If you are like most marketers we meet, the idea of managing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on top of your marketing duties might seem a bit overwhelming. So you'll be forgiven if you choose to delegate the task to an PPC/SEO firm. And, you probably have plenty of other things to do, right? (Not to mention the fact you may not feel confident that you can get the same kind of results a professional would.)
So it stands to reason you would be quite interested when receiving a phone call from a PPC firm, offering to take care of account management for you. For a percentage of budget (typically 20-35% of the spend), pay-per-click experts will take care of your accounts. Sounds like a great deal, right?
It might sound like a bargain, and a timesaver, but I would advise you consider it very carefully. In the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of firms offering a managed services approach to activities that may not be all that well suited to the model.
In theory, it works like this: you write a check every month, and they ensure those activities are "maintained." However, while you’ll get that, you’ll likely discover there are some hidden costs as well, such as…
#1 Being Pitted Against Other Local Business Customers
Some helpful sales reps might contact you about raising your ad budget so you can get more clicks/leads, or to point out that competitors are increasing their budgets because it’s such a competitive space? Sounds helpful, right?
Well, it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that the rep was telling a similar story to half a dozen competitors – potentially pitting you against one another, artificially increasing ad budgets, and earning a bigger commission in the process.
Each year around renewal time, the rep will come around aiming not only to renew the contract, but also to increase the budget (without hesitating to apply pressure tactics).
On a side note, if the same company is managing your website for you – and the leads generated are lower than expected – they should be working to step up their lead capture game in that area before asking you to spend more on ads.
#2 Not Having Control of Your PPC Account
Perhaps the biggest challenge of all with a managed account is that oftentimes clients find themselves locked out of what they thought were their accounts. Turns out, given the supplier often creates the accounts, they may very well choose to retain ownership.
Let's stop and consider that for a moment... you won't be able to access your PPC account, nor view reporting or historical data. The vendor could essentially take those accounts and delete or resell the data via providing service to another firm, even a competitor. From my perspective, and likely yours as well, that’s not the position any business would want to be in.
In my View, Having Your PPC Continuously Managed is a Flawed Concept
Keep in mind that when you ask another business to “do it for me,” you lose the freedom to do it yourself. And really, that’s where the biggest results usually originate – from you. You're the one with the insights into your customers, and are the one who has had personal conversations. You know them better than any third party ever could.
To be fair, there are some really good companies out there offering managed services that are transparent and actually do deliver ROI and value for the service. But, there's still an endless list of PPC firms, ad agencies, and directory companies carving off monthly commissions because you are letting them. That's not likely to change until you stop accepting and funding the commission-for-managed-services model. But what options do you have, really?
You Could Consider Periodic Refinement Instead of Ongoing Management
We know that PPC success is built on knowing your customers and their needs extremely well. In the end, it's an aspect of marketing, and marketing isn't just about competing for attention on the ‘net. It's about building relationships and offering real solutions that attract ideal clients.
We also know that constant tweaking can wreak havoc. If you don't allow your efforts to settle for a bit, or to measure specific efforts, how will you know what's working and what's not working?
To achieve real results, your PPC efforts need to be focused. They need to zero in on the things that matter to your most important prospects: their pain points and their aspirations.
PPC doesn't need to be managed continuously. It really only needs an initial setup based on marketing knowledge and then periodic adjustment when you observe changes in buyer behaviour, revise your products or services, or when your priorities change. While some of the more technical setups might benefit from the guidance of a pro, only an insider (that's you) can know your customers well enough to hit the right notes every time.
So the next time you start thinking that outsourcing is a great way to save time or get better results, it very well might be, but at the same time, it can come at a cost you never expected. It's up to you to determine where the time savings is worth it.
Have you had a better or worse experience? Why not share it in the comments below or chat me up in social.