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When it comes to PPC management, is a company or a tool the best option? We share our advice on the subject.
When it comes to getting help with managing your PPC advertising, it can be hard to know which option’s best.
That’s what we’re here for: to outline what’s on offer and how to decide what’s best for you.
Firstly, let’s look at the differences between a PPC management company, agency and tool.
There’s little difference between a PPC management company and agency. A PPC management agency may be a company, but a company may not also be an agency.
It’s not worth getting confused over: think of them as the same thing.
A PPC management tool is a piece of software that helps you manage your online advertising. Good tools also offer extra features which make your life easier and save you time and money. You just have to work out which ones are right for you.
To help you make your decision, let’s take a look at Jeff’s situation. Jeff is a 30-year-old business owner who runs PPC advertising campaigns to bring in new clients.
Having worked for a large building company, Jeff decided to take the leap and start-up on his own. He’s great at what he does, but always needs to keep an eye out on the customers he’s bringing in. It’s not often that his customers come back the following week wanting another extension or roof.
Over the years, Jeff has found running ads on Google to be highly successful. Recently, he’s started spending money on Facebooks Ads. In the future, he may consider Bing too if there’s enough relevant traffic on there for him.
Jeff’s main problem now is that he doesn’t have the time to give his ads the attention they need. His company is bigger than ever, and he needs to focus his attention on converting these leads into customers and making sure his team do a great job.
Jeff knows he doesn’t have to do it all himself. And he’s aware there are experts around who know how to optimise his campaigns. He thinks it would be worth spending a bit more money on PPC if it meant the overall return on investment (ROI) was higher.
His friend was in a similar situation and found a PPC management company to take everything off his hands. Apparently it was expensive, but now he doesn’t have to worry about a thing (at least in a PPC sense).
Some of his competitors make use of tools. He knows this because their ads rank higher than his, despite the business owners knowing very little about PPC.
Whilst Jeff knows there are lots of tools out there to help, he doesn’t know where to start looking for them.
The options available offer a wide variety of advantages and disadvantages, so you need to know what you need from them before you can find your perfect match.
The first thing Jeff needs to work out is what exactly he needs. What does he spend the majority of his time doing? Could a machine do it faster? Or is it expertise he’s lacking?
Technology means it’s easier than ever to run your own campaigns, but when you have loads of ads to manage, it quickly becomes more than one person can handle.
You don’t want to be missing out on leads because there’s too much admin to sift through. You want to spend your time finding customers. Being an Account Manager is not your full-time job, but it is a job in itself. If your campaigns become big enough, you need to find a way to make things easier.
There are loads of things you can get help with. If you don’t know what’s out there, the only way to know is to get looking. Compare the features of the most popular PPC tools with the offerings of management companies. Be sure to look at the reviews of other people that have been in your situation and how it has changed their day-to-day routines.
Here are some things you should consider getting help with:
There’s a vast array of PPC management tools out there. Some are free, some you pay for monthly, and some are one-off payments.
Firstly, it’s important to view any payments as an investment. If the tool is right for your business, then it shouldn’t really be an issue in the long term. But, it’s important to do your research to make sure you have access to everything you need.
The main problem is often knowing what it is you need. What is out there that can help you?
Free tools are a great starting point because they show you the most basic things you can begin to automate. They’re also a great way of checking what you’re doing already, so you can get a better idea of whether you’re on the right track or not.
A word of warning though, don’t just rely solely on free tools.
If you’re struggling to come up with new keywords for campaigns, check out our article on PPC optimisation tools.
Similarly, if you’re using Google Ads, Google offers a wide range of editing tools that a lot of Account Managers use as their bread and butter.
Like anything, if you pay for something it usually performs better.
Technology means that PPC management tools have come a long way. Many of the best ones incorporate AI too.
When people talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, everyone freaks out. AI isn’t something to fear, and it can make PPC management a lot easier.
The main gripes of managing ad campaigns are the number of time-consuming tasks they're filled with. Particularly if you need a report, then you can spend hours building them and sending them to colleagues and clients. Often, it’s only a few key metrics you need to display, and they get hidden behind tons of irrelevant data.
Adzooma’s custom reporting feature allows you to build and download reports with your own logo quickly and easily. You can also save templates so when you have to go back again, the work is already half done for you.
Similarly, you can easily see at a glance which parts of your campaigns need focusing on first. This means you can be sure you won’t be wasting your time tinkering with something that’s minor whilst another campaign is wasting money. You’ll be able to get a quick overview of how things are going and prioritise accordingly.
Adzooma uses automation to allow you to set up rules. This means you don’t have to have one eye on your campaigns at all times. You can set rules up so that, if they become true, you can pause the campaign and get a notification. You even get a notification telling you a change has occurred so you can go back in and make changes.
For instance, if a campaign gets less than 10 clicks in 7 days, it will be paused and you’ll be notified. Alternatively, you could change a budget if it’s underperforming so that you’re not wasting it.
Adzooma’s Opportunity Engine is focused around suggesting ways to improve your ads. This means you can optimise your account with just a few clicks. You don’t have to trawl through tons of data to find insights – all the hard work has been done for you.
Agencies offer a hands-off solution which may or may not appeal to you depending on your business. Tools offer more control, but there’s a learning curve that comes with using them.
With a PPC management company, your campaigns sit with experts that work on PPC advertising day in and day out. They know exactly how to make campaigns work to their full potential.
However, you’re not the only account they have to handle. How do they get through their workload? Tools.
Agencies make use of the same tools which are available to you and I. Some clients find this good practice, whilst others think that they might as well use the tools themselves and cut out the middle man.
Of course, it’s not as easy as picking up a tool and achieving the same results as a PPC manager. But if you have the time and inclination to learn, then studying the software yourself can be a real investment. The PPC world changes fast, so it’s a good way to know you’re on top of everything if you’re managing things yourself.
With a PPC management company, you have to trust that they’re on their game and stay up-to-date with things.
A good way to do this when researching is to check out their current ads and website.
How well do they sell themselves? Because this is how well they’re going to do it for you.
Do they have a blog? And is it regularly updated? This shows how in tune they are with the industry.
Look at their competitors. Do they do things like competitor bidding? Doing some shopping around now will save you time and effort in the future.
You’ll also want to look at the experience of the company. This is not necessarily how long the company has been running, but rather the experience of the manager who will be looking after your accounts.
The main benefits of using a PPC management company can be summed up as:
Let’s say Jeff decides to go with a PPC management company. But Jeff doesn’t do much research. He just searches on Google for one nearby that looks alright, and makes an appointment.
The initial meeting goes well. His Account Manager, Doreen, seems nice and has a lot of experience handling PPC accounts. She listens to him explain what he does day-to-day and what his monthly budget is. Jeff feels relieved that he can pass the responsibility of his campaigns over to the experts, and signs up.
Doreen sends Jeff some emails outlining the plan for his accounts. Jeff has to make some changes as he doesn’t feel the plan is exactly right for where he sees his business in the future. He realises he probably should have spent more time explaining what he wanted to get out of his ads both in the short and long term in the first meeting.
Doreen alters the action plan. Everything looks fine to Jeff. If he’s honest though, he doesn’t really know the details of what he’s getting for his monthly payment. But surely all PPC companies do similar things?
Things start off really well and Jeff is happy that his campaigns have been changed for the better. But, Jeff feels like the time he’s saved from having to work on his campaigns is now being spent trying to get hold of Doreen.
If he wants to make changes, he has to go through her.
Every time Jeff calls up, he’s told Doreen’s in a meeting. That’s fine, he leaves a message for her to call him back. He waits, but gets nothing. He sends an email. Jeff eventually gets a reply a few days later.
Doreen also sends him monthly reports on how things are performing. Problem is, the reports are so detailed Jeff has no idea what he’s looking at. Again, Jeff feels like he’s not saved as much time as he’d hoped.
Jeff feels he could have gotten more from a different agency if he’d known what he wanted. Now, he’s tied into a monthly contract and isn’t sure he’s much better off than he was before.
Let’s look at the story if Jeff decided to down the PPC management tool route.
Finding a PPC management tool took more work than calling an agency would have done. Jeff felt that, if he was going to be doing the legwork, he wanted to be sure the tool wouldn’t be something he’d come to despise.
Jeff already knows the basics of PPC. His main problem is time. He doesn’t have the time to be dedicated to his campaigns. He can easily miss something like his budget overspending because he’s been busy on-site for a few days.
Another problem is that he doesn’t know how to optimise his campaigns. Stuff that he’s read online isn’t specific enough to his company. He knows he could probably find insights in all the data he collects on his ads, but he doesn’t know how to make head nor tail of it.
The tool Jeff picks is called The PPC Wizard.
The PPC Wizard has good reviews and offers different features which claim to make his PPC campaigns more successful. Jeff just has to get to grips with the interface and different things he can do inside the platform.
It would be helpful if the platform guided Jeff through what was on offer and how to do things. A bit like the video game tutorials he used to have as a kid. They were great because you could skip them once you felt like you had enough information.
The problem with The PPC Wizard is that Jeff felt abandoned inside the interface. Luckily, the software was fairly intuitive to use and Jeff got to grips with things quickly.
His favourite thing about the management tool is the aspects of his campaigns that he can automate. Once he’s set them up, he doesn’t have to worry about them again. He gets notifications when changes happen. When he does have time to look at his campaigns, he can log in and, with just a few clicks, apply the suggested optimisations that he likes the look of.
Jeff wishes he’d tried a platform that offered a free trial first though, so he could see whether he’d actually get on with the tool. He’s not sure what else is out there and would have liked to do more investigating rather than committing straight away.
Whichever Jeff you follow, one thing is clear: leaping into things isn’t the best decision.
There are loads of things out there all designed to help you. But you don’t know which one is right for you without doing some research.
Both agencies and tools are great options, but if you dive in expecting either of them to work for you straight away, you may be in for a surprise like Jeff was.
When it comes to deciding whether a PPC company, agency or tool is right for you, you need to be informed. You need to understand what you want your ads to do for you in the long run, rather than just because you need more time. This way you can be sure that the route you choose will help you get there.
After all, it’s no good choosing a tool if you’ve no PPC experience and want to launch 100 campaigns in a week. (You might also want to rethink things a bit.)
Even a great automation tool won’t get you where you want to be. Similarly, you don’t need to hire a whole agency if what you’re already doing is nearly there. You might think you need to pay a lot out a month but may be surprised at how technology has progressed. You can do more with PPC ads by yourself due to things such as AI becoming more accessible.
Adzooma makes use of automation in an affordable way, showing how you don’t have to have a huge budget to be able to reap the benefits.
Machine learning is the future: whether you harness its power through a tool or an agency that makes use of it. You want to be sure that things are as easy as possible to manage.
You also want to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Pick up free trials where possible and see if you actually use the tool. There’s no point subscribing to something that you don’t use – like that gym membership. Similarly, with agencies you often have a fixed monthly fee and then may get extras on top of that. Things can get expensive fast if you’re not clued up. So, be wise as to what you actually need, and base everything off how it is going to help you achieve those goals.
The Adzooma platform comes with a fully functional free trial and after that doesn’t require a contract, so you can cancel at anytime. This means you can see how it can help your campaigns without having to stump up loads of cash. It’s an investment, but without the risks.