I used to think that TV and radio were pretty disingenuous, and to be fair, I still think to a large extent that they are. They adopt a “spray and pray” mentality. You broadcast your message out into the world and hope for the best. And, while I believe that both media methods are EXTREMELY inefficient and ineffective for our niche, you can at least say they are up front about what they are doing.
What I DON’T like is what I see as a relatively common practice among companies providing pay-per-click services. Many of them are playing what amounts to a shell game with client’s money in one or more ways.
What I am talking about is transparency.
Transparency is a huge hot button for me. A lack of transparency in what you are doing tells me that you’re doing something that you think isn’t right or in my best interest. Doing business with someone who operates that way isn’t in anyone’s best interest.
Doing what we do with AdWords and reputation management, we are in constant competition with, and being compared to, companies who provide similar services to ours. We get to see what other companies are doing every day, and in many cases it’s pretty frustrating to see what sometimes happens.
The biggest foul I see on a regular basis is a failure to disclose what is adspend vs. management fees. This is usually presented as a “for ‘x’ dollars per month” lump sum type of service often focused on a monthly budget that is all-inclusive.
While this is an easy model to understand on the face of it, what you aren’t seeing is how much of the money you give them goes to Google, and how much they pocket as management fees. Typically, the reporting from most companies using this model show impressions and clicks, without getting into the specifics of cost-per-click or discussing conversions. I’ll stop short of saying that this model is crooked, but it sure has the potential to be. It’s pretty easy to get a lot of impressions and clicks that don’t convert to anything inexpensively and pocket more than you’ve spent. If you’re not transparent on adspend, and not accountable for conversions, it’s not just easy, it can be tempting. At the very least it’s a great way to be hugely inefficient.
Let’s compare two companies just for the sake of argument.
The first company bills you an agreed upon amount per month for pay-per-click services. At the end of each month, you are given reporting that shows impressions, clicks, and maybe where they came from in some nicely laid out charts and/or graphs. You ask how much your average cost per click was, and the answer is a little evasive. You ask how many conversions you got, and you get another bypass. Then you ask what your actual adspend was – not how much the bill was, the actual adspend. Frankly, some reading this article right now don’t have the answers to the questions I just posed. I suggest you ask them of your provider, and if the answers aren’t immediate and straightforward – fire them.
The second company in our comparison bills you an agreed upon amount each month. The invoice itemizes exactly what services are being provided, and documents how much adspend with Google will be. This invoice doesn’t add that amount, simply documents it as a comment. You receive a statement from Google that shows exactly how much was spent with them. At the end of each month, you receive reporting that shows how much you spent, how many impressions, clicks, and conversions you had, along with how much each click and conversion cost you. If your OEM offers co-op for Adwords, you find that this company did the submission for you. Maybe you call them up and want to see what your search ads look like, or what keywords are being used, or want to see the strategy employed for targeting. They show you. Maybe you want to see what percentage of impression share you are getting for your budget (how often your ads are being shown vs. how much they COULD be shown for relevant searches with a bigger budget).
You may decide a bigger budget makes sense based on that information.
This is what I mean about transparency. A company that is totally transparent with clients has total freedom. They become a part of the team rather than an expense. I’m sure you can see how the first company wouldn’t be motivated to do their best work for you, and likely wouldn’t. Accountability results in performance.
This is when the magic happens.
Yeah, Powersports Marketing is the second company, and I could put a dozen names in as the first. And while the plug here might be a little shameless, I welcome you to bullet-hole my logic.
The bottom line is, when it comes to your digital marketing, dig in. Ask uncomfortable questions. Get answers. If you find that you can’t seem to get straight answers – or answers at all, go somewhere else because you have identified that your goals are not the same as your marketers.
Yes, I want your business, but don’t trust me.