Should I Choose A PPC Agency, Freelancer Or Do It Myself?
If you’re looking to promote your business with PPC advertising, you will eventually have a crucial question answer. Should you run PPC advertising yourself or should you pay someone else to do it?
There isn’t a one size fits all for all businesses when deciding who should manage their PPC advertising. You have a few options when it comes to PPC management in the UK. It will mainly depend on where you are at as a business, how aggressive your PPC marketing is, and how important PPC is to your business. I have broken down your options into six categories:
- Do it yourself
- Work with a PPC freelancer
- Work with a small PPC agency
- Work with a large PPC agency
- Employ an in-house PPC specialist
Do it yourself
The first option to consider is just to do it all yourself. While there are benefits to hiring someone else to do your PPC advertising, it isn’t mandatory to have a PPC expert. PPC platforms allow anybody to create a PPC account and start advertising their business.
This option can be perfect if you’re a sole trader or a very small business that is just getting started with PPC advertising. If you’re already quite knowledgeable on digital marketing practices in general, then you’ll also have an advantage with this method.
Recommended for monthly PPC spend: less than £500
Benefits of doing it yourself
Benefit 1: No PPC management costs – The most obvious benefit is that you don’t have to pay anybody else a PPC management fee. PPC agencies often won’t want to entertain any new business unless the fees are going to be more than £750 unless they’re a very new PPC agency just getting on their feet.
If you’re a sole trader or a very small business, then it can be challenging putting together the finances to spend a few hundred pounds a month on PPC advertising when you’re still not sure if you’ll get a positive return.
At least by running your PPC marketing yourself, you will be able to keep costs down. You may be tempted to consider a PPC agency in India to keep costs down, but I wouldn’t recommend this. To save yourself from poor quality PPC management, I would recommend only considering a UK PPC agency.
Benefit 2: Get started straight away – There’s no timely red tape, contracts or strategy planning work that is required before running your first PPC campaign. If you hire someone to manage your PPC marketing, then to cover their back, they will most likely require you to sign a contract, and request signoff before implementing major changes. This is necessary when working with someone else,
If you manage your PPC marketing yourself, you can implement whatever changes you want as soon as you decide to make a change. There’s no waiting around which makes your PPC marketing more flexible and able to react to issues much faster.
Benefit 3: Nobody will understand your business as well as you – Seeing as though this is your own business, it is understandable that nobody will understand your business or your goals as well as you do. You know best the direction that you want to take the business towards even though others may be able to help you get there faster.
It is likely that no one will be as passionate about your business and want it to succeed as much as you. This is understandable because it is your business and you have put in a lot of hard work getting it to where it is now.
You also bear the burden if the business doesn’t work. This means that you’re likely to work a lot harder to make your PPC marketing successful than someone else is. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll work better, more efficiently than a PPC specialist, or that you’ll make better decisions than them. It just means that you’re likely to work harder than them and put in more hours than them.
Complications with doing it yourself
Complication 1: No access to a digital marketing expert – The first issue to note is that if you’re not a PPC expert, then you could make the wrong decisions and run a poor PPC marketing campaign. Unsurprisingly Google makes it very easy to create your first campaign and start funneling money from your bank account to theirs. This does mean that it is very easy to make the wrong decision and spend a lot of money on Google Ads advertising while getting little to no returns.
Running a poor-quality PPC campaign will waste any savings that you got by not paying someone else to manage your PPC advertising. So, have a serious think about what would be required if you were to manage your PPC advertising. If you honestly don’t think that you will be able to run an adequate PPC campaign, then it may be better to pay someone else to manage your PPC advertising.
Complication 2: No access to paid third-party tools – There are several third-party tools that PPC advertisers can use to enhance their PPC marketing and gain an advantage over the competition. PPC agencies invest in these tools, but if you decide to run your PPC marketing, then it most likely won’t be financially viable for you to pay for these third-party PPC tools.
Complication 3: Learn PPC yourself – If you’re going to be running your PPC marketing, then you will need to learn how to run a good PPC campaign yourself. There is no one available to help you if you have any questions or run into problems.
On the plus side, a lot of content is available online to help you to learn how to do PPC. There are several blogs, YouTube videos, and webinars on the Internet. Just be careful to take from reputable sources as there is also a lot of inaccurate and out of date information
Complication 4: Your time is valuable– Learning how to do PPC, creating a campaign, optimising the performance, and implementing optimisations can be time-consuming. You’re just one person and may not be able to do all this while also dealing with all other aspects of running your own business.
The time that you spend on your PPC account is time that could have been spent on other areas of your business. You need to weigh up how valuable your time is and whether you could be spending it on doing more important tasks that will benefit your business a lot more.
A PPC specialist freelancer could be someone who started in a PPC agency and then moved to freelance after learning the trade. Using a PPC freelancer is a step up from managing your Pay Per Click account.
While you won’t have the benefit of a team working on your PPC account, you have someone who will most likely be more knowledgeable in managing a PPC account than you do. A freelancer will typically have worked with smaller PPC accounts which makes them a good choice for businesses with smaller budget PPC accounts.
Recommended for monthly PPC spend: less than £1,000
Benefits of a PPC freelancer
Benefit 1: More knowledgeable than yourself – A PPC specialist freelancer will be more knowledgeable than a small business owner on PPC best practices. They will also bring with them previous knowledge of what has worked and what hasn’t when they worked with other businesses.
Benefit 2: Better PPC performance compared to doing it yourself – Seeing as though the PPC freelancer is more knowledgeable than a small business owner, you should, therefore, see improvements in the performance of your PPC account. You should expect to see an increase in clickthrough rate and the general quality of your traffic. This should offset the fees of the PPC freelancer.
Benefit 3: You can work on other aspects of your business – Your time is precious. Small business owners work in many different areas. Whether it is improving its website, marketing their business, doing their accounts, or fine-tuning their business offering.
If you’re working on your PPC account, then you can’t be working on other areas of your business. For very small businesses, this may not be a problem. However, as you scale your business, you’re going to have less time to spend on PPC management. By employing a freelancer, you will have more time to spend on other areas of your business. Areas that could grow your business much faster and make you more money than if you were to manage your PPC account by yourself.
Complications with a PPC freelancer
Complication 1: Freelancer skills levels can vary – Be careful when hiring a freelancer as skills levels can vary. Anyone can call themselves a PPC specialist freelancer. This means that you could get a PPC freelancer who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Some freelancers will start off offering SEO services and then move into PPC services when their SEO clients ask them about PPC services. The skills required to run a profitable PPC campaign are different from the skills needed to do SEO. Just because a freelancer is good at SEO, does not necessarily mean that they will be good at running a PPC campaign. Look freelancers who specialise in PPC advertising and are not advertising themselves as general digital marketing experts.
Complication 2: Freelancers are often only experts on one PPC platform – PPC moves quite quickly. Some practices that were common a few years ago no longer yield the same results. This means that to stay up to date with PPC marketing best practices, it is important to keep researching and discussing it with other PPC experts.
If you hire a PPC agency, they will likely have several team members who are each stronger in certain areas. This means that they can draw on the skills of each team member when required. A PPC freelancer, on the other hand, works on their own and therefore has to stay up to date with all areas of PPC. This often results in freelancers being performing strongly in one PPC advertising platform and just ‘ok’ on using other PPC advertising platforms.
Complication 3: Not likely to have as many third-party tools – A PPC freelancer is not expected to be able to afford third-party tools to help them to run a profitable PPC advertising campaign for you. While there are several free PPC tools out there, paid third-party tools can help with PPC competitor monitoring and reporting, to name a few of the benefits. A PPC agency has a team of experts and many more clients than a PPC freelancer. This means that they can afford to purchase extra tools to help them with their PPC advertising.
Small PPC agency
I would class a small PPC agency as having anywhere from two to five PPC experts. Often a small PPC agency will be a freelancer or group of freelancers who have won enough PPC clients to be able to employ more PPC specialists and open an agency. It is still essential to do your research when choosing a small PPC agency as they can vary in the quality of their work. Be sure to read a blog on how to choose a PPC agency.
Recommended for monthly PPC spend: less than £1,000 – £10,000
Benefits of small PPC agency
Benefit 1: More expertise than a freelancer – A PPC agency is likely to have more experience and knowledge than a PPC freelancer. If you have a more complex account that uses Display marketing, remarketing, RLSAs, Amazon advertising, or a more complicated conversion funnel, for example, then a PPC agency is much more likely to be able to help you than a PPC freelancer
Benefit 2: Benefit from a team who share knowledge – a good PPC agency will encourage their staff to try new things and improve what the agency has to offer. This means that even if your PPC specialist doesn’t necessarily have the answer, they have a team of PPC specialists that they can speak to so they find the solution. You have a team of people that you can draw information from
If you’re running a Google Shopping campaign, then a PPC agency is much more likely to be able to recommend a good Google CSS partner to use. A PPC agency should be better able to advise on the right attribution method to use and what things to track as a conversion to name just a few examples.
Complications with a small PPC agency
Complication 1: More processes than a freelancer – PPC agencies have more of a need to protect themselves in case something goes wrong. This means that there are more paperwork and contracts to sign. For many businesses, this is beneficial, but it does slow things down.
Complication 2: Less control on your PPC account – If you’re a small business owner and have been used to working on your PPC account, then it can be difficult sometimes to give up control. Often a PPC agency will want to restructure your PPC account so that it is structured in a way that works for them, they may make decisions that you don’t fully agree with. You must let your PPC agency advise you on the best way forward. However, to get the most out of your PPC agency, make sure you come to them with suggestions and ask questions if you’re not sure why they have done something.
Large PPC agency
As your PPC account grows, the complexity of managing it may also grow. To ensure that your PPC account is profitable as it grows, you are likely to need to implement and test out new features and tracking options that will require a more knowledgeable team of PPC specialists. When this time comes, it may be time to move on from a small PPC agency and hire a larger PPC agency that has likely worked on more complex PPC accounts.
Recommended for monthly PPC spend: £10,000 upwards
Benefits of large PPC agency
Benefit 1: Better relationship with Google and Facebook – Large PPC accounts often work on large budget PPC accounts. Larger budget PPC accounts mean that they get much more support from advertising reps such as Google and Facebook reps. A large PPC agency is, therefore, more likely to get early access to new beta features. Having direct communication with advertising reps means that the PPC agency can get questions answered much faster and even get training sessions scheduled on the latest new features and best practices.
Benefit 2: Benefit from a dedicated team – A large PPC agency will often assign multiple people to work on your PPC account. It is common for a PPC advertising account to be assigned a PPC account manager, a PPC analyst, and a PPC executive. The PPC account manager is the main person that you communicate with. As they have more experience within PPC, they will often liaise with you and create a PPC strategy. The PPC Analyst will carry out the data analysis and will feed insights to the PPC account manager. The PPC Executive will carry out the day to optimisation work on the account.
There are benefits to having just one person working your PPC account because it means that you get to talk to the person who will be making changes to your account and also they will be very well acquainted with your PPC account. However, a large PPC account can benefit from more people working on it. It means that you get people who specialise in one specific part of PPC working on your account. The PPC account manager specialises in creating a winning PPC strategy, the PPC analyst is a specialist in analysing data, and the PPC Executive is efficient at carrying out the day to day PPC work.
Benefit 3: Better quality control and consistency – Large PPC agencies have worked hard to improve and unify their PPC agency offering. PPC staff go through a training program to ensure that they complete work in a way that is approved by the agency.
Larger PPC agencies often have their PPC account structure and templates to carry out certain data analysis. They will also have tools to help them monitor performance, spot trends and potential problems. For example, larger PPC agencies will have methods in place to track when a PPC account stops receiving any traffic. Also, they can track when spend levels shoot up (or are projected to) and spend the required amount of spending by the end of the month.
Complications with a large PPC agency
Complication 1: Less likely to entertain small fee clients – Larger PPC agencies have more overheads. This means that it is not profitable for them to take on smaller PPC accounts. They will, therefore, have a minimum fee threshold which means that a lot of smaller PPC accounts won’t be able to afford to work with them. If you’re a small business, then you will likely need to look elsewhere for your PPC management.
Complication 2: Changes often implemented slowly – Large PPC agencies have more processes in place to protect themselves and to ensure that everyone agrees with what changes should take place.
This improved communication has many benefits. However, it does mean that changes are implemented slower. For larger PPC accounts, this is the right thing to do. Large PPC accounts are often more complex and need more thought put into them. However, smaller PPC accounts are not as complicated and therefore, can benefit from moving much faster.
Complication 3: More expensive – Larger PPC agencies are often more costly than smaller PPC agencies. This is because they need to make up for the cost of employing more general staff like a receptionist, a human resources team, an accounts team, and a sales team, to name a few.
Once you become large enough, instead of going to the PPC agency route, you could choose to employ an in-house person to manage your PPC account.
Recommended for monthly PPC spend: £10,000 upwards
Benefits of in-house
Benefit 1: A lot more management hours – Most PPC agencies will charge by the number of management days that you purchase. A full-time in-house PPC specialist works out a lot cheaper per day than a PPC agency. This is as long as you require a full-time worker’s amount of days to manage your PPC account.
Benefit 2: More knowledge of your business – A PPC specialist is working on agency work on multiple PPC accounts. They, therefore, need to stay up to date on the developments within all their PPC accounts. This can be tricky. An in-house PPC freelancer only works on your account. This means that they can get to know your industry niche and stay up to date on the developments within it. Having a more in-depth knowledge of your business, the industry, the persona of your customers will help your PPC specialist make better marketing and optimisation decisions.
Complications with an in-house PPC specialist
Complication 1: Recruiting for a replacement can be tricky – PPC specialists are in short supply and can be challenging to find. Good PPC specialists are even more difficult to find. If your PPC specialist decides to move on, then it may take a while for you to find someone to replace them. This leaves your business at risk of not having anyone to manage your PPC account for a while.
Complication 2: Covering skills gap can be difficult –If you require an expert in a different PPC advertising platform, this can be difficult to find. For example, if you have a Google Ads expert and want to expand into paid social advertising on Facebook, then you could ask your Google Ads expert to manage your paid Facebook advertising. However, their knowledge of paid Facebook advertising may not be as strong as a Facebook expert. Another option is to find another PPC specialist to manage your Facebook advertising.
PPC advertising can be highly profitable when set up correctly and combined with a good marketing strategy. The person who you choose to manage your PPC advertising account will depend on how large your PPC account is, how successful it is, how many hours are required to manage it, and also how complex it is. It is also likely that you will need to change who operates your PPC account as your business grows and becomes more successful. Use the above suggestions as a guide to evaluate where you are with your PPC advertising and then decide on who will manage your PPC advertising account.