4 Must-Ask Questions Before Hiring A Search Marketing Agency

While pitching the head of revenue at a growth company, “Jonas”, about our search marketing services, it was evident to me from his questions that his process for choosing a partner wasn’t dialed in. He didn’t know the right things to ask and was at risk of choosing a sub-par partner (there are many out there).

While he was very experienced in digital marketing, Jonas had not spent much time in the weeds of paid search. Paid search, like other forms of online marketing, has its nuances, and if you’re not familiar with them, they are easy to miss.

For Jonas, choosing a search marketing partner is no small decision. His partner’s performance will greatly influence his ability to hit the aggressive CPA & volume goals his Board of Directors is expecting.

The next time you are looking for your a search marketing partner, avoid the risk of choosing a sub-par partner by asking the following questions:

1. What is your approach on transparency with your clients?

Beware of agencies who buy your search traffic out their own account, or create an account for your in their Google MCC (My Client Center). If they do, two things will happen: 1) you will not have full transparency into the account, 2) if you ever leave the search marketing partner (e.g. for another partner or to bring it in house), you will lose all the performance data you have generated. In search marketing, the history of your account can play a very important role in driving performance. If you switch partners and leave your account behind, you are losing a valuable asset. Our recommendation: work with a search marketing partner who will buy out of your Google paid search account.

2. What is the type of integration between our internal conversion/revenue data and yours?

What you want to watch out for is, similar to #1, owning your data.  If the search marketing partner requires you to use their proprietary tracking methodologies, insist that they double up their tags with your own internal conversion tracking methodology. Additionally, conversion and performance tracking should be based off the same data.  Both the search marketing partner and you need to be working off the same data set, preferably your own.

3. Can I meet the team?

You want to meet the team who will actually be doing the media buying for you. Good paid search is a combination of art and science, and the ‘art’ comes with time behind the wheel.  You want to work with paid search media buyer(s) who have enough road under their tires, so that they will fine tune your account for the best results (instead of learning the ropes on on your dime).

4. How long has your agency been handling pay-per-click marketing?

Experience counts.  Ask your potential search marketing partner what kind of specific experience they have in your vertical.  Ask for case studies and references.

(this article was also posted on the Science Growth Labs blog.)

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