A client forwarded an email to me on Monday. Someone he knows had paid £7,500 to a Google Ads agency… and was horrified to later discover they had only spent £3,700 of this on ads.
If you’re thinking of hiring help with your Google Ads (or any ads in fact), I have a few rules of thumb:
1. Always pay for your own ads
Never pay a chunk of money to an agency to run ads on your behalf. By doing this you lose visibility into what is going on, and you lose control of your own data. Any agency you work with should be able to send you something called a ‘client manager invite’, which grants them access to your Google Ads account for as long as you wish to give them access. You then pay the ads bill directly, cutting out the middleman. You should pay an agency for their time, support and expertise, not for ad spend.
2. Educate yourself
In my experience, most agencies lack introspection about which parts of the Google Ads machine to apply under different circumstances. Most under-use remarketing. Almost all test an insufficient range of ad creative. Whoever you hire, you’ll get better results if you yourself have a good understanding of these things.
3. Fee structure
My preferred ways to bill a client are either flat monthly retainers, or a commission arrangement is specific conversion actions are measurable. Or a hybrid approach of the two. As with these things, there are upsides and downsides to these approaches. The retainer approach is simplest. The commission approach is fairest.
As a general observation I’ve found clients tend to resist the commission arrangement. Partly due to complexity, and partly a reluctance to share the spoils. Which frankly baffles me.
Many agencies still charge based on a percentage of ad spend, on the basis that higher spend takes more time internally to manage. This is only true under certain circumstances (e.g. if you’re incompetent), and is entirely dependent on click prices and conversion rates.
If your click prices are £15 per click instead of £2, why should you pay more for someone to manage it? This arrangement also incentivises the agency to spend more regardless of results. I’ve seen agencies max out spending on brand name keywords, which really should be excluded from the billing arrangement.
4. Consultants vs agency
It’s worth considering that no one individual can specialise in the entire Google Ads machine (Google Search, Display, Shopping, YouTube…)
I myself specialise in Google Search, remarketing, ad writing, and customer nurture. I’ve dabbled in Google Display and YouTube, but I’m not an expert. Same for Shopping ads. I’m good at text ads, but average at image ads. My video creation skills are ropey to say the least.
Before you hire someone, ask which parts of Google Ads they specialise in. If they say ‘all of it’, then you’re probably wise to walk the other way.
5. Jump into the saddle when you need to
If you completely abdicate responsibility for your ads, you’ll almost certainly leave money on the table. From time to time, don’t be afraid to:
Scrutinise your conversion numbers
- Ask whether your conversions tally up with money in the bank
- Audit your remarketing strategy
- Write some fresh ads (use the experiments feature to safely test edgy ads)
- Scrutinise your landing pages, pulling in data from Google Analytics
I’ll be talking more about these things at next month’s Pie, Peas and Google Ads training (Sheffield, 8-10 May). There’s still a few places if you can make it. Positive ROI on your training fee guaranteed.