There’s a lot more to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with Google AdWords than simply creating some text ads and leaving them to run.
Choosing the correct person (or company) to represent your business, product or service is one of the most important marketing decisions you will make.
Paid search often represents the largest proportion of your marketing budget and therefore its success (or otherwise) can have a major influence on the bottom-line performance of your business.
You’re placing your brand’s reputation in their hands, so it’s important to find an agency with a solid understanding of your business niche, as well as the technical aspects of managing paid search campaigns.
So let’s start with the basics. As a quick refresher, Google AdWords is Google’s advertising service.
You pay only when people click on your ads, more commonly known as pay-per-click.
Assuming you’ve decided to utilise Google AdWords (great decision), now you need to ask yourself whether you can effectively manage the account.
There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to ongoing optimisation of AdWords accounts.
It requires a daily analysis (depending on the size of the account and the number of keywords) as well as a lot of testing to identify best performing keywords, ad creative (AdCopy) and landing pages.
If you’re small there’s a lot to be said for managing the account yourself.
The larger your business is the less likely there’s an option for you to manage the account yourself anyway; although that depends upon your internal resources.
Realistically if you’re a busy person, managing medium or large-sized PPC accounts isn’t practical.
If you have some additional internal resources it’s possible to learn, but you will need some form of external help to keep you on the right path.
So, assuming you know what AdWords is, but you aren’t a specialist, it’s likely that at some point you’re going to need the help of a PPC agency or freelancer to make the most of your campaign.
Now you have to decide: are you going to hire a freelancer or a PPC agency?
In this section we’ll look at the pros and cons of working with a freelancer or a digital agency, to help you identify what’s right for your business.
Freelancers are generally very skilled in a wide array of marketing disciplines.
They tend to have experience in dealing with a variety of issues encountered when completing a job. This allows you to save time in both the planning and implementation of your campaigns.
Rather than having to deal with a team and often more than one Account Manager (depending upon the size of your business), you’ll be dealing with one person, saving you lots of time on emails, Skype calls and face-to-face meetings.
The key advantage of using a freelancer over an agency is the cost saving.
Freelancers can work on much tighter budgets than agencies due to far lower fixed costs, including working from home in many instances.
With freelancers, you are paying the person who is working on your account and you can often negotiate the rate you pay for their service.
A freelancer will aim to do a great job for a reasonable amount of money. This will in-turn lead onto other work through referrals from happy clients.
Freelancers are more than likely on call when you need them.
They are generally very flexible with their schedules, especially if all they do are freelance jobs. This means that you speak directly to the person managing your account as and when you need to.
Also once the job is done, you can stop working with freelancers.
Often the commitment you make is only for the duration of the project, as opposed to being tied into a long-term contract.
Because freelancers tend to have a more specialised skill set, they tend to take your particular instructions and then add their own ideas in completing the tasks.
They will get the job done as best they can, but you need to ensure that your instructions and brand guidelines are adhered to.
You need effective control management whether working with a freelancer or an agency.
Because you generally have little control over the freelancer, and they do not come with the security of a business infrastructure to support, there is the possibility that they may be hard to reach or the support no longer available.
You may be left with partly completed work, and limited (or zero) support during holiday periods.
If you pay upfront before work commences, there is the possibility of losing the money, so be clear regarding the payment structure from the outset. Spread payments through the life-cycle of the work.
This is a pro but also a con. If you fall out with your freelancer, there is no escalation process to raise and resolve issues.
If they change career or drop you as a client, you need to go through the onboarding process again with another freelancer (or agency).
As your Google AdWords account contains sensitive data, you need to be sure that the freelancer you chose does not share any information about your company with your rivals.
This is especially important if the freelancer is working for more than one client within a competitive niche.
Ensuring that a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is signed before work commences is the best course of action to mitigate this risk.
Hiring an advertising agency to manage your Google Adwords advertising campaign gives you enough manpower to effectively manage even large-scale accounts, year-round.
This provides more than just one pair of eyes looking through your campaign, offering more chance that errors are identified and increasing the amount of manpower available to deliver improvements.
Agencies have the advantage of a team which allows a greater possibility of fresh and innovative ideas to be generated. A team dynamic allows greater sharing of success between accounts, providing advantages to all clients.
Advertising agencies normally have access to a wide range of PPC tools which are used to optimise your campaign.
Bid management software provides automation across large-scale accounts, optimising your bid levels even when all team members are asleep.
Your support is provided by a team rather than one individual. This ensures that your instructions are shared, and reducing the effect of team changes.
The company as a whole is responsible for the performance of your account and their staff, reducing the chance of a bad experience.
A bad review or referral can be very damaging for any brand and any respectable business will strive to ensure you remain satisfied.
Agencies employ large internal teams, from finance to marketing, account managers to directors. As such, the rates you pay need to cover far more than the time spent managing your account.
The cost of hiring an agency to manage your campaign incorporates fixed costs of employee benefits, pensions, holidays, office rent and much more.
In addition, there is often more than one person with responsibility for your Google Adwords campaign, hence they have to charge more for their service.
Not all account managers are created equal.
As employees move on and teams change, there are no guarantees that their replacements will be of equal quality.
Best case, there is a strong training process in place to bring them up-to-speed quickly, however this is not often discussed at the inception of your contract.
There needs to be monitored from your side to ensure that your account remains well-managed, irrespective of changes to the team.
You need to be pro-active so their team know they need to work hard to keep you satisfied.
The best agencies are unlikely to be based near you. As such you need to be prepared to travel for initial meetings.
That said, holding meetings today is a lot easier, especially with Skype and other video-conferencing tools available online.
Google accreditation ensures that individuals working on your account are qualified and knowledgeable enough to do the job.
Accreditation isn’t an essential, although it does provide peace-of-mind.
Successful, experienced agencies will be able to talk you through examples of work they’ve carried out on current and previous campaigns, and provide case studies.
Who will be managing my account?
Will I have a dedicated Account Manager?
Will my account manager be the person making changes to your account?
Are you able to meet with your account manager before the inception of the contract?
Have they worked with other clients in your industry?
How will this benefit the management of your account?
Are they working with any of your competitors presently?
Understand why you should be investing this money?
Ask what they plan to do. Query their thoughts on your likely return-on-investment.
Show them you are interested in the process as well as the results.
Before deciding whether to choose either a freelancer or a PPC agency, it is best to identify your end goals and objectives.
A good agency or freelancer will demonstrate a clear understanding of your objectives and advise you whether they are achievable within your budget.
You have to consider the financial aspect of hiring and continuing your project.
Essentially a well-managed search campaign should save you more money than it costs, however, your budget will go a long way to identifying the most suitable path for your business.
In the end, it is only you who can decide who is the best hire for your PPC advertising campaign.
Ask for audits, meet with agencies and freelancers and decide who is best for your business. Go with your gut.
But remember it’s not something to leave to an agency fully. Share your ideas for messages which resonate with your audience.
Share any stats you have for high-performing products, as well as the target demographic. Give your freelancer as much help as you can.
Trust their experience and their ability to deliver. But be involved in the process.
You need to learn and understand PPC to be an effective judge of performance.
Apollo Digital are a small, friendly and dedicated team of search marketing specialists helping ambitious travel and adventure businesses to generate more bookings.
Because we’re a small team, we offer the expertise of freelancers in that all of our team have experience with managing successful online marketing campaigns.
We’ve worked with and for some of the biggest brands in travel and always look for the maximum return-on-investment. We know what works!
We offer great rates but more importantly a service that delivers results.
If you’d like a free, no-obligation audit of your Google AdWords account, get in touch with us today.
We look forward to seeing what we can do for your business.
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