11 Red Flags That You May Need a New PPC Agency

Being in the pay-per-click (PPC) digital marketing world since 2006, first as an account manager and later as a Director of Sales has given me insight into why businesses hire an agency to manage their online advertising. Unfortunately, hiring an agency for digital ad management isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” fix as all agencies are not created equal. 

Out of the thousands of conversations I have had with business owners, marketing directors, and corporate decision-makers, I have compiled the following list of common reasons you may need a new PPC agency to handle your advertising efforts.

  1. Conversion Tracking not Set Up: Even novice marketers know that tracking conversions is imperative to the success of a digital marketing campaign. Running ads without some sort of performance tracking is a missed opportunity to learn from your investment.
  2. Inefficient Bidding Strategies: Google has poured enormous resources into its Smart Bidding and machine learning systems over the past few years. Your agency contact can optimize these advanced bidding strategies to hit your goals. If your account is using an incorrect bidding strategy, you could be missing out on customers, paying more for clicks than needed, and minimizing your company’s potential for growth. 
  3. Improper Targeting: Geotargeting of ads has been a primary feature of Google Ads since its inception. Ecommerce businesses typically only target the countries they can quickly ship to, while service providers focus their efforts on the area they prefer to work in. While this may make sense on the surface, countless companies have reached out to us with improper or undefined location targeting. From a Pennsylvania plumber targeting the entire United States to a local shoe store targeting countries to which they did not ship, these situations come up repeatedly. 
  4. Wrong Landing Page: Having a specific, optimized PPC landing page is critical. If I am searching for a red dress and the ad takes me to a page that shows men’s jackets, how long do you think I will stay? We often audit ad accounts and see landing pages that don’t make sense. Making sure to send searchers to the most dead-on page on your website is something that some agencies overlook. 
  5. Old Ad Formats: Gone are the days of the simple text ad, literally — you can no longer create or edit a legacy text ad. Expanded Text Ads (ETA) replaced original text ads in 2016, and Google introduced responsive Search Ads (RSA) in 2018. RSAs are now the preferred ad format because ETAs will be sunsetted by Google in June 2022. Ensuring that your account utilizes the most current ad formats gives your ads the best possible chance of being shown to your potential customers.
  6. Not Using Extensions: Many ad extensions are available to advertisers, but some agencies don’t make the most of these powerful extra pieces of information. Not only does using ad extensions drive more conversions, but it also allows your ad to take up more room on the search engine results page (SERP). Having this extra real estate on the SERP helps your ad stand out from your competitors, and who doesn’t like that?
  7. Lack of Testing: Not all ads are created equal, which is why A/B testing ad copy is so important. Over the years, we have seen that mentioning an offer of free shipping in ads, no matter the usual dollar amount charged to ship, tends to outperform ads that provide an equal or greater discount using a code. Testing can be done on landing pages, ad copy, targeting, bidding, etc. An agency that tests is the agency that’s best.
  8. Keyword Match Type Mistakes: The match type assigned to the keywords in your PPC accounts helps determine what types of traffic you receive for your advertising efforts. Only utilizing one match type can either flood your account with junk traffic or narrow your scope drastically. Your account should have a good mix of all match types, with proper bid strategies, to ensure clicks map to the correct keyword. 
  9. Lack of Negative Keywords: Adding negative keywords to your campaigns can filter out garbage clicks.  For example, if I was selling red dresses and someone was looking for red pants, I would want to make sure that I had “pant” and “pants” as negative keywords in my red dress ad group. Having these negatives in place ensures that your clicks are as focused as possible. Frequent analysis of the search query reports, identifies unwanted keywords and variations detrimental to your account. Your management team should be adding negatives on a routine basis. 
  10. No Account Changes: If you look at your account’s change history and see that nothing has been done on your account for months, it is safe to assume your agency has you on “set-it-and-forget-it” mode. PPC account management is a hands-on job and requires monitoring and optimization — even after the initial launch and optimization tasks are complete. But that also doesn’t mean making changes for changes sake; keep in mind making changes comes from collecting enough qualitative data to warrant adjustment and optimization. 
  11. Bad Website: If your site doesn’t convert traffic to leads or sales in any channel, it’s probably not going to magically work for PPC. You could be paying more for your click traffic than necessary. Seek guidance from your paid search agency on best practices for creating websites worthy of engagement. Agencies who send ads to a terrible website are throwing away their client’s money. Your website and landing pages can make or break your digital marketing efforts, and your agency should be knowledgeable and confident enough to suggest changes that could help. 

Take a look at your account and see if any of these red flags pop up. If they do, it may be time to think about switching to a digital advertising agency that can take your business to the next level. 

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