This may surprise you, but as a business owner, the one question you should ask a prospective pay-per-click (PPC) agency before you sign a contract has nothing to do with results. The reason for this is that in marketing, nothing is guaranteed. There are millions of factors that go into whether or not a paid search campaign or any other marketing campaign will be effective. These include, but are certainly not limited to, your:
Customer service representatives
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t ask about methodology or to see case studies of previous client success. These can give useful insight into what an agency values. Are they concerned about superficial metrics like clicks and impressions or do they focus on the things that make you money, such as leads and ROI? But in all honesty, most agencies can find at least a couple successful clients to make case studies. And while you could try asking for all of their case studies to see their volume of success, probably a better use of your time is to cut directly to the heart of the matter, can you trust this company?
The Big Question
There are no internet marketing companies out there where all of their clients get great results from PPC. And if there ever comes a time when you need to cancel your PPC services (hopefully your agency will proactively recommend doing this if your results are that poor), you will be glad you asked this question going in: will I receive ownership of my Google AdWords account after I cancel? (And for the record, our answer to this question is YES!)
What Other Agencies Say… And Why Not to Believe Them
We get a lot of clients who have previously used other paid search vendors, and I would say that the large majority of those clients do not have access to their old AdWords account. This is because their previous agency is selfishly holding onto that access like a jilted lover. They are either holding your account hostage to try and force you to stay with them, or, now that you don’t wish to be with them, they are out to try and make your life as miserable as possible.
Undoubtedly when pushed, they will give you some boilerplate answer for why they can’t give you access to your account. It usually reads something like, “Due to the way we have set up your account, we cannot give you access without giving you access to the rest of our clients.” Unless your account is very old (like, early 2000s old) and was set up before certain features in AdWords were created, that statement is total BS. And if your agency did set up your account that way, they are either 1) stupid or 2) malicious. And here’s why:
They are stupid.
Paid search companies use something called a My Client Center (MCC) to manage multiple accounts. This has been around for a decade or so, and it is very easy to create, link, and disconnect accounts from it. It is also pretty easy to give permissions within an individual account. It also makes managing many clients much easier. Putting all of your clients into one individual account is very confusing and prevents you from using account-level features, so I don’t see how that model can be good for effective management.
They are malicious.
Given that using an MCC is so clearly a better option for managing accounts, the only reason why an agency would put different clients in the same account is so that they can say that they can’t give you access when you decide to cancel. They could also just be telling you that so you’ll leave them alone since there’s no way from the outside to tell how they’ve set up your account (and why you might not be experiencing the results you want).
Best Practices for Reputable Paid Search Agencies
Some agencies may claim that they would be giving up their trade secrets by giving you access. First of all, PPC management is not some big secret. The best practices are widely known, and agencies differentiate themselves by their diligence, efficiency, and attention to detail. I have never seen any accounts from other agencies where strategies were in place that we had not tried or read about ourselves. Second, if their work was so great, would you be leaving them for another vendor?
You may be wondering, “if the account isn’t performing well, why do you want access to it?” The simple answer is to see what not to do. As I mentioned previously, every client is a unique situation, and even a poorly set up account can give great insights. We can see what strategies have been attempted, what wording was used in ads, what the price of the market is, identify what was working and what wasn’t, and more. All this data gives us a head start in getting your account running well and making you money.
In my opinion, you have been paying for this information while you’ve been their client. However, I’ve seen agencies argue that you paid them for management services and not for ownership of the account. At this point, if they’re fighting you so hard on this issue, can you trust them to prioritize your interests? And if they refuse to budge on giving you access to your account, remember that you know an agency that will: Blue Corona!
“We are very pleased not only with the end result, but with the entire process of working with Blue Corona. The amount of patience, guidance, and knowledge that they displayed throughout the whole process made them a very easy and enjoyable partner to work with. We are thrilled with our new website, mobile site, and content management system. We would recommend Blue Corona for any website development or redesign project. ”