There are plenty of AdWords agencies out there preying on small businesses. So as a business owner who has decided to use AdWords to generate leads and sales, how do you spot the good Adwords agencies from the bad ones? Here are 11 key questions to ask yourself about an AdWords agency to find out if they are serious about helping your business grow.

1) Do You Have Access To Your AdWords Account?

Can you take a look at the AdWords account? In fact, will the AdWords agency set up your account, if you don’t already have one, using your credentials rather than theirs?

Google recommends that all AdWords agencies set up accounts for clients and that the client owns the Account, not the agency. The agency is invited to manage the Account only for as long as the owner, that’s you, wants them to have access. This is best practice so if an agency won’t let you have access to your Adwords Account, it’s a sure sign that the agency is not following best practice.

My recommendation would be to walk away and find an agency that sets up client accounts so that you own the account – that’s what we always do at Key Principles. As an aside, we also ask that clients’ pay Google directly for their advertising with Google so the client knows exactly how much they’ve spent with Google.

3) What Reporting Will I Get?

It’s amazing how many companies accept impression and click information, as well as perhaps some keyword information as enough data. Some less that scrupulous agencies won’t provide details of how much has been spent on the actual Google advertising and how much is management fee. Of course these are the same companies that don’t give clients’ access to their own accounts. So access to your Adwords account should be an absolute pre-requisite. Only by having access can you truly know how much you are spending with Google.

2) Is There A Contract Period & How Long Is It?

This is a tricky one. We generally like a three month contract as occasionally it can take a little while for the campaigns to really start working. Most of the time leads and sales come in almost immediately, but occasionally there’s a need to tweak messaging and landing pages as well as potentially calls to action. However we’ve never held a client to the three months. If it’s really not working we are pretty flexible.

4) Is The AdWords Agency Looking At Tracking Conversions?

So many businesses get such limited reporting that enquiries, leads or sales aren’t even measured and information on this isn’t provided.

On top of that, if the agency isn’t interested in ensuring you get the right sort of searchers clicking on your adverts, and helping to ensure as many as possible leave contact details, enquire or buy, helping ensure you make an ROI on your advertising spend, chances are you’re with the wrong agency.

We always look to get tracking in place using Google Analytics and, if possible, Google Tag Manager. We will always track phone calls, form completions and other actions taken on your website.

5) Are They Putting The Time In To Understand My Business Objectives?

To really get Adwords working for you, the agency you instruct needs to fully understand your business and your business objectives. What products or services are key? What are your best sellers and what gives you the best profit? What sort of business/consumer is your ideal customer?

These are basic questions a reputable Adwords agency will be asking. Only by asking these questions will they be able to build the right campaigns for you. Campaigns that help you to meet your business objectives, that help you to grow.

6) Do They Spend Their Own Money On AdWords?

We’ve been spending our own money on Adwords and Remarketing since early 2008 and we’re now spending money on Display too. We also spend money on Facebook advertising.

More than this, we treat our clients’ money and budget as if it were ours. We aim always to spend the least amount of money for the best return possible with Google. We’ve reduced some clients’ Adwords spend by as much as 80%, whilst maintaining and even increasing the number of enquiries.

With another client, with online membership, we reduced the cost for a new member from over £90 to £9.86. When you know how to use the Adwords system, you can achieve great results.

8) Would They Work With Competitors In My Area?

Another one that all agencies may not agree with, but here at Key Principles we will not work with competitors in the same geographic area. For example, we’re helping TMS Motor Group make the most of AdWords and as such we would not work with another car dealer with Volvo and Kia brands in the same geographic area.

9) Will They Look At Landing Pages & Conversion Optimisation?

When it comes to getting the most out of Adwords, it is vital you have the right landing pages, with the right message and call to action. Does the agency you are considering instructing offer to help with landing page content and development? Are they keen to ensure your campaigns have the best chance of success by doing the groundwork to make this more likely to happen? Can they and will they work with you to get the best possible page together?

At Key Principles, if we think the current pages on your website aren’t going to work with Adwords, we will work with the client to develop pages that are more likely to work and generate leads and sales.

7) Who Will Be Setting Up & Managing Your Campaigns?

Of course, agencies will often have business development and sales personnel as well as account managers and assistants. That’s reasonable, but what isn’t is campaigns set up or managed by individuals that haven’t been appropriately trained, who haven’t studied and passed the appropriate exams to become an Adwords certified consultant.

Adwords may not be rocket science, but it does require a thorough understanding of client objectives and how you can use the Adwords system to help clients meet their objectives.

At Key Principles new recruits receive thorough training from us as well as being required to study and pass the Adwords Fundamentals and Adwords Advanced Search exams before they are allowed to work autonomously on client accounts. Even then as part of our quality assurance, new campaigns are reviewed by at least one other colleague before they go live.

10) Do They Split Test?

When it comes to improving results, it is vital that adverts and landing pages are split tested. In other words run two different adverts and test messaging and wording to see which performs the best, and do the same with landing pages.

Once you have enough data you can decide if there’s a winner and keep the winner’s going, and split test with another advert and landing page. The aim as always is to reduce spend whilst maximising the sales.

11) Do They Have Experience? Are They A Google Partner? Do They Have Testimonials?

The level of experience will vary between one AdWords agency and the next. AdWords has been around since 2003 so some agencies will have as much as 13 years’ experience whilst others will have less. Key Principles is a Google Premier Partner that has been providing AdWords services to clients since we set up the agency back in 2005.

However perhaps a better way to gauge if the agency has the right experience and expertise is to find out if they are Google Partners and how many certifications they hold. That’s one clear check that’s worth doing.

Of course if the AdWords agency can also provide testimonials, case studies and even happy customers that you can talk to before you instruct them then you’ll be even more confident you’re making the right choice. Of course if the agency was recommended by a happy client that also helps.

No doubt there will be other factors that are relevant to any working relationship, but from an AdWords perspective the 11 areas highlighted above are a great starting point for any business wanting to have an agency set up and manage their AdWords campaigns.

Whether you are new to Adwords or considering moving from your current Adwords agency, Key Principles is here to help you make the most of the Google Adwords advertising platform, so give us a call on 0115 880 0211email us, or fill out the form below to discuss what Google services are best suited to your business and your growth objectives.

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With over 25 years’ experience in marketing Jackie Key, Managing Director at Key Principles, which was set up in 2005, helps small, medium and large businesses grow through marketing and online marketing.