Search engine marketing is one of the number one ways to drive prospective customers to your website and then acquire these visitors as new customers. But, if AdWord groups, cost-per-acquisition numbers and Quality Scores are tying you down while trying to juggle other key pieces of your business, it might be time to let someone else handle the AdWords job. It could be a smart decision to hire outside help from a PPC agency to manage and optimize your Google AdWords campaigns. But, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask the following important seven questions of every PPC firm you interview for the job.

1. Can You Share a Success Case Study from One of Your Clients?

Read a case study from a previous client to understand if your prospective PPC firm knows how to drive real results. A lot of agencies charge expensive fees to manage PPC, but don’t follow through with meaningful results, so you want to ensure you’re staying away from these type of agencies.

Also ask what type of results they expect to produce for your company. And for the ultimate cherry on top, ask to speak to one of their current clients. This way, you can get an unbiased view on what it’s like to work with this agency, the pain points and the successes.

2. What Analytics & Metrics Do You Track?

It’s important that you and your prospective PPC firm are on the same page with business goals and metrics. Before they launch your campaigns, get a clear understanding of what defines success and what results – whether it’s click-through rates, conversion rates, or customers – that your business needs to achieve to be successful. You also want to receive a regular monthly custom analytics report and analysis from the agency.

3. What Will My PPC Budget Be vs. The Cost to Pay Your Agency to Run the Campaigns?

Get a clear understanding of what the agency’s contract includes: how much of the monthly charge will be your AdWords budget, and how much will be overhead for resources to run the campaign? Make sure you’re not overspending on agency hourly rate or contract fees. Be sure to shop around to find a number of agencies to compare prices, so you can find the best price for your business.

4. Who Will Own the PPC Campaigns — Me or You?

Some PPC firms set the campaigns up under their business account, and then when the client/agency relationship ends, your campaigns stay with the agency and not your business. This is a situation you want to avoid. It’s important to have access to historical data for your campaigns, so make sure that the campaigns are setup under your business account — where they’ll stay if you end the partnership.

5. What is Your Client Retention Rate?

Firms with a high retention rate are producing great results that keep their clients happy. These are the types of firms you want working for you. The best PPC firms usually have a 90 percent client retention rate (CRR) or higher. Also dig into how long their clients have been their customers and if these clients are keeping them around for longer than two years.

6. What Ad Networks Does Your Firm Manage?

Some agencies only manage Google AdWords — but the best PPC agencies will understand and run ads for your business from all the major networks, including Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn and maybe even Twitter.

7. Can I Review the Contract?

You want to have a deep understanding of your contract before ever signing it.

  • How long are you locked into the contract?
  • Are there startup fees?
  • Who owns the data?
  • How (and how soon) can you cancel the contract if you’re unhappy with results?

Avoid signing contracts that don’t feel right, and don’t be shy in asking for a contract change if you don’t feel comfortable signing the version they sent over.

Once you have a clear understanding of the quality of PPC firm you’re looking for and what they’ll provide your business for the budget, you’ll be setup to find the best agency to meet your goals.