This is part seven of a series of posts on Search Engine Marketing for marketers. This part discusses PPC outsourcing and ways to identify a good SEM / PPC Agency.
Should You Outsource?
If you have experience in SEM, you are probably aware of the benefits of this online marketing channel; otherwise, you may wonder why you should do SEM, for which you can refer to part one of this SEM guide.
If your company doesn’t have an in-house team to take care of SEM, you probably need to consider outsourcing it to an agency. In addition, when you have in-house SEM team but there’s lack of knowledge or language capabilities in certain markets you expand into, you can also consider outsourcing part of your SEM activities to a third party. You can contact me if you need SEM consultancy and freelancing.
What to Ask for in SEM Request for Proposal (RFP)
- Company registration certificate
- Years of experience
- Past accounts handled
- Past accounts managed in the same industry and the produced results
- Number of staff (more importantly, for your SEM campaign)
- Bio and qualifications of the staff who will manage your SEM campaign; roles and responsibilities; and, how many accounts each person manages.
- Who builds and maintains the keyword list (and how)
- What bidding system the agency uses. If they have their own system, it’s a good sign. But you want to know more details of the bidding system. You don’t want to pay an agency tens of thousands every month who rely entirely on machine’s input.
- How the agency handles seasonal effects and promotions
- How frequent a report will be submitted and the content of the report
- Who will analyze the campaign performance
There’s a lot more you need to find out which company has what it takes to run SEM for you. Make sure you tie the campaign to your business goals and keep improving the ROI. Move slowly to a performance based model.
Identify Good Search Marketing Agencies
Here are some more tips for identifying good search marketing agencies/companies to work with.
- Previous clients and testimonials.
Ask for a list of their previous clients. Big names like P&G would give you confidence. In addition, if the agency had clients in similar industries, you would benefit from their experience. If you know a friend or two in those listed companies, you can talk to them and about for their opinions about the company.
- Case studies.
If the agency shows some case studies how they solved a similar problem you are facing now for other companies, they probably can help you too.
- Industry awards. Such as:
- 2006 OMMA Awards
- ad:tech Awards
- MIXX Awards
- DMA ECHO Awards
- Word of mouth.
Do a blog search and forum search to find out what other people say about them. The buzz sometimes tells something you can’t find elsewhere.
- Websites & Blogs.
Visit their websites and read their blogs, which usually tells a lot about them. If you are looking for search engine optimization services, you may want to check out their rankings in major search engines on industry keywords like “search engine optimization”, “Singapore SEO Company”, etc.
- Ask them.
Listen to what they say and do a comparison. Ignore those fancy words like “top notch”. Check out more about what they have done in the past and find out their unique selling points which are going to bring you results. In addition, tell your requirement and ask for a proposal.
- Meet them in person.
Invite a sales person and a person in operation. Sales people are good at telling stories; operation people tell you the real ones. You can also attend some well known conferences like ad:tech and Search Engine Strategies where you can meet lots of professionals.
It is important to keep an open mind while selecting search marketing agencies. Do your homework and build a win-win relationship between you and your agency.