How To Spot a Shady PPC Agency From a Mile Away

Ever worked with a shady PPC agency? Or even a shady SEO agency or a content marketing agency? You’ll really do well if you spot them from a mile away. I wrote a LinkedIn post recently about How bad advice can be harmful for your business. This is one of those things.

You know that digital marketing isn’t just about one specific channel — like blogging, SEO, or PPC.

You can only claim to do digital marketing well when you utilize all the digital marketing channels available to you.

Because the agency model is a digital one, it’s easy to setup a website and start parading.

Clients beware.

There’s a right way that any reputable agency will approach you, as Pauline Jakober of Search Engine Land explains. Then, there are the shady agencies and freelancers who’d say (and do) anything to get you in.

Here’s how you’d be fooled into think that you got yourself the right PPC agency (or did you end up with a shady PPC agency?) to work with (and also how to check for authenticity):

Shady PPC Agency: No Campaigns Of Its Own

FetchProfits Ad Campaigns

If you happened to type in “PPC Agency” in your local area (or generally) on Google, clicked on a Google ad that’s similar to what you see below, you are half way there. Any respectable PPC agency practices what it preaches.

Imagine how funny it’d be if a PPC agency were to claim that they’ve mastered the art of:

  • Writing ads that convert
  • Being able to get you results at the lowest possible cost
  • Working with tracking & analytics

All those claims when they never ran a single ad campaign with their own money?

We could choose to have done only blogging, or social, or web design. We just don’t. That’s because many businesses need help across the front, for each of the digital marketing channels.

PPC Agencies That Do Ads Only(barely)

I remember working with a client (not going to name them) who hired me to oversee and supervise his already existing vendors for a wide variety of things. The client had a dedicated blogger and social media manager. There were two other agencies that managed Facebook ads and Google AdWords respectively. Each one, a shady PPC agency to boot.

As you can guess, it was a nightmare. The really frustrating part of it all was that those two agencies that managed Facebook ads and Google Ads barely did anything.

  • They’d force us (or the client, or both) to “write the ads”
  • There’s no such thing as a landing page anywhere
  • They’d send in reports tabulated in excel spreadsheets on KPIs that have no relevance to the client ( Like, since when did Impressions and CTR became a concern for the client who was instead looking for “conversions” and “sales”)

We fired both the agencies. Period.

PPC Agencies That Setup & Forget

It’s easy enough to create ads and launch campaigns. My 5-year-old daughter can do that.

A good agency works hard to maximize results off each campaign. It involves using ads, message matching landing pages, two versions of both ads and landing pages for A/B testing, and continuously tweaking the setup to maximize ROI.

Thousands of freelancers and agencies (it doesn’t matter what certifications they boast of) don’t ever bother with complete work that’s required for your business to get to positive ROI.

  • Ads in pairs
  • Landing pages to match each ad (message matching).
  • Decisions based on relevant data. This data comes in when the campaign runs long enough.
  • Focusing on A/B testing & optimization to ensure that you pick champion ads and landing pages based on testing results
  • Conversion tracking, implementing code on the right pages and reporting.
Reporting Data Google Adwords

That was just paid campaigns. The story isn’t complete, though.

Then, there’s this:

  • How fast does the website load? If it’s slow, there’s no need to run the campaigns.
  • How well is the website optimized?
  • Does every page have a goal? Is that goal being met? [ Hint: Track this in Google Analytics or by using Mouseflow Conversion Reports]
  • Where does traffic come from and what do users do when they arrive?
  • What actions do visitors take (or not) on your website?

PPC agencies should be doing landing pages, ads, copy, A?B testing, optimizing, tracking, analytics, and reporting. Period.

Only reporting & No Strategic Push

Your expertise is not digital marketing. Even if it is, you’d not have the time and the attention to detail required to keep the engine running.

If all that a PPC agency was to send out great-looking reports, you’d not benefit from it.

Instead, a true PPC agency should be able to give you that strategic push towards the right path.

Strategic PPC Management

Working as consultants, good agencies help their clients steer towards ticking off all the right boxes.

For instance, even if a PPC agency might focus on the paid campaigns that your business runs, it should be able to give you advice (if not implementation) on the organic aspect of digital marketing.

Good agencies can help make clients take the right decisions.

Agencies that keep Secrets

Relationships can’t survive with too many secrets floating in between. A PPC agency should never keep any form of secrets from you. Jon Miller of Search Engine Land lists out at least five secrets that PPC agencies try to keep from you.

At best, you should be clear about at least the following:

  • Does the agency outsource work? If yes, which part?
  • What exactly do agencies mean when they say “PPC management”?
  • How do other clients feel about the PPC agency you are considering?
  • What technology, tools, applications, and software does the PPC agency use? How does the usage of any of those tools affect your business, if any?

The special emphasis on PPC agencies is because it’s cash that’s being spent every minute you wonder if the agency is worth it or not. Every day you spend arguing that you need a landing page (and the agency doesn’t delivery) is money spent and opportunity lost.

You can’t afford a single day wasted in PPC. Never.

What do you keep in mind before selecting your PPC agency?

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