Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns rely on the effective development and placement of digital ads on websites and social media outlets, which only cost you money when they generate clicks.
PPC consultants can help you optimize your digital advertising budget by advising you on your PPC ad campaign strategies or even managing them from top to bottom for you.
There are a good number of consultants in the marketplace vying for your business, but not all of them bring the same level of experience and expertise to the table.
Knowing the top five things to look for in a PPC consultant is the key to finding the right partner to take your online advertisements to a deeper level of effectiveness and cost efficiency.
Look for consultants who possess the Google AdWords Certified Partner designation, proving that they understand the latest trends, techniques, and technology driving the world of PPC advertising.
Even if you don't plan to use AdWords as one of your PPC platforms (which these days is unlikely), a Google certified specialist is guaranteed to be up to date on topics that the world's leading PPC ad-placement service sees as most important in driving success.
Certified partners should have a thorough understanding of account setup and management, analytics and reporting, and optimization in multiple areas, including video, search, and mobile advertising.
Possessing this certification proves that a consultant is serious about their credentials and presenting a professional image to potential clients, rather than a hobbyist trying to make a bit of cash on the side.
Consultants with years of experience under their belts should be able to readily produce statistics on their past results with other clients.
Ask about statistics such as increases in click-through rates and conversion rates in prior projects, and look for consultants who can speak at length about how they've achieved such increases.
Consultants who have done an especially good job for notable clients may obtain those clients' permission to share their names and examples of their advertising campaign materials and results.
This is a good sign that others have been highly satisfied with the consultant's work, enough to be willing to help them gain new business by sharing private information.
The more measurable data the consultant can provide, the more experience and success they are likely to have had in the past. Someone who speaks more about what they hope to do rather than what they've achieved in the past may be less experienced.
Ongoing Management and Analytics Reporting
Some PPC consultants will help you design and implement your initial campaign and set up your management console and analytics portal, then move on to other clients and projects.
Others will offer ongoing full-service campaign management in which they actively maintain and make adjustments to your ads throughout your campaign. It is important to understand which of these approaches best suits your specific needs and personal experience level.
If you're looking for someone to manage your campaign over time, make sure the consultant has a plan for delivering analytics and explaining results over time, and that he or she plans to discuss continual adjustments with you throughout the life of your various ad campaigns.
On the other hand, if you plan to manage the campaign yourself, make sure you find a consultant who can set up the various consoles and management portals to your liking and explain how to use them.
Discuss the consultant's cost structure in detail to understand exactly how much their services will cost you. Some consultants provide free initial consultations, which can help you to get an idea of what they can do for you before committing to any expense.
On the other hand, some of the most successful and highly sought after professionals will not offer free consultations, because their reputations speak for themselves. If you don't know the reputation of a potential consultant, or if they were not personally recommended to you, a free consultation can help put you at ease and weigh your options.
Seek to understand how the consultant will bill you. Some may quote prices based on hours worked, while others will provide an estimate for an entire project.
Some may offer limited or unlimited extra work to fix things that you're not entirely satisfied with, while others will bill you for all additional time spent on the back-end.
Some may want part or all of their fees up front, while others provide more flexible billing terms. Seek a consultant with a cost structure that most closely fits your financial needs and income patterns.
When speaking with potential consultants, pay close attention to whether they discuss cutting-edge techniques that are trending right now, rather than simply sticking to the fundamentals.
Some consultants develop a tried-and-true methodology that may work today but are not necessarily interested in jumping onto the latest trends that can give companies a significant edge before others get on board.
Ask questions about new technologies and creative ideas driving today's most successful advertising campaigns, and pay attention to how excited the consultant becomes when discussing these topics.
Look for someone who is truly passionate about what's coming tomorrow in the PPC world, rather than someone who feels they have the formula figured out completely. Also look for someone who can speak at length about recent experiences of successful advertisers in the market, proving that he is truly a student of his craft.
The tips above can give you an edge when approaching potential PPC consultants to help you craft an effective ad campaign.
Leverage your network of industry peers to seek personal recommendations of professionals who have helped others to achieve the same goals as yours, whose ability to meet these criteria can be vouched for by people you trust.