By: Farzin Andrew Espahani
For many companies seeking to boost traffic to their websites, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can be an effective and cost-efficient tool. Unlike traditional web advertising, where you pay a fixed dollar amount to have your advertisement displayed for a fixed length of time, with PPC you set aside the amount of your budget you are willing to spend on PPC with a partner such as Google.
Google will then display your advertisement alongside results for relevant search terms. Every time a visitor clicks on your advertisement, you pay the current Cost Per Click (CPC) out of your budget. When your budget has been depleted, Google no longer runs your ad.
Google Adwords is the most common and well-known name in the world of PPC advertisements, but it is not the only one. Bing, Amazon, Facebook and other social media sites also support PPC ads that can be part of an effective campaign. The secret to a successful PPC campaign is to have a clearly defined target audience and develop keywords or display banners that reach that audience.
You should also have a clearly defined goal for your PPC campaign – how will you know if it was effective? Is there a certain product or service for which you are trying to increase visibility? How many clicks on your ads result in the visitor purchasing a product or signing up for your mailing list? The number of visits to your site that result in a specified desired result is known as a conversion rate, and these are the numbers that should be driving your PPC campaign.
Effective PPC advertising is much more complex than simply identifying a few keywords and then sitting back and waiting for the traffic to come to your site. Results should be monitored daily, and modifications to the campaign made to increase numbers. Staying up-to-date on your competitors’ campaigns plays a crucial role in being able to respond appropriately and stay competitive in the market. Last-minute changes by competitors during the high-stakes holiday season, for example, can have disastrous results if you are not prepared to move swiftly in response.
As PPC represents such a unique and important element of modern advertising, most companies appoint someone to oversee their PPC advertisements and adjust the campaign for optimal performance. The two main approaches to this issue are hiring an in-house PPC specialist or hiring a PPC agency. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and the following considerations may help you to determine which option is best for your company.
Depending on your budget and the extent of your PPC advertising goals, it may be worth it to add an in-house PPC specialist to your team. If this is an option you’re considering, keep these key factors in mind.
Unlike a PPC agency, where you’ll be sharing the agency’s time with all its other customers, an in-house specialist will be focusing on your company alone, and will therefore be consistently available to address any concerns and make any last-minute changes. This can make a huge difference during a highly competitive time such as the holiday season, when you need to respond rapidly to changing market factors and your competitors’ campaigns.
Even day-to-day, routine communications are easy with a PPC specialist working in-house. With an agency, you will likely have to schedule weekly meetings, and you’ll need to make sure all the relevant parties stay informed and up-to-date; having an in-house specialist can make it less likely for details to fall through the cracks.
One of the benefits of the team approach is that the members of your team feed off each other and share expertise so that each becomes more knowledgeable and effective in their assigned area. Through interactions with members of your marketing and technology teams, a PPC specialist will learn from them and can become an integrated member of the company’s culture. At the same time, the rest of your team will have an opportunity to gain insight into your PPC strategies.
On the other hand, a potential disadvantage could arise if the newly-hired PPC specialist doesn’t fit well into the culture of the company. A poor fit can both increase tensions and stress among your employees and affect the bottom line. In a worst-case scenario, it can even result in increased employee turnover. A bad hire comes at high cost.
An often-overlooked aspect of bringing a PPC specialist aboard is the price tag. Besides their base annual salary, benefits cost, on average, an additional 25-40%. Before you start the hiring process for an in-house PPC specialist, make sure you are prepared to take on this additional cost and are ready for a long-term commitment, as it will take some time for a new employee to get to know your company and become effective in their position.
As this is a highly-specialized field, there is a significant risk of hiring an employee who appears qualified on paper or in an interview, but cannot perform.
If hiring a new member of your team to oversee your PPC strategies doesn’t seem like the right move for your company, another option is to outsource this aspect of your marketing to a PPC agency that oversees PPC marketing for multiple companies.
We’ve all heard the saying “two brains are better than one,” and when you work with a PPC agency, you will have the knowledge and expertise of a team of experts on your side, instead of a single person. You’ll also be outsourcing the time and energy required to onboard, train, and manage an in-house PPC specialist.
When you do need to communicate with your PPC agency, however, doing so is likely to be less simple than it would be with an in-house PPC specialist: you’ll need to schedule regular meetings in advance, and ensure key players are present. For the agency to effectively manage your campaign, you will need to make your goals and expectations explicitly clear. As day-to-day communications are limited, you need to have clearly defined expectations before hiring an agency.
If the campaign is managed correctly, working with a PPC agency that is responsive, focuses on keeping your campaign producing traffic, and that acts quickly to update campaigns often produces better results than hiring an in-house PPC manager with limited resources and an uncertain level of skill.
Outsourcing to a PPC agency limits the internal integration and collaboration between your PPC specialists and other members of your team – for some management styles, this is preferred, as it simplifies company structure and clearly delineates distinct roles, with your campaigns managed professionally.
Using a PPC agency can be an effective cost-reducing measure, as you avoid taking on the salary and benefits of a full-time employee. However, it is worth noting that most agencies work with companies who have monthly PPC budgets of five figures or greater, so outsourcing may not be a viable option for smaller companies who are just starting a PPC campaign and have a limited budget.
If your company is operating with a smaller budget and is not yet ready to hire a full-time PPC specialist, consider bringing an online marketing generalist onto your team, or making PPC part of the duties of an existing web marketing overseer.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer in what approach to PPC will be most effective for your company. Whether an in-house specialist or a PPC agency relationship will best meet your goals depends on several factors, including your budget, the structure and culture of your organization, the goals of your PPC campaign, and more. You may be able to manage your PPC advertising without an agency in the early stages with existing personnel to oversee the project.
As your PPC advertising drives more growth, many companies discover it is far more effective to hire a PPC agency to manage the entire process of campaign planning and execution.