Throughout my 20+ year career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some outstanding ad agency partners, as well as some that weren’t quite up to par. Today, I want to share a few lessons I’ve learned from my own mistakes as well as unfortunate circumstances beyond my control. I also have some pearls of wisdom that I’ve acquired from successful collaborations with exceptional ad agency partners who helped me solve thorny problems. In this post, we’ll cover why you need to:
- Know Your Target Audience Very Well
- Keep Your Google Ads Data in Your Own Account
- Productively Challenge “Bad Ideas” while Being Open to the Possibility That You Are Wrong
- Make Sure Your Digital Ads Link to a Landing Page That is Optimized for Conversions
- Understand How the Agency Handles Communication and Collaboration
1. Know Your Target Audience Very Well
Before hiring a digital ad agency, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your target audience. Unless you are including target audience research in the scope of work that you are requesting from the agency, it is your responsibility to provide the agency with quality information about your target audience.
High-quality target audience research and data will help the agency to create ads that appeal to your audience’s preferences and interests. Additionally, with proper audience insights, the agency can identify the correct keywords and interests to bid on, ensuring that your ads reach the right people at the right time. Without this understanding, ad campaigns may turn out to be ineffective, leading to poor ROI. With proper insights, the agency can tailor messaging, channel selection, and targeting to reach a larger audience, thus improving ROI and achieving marketing goals.
Additionally, a deep understanding of your target audience can help you choose the right agency partner – one that has experience working with similar audiences and can provide valuable insights and recommendations.
Learn more about identifying your target audience.
2. Keep Your Google Ads Data in Your Own Account
More than once in my career, I’ve been in a position to inherit a relationship with digital advertising agency where the agency was running the organization’s advertising through their own Google Ads account instead of the organization’s Google Ads account. This is not a beneficial set up for the client, and agencies do not need to run your advertising through their own account. Google has a tool for agencies called a manager account that enables them to manage multiple Google Ads accounts from one place.
As the client, having your agency use a manager account is preferable because it enables you to maintain control of your account and your data. You can log into your account and view your advertising performance at any time, and if you decide to sever ties with your agency, you will retain all the keywords and performance data in the account. This set up also gives you the ability to terminate the relationship with the manager account at any time by unlinking your organization’s account from the manager account.
3. Productively Challenge “Bad Ideas” while Being Open to the Possibility that You Are Wrong
In one of my very first PR jobs, I worked with an ad agency that was located in another city and hired by someone who had left the company. The agency put together a print media plan for us that I didn’t think was on target, but being very new in my career, I assumed they were the experts, and I followed their recommendations. I later had the opportunity to learn that I should have trusted my instincts.
However, I have also worked with colleagues who lack experience in advertising and marketing yet believe their opinions on those subjects are accurate. Unfortunately, lack of expertise often leads to poor marketing decisions.
So, what should you do when your gut instinct to an advertising or marketing proposal is “no!”? Ask the right questions and be willing to learn.
These are the questions you should ask:
- What is the strategy behind this recommendation?
- What data led you to believe that this is the right course of action for our organization and our target consumers?
- How will we measure the impact, and what metrics will we use to determine if it’s a success?
Your goal is to understand the thinking and strategy behind the recommendation, and also how to evaluate its efficacy once it’s put in action. By asking these questions and talking through these points, you will have an opportunity to understand how well the ad agency understands your organization and your target market. If it turns out the agency team is operating on problematic assumptions, you can address those and give them an opportunity to refine the proposal based on additional data you provide.
But, it is also important to be willing to accept that the agency may have knowledge and insights that you don’t. If it’s clear that the recommendations are built on a solid plan with appropriate means of tracking success, you can probably trust the expertise of the people with the most experience in the field.
4. Make Sure Your Digital Ads Link to a Landing Page that is Optimized for Conversions
Digital ads that link to a landing page optimized for conversions result in higher click-through rates and ultimately, higher conversion rates. By directing users to a landing page rather than a homepage, it eliminates distractions and provides a targeted message to guide the user towards taking the desired action.
This is another area that you need to consider in the agency’s scope of work. If your internal team does not possess the expertise to create a landing page that is optimized for conversions, you will need to make sure your agency partner can do that for you.
A good landing page is relevant to the ad, easy to navigate, and has a clear call to action. Copy and design focused on those pieces will maximize the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.
5. Understand how the agency handles communication and collaboration
Finally, it is important to understand how your digital ad agency handles communication and collaboration because these factors can greatly impact the success of your marketing campaigns. A lack of clear communication can lead to misunderstandings and errors, while poor collaboration can result in missed opportunities or ineffective strategies. By working with an agency that prioritizes strong communication and collaboration, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are well-coordinated and effective.