In-House vs. Outsourced PPC Management

By Philip | Google AdWords

Apr 18

Deciding whether to keep PPC in-house or to outsource is a decision every business owner is going to face eventually (assuming they’re doing PPC!)

Especially when you start off managing your own PPC, it can be scary to make the move to hiring an outside agency.

We get it.

This is YOUR business. You know it best.

You want to make sure your PPC copy and strategy are in line with your branding, that you have control over your costs and your message, and that you’re able to be as responsive as possible.

But the good news is that if you’re dealing with an experienced, reputable agency, you’ll be working closely with them to ensure a consistent message, to control your costs, all while driving traffic and sales.

There are however, some good reasons to keep your PPC in-house; I don’t mind telling you that working with an external agency (even mine!) isn’t for every business.

Here are 4 reasons you may want to keep your PPC in-house.

Reasons to Keep PPC In-House

Let me start by saying this: If you have the time and resources to do PPC in-house, and you’re happy with your current PPC performance and ROI, keep doing what you’re doing!

Why mess with a good thing?

If you find that you meet even two of the following criteria, you may want to consider keeping your PPC in-house.

1. If you’ll be spending a relatively small amount on PPC each month.

If your monthly budget for PPC is less than a few grand, it’s probably not worth outsourcing.

Most reputable PPC agencies will require a minimum spend of around that amount anyway, but regardless, a smaller budget likely isn’t going to justify the fees an agency will charge.

Better to invest in some PPC and Analytics training for yourself or your staff and see what kind of results you can get.

As you start seeing solid results, you may decide to increase your monthly spend. There’s nothing stopping you from changing pace and outsourcing at that point if you like.

2. If you have competent staff who are experienced with PPC.

If you have staff who are experienced with PPC and who have received high-level PPC training,
You may want to handle your own PPC.

There’s nothing like having your own PPC team who are committed only to your campaign (not managing multiple accounts at once)! If you have such a team, count your blessings.

We strongly recommend that anyone handling PPC in-house have, at a minimum, Google Adwords Certification. We also recommend that you invest in Google Analytics training to be able to accurately track your campaign performance.

Keep in mind that the following are all factors in a successful AdWords campaign, and anyone considering doing PPC in-house should have competency and experience in the following areas:

  • Keyword research
  • The ability to handle hundreds or thousands of keywords
  • Understanding and improving Quality Scores
  • PPC ad copy writing (this is very different from other types of writing)
  • Landing page optimization

*If you’re considering keeping your PPC in-house, remember the following: Depending on your monthly PPC budget, it simply may not be worth the cost to have a dedicated PPC person or team. Weigh the costs carefully!

3. If you have the time to commit to in-house PPC.

Some business owners have the idea that managing an AdWords campaign is a ‘set it and forget it’ type deal. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Running a successful PPC campaign is time and labour-intensive, especially if you offer more than one product or service.

So whether you’ll be managing your PPC campaigns yourself, or having your staff do it, make sure you have a realistic understanding of how much time will be needed to effectively run your campaigns. Also factor in any business tasks that employees may have to forgo in order to dedicate time to PPC.

It’s also important to keep in mind that PPC agencies will have highly-specialized tools and software that you may not have access to when you do PPC in-house. You’ll need to compensate for this by spending more time on manual management and tracking.

4. If there’s a small market for your business, or you’re targeting a small geographic region.

If your product or service is hyper-local, or there just isn’t a big market for your product, you may find outsourcing just isn’t worth it.

Smaller markets typically mean lower search volumes, fewer keywords, and less complex campaigns. If you’re limited to a few dozen — or even a few hundred keywords — it may make sense to keep your PPC in-house.

Reasons to Outsource PPC

I’m going to lay it all on the line here: Unless you choose an experienced, totally transparent, highly-trained agency that guarantees results, you might as well do it in-house.

Because to be perfectly honest, choosing the WRONG agency can leave you wishing you’d never messed with PPC in the first place.

If you’ve found a great agency however, they can be worth their weight in gold.

Here are some reasons why you should outsource your PPC.

1. Expertise

The PPC landscape is constantly changing. Because of this, it’s crucial that agencies stay on top of the latest changes in the industry.

A good PPC agency will have AdWords certification, be trained in Google Analytics, and regularly attend leading PPC conferences and events. This requires a huge investment, both in terms of time and money that many businesses simply can’t afford to maintain in-house.

An external PPC agency will also have access to industry statistics and data, and will have a broader understanding of your performance and success measures.

2. Access to Cutting Edge Tools.

External agencies will have the tools and software necessary to create and track complex campaigns with thousands of keywords and keyword/landing page combinations. These tools may also assist with account creation, bid management and goal tracking.

I’m not saying PPC management is impossible without these tools; however, without them you’re going to be spending a LOT more time setting up and monitoring your campaigns than you need to.

3. Access to Industry Contacts.

PPC professionals who have been in the industry for years will not only be able to consult with knowledgeable colleagues in the field, but a well-connected agency will also have access to industry leaders and experts. The value of this cannot be understated.

A reputable PPC agency will also have direct access to Google itself through Google Partners. This program gives agencies access to Google staff via dedicated AdWords phone support and training. This can be priceless when you need clarification or guidance on specific issues.

Google Partners also allows agencies access to beta programs, giving them the ability to try out cutting edge strategies and techniques.

4. Greater ROI

Although this may seem counterintuitive at first, hiring an external agency can actually save you money.

You may be thinking, ‘But keeping it in-house means using resources I already have without an additional cash outlay!’. In very rare cases this is true. However keep the following in mind:

External agencies are PPC experts, meaning they will very likely be able to get the job done in a fraction of the time it would take a less-experienced in-house person or team, saving you time and money.

If you’re handing over your PPC to an inexperienced staff member, you’ll need to invest in training and professional development, account for the learning curve and mistakes that will inevitably be made, and factor in that your ROI will like be far less than if your PPC was being handled by an expert with years of experience.

Handing your PPC over to an agency leaves your staff with more time and energy to focus on other tasks where they’re the experts. This allows you and your team to focus on what you do best: running your business.

By Philip Shaw

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