I will let you into a little secret about PPC campaigns. Once the initial setup work is done and you get the basics right, it does not take much time or effort to manage a successful and profitable campaign.
Your company probably does not need an agency to manage it for you. I usually advise my clients to save the 10-20% agency fees and do it themselves. Here is a breakdown of the reasons why you probably do not need to hire a PPC agency:
1. It is cheaper to do it yourself
Last week a particularly nasty storm blew some tiles off our roof, leaving a gaping hole that needed fixing. I had two options: hire someone to replace the tiles, or do it myself. To replace the tiles myself would have been much cheaper as I would not have to employ a roofer at an unknown rate.
However, doing it myself would require me to learn how to do it, which would cost me time. It came down to time vs money, and in the end I decided to hire someone - you have to weigh up the cost of your time when making decisions like this.
The above dilemma occurs with most things which need fixing, but with PPC it is not so simple. A PPC campaign is not a huge time sink once the campaign is set up properly, although it can be . You can certainly turn management of a single Adwords campaign into a full time job if you want to, but it doesn’t have to be.
My most profitable Adwords campaign was one I hardly touched once the initial setup was done. A few tweaks here and there were all that was required to keep the campaign profitable. Could more work have resulted in more profit? Possibly, but too much tweaking of ads, keywords and adgroup structure could have actually damaged the campaign. The old saying of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is true here.
So running a profitable PPC campaign, despite what some agencies may tell you, need not be hugely time consuming once the campaign is set up. It is therefore cheaper to do it yourself, rather than employ someone who charges a percentage of your monthly spend to do it for you.
2. You need not be overawed by the complexity of a PPC campaign
The chances are that when you log into Google Adwords for the first time you will be blown away by the amount of options available to you and probably extremely confused. You may have read online articles about how costly Adwords can be if you get it wrong and this can easily lead you down the agency path.
The truth is that Adwords is not all that complex. You will find that many of the options and settings are irrelevant to your business. Once you understand the basics - initial campaign settings, how to create ad groups, research and add keywords and create relevant ads - the rest is pretty simple: test and tweak until you get the campaign profitable.
3. You do not need thousands of keywords
One common misconception about the success of a PPC campaign is that you need thousands of long-tail keywords to test in order to find the cheapest clicks.
For starters, cheap clicks should not be your goal. Conversion from click to sale is the only important aspect of a PPC campaign. If you are making more profit from sales than it is costing you to advertise on Google, you are doing it right.
Secondly, creating thousands of keywords to begin with can result in huge costs. I have long used the following formula for success with Adwords: if a keyword doesn't convert after 100 clicks, it probably never will - delete it.
Just imagine the cost of testing thousands of keywords in this way. Let us say you have 1,000 keywords and are spending an average of £1 per click. Each keyword is going to cost you £100 before you find out whether it is worth sticking with. For 1,000 keywords that’s £100k. Which is a lot of money for most businesses. It is simply not needed. Start small and grow.
For every Adwords campaign I run, I start with just a handful of highly relevant keywords, grouped into small, manageable adgroups. This way, testing doesn’t cost the earth and you can quickly make a campaign profitable.
Then it is a case of researching new keywords and reinvesting the profit back into the campaign in order to scale it. As long as you have a comprehensive negative keyword list, you do not need just go for long-tail, exact match keywords. In my experience using a mixture of match-types is the best approach.
4. Website conversion rate is key
An Adwords campaign is doomed to failure unless the website you are directing traffic to is absolutely optimised for conversion from click to sale. Not all PPC agencies provide this service and at the end of the day, you know more about your potential customers than they do.
There are several things you can learn about conversion rate optimisation, but you do not need to have any knowledge of Adwords for this - and you certainly don’t need to be paying someone monthly to optimise your website.
Like the keyword testing, website conversion testing is an initial outlay of time, money and some tweaking, but once you have got it working you should leave it well alone.
You should be taking the time to ensure that your website is capturing the maximum amount of prospects possible. Forget brand awareness with Google Adwords and focus 100% on your bottom line. Until you have your website fully optimised, do not start an Adwords campaign as you will be wasting your money.
5. It is not time consuming once the initial setup is done
You need to get the basics right and spend time creating your Adwords campaign. Most of this time is spent researching keywords and more importantly, negative keywords.
Your aim is to create a campaign which is as cost efficient as possible. You only want to reach the eyes of people who are actively searching for the exact thing you are providing. If you want to pay thousands of pounds on clicks that do not convert very well, try Facebook Ads!
With paid search, there needs to be a smooth, consistent customer journey from ad impression right through to application or sale. Watertight tracking needs to be in place.
Your campaign settings need to be tailored to the market you are trying to capture. Minimise potentially wasted clicks from the start and you will not need to make many adjustments once the campaign is up and running.
Once the campaign is set up properly you do not need to spend several hours a day on it. Get it profitable, tweak as necessary and let the campaign history and CTR develop. Your quality score will go up over time and your bids will come down.
Eliminate keywords which do not convert and put yourself in the customer’s shoes when thinking of new ones. What kind of thing is your customer likely to search for? Do not simply rely on the Google keyword suggestion tool - everyone uses this. Think outside the box and you will find cheaper keywords with lower competition.
I have created many highly profitable Adwords campaigns over the past 10 years and I know from personal experience that it is not something which requires extensive ongoing management. PPC is an excellent form of passive income if you get it right. You could save yourself a lot of money by managing your own PPC campaigns.