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How To Choose The Best PPC Management Company or Specialist Agency

Your search for the best PPC management company is over. Our guide shows you how to choose the right agency for your paid search needs.

Written by Luke Davis

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If pay-per-click (PPC) management companies were like football teams, managers would say “you’re only as good as your last campaign”.

No two campaigns are ever the same which makes PPC advertising such a difficult medium to master.

That’s why management companies are essential.

They help businesses create, manage, and optimise their paid accounts and ultimately save time and money.

But there’s fierce competition in the industry which makes finding the best PPC management company a time-consuming task. So you’ll need some pointers and this guide will provide them.

Here are the key questions you need to ask:

  • How cost-effective are they?
  • What kind of PPC expertise do they have?
  • What are their terms and conditions?
  • How will they manage my PPC account?
  • What kind of reporting will they do?
  • What features do they offer?
  • What is their customer service like?

It’s also important to specify that PPC management will not:

  • Get you rich quick
  • Perfect your campaigns every time
  • Acquire customers immediately
  • Hand over complete control to another company without your involvement
  • Sort your entire digital marketing strategy

The cost-effectiveness of PPC management

PPC marketing requires budgeting for your ads and paying a company to manage them. The smaller your business, the more important your budget becomes when you’re outsourcing work.

PPC management companies usually split costs into two categories:

  • Separate ad spend + a monthly management fee
  • A fixed price plan

Separate ad spend + a monthly management fee

Most PPC management services charge a separate monthly fee from your ad spend. In this case, you’d pay the monthly fee and pay for your ads directly.

With a monthly fee, you know how much you’re spending on your ads and a flat rate for campaign management.

A fixed price plan

With a fixed price plan, you get more control over what you spend but features can be limited. This is usually aimed at smaller businesses and individuals with specific needs and smaller budgets.

The downside to opting for a fixed price plan that includes ad spend and a management fee is you won’t know how much you’re paying for each. That’s why reporting is so important (which we’ll touch on later). That way, you can calculate your average spend and deduct it from your overall payment amount and see if you’re better off paying for them separately.

Note: some PPC agencies try to increase their prices to compensate for increased ad spend.

Our verdict

Your choice between separate ad spend and monthly fees and fixed price plans are down to preference and your own budget management.

Reporting is crucial in determining how far your money goes. So make sure you analyse everything before making any changes to your spending.

Adzooma’s price plans are simple.

Take the best PPC management platform for a test drive.

See how much time we can save managing your campaigns.

Take the best PPC management platform
for a test drive.

See how much time we can save managing your campaigns.

Level of PPC expertise

PPC expertise is important but takes time to develop. However, there are some things to look out for before signing up to a PPC management company:

  • Age of site – are they relatively new or are they well-established?
  • Have they won any awards? Management companies love to showcase their expertise with awards (like Adzooma winning Best Tracking Platform at the UK Digital Growth Awards).
  • How much are they offering? Every management agency should offer the basics but lookout or cool features you might not have thought of. That shows a forward-thinking enterprise.

Bring your own PPC knowledge

The point of looking for a PPC management company is to fill a gap in your PPC knowledge and/or to save time and money with account management. Ideally, you’ll want them to know more than you so there’s room for optimisation. Paying for professional quality requires professional PPC managers.

PPC case studies are key

One way to evaluate a management agency’s expertise is through case studies. The problem is, many of the best case studies are behind paywalls or require you to sign up to mailing lists.

But there are some diamonds in the rough – if you know where to look. What you need to consider is the results, how the account was set up, how things went month-on-month, and areas for improvement. Another important feature is how well the company optimised and minimised PPC spend. To paraphrase the late Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: less can be more.

PPC blogs

The best PPC agencies should also have an extensive blog. It’s the perfect way to exhibit their knowledge. They should have everything from how-to guides to original research. From their perspective, they need to show they’re authoritative to get to the top of the SERPs and reach as many potential clients as possible.

It’s also good to have an idea of what you think makes a good PPC advert. For a management company without any knowledge leaves you open to being ripped off. Ask advice from people you might know within the industry, search for questions on places like Quora, Reddit, or a PPC marketing blog.

Are they Google Ads certified?

Self-assertion shows confidence but getting a certification from an industry giant is both the icing and cherry on the cake. Currently, the main online advertising certifications come from Google, Facebook, Bing and Amazon. PPC agencies are required to update their certificates every year due to regular industry updates (Google's search algorithm changes around 600 times a year, for example).

Certification is a good way to separate good agencies from the best PPC management companies. You'll find most agencies won't have full certifications or only have one from Google or Facebook. Not having any at all or only a few isn't inherently a bad thing. If you don't need Microsoft Ads, a Microsoft Ads certificate won't be a game-changer.

There are different reasons for not being certified. PPC specialists have to take exams and accreditation can cost a lot of money depending on ad spend. For example, the Google Ads Partner accreditation requires “a minimum 90-day Google Ads spend of $10,000 in their certified product area”.

Something else to note is the difference between a Google Ads accreditation and being a Google Partner. Individuals get certified rather than the whole PPC agency. Any member of Partners can earn a Google Ads certification and agencies get the badges.

But on their own, certifications don't equate to full expertise. Look out for a company's certifications on their website with special badges on their pages.

Adzooma is a Google Premier Partner with specialisations in Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, and Shopping Advertising. We also have at least 23 certified individuals in each specialisation.

Contract terms and conditions

When you sign a contract, there are terms and conditions. But you need to read them.

By law, PPC management companies (or any company for that matter) who provide a service are obliged to detail what those services are. What are you actually paying for?

Here’s what you should look out for in your contract:

  • Definitions of services
  • What is expected of the client (you) and the company
  • Liability for services
  • Intellectual Property
  • Warranties and Indemnity (for both the client and the company)
  • Confidentiality
  • Terms of termination
  • Notices
  • Law and Jurisdiction

Read Adzooma’s terms and conditions page as an example of what to expect.

Long term contracts - has AI killed them?

Some people have questioned the validity of long term contracts for PPC management agencies in 2019. One of the main reasons for that is AI technology.

Google has improved its automation technology with features like smart bidding. Certain techniques that worked before may not work in 2020 and beyond. That means services offered by a management company may become obsolete.

That’s where things like case studies and testimonials play a part in your decision making. Has this agency made the most out of Google’s new processes? Are they a forward-thinking enterprise? Will you get your money’s worth and stand out from the crowd?

Level of reporting

We touched on this earlier regarding price plans and how reporting could define exactly what you’re paying for. Primarily, your PPC advertising reports need to track and measure the goals you set at the beginning of your campaigns.

Your goals should be attainable and therefore easy to measure. You may need to tailor your reports depending on who you speak to (clients, managers, shareholders). Presentation is key, so align your data with your goals to justify actions.

What is a PPC report?

Put simply, PPC reports collate the most important metrics of a PPC campaign and show the results. The best PPC reporting software visualise these results in a way anyone can understand.

With Adzooma, for example, the reporting tool comes with custom reporting features that eliminate number-crunching and generate digestible reports at the click of a button.

What makes a good PPC report?

Good PPC reports should contain metrics like:

  • Number of impressions
  • Clicks (and click-through rates)
  • Leads (and cost-per-lead)
  • Average cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Costs and conversions
  • Keyword and ad performance

Those are the basics. Depending on who you’re reporting to, you’ll want to add further context or elements to answer certain questions. One report won’t work for everyone so when you’re looking for a PPC management agency, their reporting tools should be efficient and easily customisable.

Adzooma’s PPC software can filter, sort and export reports based on those key PPC metrics with your own logo and layout. You can also save templates and run regular reports in no time.

White-label reporting

It’s always a nice touch to have a report with your own branding at the top. White-label reports allow you that luxury. The best agencies offer white-label reports to clients so they can easily mark their data with their own logos and branding. Besides it looking professional, it also saves time with multiple clients to report to.

If it’s offered, the PPC reporting tools can add them easily. Adzooma’s custom reporting feature is simple to use and takes away all the hard work. You can use Adzooma’s report builder to create custom reports for clients, colleagues, and shareholders.

Let’s say you’re a PPC newbie and you’ve signed up to a PPC management agency but you want to retain control over your reports and how they look. With a white-label report, you can use the custom data provided by your agency and save yourself time and money in the process.

Basic and additional features

Reporting is one of many features you’ll need in a PPC management agency. If you’re paying for a management service, you want all the basics and hopefully some unique extras that’ll make you stand out.

PPC services normally offer the following as standard:

  • The right PPC channels to target
  • Intuitive keyword research
  • PPC monitoring
  • General campaign optimisation
  • Analysis of your competition

Some extras may include:

  • Split testing (A/B)
  • A dedicated PPC account manager
  • Periodic meetings (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly)
  • Cross-platform management
  • Ad scheduling
  • AI-led custom rules

PPC management is more complex than a tick-box exercise but you’ll want all the basics covered with as many additional features as you can get.

In the case of Adzooma, our intelligent PPC software works with what matters to you the most.

The Opportunity Engine makes customised checks based on your campaign data and best practices to ensure optimisation and compliance.

The best suggestions are made to maximise your spend and propel your ROI out of the stratosphere.

We also offer rule-based automation to save you time if you’re managing a lot of campaigns. The software pauses campaigns that reached their spend cap and reduces bids on underperforming keywords so your budget is safe from waste.

With a Premier Google Partner like Adzooma, you also gain access to Beta features and stay ahead of the game with Google’s latest ideas.

Take the best PPC management platform for a test drive.

See how much time we can save managing your campaigns.

Take the best PPC management platform
for a test drive.

See how much time we can save managing your campaigns.

Do you need a strategist, an account manager, or both?

A PPC agency can have all the features in the world but you have to ask: what do you actually need?

There are different approaches to take from a PPC management perspective. You might just need a team to manage your PPC account because you don’t have the time to do all the nitty-gritty. Or maybe you want a team to put some innovation into your strategy.

Whichever approach you choose, having a PPC management company can offer a great deal of input whilst you have the final say on what to implement.

PPC management is more than just clicks

While PPC stands for pay-per-click, the advertising model is much more than that. Clicks are one part of your campaign strategy; as a business, you want conversions from them. You also want to attract the right customers who keep coming back.

That is why a PPC agency needs to give you more. PPC is a lucrative industry. According to eMarketer, Facebook’s US ad revenues came to $21.57 billion in 2018 and was projected to be more than double the amount spent on newspaper advertising ($10.74 billion). They even predicted Facebook would move ahead of the print industry this year.

Level of customer service

Ideally, you won’t need any customer support and all your campaigns will run smoothly. But PPC management isn’t always that simple. That’s why customer service is an underrated but vital part of your search for the best management company.

There will likely be things that don’t make sense on your account or you’ll have some technical issues that can’t be solved on your side. Good customer support goes a long way. There are many ways you can get in contact with a support team:

  • Telephone
  • Direct email
  • Live chat
  • Contact form

Telephone and email are the most common forms of communication. Telephone is more personable as you’re talking directly to a PPC specialist who can help you in real time. Email may take longer but you can tailor exactly what you want to say.

Live chat marries the two channels together but not every PPC management agency will have that as a contact platform. Worse case scenario is they only have a contact form. This is mostly likely if it’s a very small agency that’s just starting out.

A PPC Management Agency, Company or Tool? What's Best?

When it comes to getting help with managing your PPC advertising, it can be hard to know which option’s best.

That’s what we’re here for: to outline what’s on offer and how to decide what’s best for you.

Firstly, let’s look at the differences between a PPC management company, agency and tool.

There’s little difference between a PPC management company and agency. A PPC management agency may be a company, but a company may not also be an agency.

It’s not worth getting confused over: think of them as the same thing.

A PPC management tool is a piece of software that helps you manage your online advertising. Good tools also offer extra features which make your life easier and save you time and money. You just have to work out which ones are right for you.

Finding The Right PPC Management Service

To help you make your decision, let’s take a look at Jeff’s situation. Jeff is a 30-year-old business owner who runs PPC advertising campaigns to bring in new clients.

Having worked for a large building company, Jeff decided to take the leap and start-up on his own. He’s great at what he does, but always needs to keep an eye out on the customers he’s bringing in. It’s not often that his customers come back the following week wanting another extension or roof.

Over the years, Jeff has found running ads on Google to be highly successful. Recently, he’s started spending money on Facebooks Ads. In the future, he may consider Bing too if there’s enough relevant traffic on there for him.

Jeff’s main problem now is that he doesn’t have the time to give his ads the attention they need. His company is bigger than ever, and he needs to focus his attention on converting these leads into customers and making sure his team do a great job.

Jeff knows he doesn’t have to do it all himself. And he’s aware there are experts around who know how to optimise his campaigns. He thinks it would be worth spending a bit more money on PPC if it meant the overall return on investment (ROI) was higher.

His friend was in a similar situation and found a PPC management company to take everything off his hands. Apparently it was expensive, but now he doesn’t have to worry about a thing (at least in a PPC sense).

Some of his competitors make use of tools. He knows this because their ads rank higher than his, despite the business owners knowing very little about PPC.

Whilst Jeff knows there are lots of tools out there to help, he doesn’t know where to start looking for them.

The options available offer a wide variety of advantages and disadvantages, so you need to know what you need from them before you can find your perfect match.

How To Decide What It Is You Need

The first thing Jeff needs to work out is what exactly he needs. What does he spend the majority of his time doing? Could a machine do it faster? Or is it expertise he’s lacking?

Technology means it’s easier than ever to run your own campaigns, but when you have loads of ads to manage, it quickly becomes more than one person can handle.

You don’t want to be missing out on leads because there’s too much admin to sift through. You want to spend your time finding customers. Being an Account Manager is not your full-time job, but it is a job in itself. If your campaigns become big enough, you need to find a way to make things easier.

There are loads of things you can get help with. If you don’t know what’s out there, the only way to know is to get looking. Compare the features of the most popular PPC tools with the offerings of management companies. Be sure to look at the reviews of other people that have been in your situation and how it has changed their day-to-day routines.

Here are some things you should consider getting help with:

  • Automation
  • Reporting
  • Optimisation
  • Keyword planning
  • Structure & management

The Pros & Cons Of Using A PPC Management Tool

There’s a vast array of PPC management tools out there. Some are free, some you pay for monthly, and some are one-off payments.

Firstly, it’s important to view any payments as an investment. If the tool is right for your business, then it shouldn’t really be an issue in the long term. But, it’s important to do your research to make sure you have access to everything you need.

The main problem is often knowing what it is you need. What is out there that can help you?

Free PPC Management Tools

Free tools are a great starting point because they show you the most basic things you can begin to automate. They’re also a great way of checking what you’re doing already, so you can get a better idea of whether you’re on the right track or not.

A word of warning though, don’t just rely solely on free tools.

If you’re struggling to come up with new keywords for campaigns, check out our article on PPC optimisation tools.

Similarly, if you’re using Google Ads, Google offers a wide range of editing tools that a lot of Account Managers use as their bread and butter.

Paying For PPC Management Tools

Like anything, if you pay for something it usually performs better.

Technology means that PPC management tools have come a long way. Many of the best ones incorporate AI too.

When people talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, everyone freaks out. AI isn’t something to fear, and it can make PPC management a lot easier.

The main gripes of managing ad campaigns are the number of time-consuming tasks they're filled with. Particularly if you need a report, then you can spend hours building them and sending them to colleagues and clients. Often, it’s only a few key metrics you need to display, and they get hidden behind tons of irrelevant data.

Adzooma ticks all the boxes

You’ve read about the best criteria in a PPC management enterprise. Here’s why Adzooma can meet all those expectations.

Multiple tools to improve your PPC advertising strategy

We’ve already covered how our Opportunity Engine only works with your campaign data to make customised checks. But Adzooma also comes with a number of time-saving features too, including:

And plenty more, making Adzooma the only PPC management platform you’ll ever need.

An efficient UX to get you where you need to go

When analysing PPC data it can often feel like you’re stuck in a dense jungle made of PPC data, but Adzooma’s UI makes it easy to find what you need and optimise your accounts. You’ll also be able to manage your campaigns and see your growth in just a few minutes.

You can also organise your opportunities to apply when it’s time, and choose to ignore them if it’s not.

Automation - the present and future of PPC optimisation

Want an end to laborious manual tasks? Rule-based automation is here for you. Safeguard your budget by automatically pausing campaigns when they reach your spend cap. Underperforming keywords don’t have to leech from your spend either as you can reduce your bids on them.

Adzooma - the only choice for PPC management

With all that information in your arsenal, you should be well on your way to finding the best PPC management service provider. But there other factors to review for your own knowledge.

Engage with other PPC professionals

You should arrange meetings with your PPC account manager regularly all parties know what they want out of the partnership. USPs (unique selling points) are important to any brand with a PPC account so a management agency should know how to optimise for them.

And while you’ll need assistance from them, they’ll need your input too. That means having an optimised website with clear CTAs (call to action), high-quality content and ways to educate your customers.

Don’t underestimate the power of pay-per-click advertising

PPC is one part of a bigger marketing plan. Looking for a management agency to optimise your ads will confirm paid search as an important part of that. You need a company you can trust to protect your investment. PPC marketing is an effective model when managed correctly so you can’t afford to ignore it as an acquisition device.

Learn how to use PPC software yourself

There are plenty of free PPC tools to use and free trials of premium services. They’ll help you remain cost-effective and therefore increase your PPC marketing revenue.

They also have a killer edge in one category - competitor research. If you can understand how PPC tools work, you can gain a better understanding of how to gain insight into the keywords, copy, and potentially the ad extensions your competitors use and how effective they are.

Whatever industry you’re in, your competitors with paid search campaigns will have top quality strategies behind them and the software to back it up. Shadow their moves like PPC marketing ninjas and get a management company on your side that can assist in the battle.

The entire Adzooma platform. Completely free.

One-click improvements, intelligent reporting, a full campaign builder & more. See how much time we can save managing your Google, Facebook and Microsoft campaigns.

Target the right paid search audience and don’t get missold

Have you ever been missold something by a salesperson clearly working on commission? If not, chances are you’ve heard someone else has. The same can be said about PPC agencies. Some of their price plans will offer additional paid social services for extra fees. The idea sounds tempting as everyone is on Facebook and they’ll see your ads and make you money. Right?

Not necessarily.

Your customers might not be on all platforms. Niche products or services attract niche customers in niche places. They might only be found on Facebook, where Facebook Ads reign supreme. Or they might Google everything but don’t go near social media. That’s when Google Ads is the best option. Do they prefer to use Bing? Maybe consider Microsoft Advertising.

Don’t feel strong armed into signing up for a service you don’t need. Assess where your clients live and cater for that market.