Before jumping on a call with a client for the first time, our team at Metric Theory always sends out a thorough onboarding survey. However, I always make sure to ask the client 5 important questions directly on our first call in order to invite conversation and gain a better understanding of their business.

1.  Goal Setting: What is your primary PPC goal? 

We can’t start managing a client’s PPC account without knowing their goals. From digging into the account, we can probably find hundreds of adjustments we want to make and a general strategy we want to implement.  Yet at the end of the day, the client needs to provide guidance around what actually makes sense for the business.

When I ask a client what their PPC goal is, almost all say that they want to grow conversions and they also likely know what CPA or ROI they need to be at to remain profitable.  Where it gets tricky is when I ask what the priority is. Let’s take an example of a client that wants to grow conversions as long as CPA is less than $30. However, the account average CPA has been closer to $50 for the past few months. I’m forced to ask: What’s more important in the immediate term, getting to a CPA of $30 (with risk of cutting conversions) or growing conversions (at risk of seeing CPA rise)? Should we cut CPA first or should we grow conversions first? In the short term, would the client prefer more conversions at a $50 CPA or fewer conversions at a $30 CPA?

Ultimately, the client needs to prioritize between growth and efficiencies, as well as feel comfortable with the road map to improve both over time.

2. Competitive Advantage: What distinguishes you from your competitors?

When we talk about competitive advantage, it is most often in the context of how we can make our ad copy stand out on the SERP and what ad copy we want to test first. Gaining an understanding of how the business positions itself in the market helps us shape our ad copy strategy. For example, if our client competes on price, then we definitely want to highlight pricing in our first round of ad copy testing.

However, this question may have other implications for the account as well. If our client is price competitive, then we should also consider bidding on keywords around deals, sales, promos, and other discount related terms. Whereas if our client focuses on product quality, then we can add keyword modifiers such as high end, high quality to our list and negative out antonyms such as cheap and low cost.

3. Budget: What is your monthly budget? Is it flexible?

To manage any client account, we have to know what budget we’re working with. Ideally before asking about the budget, we should already have an idea of what it may be just by looking at the average ad spend for the past 3 months. We always want to come prepared in case there are any surprises. For example, through looking at the account, the average spend for the past few months may be around $30K/month; however, the client may casually mention that they only want to spend $10K.

I also ask what has caused fluctuations in the past.  Did budgets go up year over year?  Is there seasonality?  Are there performance thresholds that would cause them to rethink budgets?  Did they get a new round of venture funding?  It is better to know these nuances upfront than be surprised later on.

4. Stakeholders: Who are the stakeholders that will be evaluating PPC? 

It’s easy to assume that the person we talk to about our PPC efforts every week is the only person who will be evaluating our performance and our value. It’s important to find out the role of our contract in the company early on. Are they the decision makers or the message conveyers? At the end of the day, who will be the one signing off on our partnership? At the very least, you should find out who you should be sending performance reports to. It’s good to learn early on who the true decision maker is so we can plan accordingly. It may be helpful to schedule quarterly calls with this person so that they’re just as in tune with the phenomenal results we’ve driven as our primary contact.

5. What role does PPC play in driving sales?

Finally, what role does PPC play in the client’s overall business?  Do our efforts play a critical role in driving sales for the client or are we one piece of the marketing puzzle? The answer I get will help determine the strategy for the account. For example, if the client is working with a variety of third party vendors for branding efforts then Google remarketing and GDN may not be a priority for us in terms of account strategy. Additionally, we would want to find out which other marketing channels they are currently using (ie. Email, Referral). If branded traffic increased 100% day over day, it would be helpful to know that it’s the result of an email marketing effort and not a system error. Every channel works together and complements each other; the more we know the better results we can drive for the business as a whole.

Bonus QuestionLead Tracking (B2B)

For B2B companies, it is crucial that we discuss lead tracking from the get go. We may be able to drive phenomenal results from the front-end in terms of leads and CPL, but whether those leads turn into customers is another story. We definitely ask how they have been tracking lead quality. Is it a manual process or is it through a platform such as Marketo or Pardot? If the answer is none whatsoever, we should set up a separate call to discuss options for tracking lead quality. If they have been tracking anything at all, I ask how I can get access to that data and we discuss how we can work together to optimize towards quality.

These are just a few questions that I’ve found helpful when onboarding new clients. Please feel free to add your personal favorites in the comment boxes below. Thanks for reading and remember don’t be shy to ask your clients. The more we know, the more we can help.