5 things you must know before hiring any PPC/SEM Agency

 For all of you whom are reading this article now, you are most likely one of the following:

  1. Probably you are new to SEM/PPC Advertising, yet no time to manage it and needs the help of a keyword advertising agency.
  2. You manage keyword ad yourself or you already hired someone to do it, but the results are less satisfactory. You are contemplating to hire a new advertising agency to help you out.

Hiring PPC/SEM Agency

The problem is, how do I find a suitable agency that can help me elevate my business? This article aims to enlighten you all about the 5 aspects you need to observe before hiring any SEM/PPC agency. Hopefully this will assist you in locating a top-notch PPC/SEM agency (more than happy if you hire us, haha!).  If you want to hire an all-rounded Digital Marketing Agency, You probably need to consider much more aspects such as how to build/optimize your Marketing Funnel,  SEO, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and so on. Let’s not go deep on how to hire a digital Marketing Agency because it is endless and debatable. Let’s focus on SEM/PPC First.


Market Rate

In Hong Kong, a normal  SEM/PPC agency charges 10-20% of your actual advertising budget as its management fee. The higher the advertising budget, the lower the rate percentage. Assuming the client’s Google advertising budget for this month is $10,000 and we take 15%, the client needs to pay $1,500 as management fee.

Some agencies use a lower management fee (8%) to attract more clients, but the service quality will be substandard.

Let ‘s think about it. The average monthly salary of a digital marketing fresh grad is close to $15,000. If each budget is $8,000, plus the salesperson’s commission, utilities, the company’s profit, the management’s expenses, and a 6% management fee, how many accounts each executive has to manage so the agency can afford his salary? That’s right, you need 32 accounts.  

And that’s before factoring in salesperson’s commission, utilities, the company’s profit, and the management’s expenses! If we were to factor everything in, the very least you need is 60 accounts per executive. Putting aside their capability of handling these accounts, remembering the names of 60 clients is not easy!! If you still think all is done once the keyword ads are pre-set with certain settings, take a hard look at the following article:


7*24 Ads with Unlimited Click

here is also an advertisement known as the 7*24 with Unlimited Click on the market. You specify one or several keywords for a fixed fee that appear 24/7 , whenever someone searches and clicks. It sounds like a straight forward charge rate, and simple concept to comprehend, right?

Before I elaborate on the pros and cons, there are a few very pivotal concepts that everyone should know:

  • Google’s keyword ad is charged on click basis, so it’s the same for Google whether you manage it directly or delegate the task to agency. They only charge you based on clicks, not on exposure, and exposure is totally FOC.
  • The funny fact is, people may search in a similar way, but the words they used differ a lot. For example, if you are looking for someone to write a web page; some enter “write webpage”, certain people will enter “web page production company” while certain individuals prefer “finding someone to write webpage”. Due to this ever-changing search terms, Google has different keyword matching forms.

Keyword matching article: Keyword Matching Type with its respective Pros & Cons


How 7*24 Works?

7*24 ads only buy Exact Match Keyword – keywords that match precisely (If you are unfamiliar with exact match, read the above articles). Assuming you buy a “write webpage” keyword, only searches that enter “write webpage” exactly will see your ad. Phrases such as “finding someone to write webpage” or “writing webpage company” (search words which are relevant) will not lead to your ad. This way, you will lose a lot of potential business. Now I am not saying that exact match is inferior and will cost you precious opportunities.

A successful keyword ad optimization should be the gradual increase of exact match keywords’ percentage. However, if your keyword ad is just about buying one or a few exact match keywords, keyword advertising would be less fruitful. I will post another article here in the future to explain more about it, for now hang tight.


Why 7*24?

You might be wondering, why would they only help you purchase “exact match” keyword?It’s because “exact match” keyword has the lowest search traffic, indicating the frequency of clicks is lower, hence the cost is lower as well. Still having a hard time understanding what am I saying? No worries, a simple math example will clarify this in no time.

Situation 1: Every click cost 8 bucks, with a total of 200 clicks per month, the client pays you 3000 bucks.

Situation 2: Every click cost 8 bucks, with a total of 50 clicks per month, the client pays you 3000 bucks.

Put yourself in the shoes of an agency whose purpose is to make profits, which situation would you favor more? Obviously, it will be situation 2. The upside of this Charging Model is its simplicity, whereas the downside (Also why I dislike this model )is because it opposes the client’s best interest. Lesser clicks (lesser traffic), the happier the agency is (because more money), is this situation a win-win scenario? I honestly doubt it.

Now you probably know which Charging Model suits you more. Let’s move on to 5 tips for hiring SEM/PPC Agency.


Ask SEM/PPC Agency 5 Questions

1.How Professional They are?

The public presume a Google-recognized Partner Badge equals to a well-performing keyword ad agency. The official saying is that certain advertising requirements (Best Practice) and a specific advertising expenses are essential to obtain Partner Badge. However, based on what I know about Google (from my background), I would attest that this is not entirely true. I can’t get into the specifics, but Best Practice is not as relevant as Google claimed to be if you contribute to bankable advertising expense.

The reassuring way to ensure their professionalism is to make sure that the company focuses a lot of resources on keyword ad. If the company’s main focus is on Social Media Management, then don’t hesitate to request for more case studies. It might come in handy for your business’s future use.

You can also browse the website of the advertising agency to see if they post or share articles regarding the topic of keyword advertising/SEM/PPC. Check out whether the Facebook posts’ theme prioritizes on keyword advertising as it reflects their professionalism to a certain extent.


2.How Well-Prepared they are prior to your meeting and How much  concern they dedicate to your business?

We do not expect the advertising agency to prepare an extremely detailed proposal for every potential client (Obviously it would be ideal if they can do it!). But it’s basic courtesy to take 15-30 mins to scan through the client’s website, product or services. Determine whether your website is mobile friendly, relevant keywords purchased by rivals, Facebook’s page activeness (provided you have any). If the agency failed to prepare any of the above things while just read off the brochure, please consider carefully if this should be a part of your future plans.

If the advertising agency asks you about the uniqueness of your company, the biggest difference between you & your rivals, your best-selling product, and your primary customer base, then this attitude of paying attention to the client’s life is a bonus point.

Digital Marketing, everyone is so caught up on the digital part and neglected the marketing part. Only the ones who know more about your business can help locate the right customer base. They can estimate the search intent, direction and words of customers to help identify the corresponding keywords. All of that alongside number optimization, you can get twice the result with half the effort.


3.Do they have dedicated Google/Facebook Account Manager?

Throughout managing keyword advertising, apart from regular optimization duty, it is pivotal to know how to change the ad or landing page and getting a disapproved ad reapproved. Google’s advertising policies changes frequently, hence sometimes even operators with an abundance of experience are powerless against Google’s disapproval. At such times, life would be much easier if you have a Direct Google contact person. Moreover, an advertising agency associated with Direct Google Representative will be more informed regarding the latest market news and information.


4.Is their reporting comprehensive enough and reader-friendly?

Before you decide to hire any advertising agency, be sure to request a copy of your future report’s template. If the referred report only contains a bunch of numbers extracted from the ad account, then sorry that is not a report, that’s just a bunch of digits. The reason we emphasize on the report’s template is because it embodies the agency’s direction and logic of optimization. A detailed report with graphics and layouts reveals more of its advertising capacity than a hard-cold Excel Report.


5.Is the account solely under your control?

From the agency’s point of view, they are quite reluctant to give you administrative access. Why?  

Because users with administrative access can always unlink manager accounts. In short, the client can abandon the advertising agency, manage the account themselves or even hire another agency. It’s completely relatable that advertising agencies prefer clients to not have administrative access, but this situation often leads to disputes. Unwillingness to hand over the account’s ownership to the clients, as this increases the possibility of switching agency. Some agencies may force client to accept this arrangement due to the fear of losing previous data.

Kickads believes that clients should be granted administrative access. Advertising agency is more of an assistive role, all the data in the accounts are assets of the clients. Presuming both parties did right and the client wishes to cease their association, this arrangement benefits the client more. As the saying goes, people who break up can also stay friends.

Obviously, the administrative access is no convention, and both parties can negotiate to reach a consensus. But do bear in mind that it is crucial to clarify which party has the administrative access beforehand.