Some PPC agencies will promise the world or be very secretive about their strategies - these things may not be deal-breakers, but they should raise red flags as you try to find the right agency.
The process of finding a PPC agency can be stressful and a bit of a crap shoot. If you've never met these people or they haven't been vouched for by someone you trust, it's hard to determine their legitimacy. Unfortunately, there's not one question you can ask to make sure the agency you're talking to is the right fit, but there are some things that come up during the sales process that should get your attention.
Here are a four things that should raise a red flag for you when talking to a prospective agency:
1. Making Promises of Performance
Past performance is not an indication of future returns - it's true in the financial industry and it's true in PPC. There are simply too many variables coming into play to be able to guarantee performance moving forward. What an agency should say instead is something more along the lines of, "If we make these three changes, we would normally expect the following outcomes." Citing typical outcomes from following best practices isn't out of the realm of normal, but what starts getting questionable is making promises like, "Yes, we can absolutely decrease your CPA by X percent." Any agency worth its salt understands the strategies behind setting proper client expectations and promising too much upfront should be a red flag.
2. They Can't Find Anything Usable
I've seen some extremely bad PPC accounts in my day. But there's never, not once, been an account where I couldn't find something they were doing right or that couldn’t be built off for future success. Even (Read more...) all the campaign settings are off, there might be a good bank of keywords to build off moving forward. Although your landing pages might not be to their liking, the ad copy you've put together may provide some insights into your key offers. If they can't find one single thing right, you could be sensationalizing your need for them.
3. They Don't Think (Or Ask) About Your Business
There are some pieces of a PPC account that should have strategy determined by your business, not best practices. Just a couple of those are your account's day-parting, whether you have call extensions in place or not, your goal conversion action, and your geographic targeting. These are not something that can - or should - be dictated to you by best practices. They should be determined by a combination of your business model, availability, and testing to see which custom combination provides profitability. If an agency starts preaching what you should do with these and other business-specific settings before asking questions, they might not have your best interests in mind.
4. Specific Strategies Are Kept Secret
Sure, a prospective agency might not share each and every thing they would do in the account during the sales process. And that's for good reason; at that stage of the game, it's hard to name all the strategies necessary to implement in order to gain success. But if they won't tell you anything about how they intend to turn your performance around, you might want to start asking questions.
If any of these red flags pop up during the sales process, it might not be a deal-breaker, but asking questions upfront will save you some future potential headaches. What do you find to be questionable actions during the sales process? What makes you start being more reticent to work with an agency?
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