and carefully weighing your options. There are many agencies out there that claim to be experts in PPC and paid advertising, but you’ll need to be discerning to separate the ones that walk the walk from those that merely talk the talk.

Here’s your list of 20 questions. By the end, you’ll know how to spot a winner.

#1: Do you have paid ads specialists who work with businesses in my niche? 

No matter what type of marketing you’re planning, it’s always best if you find an agency that specializes — or at least has proven experience — in your industry and/or niche market. This way, you’ll know they understand your audience, the advertising landscape, and the way shifting trends in your industry impact it.

#2: How many years of combined experience do you have?

You want to be sure that any agency you choose has at least one paid advertising expert on staff. However, an expert or specialist will likely be working with other experts — such as those in content or lead gen — to craft compelling ads and design relevant landing pages. 

You’ll need to know how many years of experience they have specific to PPC and paid advertising. There is no magic number, but if they balk at giving you a firm answer, be cautious.

#3: What certifications do your paid ad experts have? 

These days, there are countless PPC courses and certifications available, but only a handful are legit and recognized within the profession. Any good PPC specialist will be constantly learning and staying up-to-date on trends and changes, but there are a few certifications you want to keep an eye out for:

Google Ads Certification

Google provides training and certification exams in six areas such as search, display, and video advertising.

google ads certification

Microsoft Advertising Certification

This certification shows that a professional has trained and understands the ins and outs of paid advertising across Microsoft and Bing.

microsoft advertising certifications

Meta Digital Marketing Certification

Shows proficiency in managing paid ads across Meta properties, including Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.


meta digital marketing certifications


Amazon Ads Certification

Achieving Amazon Advertising Accreditation shows mastery in creating, optimizing, and analyzing campaigns for Amazon brands, products, and stores.

amazon advertising certification

#4: Do you help with setting up an ad account?

If you wanted to DIY this, you probably wouldn’t be looking to outsource PPC to a trusted agency partner, now would you? So if you don’t have accounts set up on the platforms or networks you’d like to use (or if you don’t yet know which you should use), it’s helpful to know that’s something your agency can take care of for you. 

Keep in mind that your agency will need some information from you to get started, so be on standby while they’re setting up your accounts in case you need to provide any pertinent details.

#5: What specific PPC services do you offer?

Like most marketing channels, there’s typically a lot of overlap when it comes to PPC. There really isn’t (or should be) a standalone PPC service because whatever you do for PPC will tie into your other marketing initiatives. So if you’re looking for end-to-end PPC strategy and implementation, look for a full-service agency that does it all. 

You’re going to need help with ad design, creativity and copy, but you may also need help creating content like downloadable assets or designing landing pages. It’s also helpful to have someone dedicated to data and analytics who can interpret your PPC results and draw insights to help you make informed decisions.

PPC services


While you want your selected agency to have knowledge and expertise in PPC and paid advertising, you’re typically better off opting for an agency that can offer extended services to ensure your strategies and goals align across marketing channels. 

#6: Do you have expertise across multiple paid ad platforms?

When you’re first dipping your toe in the PPC water, you might opt for Google only. But as you learn what works (and what doesn’t) for your brand, you’ll want to target new audiences and increase your results by expanding to additional platforms.

Of course, Google and Facebook have been and remain the big dogs in this fight:

where brands are spending digital dollars

Source 

But ideally, your agency will have experience across multiple platforms and will understand the nuances and how each one could potentially drive growth for your brand.

#7: Who manages my account? 

This person may vary from agency to agency. It could well be the PPC expert or specialist, or it could be a dedicated account manager who acts as a point of contact but isn’t actually managing your campaigns. 

So really, there are numerous questions you should be asking here beyond who’s managing the account. You’ll want to know who your primary point of contact will be when you need to ask a quick question or send over information. You’ll also need to know who’s managing your campaigns, who’s in charge of the creative, and how the workflow is managed within the agency.

#8: How long does the onboarding process take? 

Speaking of workflow, your onboarding with the agency will be one of the first and most important steps you take, as it lays the foundation for a solid partnership. 

But, be honest: What you really want to know is how long it will take to get your ads live, right?

The answer isn’t so straightforward. It will vary by agency and how their process moves, but you can expect to go through a few pretty standards steps along the way:

Google ad process


#9: What type of reporting do you provide? 

Data drives growth, and it enables you to make quick and informed decisions when something isn’t working and needs to be adjusted. It’s critical you know exactly how and when your PPC agency will be reporting to you.

Most agencies will plan reports on a regular scheduled basis, often once a month. However, with a fast-moving PPC campaign, you might want more frequent check-ins, at least to start. Be sure to ask how the data will be presented — if you’ll have your own custom dashboard or if you’ll have access to the data outside of scheduled reporting times.

#10: How do you define success? 

It’s a big question, and how an agency answers it will be very telling as to whether or not they’re a good fit for your brand. For some PPC agencies that only stay in their lane and don’t play nice with inbound or other types of marketing, they might say a positive ROAS (return on ad spend) is a measure of success. More clicks + more traffic = they did their job.

A full-service agency will have a different perspective on what success means. For example, at FPS, we’re focused on long-term, sustainable growth. We don’t discriminate between paid and organic, and our experts are well-versed in many different marketing methodologies and channels. Most of the time, our growth marketing strategies will include everything from SEO to content to paid advertising and more. Because that’s what delivers meaningful results.

Sure, we can get you great ROAS, but are we getting you impactful ROI that lasts? That’s the real question you should be asking.

#11: What metrics do you track and how will success be measured? 

As mentioned above, getting clicks is great, but it’s only one small part of the overall picture of your PPC strategy’s success. You’ll want to be sure you’re tracking the metrics that matter so you understand how your ads are performing and how they’re impacting your audience, wherever they are in the funnel.

PPC metrics

Bottom line: You want to see a great return on ad spend (ROAS), but you’ll need to dig even deeper to make sure it’s actually profitable for your brand. 

#12: How do you create a bidding strategy to reduce CPC and increase conversion?

Whichever PPC agency you choose, they should be able to walk you through a bidding strategy that works to meet your specific goals. Keep in mind that bidding will be different for every client, based on their objectives, current status, and budget. google ads cost formula


Of course, pretty much every brand wants to pay less and get more. But the way you get there will depend on all the factors you see above and more. Your agency will be able to guide you on your own path to improved ROAS and ROI.

#13: Can you tell me about your ad budget management process? 

What happens if the bids your agency is making aren’t getting accepted and you’re not getting the ad placement you wanted? How will they approach the situation if they believe a higher ad budget is necessary? And conversely, what will they do if bids aren’t accepted and there’s budget left over at the end of the month or end of the campaign?

These are questions any PPC agency worth their salt should be able to answer in detail. Knowing those answers will give you peace of mind that your budget is being handled appropriately and used to maximize your results. 

#14: What PPC tools do you use to execute projects? 

There are an almost absurd number of PPC tools available to both professionals and DIYers today. You may not recognize all the tools in an agency’s stack, but don’t be afraid to ask what each one is for. 

Common tools include SEO/keyword tools, PPC automation tools, ad design and creative, and competitive analysis tools. You may be interested in learning the ins and outs of some of these tools so you can gain a better understanding of your campaign’s performance. Note how potential agencies react when you ask about learning or training on a particular tool or resource.  

#15: How do you manage Google Quality Score? 

Your Quality Score is critical to your PPC success. It plays a role in how well your ad ranks and where it appears in search results, but it’s also indicative of a high-performing campaign and growing conversion rate. Google factors in a number of considerations when calculating your Quality Score.

google quality scoreQuality Score also impacts your CPC, so it can affect your campaign budget and whether or not you get the winning bid. Any prospective PPC agency should be able to give you an in-depth answer on how they plan to improve your QS and/or keep it high.

#16: Do you also create landing pages for my ads?

You might think successful PPC comes down to successful ads, but that’s only half the equation. A great ad will inspire users to click, but the landing page they end up on is make-or-break. Whether they convert or bail all comes down to how the landing page is built and how relevant it is to the ad.

So what makes a perfect landing page?

great PPC landing page example

You want to ensure consistency in your creative and make sure your landing page is relevant and reinforces the offer made in the ad. Therefore, it’s usually best if your PPC agency creates your landing pages as well. 

#17: What’s your strategy for remarketing campaigns? 

Remarketing or retargeting is one of the most effective types of PPC ads out there. Why?

why do consumers click on retargeting ads

Source

Retargeting ads are displayed to those who’ve already shown some interest in your brand or product, and they lead to higher conversion rates and greater success for your PPC campaign. It’s important that any prospective agency has a firm strategy in place for remarketing.

#18: Can you share some case studies from past clients in my niche?

There are two things you’re gleaning from answering this question. First, you get proof that (as you asked above) they have experience with PPC advertising in your market/industry/niche. But there’s another key part of this: their willingness to share results from previous campaigns and clients.

Of course, you don’t want to ask them to share private or sensitive information, but they should be fully willing and responsive when asked to show their proven results. If you find an agency is reluctant to do this, you probably want to think twice about choosing them.

What it boils down to is honesty and transparency. That’s two things we value at FPS, but not every agency feels the same.

#19: How do you communicate with clients? 

There’s a logistical aspect to this question that will be key to your decision in choosing a PPC agency. You’ll want to know if they prefer clients to be deeply involved or take a hands-off approach. And you’ll want to be clear on which you prefer as well. Most of the time, it will be somewhere in the middle, but it’s best to set those expectations upfront. If you only have time to meet once a quarter, but they want to Zoom for an hour every week, that might be a chasm you can’t bridge.

It’s also important that you understand the tools the agency uses for communication and what implications that will have for you. Do they use an instant messaging platform and want you to access it? Or will they add you to their project management tool? Importantly, will this require time and effort on your part to train and get up to speed? 

Finally, analyze how accommodating they seem to be when it comes to communications. If they’re rigid and unbending, you might be better suited to find an agency that’s more flexible and works to meet the client’s needs, preferences, and capabilities. 

#20: Where can I learn about your PPC pricing?

And finally, the 20th question. If we were playing 20 questions, this would be the final threshold between win or lose. And, well, it’s a big one. How much do agencies charge for PPC services? Can you afford them? How will you be billed?

The answers to all those questions vary broadly, as do the different types of pricing models across the industry.

PPC agency pricing models

Source

While there is some data to support that the industry might be moving toward more of a performance-based model, there isn’t any hard evidence to back that up yet. For now, pricing is generally based on billable hours, plus your ad spend.

Ultimately, you’re not looking for the cheapest agency but the one that is most willing to work with you to meet your goals within your allocated budget.

Grow at Scale with Paid Ads Services from First Page Strategy

So, that was 20 questions, but there’s really only one answer: Finding the right PPC agency is a process, but when you get it right, it’s a major win for your brand.

At FPS, we’re knowledgeable and experienced in PPC, and our paid advertising experts can answer all your questions (even the ones we didn’t get to here) and put your mind at ease. Ready to get started? Contact us today with all your burning questions and fire away!

 

Jeanna Barrett

Jeanna is the Founder & Chief Marketing Expert for First Page, an award-winning, fully distributed marketing agency. Jeanna has a combined 17 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on business and tech. She's been named 'Top 40 Under 40' of brand marketers and 'Best in the West' for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to lay roots and build her business in Belize, and in 2021 First Page was named #43 in fastest growing private companies of Inc. 5,00 Regionals: California.

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