Lyndsay Menzies, UK Managing Director, bigmouthmedia
Pay-per-click. It's a phrase that's a mystery to many people, but paid search now accounts for 57% of online marketing spend. A competitive and complex arena which costs time and money to implement, track and maintain, it's the kind of campaign that nobody can afford to get wrong.
Due to the complexity of running PPC campaigns many brands choose to use agencies to manage the issues on their behalf, but this is an arena where only fools rush in. Getting the decision wrong could prove very expensive in the long run, but if you identify the opportunities and avoid those nasty pitfalls, you can implement a robust, ROI-focussed campaign that complements your entire marketing strategy.
So you need a Paid Search campaign managed by an agency for maximum benefit… where do you start?
Begin by checking out the prospective agency's experience and case studies. Can they show you proven results for highly successful campaigns? Do they know their verticals? Talk to their existing clients to find out if they're happy with the service, results and customer care.
Make sure they understand the full digital marketing landscape or, even better, that they can offer multi channel campaign management. Whoever your partner is, they need to have leading-edge excellence within your sector and should be capable of providing you with full visibility on your accounts.
There are a few dangers to look out for at this stage. Beware of front men, because subcontracted Paid Search campaigns can be dangerous to both your brand and your pocket. When push comes to shove, you need to know exactly who has responsibility for your campaign.
Look out for dodgy dealers, because there are Paid Search agencies out there that have a raft of sales staff, but prove to be very thin on the operational side.
Make sure they will do a full transfer of your account and historic data should you wish to change agencies in the future, because if not you run the risk of losing all your quality score and hard work. Likewise, it pays to avoid sticky contracts: if the agency is as good as they say they are, why the need to tie you in for a year?
It's easy to rush into Paid Search, but it's critical to plan a strategic, insightful campaign. Before signing on the dotted line, ensure that your agency can deliver the must-haves of PPC.
Do they know how to integrate Paid Search with your Affiliates, Display and SEO campaigns? Do they give full details of what the service will involve and where your input is required? Do they take an accurate brief?
Ensure they demonstrate market-leading technical expertise, have a grip on the important search engines and territories for your brand and that they offer transparent, multi-channel tracking. Ask what experience they have in advanced demographic & geographic targeting, and check that they've got a track record of running campaigns on both search and content networks.
If all that checks out, it's time to nail down a set of deliverables and expectations. When it comes to your campaign keywords make sure the agency has the in-house resource to cope with ever changing keyword lists and advert copy, and ensure that your reports are in the format you want. If you want War and Peace demand it - and make sure it will arrive on time.
Make sure the reporting covers all of your target languages, search engines and territories Does the agency lead the way in multi-channel reporting? Can they apply click path analysis to break conversions down to indicate what part Paid Search, SEO, Affiliate and Display played in the acquisition? Can they agency work with your chosen analytics or do they try a one tool for all approach?
Ask your prospective agent if they can handle your campaign in multiple languages and territories. Quiz them on how scalable and profitable their proposed campaign structure will actually be, and enquire whether they're capable of implementing a campaign able to cope with an ever-changing product-driven shop floor.
Likewise, Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) are crucial for any PPC campaign. These need to be identified at the outset, and continually worked towards. You'll also want to make sure that you have a central point of contact, that there will be someone available who is clued up about your campaign objectives and status and always has time to discuss it with you.
If you're marketing your product or service online, sooner or later you're going to have to consider a PPC campaign. It's no simple task, but with the right experience and expertise behind you, paid search could be the tool that introduces your business to a much bigger world.
Lyndsay Menzies is UK Managing Director of bigmouthmedia. Europe's largest independent digital marketing agency, the company offers a range of services including Affiliate Marketing, Search (PPC and SEO), Display Advertising, Social Media Optimisation, Brand Monitoring, Usability for Search, Online PR and Search Copywriting.
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