Google’s AdWords and similar platforms provide you with an easy way to interact with potential customers who are searching for what your company has to offer.
These pay-per-click (PPC) ads can be run individually or in campaigns, and thanks to the online platforms that they run on they’re easy to start, stop and modify as needed during the course of the campaign.
In most cases, companies will hire a third party to actually run and manage PPC campaigns for them. This is in part due to the training and skill that’s required to successfully manage large-scale PPC campaigns; your marketing team has enough on their plates, so let a team of PPC pros do what they’re best at. There’s another reason that companies hire PPC agencies, though: If everything is done correctly, managing one of these ad campaigns requires a lot of work spread out over time.
The problem with PPC ads is that if they’re not managed, they’re not effective. If your company’s pay-per-click ads aren’t providing the results you were expecting, there’s a chance that the agency you hired isn’t living up to its end of the bargain.
If you’re not sure, here are a few things that you can look out for to help you learn more:
Little Account Activity
One big sign that your PPC agency isn’t doing its job is if you check the Change History of your ad campaign and see very few changes being made.
Even relatively little PPC ads should be modified at least once a week to make corrections and stay in sync with online search trends. Bigger ad campaigns should be adjusted two or three times per week, or possibly every day depending on the keywords they target. All of these changes are logged, and it isn’t difficult to see whether work is being done on the campaign if you take a look at those logs.
Depending on how the account is set up, you should have access to the logs. If you don’t, don’t be afraid to ask the agency for access or at least to send you a copy of the logs. If they hesitate or offer to simply interpret them for you, changes are the logs show a lack of activity that they don’t want you to find out about.
Low Quality Scores
A lot of people assume that so long as your PPC ads are ranking well in searches, that’s the main thing that matters.
In fact, there’s a chance that your PPC agency will tell you something similar if asked. The problem is that this isn’t the only thing that matters and in fact it’s not even the most important thing. Through the analysis of thousands of accounts and campaigns, it’s been found that the most important metric of success or failure for PPC ad campaigns is actually the campaign’s Quality Score, also known as QS.
Essentially, QS is the grade that your campaigns are given that measures the relevance between the keywords you target and the content of your ads. Not only does it play a significant part in ad position and how often your ads are displayed, but it also has a direct impact on what you pay in cost-per-click (CPC) in each ad. The lower your QS is, the higher the CPC. If your ads have low QS and your PPC agency isn’t trying desperately to fix the problem, they aren’t doing their job.
Increasing Ad Costs
Along those same lines, rising costs for the same ads is a big red flag that there’s something amiss with your agency.
Ads should be competitively priced, and there may be some natural variations in cost from one month to the next. If costs keep creeping up over time or show big increases without a subsequent surge in impressions, chances are it’s because your QS is dropping.
When the agency asks for budget increases without a good explanation or anything to show for it, it’s safe to assume that there are QS issues that haven’t been reported to you. Occasional or temporary increases are fine, but get to the bottom of it before you give the agency more money too often.
Few Custom Landing Pages
Consider where your PPC ads are actually sending visitors.
Does your website have custom landing pages tailored to the different ads you’re running? If not, your PPC agency is likely wasting your money. If ads simply direct visitors to your homepage, there’s a good chance that you’re going to lose at least some of those sales. Custom landing pages keep the conversation going, giving visitors the information that the ads promised and moving them along to the next step of your sales process. If you simply drop them off at your home page then they have no idea where to go next to find out what they want to know, which may lead to them leaving altogether.
As an added bonus, Google rewards relevant landing pages by improving the QS of those ads. This is because having a landing page component to the ad is a part of that score and making sure that the landing page is relevant to the ad copy can improve it even more. If your agency isn’t setting up landing pages or at least directing your web team to do so then they’re hurting your QS and costing you more money.
Little Mobile Optimization
A significant amount of web searching is now done from mobile devices, so it’s important that mobile compatibility is a part of your PPC ad strategy.
You should have ads that are tailored specifically to mobile searches, mobile-optimized landing pages and mobile ad extensions in place. Not only will this make things easier for your mobile visitors, but you’ll benefit from the fact that mobile ads are generally cheaper than desktop ads as well.
As with the other signs, if your agency doesn’t seem concerned about the impact of mobile then it may be time to move on. Not only are they not taking advantage of cheaper advertising opportunities, but they’re making it harder for potential customers to connect with your company. It’s time to move on and find a PPC agency that’s willing to put these points first.