If you are interested in online advertising, it pays to understand and consider Google AdWords. Google earned over $95 billion (approximately 86% of their revenue) from advertising last year because their pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model is highly effective. Whether you are an entrepreneur who’s just starting or have millions to spend on advertising each month, you need to have AdWords on your radar.
If you’re already proficient at online advertising and promotion, you may be able to learn AdWords on your own or hire a suitable employee. Some people run their paid search strategy in-house.
But most business owners and managers already have their hands full with running a successful business, and the complexity and long learning curve of AdWords are obstacles to successful PPC campaigns.
Big and small businesses often choose to hire a professional agency to assist with implementing and running an AdWords campaign. Hiring or training one employee may be less cost-effective than going outside your company.
A PPC agency that specializes in Google AdWords can provide you with valuable advice, devise short- and long-term strategies, and save you time and money navigating the world of pay-per-click advertising.
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Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing an agency to assist with AdWords, beginners may find it difficult to select the right agency – or even to understand what the differences are between one PPC agency and another. There are hundreds of agencies out there, but unless you know a thing or two about AdWords, it’s hard to choose the right one.
I’ve put this guide together to make your life easier. I’ve compiled the most important facts to consider when choosing an AdWords agency, so you can learn the basics without putting in hours of research. I’ve also combed websites and read hundreds of reviews of different providers to bring you the best of the best in the world of AdWords agencies.
What You Need to Know About Google AdWords
Before you hire an agency, you need to understand some of the basics of Google AdWords. The whole point of hiring an agency is for you to focus on the things you’re good at, but without a basic understanding of AdWords, you won’t be able to find the right agency for your business.
Hire an Agency Experienced in Your Industry
You may encounter dozens or hundreds of different AdWords agencies as you search for the perfect match. Here’s a simple test to narrow that number down: does a given agency have experience in your industry? If so, they’ll know norms and benchmarks like typical cost per click (CPC) and return on investment (ROI) for your specific niche.
You don’t need someone with direct experience in your precise area of focus; experience in a similar area works, too. For example, if you sell and install vinyl siding, an AdWords agency that’s worked with a roofing contractor would probably be a good match.
Before you hire an agency, be sure to check if they’re more experienced with sales as a service (SaaS), lead generation, or e-commerce. Even if the agency is the best in the world at lead generation, if you need PPC management for an e-commerce business, you may need to look elsewhere.
AdWords Certified and Google Partners
At a minimum, you want a firm that’s AdWords certified and part of the Google Partners program. That isn’t the only relevant criterion in selecting a provider; it’s a relatively low bar, so anyone who doesn’t have these credentials should be ruled out automatically.
Any agency that’s AdWords certified has passed certification exams and must maintain a minimum monthly AdWords expenditure of $10,000. If an agency has this certification, you can know they have some level of competence. Google Partners get inside tips from Google as well as beta-testing opportunities, both of which can provide your business with a competitive edge.
Hire a Multidisciplinary or Networked Agency
For best results, you need to hire an agency with a multidisciplinary team, or one that has established connections with other high-powered specialists. Pay-per-click (PPC) is a huge part of advertising for many businesses, but it’s not a standalone proposition.
If you hire a PPC specialist, you’re also going to need to track conversions, design a landing page, probably engage in email marketing or e-commerce design, and the list goes on.
If you hire a multidisciplinary agency, you’ll save money through sheer efficiency as opposed to hiring multiple contractors. If you don’t, you’ll face some of the same downsides you would have faced going with the do-it-yourself approach: juggling vendors and trying to coordinate the AdWords project when you’d prefer to be managing other facets of your business.
Different Agencies Have Different Pricing Models
The PPC advertising industry has multiple pricing models that will determine how an agency gets paid. Here are the most popular models:
- Percentage of ad spend
Hourly is the most common pricing model, and also the most straightforward. It’s easy to understand what you’re paying, and therefore the hourly pricing model is attractive to small businesses with low budgets who are interested in keeping PPC advertising costs manageable.
Percentage of ad spend is the second-most common pricing model among AdWords agencies. With percentage of ad spend, you will typically pay the agency between 15-30% of your total PPC expenditure.
Percentage of ad spend is an excellent choice if you want to stick with a set budget, and let the agency take care of the rest. If your business is large or if you have plans to scale, you can get better deals with percentage of ad spend.
Performance-based pricing is similar to a sales commission for the agency. They get paid based on a predetermined performance metric like impressions, clicks, conversions, or revenue from ads.
The best part about performance-based pricing is that you know the agency will work hard to give you results. Some agencies combine performance-based pricing with a base rate or minimum rate per month.
Milestone-based pricing is similar to performance-based pricing, but it is based on agreed-upon medium- and long-term goals. Companies that offer milestone-based pricing will typically require longer-term contracts and have a detailed approach to onboarding you and understanding your company’s needs.
Is There a Contract?
Some AdWords agencies require contracts, and others don’t. This decision is best left to your gut instinct and personal preference. If you own a small business and want to test the waters of AdWords advertising, you may be more comfortable with a month-to-month commitment. That way, the agency has to earn your repeat business each month.
Not all contracts are created equal. If you get involved with a contract-based agency, make sure the arrangement suits your needs. If you know you want to commit to PPC advertising, you may be attracted to performance-based or milestone-based pricing with a detailed long-term contract that benefits both parties.
Ad Rank = Quality Score x CPC Bid
“Pay per click” sounds simple and easy, but there is more to running an AdWords campaign than just paying for clicks or conversions! Google computes your actual ad rank from the CPC (cost per click) bid and Quality Score.
For AdWords, you want the highest possible ad ranking and the lowest possible cost per click bid (CPC bid). That means you need a high “Quality Score.” The Quality Score is Google’s hidden metric that takes into account your click-through rate per 1000 impressions or views, time spent on page by customers, and more.
A good AdWords agency can help you with all of this, meaning you can save money buying clicks if you hire a professional rather than do it yourself.
Don’t Neglect Organic SEO
According to Clutch’s 2018 Small Business survey, 45% of small businesses invest in pay-per-click advertising. Of those that do invest in PPC, 90% also use organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.
You will get a better return on investment (ROI) by spending your advertising money on PPC and SEO together, and even coordinating your strategies (for example, applying lessons learned from PPC campaigns to your SEO approach).
PPC is an excellent choice for short-term return and a wise way to direct your growing revenue to accelerate growth further, while organic SEO is an essential long-term strategy if you want to become an online leader in your industry.
Any good AdWords agency will track all sorts of variables for you like cumulative ad spend, quality score, conversions, impressions, and cost per click. But you must not neglect the most important outcome of all: return on investment!
If you are getting a positive ROI, you can learn from your success to get even more revenue. If you aren’t getting a positive ROI, it’s important to know so you can stop wasting money and fix the problems.
To track your ROI, you need to keep a record of every single cent you put into AdWords and PPC advertising, including costs other than ad spend. You also need to use tools that allow you to see data like cumulative sales from advertising leads or e-commerce clicks, or ensure that the agents you’re working with show you that data.
Some agencies will help you track ROI, but you need to discuss this up front.
Top FIVE Best Google AdWords Advertising Agencies
Here are our top five picks, narrowed down from thousands of listings and hundreds of user reviews.
#1 Disruptive Advertising
Founded in 2011, Disruptive Advertising is an industry leader in PPC advertising and Google AdWords. They are industry pioneers in A/B testing, scaling, geo-targeting, and other revenue-building tweaks that can improve your ROI. Disruptive is known for working with businesses of all sizes, from nationally-known retailers to companies with relatively low monthly advertising budgets.
Ryan A. says he appreciates Disruptive Advertising’s proven systems and the way everyone he’s worked with has been on the same page. Since he switched to Disruptive a few months ago, his sales are at record highs, and his overall costs – including the agency fee – have come down. He says he cringes when he sees the missed opportunity in not beginning work with Disruptive sooner.
Some clients reported that their account was repeatedly moved from one client manager to another as Disruptive was recently reorganizing, but Disruptive has since resolved this situation. They deserve their reputation as perfectionists.
#2 Ignite Visibility
Ignite Visibility is an online marketing agency based in San Diego, CA, founded in 2012. They specialize in pay-per-click, website design, web development, social media marketing, and viral marketing.
One of Ignite Visibility’s clients, the Chief Marketing Officer for a boutique cosmetic company, says that the agency helped the company meet its goal of sales conversions. Ignite visibility used a strategy that combined PPC digital marketing, content creation, social media, and organic SEO. The client was particularly happy with the high-quality reports that Ignite generated throughout the campaign.
Ignite’s main selling points are their versatility, excellent communication, and reporting.
#3 AdVenture Media
AdVenture media belongs to a small and exclusive group of Premier Google Partner agencies. They were awarded that credential because they have produced outstanding results for their clients. AdVenture is 90% PPC-focused, and as one of New York city’s fastest-growing PPC ad agencies, they currently manage over $50 million in advertising budgets.
The director of marketing for a medical oxygen group reports that under the management of AdVenture, the company’s ad spend has decreased while the number of leads has stayed constant. He says their clear communication, quality deliverables, and excellent results justify the investment.
AdVenture’s online marketing educational content has reached over 900,000 students and is worth checking out if you want to learn more about digital advertising.
#4 Loud Mouth Media
Loud Mouth Media is a top-ranked pay-per-click agency in the UK and is also a Premier Google Partner agency. They have offices in Belfast, Dublin, and Glasgow. The agency provides a fully-managed digital marketing service that is 70% focused on PPC. They earned awards for “Best Small PPC Agency in the UK” two years in a row at the 2017 and 2018 UK Search Awards.
An online clothing store manager who approached Loud Mouth with a limited budget says business is growing and website traffic is on the rise. She says Loud Mouth Media went above and beyond to accomplish all goals, and is a reliable partner.
Loud Mouth is a good choice for an all-in-one solution if you want to combine your PPC strategy and organic SEO, as I recommended earlier.
#5 CPC Strategy
The appropriately-named CPC Strategy agency is 100% focused on providing pay-per-click services. In particular, they focus on e-commerce and PPC for various retail channels.
The owner of a retailer specializing in cooling products says that CPC Strategy has increased the number of customers and revenue per customer, and is an excellent deal.
They excel in responsiveness and are always available, providing answers to his important questions immediately. He appreciates their transparency of operations and extensive experience.
CPC Strategy is our top pick for a Google AdWords agency if you run an e-commerce business.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a brand-new startup or the CEO of a high-revenue established company, you can benefit from hiring the right AdWords agency to handle PPC advertising for you.
Look for a multidisciplinary agency with specific experience in your niche. Consider what pricing model best suits you, and whether or not you’d like to enter into a contract. Be sure to track your return on investment so you can be confident your dollars are being put to work properly.
If you haven’t already settled on an AdWords agency check out our top pick, Disruptive Marketing. They have the perfect blend of experience, innovation, reliability, and scalability to work well for almost any size or type of online business.