With so many companies struggling to stay above water in today’s economy, it may seem that managing marketing and advertising campaigns in-house is an effective way to keep an eye on costs. But, in doing so, are companies sacrificing quality? When it comes to deep industry knowledge and years of experience, can an agency be worth the extra investment?
In order to better understand the advantages of agency expertise, we’ve put together a list of the 5 reasons why self-service paid search isn’t worth the headache:
1) Level of Expertise
The primary reason to consider a paid search company has to do with level of expertise. Such a company will have on staff persons with multiple years of experience managing campaigns specific to the type a client is looking to run; it may also have entire departments that have worked in industry with the kinds of services the business is marketing. Agencies should be considered a secondary or third arm with expertise in industry or medias with the resources, experience, and general know-how to create a successful marketing campaign.
2) Competition and Cost
There are several reasons why a company shouldn’t just hire an employee internally to manage its paid search campaign. First and foremost, such an employee may not be familiar with the competition within a particular space and may not be aware of publisher nuances, both of which relate directly to level of experience. Internal employees are often tasked with other responsibilities outside of paid search and, for this reason, their time and attention may be diverted elsewhere.
Secondly, here is also a distinct cost advantage to outsourcing. It isn’t necessary to have a person devoted to a paid search campaign 24-7, reason being data from publishers lags, testing and changes require data set creation, and, after you make a change, you need to have supporting data to confirm or discredit that change (i.e., you can’t tell in real time whether the change was positive or negative). With the exception of high volume e-commerce campaigns, which may require additional resources and time allocation to be able to track close to real-time results (because of high volume traffic and measurable events), 8 hours a workday shouldn’t be devoted to paid search.
Lastly, the cost of hiring a mid-tier paid search analyst just doesn’t make sense economically, given the fact that a company doesn’t need an employee to devote 100% of his/her time to the campaign.
3) Resource Limitations
A lot of the reps offered by Google/Yahoo/Bing are going to be straight out of college, with education provided primarily by the publisher, not by the industry. The primarily focus of the publisher is, therefore, to push more advertising dollars, including click through rate, ad placement, and market saturation, instead of true ROI. In essence, they want you to spend the bucket of your money on them.
An agency, on the other hand, is unbiased as to where they spend their money, investing it where it’s going to make the most sense for their customers. And, equally important, an agency understands all products, not just the single product offered by the publisher. A Google representative, for example, will use Google’s internal tools for keyword research, whereas an agency will use third-party tools, as opposed to just proprietary tools, for keyword research and analysis. An agency may also be more familiar with troubleshooting and web trafficking issues, having used a variety of keyword tools and not limited themselves to those available through just the publisher.
4) Biggest Bang for Your Buck
Companies will want to look, first and foremost, at real-life examples from similar campaigns. How successful have they been? Is the agency familiar with the space the company is looking to advertise in? Can they provide references/case studies? What is the depth of their experience? Which industries have they served (B2B, B2C, local, automotive, technology, etc.)?
Companies will also want to consider management and manager experience. Who from the agency will be managing the campaign? An intern? An analyst? A manager? A combination of the three? Who will be the point of contact? A higher fee should equate to a higher level of service. What is an agency’s overall availability? How prompt are they? Can you call someone on a Saturday and expect a response?
If the agency is bringing you the results you need to be deemed successful, the fee structure should almost be irrelevant. That said, always ask what the fee structure is as well as the services you’re receiving for that fee.
Paid search has become a type of commodity, something that a lot of people say they do. But to run a successful campaign takes experience, technology, and knowledge of the space that you’re in. Be sure to do your due diligence and choose an agency that will get you the biggest bang for your buck.
5) Ability to Measure Success
Depending on how advanced your company’s website is, tracking could and should include the number of form submissions, phone calls received, emails, orders placed, white papers downloaded, or other action items you deem important to have reported on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, quarterly, daily).
More advanced clients may also want to see true ROI from each marketing campaign, broken down by publisher. Is the campaign providing a return on investment (whatever the appropriate ROI is for the business)? Is the media bringing positive ROI to the business? What it basically boils down to is this: A successful campaign should be deemed successful by providing a positive ROI.
What has been your experience working with agencies on your paid search campaigns? Why have you or why have you not chosen agency experience over self-service?