Does PPC Work?

A question some people ask who have either had a bad experience or been told by someone who has had a bad experience that it doesn’t work.

Considering many of us have made a career out of managing PPC accounts, why has it not worked for you?

So a better question would be why did PPC not work for you?

There may be many reasons why PPC may not work for you of which some key ones are discussed below.

Who was managing your account?Ask The Experts

Many people confuse PPC and SEO as one and the same thing and employ an SEO agency to do their PPC as well. PPC is a specialist field just like SEO is a specialist field. You therefore need an expert in this field to help you. You wouldn’t employ your plumber to do your gardening? Then why employ a predominantly SEO agency to do your PPC?

A lot of web developers also set up PPC accounts for people and expect them to run smoothly. Again I would employ the same rule as above. Just like we wouldn’t try our hand at web development or SEO (no matter how much more money we could make from it) SEO and web development companies need to respect the art of PPC.

I would like to point out here that some SEO agencies and web development agencies do have specialist PPC Experts within their team who do know what they are doing.

The fault also lies with the client here however. Before employing someone within your company you will ask 10’s if not 100’s of questions however the key questions are not always asked when employing a PPC company.

Further to the above 2, unfortunately in some PPC companies, the person working on your account has pretty much no PPC experience and is learning on your account and therefore mistakes have been made on your account. This does happen in some of the larger agencies.

Did you have any KPIs in place?

This is a no brainer. If you have no KPIs in place you really cannot measure the success (or failure) of an account (or anything for that matter). There are 2 key considerations here:

  1. What is your KPI?
  2. How can you measure it?

Having worked with a huge variety of clients not every ones KPI is the same (not even close). For example:

Client A:

Client A is a retailer. Any retailers main goal is drive more sales. The KPI for almost all retailers will be ROI (Return on Investment) and Cost of Sale. Even if you drive 1,000’s of sales if the ROI is below the point where you make a profit, you will end up making a loss.

I have come across some clients whose previous agencies ignored ROI altogether and focussed on CPA (cost per acquisition). Whilst this is an important statistic to look at it isn’t the KPI.

How can we measure this easily? Adwords, Bing and Analytics all allow you to measure this easily with some tracking codes in place. This not only allows you to measure your KPI but also allows you to optimise based on your KPI.

Client B:

Client B is an IT company who you can outsource all of your IT needs to. They can typically upsell to their clients on average to £x amount. We therefore need to ensure to run a successful PPC campaign, we need to take £x amount and minus all their internal costs to work out the cost per acquisition target.

This is a much simpler one to measure and can easily be tracked through Adwords.

What you may find however after a month of managing this PPC account is campaign A typically drives sales of £1000 but campaign B and C drive an average customer at the value of £500 only. The strategy therefore needs to be updated to be in line with this.

Did you see any reports?

I have been to see a prospect in the past who (and this I really cannot understand) give their agency a fixed amount of money for their Adwords and the management fee and the agency provides no reports other than a few points of which the gist is we drove x amount of traffic.

Considering this was a retail client, traffic is by no means their main KPI and how can an agency not provide a detailed report or tell the client how much they actually spent on PPC.

A message to all the clients: Please ask for detailed reports from your agency (especially if you are spending quite a bit with them). Your agency should also provide you with access into the Adwords account whether you use this or not.

For some example reports, please do get in touch with us.

Is your website ready for PPC?

Sometimes we do turn clients away from doing PPC. This is mainly due to the website not being ready for PPC traffic. If at this point you start sending PPC traffic to your website, you will be wasting money.

The following are some of the reasons:

  • The website needs updating – some people had a website built by their friend who has been using the same template since the year 2000.
  • The website has errors
  • The website isn’t even complete yet – Yes believe me this has happened.

We also like to be very honest with clients if we cannot make PPC work for them. This may be because:

  • The values of the products they sell are too low and with what they would pay, PPC would actually run at a loss.
  • The conversion rates on the site are too low. With this we would work with the client and suggest solutions on how this can be fixed. Many times we find this is due to the type of traffic which has been driven in the past but sometimes the website also needs updating.

So enough problems, let’s talk solutions. What needs to be in place before you approach a PPC Agency:

  • Your website needs to be complete and ready to receive traffic.
  • Your products (if you are an ecommerce company) need to be on your website.
  • Your website shouldn’t have any errors (although a good agency will run through your site anyway to give it a once over whilst they are doing the setup).

What else goes wrong?

  • No Budget Agreement

This is a big no-no. Always agree budgets. A good agency will approach you to discuss budgets if nothing has been suggested by you. They will look at seasonality and suggest budgets and if you have been live in the past should be able to forecast what you will get for the budget.

  • No-one picks up the phone at the agency
  • Agency aren’t communicating with us in terms of what they are doing
  • Agency don’t come to see us

All 3 of the above points are avoidable with regular weekly or monthly reports and regular meetings. Your agency should lead the way on this. If they aren’t doing this you should push them to try and do this.

Unfortunately when things are not going well some agencies will try and avoid speaking to you although this is the time to increase communication.

So a Summary of what you should expect from your agency:

Pre- going live:

  1. Quick audit of your website
  2. Suggestions of budgets with forecasts
  3. Agreements of what is a KPI and what are stats to be considered whilst optimising
  4. Ensure all tracking is in place
  5. Agreements of budgets and KPIs.

Post Going Live:

  1. Regular reports on where you are with the KPIs
  2. Regular updates on actions being taken place on the account
  3. Regular updates of new technology being implemented on the account (by technology here I mean PPC technology, for example: new extensions)
  4. Open 2 way conversations on how to improve and expand the account moving forward.
  5. Continual expansion and updates of your account (this should be a no brainer for any agency anyway)

As PPC Experts we strive to deliver the best results for our clients as can be seen in the case studies we have on the website. If you would like us give your account an audit, please do get in touch.

Written by Ahmed Chopdat PPC Director at Circus PPC Agency

Ahmed Chopdat
Commercial Director

An expert in high volume, highly competitive markets with a keen eye for trends, motivated by client profitability and success.

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