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Welcome happy readers! During this week’s PPCChat discussion, host Julie F Bacchini discussed all about PPC audits like: do PPCers currently offer any PPC audit services, do they charge for the audits, do they follow any checklist while doing the audits, etc. Here is the screencap of the session.

Q1: Do you currently offer any kind of PPC audit services? If so, for which platforms? If not, why not?

I do. Only for google ads. (I don’t often do FB ads and Bing isn’t really a thing in the UK.) @stevegibsonppc

I offer a #GoogleAdsAudit. My customers are either small biz owners who want to learn how to scale/optimize their accounts, or agencies looking for some “behind the scenes” help with their clients. @jyllsaskingales

We did, then we didn’t, now we do again. We had ended them to focus solely on retainer clients. But now we’re seeing opportunity in the space for brands who just want a second look for opps, or a check-up on their current PPC managers. @PPCKirk

I do for #google #microsoft #facebook #linkedin I tend to use audits as a soft sell tool to get folks into my consulting services – point out actionable things they can fix with limited to no-frills. @navahf

I absolutely do audits. Most often for Google Ads, but have done them for other platforms as well. @NeptuneMoon

Audits are available for GAds, Bing, LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter. Love doing them. I’m of the opinion that routine (smaller) self-audits are part of the job too. @armondhammer

We offer this on search & social but tbh the one we do most commonly is LinkedIn. @heyglenns

Been doing account & analytics audits across Google, Facebook, GA, GTM….etc for brands and agencies for 4 years now. Some want a 2nd pair of eyes and others want to get an outside POV on their own work. @duanebrown

On a consultancy basis – yes, I do. Just on Google Ads/Microsoft Ads. @TheMarketingAnu

Google & Facebook audits mostly. Often with heavy brand-sensitive considerations. One size fits all checklists often mean people know just enough to be dangerous! @beyondcontent

I’ve tried to package an audit of accounts set up by the engines without much success. but I want to go back to that. Great way to help customers too small for a retainer. @armondhammer

We only do audits for new biz. I enjoy doing them, there is always something that needs to be fixed! @beyondthepaid

Yes, an audit of the account is part of the sales process. Mainly focus on Google but have done FB, LI, Msft as well. Gives us an idea of how we would tackle the account & the client & gives the client an idea of how we work & some strategies they may find useful. @selley2134

Yes, I have and do them for Google, Microsoft, and Amazon platforms. @lchasse

As part of our proposal process, @evolutednm conducts a no-obligation audit on the PPC account and connected platforms. I then conduct an audit at least once every 6 months on accounts to ensure everything is in order. @C_J_Ridley

As I said last year, hate-free audits. Why do we love working for free as an industry? Worse when account reviews by some agencies…. who look at an ad account for 1 hour…. and call it an audit. No real audit is happening in an hour. @duanebrown

Great point. You wouldn’t expect an accountant or lawyer to do ANYTHING for free, digital service providers need to command same level of respect in terms of not working for free. If an audit is expected, price it in.  @beyondcontent

Yes, but only on new accounts, we’re taking over. Google, Microsoft, and Facebook audit. @JuliaVyse

I will also offer audits of internal systems and teams – #ppc is only as powerful as the foundational components it’s sending leads to. This includes CRMs, sales/CS teams, and phone leads. @navahf

Yup definitely do Audits and have even had to include instructional video recordings about setups. Mainly the various Google accounts but also Social accounts. @dylanppc

We often use the first month of a new engagement with a client that has an existing account as an audit. Gives us time & budget to dig deep and plan out a long-term strategy. @_RileyDuncan

We do a brief opportunity audit which digs into auction insights and bidding methods to put perspective on the competitive landscape. This informs a goals discussion, then a strategy discussion, and finally a scope. Each stage qualifies us and the client. @tonyzara

We offer audits as part of a proposal to potential clients for any platform they have expressed interest in. @SofiaAkritidou1

Q2: Are your PPC audits stand-alone services or projects? Or do you include them as part of something else?

Ours are generally part of another service but are able to function as a service on their own. @JuliaVyse

Like I said, part of new business. We do informal audits on existing accounts ongoing. @beyondthepaid

We distinguish b/t an ACAN and an Audit. An Account Analysis (ACAN) is an unpaid, brief look for sales to walk a retainer prospect through how we would improve their account. An Audit is a paid, exhaustive, custom, LARGE, delivered look at issues/opportunities. @PPCKirk

They can be both! I will sometimes sell an audit and that’s it. Other times I’ll sell the audit to help focus the consulting work. Keyword there is sell – no free audits! @navahf

I do audits as a stand-alone service or project. I do them for clients I’m starting to work with to figure out what we need to do with their accounts. Also, do them for other agencies or brands who want another opinion on their PPC. @NeptuneMoon

The audits I do are for management retainer proposals or existing retainer clients. The proposal audits focus on what is working well, what needs improving, and what isn’t working. The latter type is mostly to ensure nothing is being neglected. @C_J_Ridley

We have done stand-alone in the past but that is usually as a favor to referrals & small biz that can’t afford a retainer. majority of the time the audit is part of the sales process. @selley2134

Free audits are worth what you pay for them. Sales tools and I’ve never found an account I couldn’t pick on (including my own). I’ll do them as part of a start-up, stand-alone whatever. but: @armondhammer

I do not really promote them separately, because I am pretty much solo and they take a lot of time. I do them if asked as part of starting an account or for a brand /agency that just wants to find some opportunities. I also never bash another agency which helps. @lchasse

Sometimes I will put what is essentially auditing of new client accounts into a project phase I call “Discovery” too. Depends a lot on the complexity of the client business/industry. Either way, you need time to really dig in to what’s there/been done. @NeptuneMoon

All new clients we onboard get an account, analytics, and business tech stack audit when we start working together. Make sure things are set up to our standards. We do one-off audits for brands & agencies as a service. Great way to sharpen skills & help brands out. @duanebrown

Stadnalone service/project. @TheMarketingAnu

Aside: We call our audits search strategy, because I think it needs to cover more than just what’s wrong, but have a direction as well. However, the SEO part of me knows I have to write “audit” because of search volume. @armondhammer

Part of onboarding and new client setups, but also offer standalone audits. Some clients just want an extra eye on what they’re or their team is doing. @dylanppc

I’ll second Lawrence’s point. A true audit must include a review of the tracking and tagging that reaches as close to revenue as possible. @heyglenns

I have a full funnel analysis service (paid) and a “normal” audit (unpaid). Both can lead to actual “getting my hands dirty” PPC/copywriting/marketing strategy work…or not. @stevegibsonppc

Our audits are a stand-alone service. However, we perform one on any full account management clients we have before beginning work. These audits can sometimes identify why ads are struggling allowing us to get results faster. @AMZRobynJohnson

Some brands and agencies just want our POV or to see things they might have missed. We deliver a deep audit that leaves no stone unturned. We never had someone not love what we shared. We catch all the small details. @duanebrown

Q3: Do you charge for audits? If so, how do you charge and why do you charge for them? If not, why not? Does it vary by any circumstances?

Yes. Either retainer built-in or hourly, but these aren’t free.@JuliaVyse

I absolutely charge for audits, whether they are stand-alone projects or the first stage of new client work. I am not interested in getting involved with any organization that does not fully value my work, expertise, and experience. @NeptuneMoon

I guess I was a little ahead of this question with my A2, see here for my thoughts: twitter.com/PPCKirk/status… @PPCKirk

Absolutely yes unless a fellow freelancer is asking and they are a good friend (done that a few times). They take a lot of time, so I usually look at the complexity of the account and provide a price. They can take hours so you should be compensated. @lchasse

Definitely hasn’t figured this out so keen on seeing other answers for this one. @TheMarketingAnu

I charge different prices for different scopes. My standard audits range from $1000-to $1500. If it’s going to be more involved or require more technical analysis, we agree on a scope and quote. @navahf

100% charge. Why work for free? We have a base fee of $3K and then it goes up based on ad spend, SKU count, and number of countries. Our audits take 2 – 3+ days, so we don’t want to work for free. Plus our skills are valuable and we should charge for our experience. @duanebrown

I charge between US$500 and-1200 depending on account size. I go by # of campaigns rather than spend. I charge b/c my #GoogleAdsAudit is a standalone service – although about 2/3rds of my audit clients will purchase consulting or coaching afterward. @jyllsaskingales

Not for “normal” audits – which don’t take me much time. But I have wondered if doing “superficial” audits is actually a disservice. That’s because they focus on “what you’re doing now, but better” rather than transformative change. @stevegibsonppc

If it’s a new client, then an audit is part of the setup cost. If it’s a single project, then it is charged depending on type of client, size of the account, and the number of platforms we need to look into. @dylanppc

We don’t charge. I look at it as it’s as much for us as it is for them. This is where we find red flags or issues that may be best suited for others. I also ask for an hour of their time to share results, so I view that as the trade-off. @selley2134

Audits are usually part of a project or retainer with @evolutednm so we don’t charge extra for them. I believe you need to be able to review the work you’ve done to ensure everything is up to scratch and nothing is neglected. @C_J_Ridley

Charge by size of the account (KW / Ads – not spend level). I’m usually doing these myself, and I drop a good amount of time on them. If we’re doing these well – the ROI is super easy to justify. @armondhammer

As for how much to charge – for me it depends on several factors: 1. How many things am I investigating (accounts, campaigns, etc.) 2. How much access I have to data 3. How long of a history they want reviewed. @NeptuneMoon

IMO there are at least three diff types of audits and important to distinguish for pricing. (1) Free (analysis, what I call an ACAN). Primarily for sales. (2) Small account Audits – these can be anywhere from $500 – $2000 and are smaller in complexity. (cont) @PPCKirk

We don’t charge for brief overviews (kind of like @PPCKirk has described much better than I can) I attribute many of our client onboarding “wins” from contributing our insight for free. Even some very large clients! Of course, in-depth audits are for a cost. @gilgildner

Large account Audits. These can be 30-60 pages and can range bt $4000 – $12000 or more. For a big account spending millions a year, paying $10K to lock down an important part of an account is extremely valuable. @PPCKirk

The hardest part of an audit is taking data and turning it into information and actionable next steps. Really interesting the opportunities you find when finding signals in the noise of ad accounts and Google Analytics data. It’s all sitting there for fresh eyes. @duanebrown

Whatever you’re charging – it should be more. @armondhammer

Issue I have with external brief overviews is they are used as a sales tool, zero context of strategic choices made why X isn’t being actioned, and the longest checklist is the greatest absence of strategy. There is a difference between neglect & part of the plan. @beyondcontent

Absolutely. Our audits are very custom and designed to provide tremendous value. We have the month where we’re doing the audit scoped separately from the rest of the retainer, so we can adjust pricing as needed based on anticipated hours. @_RileyDuncan

Informed client = fine. New hire who didn’t bother to read your up-to-speed overview = OMG THE BRIEF OVERVIEW SAYS WE’RE NOT DOING X SO IM CALLING YOU ON A SATURDAY. @beyondcontent

The (basic) audit to evaluate if the client fits me (my current situation, the client’s expectations, their demands…) it’s free of charge because it’s an investment for the headaches I’ll save in the near future. I start charging after both parts agreed to collab. @MaiMolina_

I always have mixed feelings about this: I do quick (&free) audits to small accounts when someone asks me through DM cause they have a super BIG doubt. Literally gets me 5mins to check where the error is but 2 days of energy to start looking into it. How wrong am I? @MaiMolina_

Q4: Do you have a set process, sequence, and/or checklist you use when doing PPC audits? Or is it a customized process every time?

We have a fairly uniform process for what we look at, but every audit/analysis is different. Every client is different. Some issues deserve a closer look than others, so our analyses end up being quite “plain English” and strategy-focused rather than merely numbers. @gilgildner

I have used both methods and prefer customized. It allows me to be more free and follow the data. I do see the value in a more structured audit though and may have to move that way eventually. @selley2134

YES! I have a spreadsheet template in excel/gdoc with an audit process. But I want to see everyone else’s!!! @JuliaVyse

For paid audits, we have a big picture template that’s pretty simple: Account Settings + Individual Google Networks with some detailed questions within there to make sure we hit everything. Otherwise, from there it’s fully customized based on individual account needs. @PPCKirk

We have a template we go through to make sure we don’t miss any sections. Each section is custom-written for that brand. Then we have a list of questions we ask & things we look at. Plus brands usually have questions/concerns which is why they hired to begin with. @duanebrown

It feels like brands who ask me for audits ask for different things, so a lot of the time they become custom. 50%+ of the process is fairly standard however most of the time. It is when we start looking into analytics or other processes that change. @lchasse

We have a template but do customize the details based on what we find. @beyondthepaid

I have a scorecard I developed that I use every time to ensure I cover all my bases, for the client’s benefit and mine. Then I do 3-5 pages of analysis & recommendations, in “plain English” language. @jyllsaskingales

Standard audits get the standard template of checks – it’s the more technical ones that require some customization (usually due to levels of access and whether there needs to be a knowledge share with another vendor). @navahf

For free audits, I tend to just “click around” until I find something interesting. Basically, I’m trying to get an idea of what’s going on and whether there are changes I could make that would make an obvious difference to the profit. @stevegibsonppc

Here are some of the things I check for in a standard audit: 1. Conversion tracking set-up & quality 2. Account structure in relation to ROI goals 3. Audience influences. @navahf

In “plain English” is underrated. @beyondcontent

I have a checklist for each account/platform and stick to a top-down process starting from settings, integrations & tracking and tend to do the actual campaigns last.  @dylanppc

Only in my head.

  • Tracking
  • Historic data
  • Vol. paid weight vs other channels
  • Structuring
  • Bidding
  • Rev weight for each campaign
  • Channel Mix
  • Negative kws/list uses
  • Audiences/Kws
  • Ads… Going from big to small. @MaiMolina_

We use a template as a starting point, then dig deeper where we see fit. The final output is a slide deck, which is pretty custom each time. @_RileyDuncan

We have a set process and checklists. On Amazon, there are a lot of category-specific issues, reseller, BB issues, and account health items that can affect performance. So we use the checklists as a base, but approach each client’s situation uniquely. @AMZRobynJohnson

I think about audits in this way. If we were running the ad account and based on the data analysis we just did. What would we recommend and then that is what we recommend. Brands can then go implement it themselves or talk with their agency about our POV. @duanebrown

I have a PPC Audit Checklist template I have used in every marketing role I’ve been in, which evolves over time. It includes my process of checking each element, document & websites to reference for context/guidance as well as sections for comments & recommendations. @C_J_Ridley

If you have time use your webcam to create a quick video to go over the thing you want them to remember most. That can help a lot. @beyondcontent

Q5: Is there something you find pretty often in audits that is surprising (or should be surprising) that it is set up either incorrectly or suboptimally?

Overlap. just a lot of campaigns aimed at the same thing, either not negatived out, or without audiences to direct the traffic. @JuliaVyse

Conversion tracking issues seem to pop up a lot. We talk about GTM being difficult and it is a huge issue for even medium-sized businesses sometimes. @lchasse

I did mention that I wanted to do these for engine setup accounts right? Seriously, I’d say KW creep is the most common thing I see. Stuff that gets added in the wrong place and starts to erode performance. @stevegibsonppc

RSAs. Almost always a weak spot. So often, I find low Quality Score due to low exp ETR & low ad relevance. And then I find that the RSAs don’t meet baseline best practices and are often just poorly written. Creative MATTERS! @jyllsaskingales

I am amazed at how often geographic targeting settings are a mess & are clearly never monitored. Used to find tons of wasted spend with the old G Ads location data (before they hid the good stuff). Broken conversions are pretty common too or NO conversion actions! @NeptuneMoon

Tracking. Often. Goals/Conversion tracking. Analytics Sync. Remarketing Audiences. @Realicity

The number of times conversions are set up incorrectly to track things they don’t want to track, or that they’re outright duplicating conversions, is shocking to me. Issues in maybe 40% of the accounts we see, which is FAR too many for such a crucial account element. @PPCKirk

Almost always find Search with Display select. At this point just either commit to Performance Max or set up proper search and display campaigns. No negatives comes up way too often. Location options mistake is pretty common too. @navahf

For those who make the cut of “well enough optimized/I know what I’m doing” ecomm accounts; is that the common strategy is ROI-based rather than margin-based. Still, surprise me that they come that far but didn’t work on the most important KPI. @MaiMolina_

Lately have been seeing campaigns with <$50 budgets & more than 20 active ad groups. Impression share is usually around 15% for those. & Like others have said conversion issues. @selley2134

Also, the Google Shopping Product Type attribute is still set up incorrectly (or not at all) in probably 95% of the accounts we look into… small or large. @PPCKirk

Let me count the ways…. – Unoptimized shopping feeds…if it was even touched – Not understand HOW language targeting works – Too many or too few shopping campaigns – No one testing/using Discovery ads – No DSA running – GA is either perfect or not set up. @duanebrown

Don’t even get me started on using external tools to make changes and not doing anything else. Change history says so much it’s not even funny. Increasing budgets on campaigns when the campaign can not even spend the current budget. @duanebrown

Incorrect setup for conversions, incorrect location targeting, lack of negative keywords, sub-optimal landing pages, not pulling through GA goals or pulling through duplicates Not capitalizing on available ad space (headlines, descriptions, extensions, URL paths). @C_J_Ridley

Tracking is the most common issue that pops up, but also anything to do with account or campaign settings. Campaign structures that’s set up badly and broad match-only ad groups are pretty common recently. @dylanppc

Now with that GA4 announcement a few weeks back. Something I think we need to start adding in, is GA4 setup? Getting brands on board that train is key these days. So many are not touching that and many agencies I bet won’t want to open that can of worms yet. @duanebrown

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