SEM Agency - Six Questions Before Hiring

Tags: Search & PPC
By Alexei Alankin
Two Search Engine Marketing Experts On An Interview At A Search Marketing Agency

Driving traffic to your site is a constant struggle. There are two primary marketing methods of accomplishing this: SEO and SEM.

Search engine marketing is just like farming. It takes a lot of effort upfront, sowing the seeds of content and blogs before reaping the benefits of traffic. It requires patience because waiting for inbound marketing techniques to pay off usually takes months.

With search marketing, instead of waiting for organic clicks, you buy traffic. With the help of a search engine marketing agency and the right strategy, you’ll see the results almost immediately.

Why Hire a Search Marketing Agency?

Using paid strategies can be very costly, especially if you are new to the game. It has a steep and expensive learning curve. And for most individuals, ROI over time doesn’t seem to improve with its high variable costs. But with the right agency, they can optimize your ads and methods to decrease these costs for a profitable future.

One often-quoted statistic from Google is that marketers earn $2 for every $1 spent on Google Ads (formerly AdWords). If that were true, everyone would be guaranteed a payout and not need help. This 100% ROI is merely an average across the board.

It’s worth investing in an SEM expert who has proven results. They know how to reduce wasteful ad spending using the right keywords. When done correctly, it can return 3 to 10 times the initial investment. One study showed that 65% of all buyer intended clicks go to paid ads. A paid ad can jump you in front of your competitors even if the search term is their brand name.

SEM agencies can help optimize your site for clicks and create relevant campaigns that attract targeted buyers. Google rewards relevant campaigns and websites with a lower cost per click.

However, before you hire an agency, you’ll want to ask a few questions.

"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

Zora Neale Hurston

Qualifying Your Search Engine Marketing Company

SEM Managers Looking At Spreadsheets On Computer Screen

It’s critical to find the right agency to avoid the expensive pitfalls of search marketing. Here are six pre-hire questions to ask before hiring.

1. In What Areas of Digital Marketing Are They Most Proficient?

SEM is not enough. Do they have a robust social presence or experience in managing social for other clients? They need to be savvy in all areas of digital marketing, including display ads, Facebook, Instagram, paid, and organic search. Discuss the tools and knowledge they use to perform technical audits and analytics and how they will use the data to increase your traffic and sales.

SEM involves a full-encompassing set of skills and tools. Partner with an agency that knows SEM but is also well-equipped with marketing services and abilities to take your campaigns to the most optimized level for results.

2. Does the Agency Rank?

Check out their rankings on Google and relevant business sites. If they can get their agency to rank, the chances are good that they can get your keywords to rank as well.

If they can’t rank their own brand, how could they rank yours? It’s important to make sure that they can walk the walk. If they rank well, it means they are experienced and skilled enough to do the same for you.

For example, Eventige Media Group ranks on the first page of Google for the keyword “full-service digital marketing agency NY,” “marketing agency full service,” and “search marketing agency” among others. This has been beneficial for the agency and has been part of a critical component of the marketing strategy.

Your brand could also have relevant ranking terms. With intentionality and a good strategy, the right agency can lead you to success.

3. Who Owns the Campaigns?

Some agencies set up client-paid search campaigns under their business account. The downside to the client is when the relationship ends. They don’t have access to the historical data of the campaign.

At first, that might not seem like a big deal. The agency handles everything and is successfully doing its job. But while they are managing the campaign, they are also gathering very valuable and expensive data.

The decisions your leads make are used to refine your campaigns online. Agencies can be more specific on the target audience, making more sales or getting more actions with cheaper costs due to data utilization. If you ever part ways, you have to start over with another agency. That’s years of work and data lost.

Insist that all campaigns go into your business account and not their account. That way you own the campaign and its information. Over the years, you can keep building on it with whichever agency you have.

4. Can They Provide a Range of Services?

Sure, you want them to provide search marketing, but they need to be more than a one-trick pony. Search is only one piece of your marketing puzzle. They should be able to provide SEO services to boost your organic traffic.

It’s a lot like going to a quick-service restaurant. Would people just buy the burger patty and go to the supermarket for the bread, lettuce, and tomatoes? Or wouldn’t they rather buy, and pay more, to have the full burger hot and ready? Which restaurant would make the sale? Probably the one that handles it all.

Specialization can still be a one-stop shop with an intentional strategy. SEM requires copy (content), and they should have a great copywriter that can help develop those ads, instead of you having to find them. The same goes for graphics and other complementary marketing services that would be relevant to SEM.

Additionally, a search marketing expert should offer marketing strategies that include email marketing, content marketing, and other services to boost traffic, sales, and ROI.

5. How Open and Transparent Are They?

Any reputable search engine marketing agency will eagerly share its strategy and reports with you. If not, find another one. They work for you, so make sure your team is a part of the decision-making and optimization strategy. That said, you don’t want to micro-manage the process either.

If they are unwilling to share information such as keyword lists, they may be dealing with black-hat techniques that can adversely affect your company.

Marketing should be measured. With clear metrics on what success looks like, you can evaluate how effective the agency is. If they want to hide that information or they do not want to discuss metrics, run away. You are looking for a partner that can grow with you. not get paid for services in which you aren’t sure where the budget is going towards.

An open and transparent agency increases your chances for successful long-term growth.

6. What Analysis Do They Provide?

Expect your search marketing firm to run various analytics to gauge your present situation and to create a benchmark for measuring growth. Ask for the types of analytics they do and what you can expect before running any campaign.

They should evaluate your keywords, competitors, and other KPIs for measuring on-site optimization. Ask them what reports they generate and when to expect them.

You cannot communicate with an audience that you don’t know. Through key data and metrics, you make it possible to intimately know your customers and target audiences. It shouldn’t be you leading this, your agency should have an arsenal of tools and methods that can gather and analyze your data for the best results.

A keyword analysis is the foundation for on-site and search marketing optimization. Other reports will recommend fixes to your site to improve how various pages rank on the website.

Know Your Goals Before You Start Searching

SEM Manager Wearing Yellow Top Searching Information on Laptop

Each business has different goals. Do you want more leads, traffic, conversion rates, lower cost per click, or sales? Make your metrics and goals understood before you start looking for an SEM agency. Let them know what a successful campaign is for you.

Paid ads can quickly become a financial black hole for companies unfamiliar with their details. Soliciting a reputable agency provides you peace of mind, as well as, a better ROI. Plus, SEM agencies usually carry enterprise tools that in-house teams for digital marketing wouldn't be able to carry, as management wouldn't approve enterprise-grade tools or costs for managing only 1 or 2 websites.

The benefits to working with agencies are innumerable, as agencies have to perform on a variety of industries, metrics, platform types, and are usually more connected to what is happening with Google algorithms and changes in iOS policies, 3rd party data, and compliance.

Contact us for a consultation and we can review your SEM performance and create a bespoke plan to generate a higher ROI from the ad dollars you are spending.

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