Shimon Sandler

Outsourcing? Here are Questions to Ask a PPC Search Firm

It can be a confusing process to find a good Search firm. If anyone has ever been to an SES or SMX show, you probably find every PPC (Pay-Per-Click) vendor says the same thing. They all say they do the same thing, and they are the best.

Many advertising agencies & corporations outsource their Paid Search (PPC) Marketing. They usually will use a PPC Consultant or a large search firm. Very often there is a RFP process that involves questions and answers.

Below, I’ve put together an organized list of questions that anyone can use when gathering information regarding a potential Paid Search partner.

Conversion Tracking:
Do you have integrated tracking across all media types and all the leading search engines worldwide?
Does your platform have the capability for Transaction tracking based on:
– Using server redirects or direct traffic?
– Unlimited types of tranactions?
– Multiple variables (Order ID, zip code, etc.)
– Organic search results

Bid Management:
Can you set up rules based bidding such as:
– Optimum Keyword Ranking
– Bid Gap Management
– Cost per Acquisition (CPA) targeting
– Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) targeting
– Day Parting Rules
– Manual bidding

Does your platform show both reporting and tracking data for the following criteria:
– Campaigns
– Keyword Groups
– Keywords and phrases
– PPC Search Engines
– Destination URLs
– Date Range (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly)
– Latency Reports

Please attach a sample performance report.
Can we export reports as Excel or csv?

Account Management:
Can your platform handle multiple accounts?
Are there single or separate Logins, or dropdowns for each campaign?
Is there a limit on the number of keywords per account?
How many bid reviews per day? Is there a limit?
How many people will be dedicated to our account?
How is your client services team structured?

Keyword Generation Tools:
Do you have a Keyword Research/Generation tool to suggest relevant keywords and phrases for our campaign based on our input, AND through “crawling” our website?
Do you have a Keyword tool that enables us to build large keyword lists specific to our campaigns by utilizing all potential combinations of keyword phrases?

Ad Creative:
Does your client services team write ad copy?

Is your platform capable of handling A/B split tests?
Is your platform capable of Multivariate testing?

Portfolio Mgmt vs Keyword level:
Does your platform offer the ability to choose between a portfolio based management, and keyword level bid management?

How is your service priced? Is it full-service client services, or just advice for do-it-yourself?
Are there multiple pricing models?
How is your technology priced? Can your platform be licensed?
What is the pricing structure for 100 campaigns that need full-service?

International Search Feature:
Does your technology support keywords and ad creative in all languages — including Asian double-byte characters?

Competitive Differentiation:
How do you differentiate your company from the rest of the industry?

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  1. Is your platform capable of handling A/B split tests?
    This is a great question. We have access to a testing network of over 500 sites, over 50 industries, and this feature is essential to us while testing conversion indexes of SEO implementations. This is a must have!

  2. @Shimon: This list is far reaching and a nice contribution to the community. It gives away too much :).

    The most salient point here is the rising level of savvy on the street, amongst those who would hire a paid search marketing firm.

    This post is part and parcel the reality that our clients are getting smarter and are going to ask serious questions of our abilities, ethics, credentials, savvy, humor, raw intelligence and competitive differentiators. Gee thanks SHIMON.

    We would add specific content network questions, social PPC, philosophy regarding arbitrage, ability to segment landing pages by behavior as well as words and landing pages configured for usability & qScore at the AdGroup & keyword level. Further questions regarding the flow of money, who owns the programming, etc…

    Anyway, thanks for the good Tuesday morning wake up as I do yesterday’s skim of blog posts. It’s 7 degrees here in Duluth :),

  3. Nice compilation. Bookmarked!




  1. says:

    Here are Questions to Ask a PPC Search Firm…

    It can be a confusing process to find a good Search firm. If anyone has ever been to an SES or SMX show, you probably find every PPC (Pay-Per-Click) vendor says the same thing. They all say they do the…

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