Find out how to maximize ROI from your marketing
There is an ongoing debate in the world of digital marketing.
The crux of the debate is whether companies are better off hiring in-house pay-per-click (PPC) analysts, or outsourcing PPC management to a dedicated agency.
This discussion has gone on for years, and weathered many changes in the way PPC campaigns work. Search engines and web users treat advertisements differently now than they did five years ago – and their current attitudes will change over the next five years as well.
When it comes to determining whether an in-house team or a third-party agency is best-equipped to handle PPC management, marketers need to keep an eye on long-term trends within the industry. The question is not necessarily, “who can maximize the potential of this particular ad” but “who can maximize the strategic potential of online advertisement for my company?”
Identifying the Value of PPC Campaigns
The reason the debate between in-house PPC management and dedicated agencies is such an active one is simple. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every online advertiser on the market.
Some marketers derive substantial value from hiring their own teams in-house. Many marketers don’t. Only marketers who set clear, achievable goals for their campaigns stand a chance of meeting those goals (and accurately determining whether in-house or outsourced management is the way to go).
That means asking some hard questions and finding answers to them:
- What Are the Specific Goals of Your Campaigns? You can’t have a viable plan without a goal in mind. Identifying your campaign’s goals is key to determining whether an in-house team or a third-party agency is best-equipped to meet those goals.
- Which Metrics Do You Need to Improve? If your goal is to increase traffic to your website, you will earn the best results by focusing on your click-through rate. If your goal is to increase sales or leads, then your click-through rate is going to be less important than your conversion rate.
- What Is Your Goal ROAS Compared to Your Goal ROI? Your return on advertising spend (ROAS) is distinct from – but related to – your overall return on investment (ROI). Finding a happy balance between these two metrics is key to making sustainable long-term marketing decisions for your organization.
These are just a few of the big questions you’ll need to ask before investing in any serious PPC campaigns. Whether hiring an in-house team or a third-party agency, you will have to do your due diligence to identify exactly what kind of results your campaign can feasibly generate.
No-Brainers: When Hiring a PPC Management Agency is Obviously the Best Option
Let’s start this nuanced discussion with some of its easiest examples – when hiring an agency is categorically the best path forward. If your organization fits any one of these descriptions, hiring an agency provides concrete value that surpasses what any in-house team can match.
- You have no experience with PPC marketing. This one truly is a no-brainer. If you don’t have experience running successful PPC campaigns, starting from zero is going to put you on a painful and expensive learning curve. At the same time, it will be difficult to hire a competent in-house team if you aren’t well acquainted with the skills your team must have.
- Your campaigns are growing in size and complexity. When businesses grow, their marketing needs grow as well. Adding new territories, audiences, or partnerships to a PPC campaign can lead to significant increases to revenue, but they demand more time and experience than many people can afford to dedicate.
- Your plate is full. You might not have the time to effectively manage PPC campaigns while still handling every other part of your business or personal life. This is often the case with small business owners who have to wear several different hats in a days’ work, but for whom hiring an in-house team is prohibitively expensive.
Why Some Organizations Hire In-House PPC Management Teams
While it might seem like we are biased towards PPC management agencies, the truth is that in some cases, hiring an in-house team can work wonderfully. It’s just that the circumstances and conditions that need to align for this to happen tend to be the exception, rather than the norm.
Some of the reasons organizations hire their own in-house PPC management teams include:
- Greater Control Over Brand Messaging. Firms with powerful, unique brands generally prefer to have total control over their brand messaging. If a brand like Old Spice were to invest in PPC marketing, it would want its branded messaging to have the same kind of surreal entertainment value that its video advertisements have.
- Immediate Communication and Turnaround Time. It is definitely reassuring to know that you can communicate a request to your team and get it done immediately. This is not necessarily a concrete advantage over agencies (which can offer competitive turnaround times thanks to economies of scale), but it feels good.
- Complete Team Dedication, Entirely to Your Campaign. This can be a double-edged sword, depending on how busy you can keep a full-time staff. A large enterprise operating in multiple territories can often generate value by hiring its own in-house staff instead of outsourcing a large, complex marketing campaign to a vendor. Smaller companies run the risk of paying salaries to employees without using their time optimally.
These three major points should make it clear that hiring an in-house team is a move that typically makes sense for very large enterprises with lots of resources at their disposal. Businesses with less than 1,000 employees will have to calculate the costs and benefits of hiring an in-house team carefully, or risk suboptimal organization for their advertising campaigns.
Why PPC Management Agencies Often Offer Better Results
Choosing the right PPC management agency to hire is not an easy task, but it is often the best way to maximize the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. There are plenty of good reasons why small and mid-sized enterprises in all industries and economic sectors choose to outsource PPC management to agencies:
- Agencies Offer Scalable, On-Demand Services. Companies undergoing growth often find themselves at an impasse when it comes to meeting the demands of a growing workload. Hiring more employees only works if you know for certain that growth will last – which it doesn’t always do. For an agency, routing more resources to a client’s account is a simple, risk-free process. If growth slows down, you can simply go back.
- Agency Fees Cost Less than Employee Salaries. The average salary for a PPC account manager in the United States is $50k per year. For that price, you can hire an agency with a dozen employees, each bringing unique talents and skills to the table – and still have enough left over to increase your actual advertising budget.
- PPC Management Agencies Hire for Hard-to-Find Talent. Agencies spend all of their time and energy segmenting audiences, doing keyword research, and optimizing ad copy. Since they have the most work to do, they can afford to hire the best talent. A single agency may have its own resident audience segmentation expert, keyword research guru, and rockstar copywriter, who focus exclusively on their specific skills.
- Great Agencies Implement Automated Monitoring Tools. An in-house team may not be able to dedicate extra time and energy to developing automated PPC management monitoring tools – but an agency team has to. This helps the team continuously streamline ad spend and reallocate the budget towards winning ads.
- Agencies Have to Keep Up with a Dynamic Advertising Environment. Because agencies rely on consistently delivering value to their clients, they have to constantly innovate solutions to changes in the PPC management environment. This is because it’s much easier for a company to switch agencies than to fire an entire in-house department.
- Only Agencies Can Offer Best-in-class Compliance and Security. With data privacy laws like Europe’s GDPR and California’s upcoming CCPA regulation, the pressure is on for digital marketers. Hiring an in-house team means that the responsibility for complying with these complex laws is on you. Mistakes are easy to make. On the other hand, agencies have to deploy streamlined solutions that guarantee compliance from the very start – their business depends on it.
- Agencies Offer More Experience with Popular Platforms. Whether you’re focusing on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or any other platform that supports PPC advertising campaigns, platform-specific experience is key to success. Agencies have to interact with these platforms on a deeper level than individual marketing employees tend to, giving them an advantage when it comes to platform-specific problem solving.
- Agencies Have a Better Handle on Topic and Audience Value. Not all PPC topics and audiences are of equal value. Some of the most delicate work that goes into a PPC management campaign is determining which topics, audiences, and search terms actually generate the most value. This is only possible with a team that has experience working in multiple verticals, creating content for many different kinds of web users.
- Agencies Track Ad Spend More Diligently. Even if you know that your PPC team is making you money, there are critical insights you might be missing out on. Tracking ad spend right down to the individual placement or keyword level is hard for in-house teams to do while still remaining efficient – but it’s all in a day’s work for any reputable PPC management agency.
All of these things point to outsourced PPC management as an intelligent, value-generating business move. But they rely on the assumption that you hire an excellent PPC management agency, with a reputation for professionalism and expertise.
Question To Ask When Looking For a PPC Management Agency
Just like any industry, the PPC management space is filled with agencies that span every end of the spectrum. There are highly reputable, boutique firms with globally recognized clients and dubious fly-by-night operations that charge “too good to be true” rates and ask few questions.
Most organizations are going to obtain the greatest value from agencies along the middle of this spectrum. An agency that is looking to promote itself as a valuable addition to your team while building on its reputation might be willing to offer a better deal that one that charges $200+ an hour because it already has a full roster of enterprise-level clients to deal with.
Here are some of the questions you should ask to qualify a potential PPC management agency before you sign your name (and your brand) over to them:
- What’s Your Plan for Managing Google’s Quality Score? Google’s quality score is important, and it’s based on your keyword choice, text content, and landing page relevance. Any good PPC expert needs to know how to maintain the highest score possible.
- When Would You Recommend Using the Google Ads API? One of the skills agencies can leverage more flexibly than in-house teams is API coding. Google Ads APIs can bring new functionality to your PPC initiatives, if you know when to use them and when not to.
- Do You Think We Should Use Amazon Bid+ for Bidding? With Bid+, Amazon can raise bids by up to 50%. This may not be a good idea if you are tightly managing ad spend, but it could deliver results for certain campaigns. Your PPC management agency representative should be able to give you concrete examples.
- How Can My Brand Benefit from Remarketing? Which Type? Remarketing is a powerful strategy for increasing the lifetime value of your customer base. Your PPC management agency should be able to develop a solid remarketing plan that distinguishes between the different types of remarketing approaches available: Site remarketing, search remarketing, email remarketing, and social media remarketing.
- Should We Invest in Facebook’s Daily Budget, or Lifetime Budget types? Facebook gives advertisers two types of budgets: daily and lifetime. Each of these come with unique advantages and drawbacks, which your PPC expert should be able to distinguish between when crafting your campaign.
Talk to a PPC Expert Today
Declare Media is your one-stop shop for PPC expertise and management capabilities. Our team has the knowledge, resources, and skillset your brand needs to optimize advertising spend while delivering increased value to customers and stakeholders alike. Contact us to learn more about how our PPC management agency can help you improve results today.