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In your attempt to hire a PPC expert to help you scale your business, you’re probably running into some issues like not understanding how they’re pricing themselves, if their proposed optimizations will move the needle on your business, or if they’re going to keep getting you results after the initial optimizations.

At the same time, you also know that what you’ve been doing is not optimal and that there is incredible upside to better run campaigns if you can hire the right person or agency.

And that’s the challenge – first how to find, and then how to vet and hire a PPC expert to work with your company.

Spoiler: we specialize in this here at Credo. So if you’re trying to find a PPC expert to work with your business, contact us to get started.

That’s exactly what we are going to teach you in this guide.

How to find a PPC expert

Let’s get real. The hardest part about finding a PPC expert is not finding people or agencies who claim to do PPC. You can just go to Google for that:

But man, that’s not very helpful now is it? You get 4 agencies willing to pay to advertise at the top, and then you’re given local results in your area.

How do you know if they’re good? How do you know if they have experience with your kind of business? How do you know if you should hire someone locally or if location doesn’t matter?

We’ll answer all of that and more.

Start with search

First, let me say that unless you are at the very beginning of your search then you shouldn’t be basing any decisions off of a broad query like [ppc expert] or [ppc agency].

You can start there, and should, but then you need to narrow down the results to see who keeps coming up.

Your search history will go something like this:

For each of these, your results will change. For example:

There are a few similar ads and results to the first query, but now we also get some new names. Some of these say they do eCommerce PPC, but others don’t.

Now, if you want to do the search yourself, you can click into each of their sites and research them deeper to see who they are, their case studies, and if they’re recognized as an authority in the space.

Ask industry colleagues

Once you’ve done that research and have an idea about who you might reach out to, we recommend asking your industry colleagues who they have hired in the past who was great at PPC.

Now, don’t just ask any colleague. I frequently see questions and comments in broad interest Facebook groups (full of entrepreneurs of all levels, businesses, and success) such as:

Anyone have a referral to a PPC expert or agency?

This leaves me, and should leave you, with so many questions such as:

  • At what price point?
  • For what level of spend?
  • For what kind of business?
  • For what type of campaigns – brand new, or an established account?

So, ask your colleagues who work/have worked in similar businesses to yours who they worked with, but take these recommendations with a grain of salt because who they worked with for one type of company (let’s say ecommerce) might not have any experience in your type of company (B2B SaaS).

Decide if you need a consultant or an agency

I recently spoke with a client coming through Credo who told me this:

I want to hire a consultant because they’re cheaper, but I also need them to be able to run all of our campaigns, direct the strategy, help us hire, and come to our office five days a week. We don’t have an internal team.

I had to break it to them that what they were looking for was really a full time employee, and even then that person was going to struggle to meet their expectations because in reality they would have 2-3 full time jobs encompassed in one.

Every client we speak with has their preference for a consultant or agency based on their experience or preconceived notions of what each means in terms of cost and capabilities, but we’ve found over the years that the right type of provider is entirely dependent on the business’s individual needs and setups.

You likely need an agency if you have multiple platforms, large budgets, need a lot of time, and will possibly need to expand the channels that provider is operating for you.

You likely need a solo consultant if you have tightly focused problems that need solving, a senior ear to bounce ideas off of and to help create strategy, or you’re small and need direct access to the person working alongside you.

It is not necessarily true, based off our data, that consultants are measurably cheaper than agencies. In fact, we found this in 2017:

Worldwide, solo consultants cost less per hour ($153.75) than agencies ($161.58-$185.49 depending on size) with smaller agencies of 2-5 people with the highest hourly rates ($185.49 per hour on average)

So while you may get a consultant marginally cheaper, the more senior they get the more they cost whereas agencies often have a cheaper blended rate because they are able to leverage less experienced marketers (who they pay less) to keep costs down.

If you want a true freelancer, who is often based overseas and juggling a lot of clients to make ends meet, then the hourly rate will be cheaper but you will also get what you pay for. Your results will vary much more widely than working with a senior consultant.

Use a service like Credo

The reason Credo exists is to help businesses connect with and hire the right digital marketing expert/agency, including PPC, for their unique needs. No business’s needs are the same because no business is the same.

Every business is a sum of its parts including:

  • Offering
  • Profitability/availability of budget
  • Team composition
  • Leadership
  • Marketing experience
  • Desire for type of provider (consultant/agency) as well as need based on goals.

We take all of these and more into account when matching you with the vetted providers within our network.

How to vet a PPC expert

After you’ve triangulated who does great PPC work by Googling, asking your friends, and then ultimately being connected with them (or submitting a bunch of contact forms and hoping someone gets back to you), you still need to do your own vetting of them to ensure that you’re making the right choice.

We take as much of this as we can off the table with Credo (see our vetting standards here), but your decision about who to work with is still ultimately yours.

So, you need to ask some questions of them to:

  1. first verify that they have the experience, and
  2. understand how they work to see if that jives with how you/your team works.

Keep on reading.

Questions to ask PPC experts

Here are the questions we recommend you ask all PPC experts with whom you are considering working:

  • Can you give us examples of similar companies you’ve worked with and what you did for them?
  • Are you best with starting new campaigns or scaling existing campaigns?
  • What will be your course of action if our results tank?
  • Similarly, what will you recommend if our results take off and we want to invest more?
  • What if we want to expand to social media ads as well? Could you handle that work, and if so can you give us examples of work you’ve done on those channels too?
  • Do you have case studies of work you’ve done?
  • Do you have any certifications? If multiple employees who could work on the campaign, what level of certifications and training do you require for them before they work on client accounts?
  • If we need new landing pages created, can you handle that or will we be responsible?
  • How often do you/does your team review client results?
  • How long does it take to see results once we start with you?
  • How do you report on results?
  • How do you invoice/bill?

Culture fit

Assuming your potential PPC agency or expert is prepared and able to show you case studies and similar clients as well as taking an approach to teaching you and coming alongside you as a partner who cares about your business, you need to assess if the way they work will work for your business.

Personality and work style fit are the most overlooked aspect of successfully working with any outside expert or agency.

To assess culture fit, as you are going through the process of deciding who to hire you should ask yourself:

  • Do they think through problems in similar ways to us? (look for if they’re collaborative, research-driven, or whatever else your company bases decisions on)
  • Do they communicate similarly to your culture? (eg if you work consistent 9-5 but they’re emailing at midnight, it might not be a fit)
  • Do they listen to you and your needs/fears and take that into account? (they shouldn’t be a pushover, but they should be collaborative)
  • Do they report in the ways that you need to look good to your boss/team/investors?

If these are not aligned, your project will not be successful no matter how good they are.

Gotchas when hiring a PPC expert

Once you’ve vetted out your PPC expert and decided that they can do the work and will work well with your team successfully for the long term, it’s time to hire them.

When hiring, there are a number of “gotchas” that you need to remember so that you can avoid them.

First, own your accounts. If you’re beginning new advertising initiatives on new platforms, less ethical providers will try to set them up for you and will be the owners on the account. I dealt with this with my mother-in-law’s business where her previous marketing provider held her Google Analytics and old website hostage. We eventually ended up starting from scratch and sending him a cease and desist.

Second, don’t agree to too long or too short of an initial engagement. Marketing is an investment, but you also shouldn’t be locked into a 12 month agreement from the start. Instead, look to engage in an initial 3-6 month project and then aim to go month-to-month after that.

Third, carefully consider what profitability will look like with the added expense of paying the consultant/agency. Many businesses do not take into account that their profitability from PPC will initially dip with the added expense, though of course the goal is to increase revenue and profitability so that even if profit percentages are lower, net profit is greater because of the investment.

Fourth, define who internally will be the main point of contact at your company and if they have time to manage the relationship. Like hiring someone full time, working with an outside provider takes up time for training, managing, giving access, reviewing results, and more. Whoever manages the relationship with the PPC provider needs to realize this and make it part of their job officially.

What additional questions do you have about hiring a PPC expert/consultant/agency that we can answer? Leave them in the comments!