Making This One Simple Request to Your Search Agency Will Produce Major Results

Why you need to ask for direct access to campaigns.

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By Mike Le


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Many search agencies still run search campaigns on their agency account without sharing direct access to client. They instead send a weekly or monthly report on the clicks, impressions, and ad expense. For small businesses, the clients often do not have enough understanding about search marketing to review a campaign's setup, or are too busy to look into the campaigns. And sometimes, the client may not know they can request that direct access. For bigger clients, this way of reporting is accepted because it is similar to the way traditional marketing has been working in TV and print: You measure campaign success by the viewership and interactions.

However, as businesses are spending thousands of dollars to millions of dollars for advertising, the lack of transparency in campaign management can cause major loss and ineffectiveness.

First, it is hard for the client to detect data inaccuracy.

Without direct campaign access, the client has to rely on the agency report to evaluate campaign performance. If there is a tracking error by mistake, it will be hard for the client to detect it. And inaccurate data can lead to wrong insights and wrong decision making. We have seen clients receiving incorrect traffic and sales reports for years.

Many clients set up their own tracking system to evaluate the campaign reports from their agency. This helps reduce the issue, however it adds unnecessary costs and technical complexities to the campaign. Furthermore, if the campaign data doesn't match between the two systems, it could lead to lengthy arguments between the client and the agency. If the client has direct access to ad accounts, this is less likely to be a major problem.

Second, it is hard for the client to control the campaign quality.

While the client receives the report on the number of impressions and clicks, and the cost-per-view or cost-per-click that is "better than industry average," there is almost no way the client can track and see whether the views or the visits are relevant to the business or not. The agency may choose to buy ad impressions from low quality inventory for lower cost. The clicks, especially from mobile, may be results of users' tapping mistakes.

If the client has direct access to the campaigns, he or she can see in detail the audience targeting and website placements and quickly spot any issues that could be improved.

Third, the client cannot detect the campaign errors.

In the course of managing campaigns, sometimes agencies can make mistakes that may affect campaign performance. This is something that can happen with even great agencies, and it is understandable as long as the problem is detected and fixed early on.

However, in many situations, the agency may not discover the issues and therefore let them happen for a while, especially when they are understaffed or lack campaign management. The real problem is that if the client cannot see the real campaign data, they have no way to know and will have to accept whatever the results are that they are presented on the report.

Once the client has direct access to the campaign, they can spot any unusual performance and ask questions. This pressure will also keep the agency in check and ready to quickly act if anything happens.

Lastly, the client cannot get the best possible campaign performance.

Many search marketing agencies run campaigns as "set it and forget it." Once they setup and tweak campaigns to an acceptable level, they keep it running and do little maintenance. This misses out on any chance to restructure campaigns and make fundamental changes that can remarkably improve the results. But if the client does not see the campaign, they have no idea if the campaign is setup properly, or if the landing page could be better.

Thus, if the client can access campaign data and continues to ask the simple question of "how can we get better results?", this will create a healthy pressure, motivating the agency to continue improving its performance. This pressure alone can help deliver positive outcomes.

In our years of doing search marketing, we have seen many clients receive sub-par results without even knowing it. The common situation is that they do not have direct access to the campaigns, and therefore have no way to know if the results are good or not, are unable to detect problems, and, most importantly, can't find ways to make it better. Making the simple request of your agency to share direct access to the campaigns will help create much better outcomes.

Mike Le

Co-Founder and COO of CB/I Digital

Mike Le is the Co-Founder and COO of CB/I Digital, a premium digital agency in New York that offers digital marketing (SEO, digital advertising, analytics) and digital product (web/mobile) services for clients. Under Mike's leadership, CB/I has become a full-stack digital agency that works with clients in US, UK and South East Asia. Mike holds a Master's degree from NYU in Information Systems.

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