Pay Per Click campaigns, whether it be across Meta, AdWords, Bing or any other chosen platform are a powerful tool to help drive targeted traffic and maximise your online sales and leads. However, managing the campaigns themselves effectively and efficiently demands expertise, time, and resources.
This is where PPC consultants and PPC agencies come into play. They are the experts you can turn to for help in creating and managing successful paid search accounts. However, the question still remains: Should you go for an agency or a freelance PPC consultant? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both options to help you make an informed decision that best suits your business needs.
Pros of Working with a PPC Agency
With a myriad of choice in the Paid Media Agency landscape it’s difficult to know where to start in terms of separating the good ones from the not-so-good ones. Here are some fundamentals you should look for when looking into potential agency partners as well as the reasons why working with an agency might be the right path for you:
1. Diverse Skill Set
- Expertise Across Platforms: PPC agencies generally split their paid media teams into channel specialisms making it easy for you to deploy a cross-channel strategy.
- Data Analysis and Strategy: Agencies also generally have specific teams for data analysis and tracking insights. These teams are well versed in not only reporting on data but also identifying the golden nuggets of opportunity that can be used to convert analysis into data driven strategy.
2. Resources and Technology
- Access to Advanced Tools: There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s expensive to run a comprehensive tool set. Agencies often have access to premium PPC management tools and software, or, in some instances even develop their own proprietary tools, giving your campaigns a technological edge.
- Scalability: Agencies can quickly scale your PPC efforts as they have access to people and tools on deck. This means they can turn the dial up or down fast to match your business goals and budget.
3. Team Collaboration
- Collaborative Efforts: Strength in numbers is often a pro of working with an agency. Having team members at various stages of their career development and experience means you get a cross section of eyes on your account, all of whom bring a fresh point of view.
- Continuous Monitoring: With access to industry leading tools, agency teams are able to continuously monitor your campaigns, making real-time adjustments to improve performance.
4. Experience and Reputation
- Proven Track Record: Established agencies typically have a portfolio of successful campaigns and satisfied clients, which can instil confidence in their capabilities.
- Industry Insights: Top agencies are often affiliated with or have a close relationship with the top platforms such as Google and Meta meaning they get access to new tools and features sooner than most.
5. Comprehensive Services
- Omni-channel offering: Lots of agencies offer a several channels outside of PPC, such as SEO and web development, meaning you can keep all teams and channels under one roof.
Cons of Working with a PPC Agency
While PPC agencies offer numerous advantages, they also come with some downsides that you should consider:
- Higher Fees: Naturally due to their own extensive overheads, the expertise and resources of an agency come at a significant price. Their fees are significantly higher than partnering with a PPC consultant or freelancer.
- Budget Split: Often an agencies cost model will be related to a % of your PPC spend (usually around 10 – 15%) meaning the more you spend on clicks, the more you spend on management. This makes it trickier to keep a handle on true RoI.
2. Communication Challenges
- Change in Contacts: Naturally people who work in agency life move around a lot, especially at the start of their career as they progress up the Paid Search hierarchy. This means you could be subject to having several people on your account over a given time period and every time a new person lands they have to learn your ropes all over again.
- Response Times: There’s no denying that agency life is hectic and high pressure. Occasionally this unfortunately means that sometimes communication comes down to who shouts the loudest gets heard meaning the low-maintenance clients go through periods of being overlooked.
3. Lack of Uniqueness
- One-Size-Fits-All Approaches: To help with consistency of training agencies may use standard strategies for multiple clients. Standardisation doesn’t always work for every client as your account may require nuances outside of standard practice to perform at its peak.
- Less Agility: Large agencies especially come with layers of process which makes decision making and changes to strategies more lengthy. Smaller boutique agencies and consultants have less red tape to navigate so can flex to clients specific needs more easily.
Pros of Working with a PPC Consultant
Now, let’s explore the upside of collaborating with a PPC consultant:
1. Personalised Attention
- Direct Communication: When you’re a consultant your reputation is your biggest selling point so getting the basics like great communication right is essential.
- In Depth Expertise: Consultants have often been in the industry for several years working before going freelance giving them in depth expertise and a wealth of knowledge across several industries and sectors. They can draw on their expanse of know-how to drive bespoke strategies that fit your business needs exactly.
- Lower Overheads: Whilst day rates might be range anywhere from £300 – £500 for an experienced PPC consultant this is still, on the whole, considerably less than an agency day rate.
- Budget Allocation: Because you are spending less on management you can divert more budget direct to clicks meaning RoI is better.
- Adaptability: Because good consultants pride themselves on good communication they can quickly react and adapt to changes in your business needs.
- Agile Decision-Making: Because the relationship is exclusive between you and your consultant as opposed to a team that operates as part of a much bigger agency machine, decisions and adjustments can be made swiftly without bureaucratic processes.
4. Ownership and Accountability
- Direct Responsibility: With a consultant, you have a single point of contact who is directly accountable for the success of your campaigns meaning consistency. Having a single, senior level consultant as your campaign manager also means that your account is never being babysat by newer, less experienced execs.
5. Long-Term Relationships
- Building Trust: Building strong lines of communication and having direct responsibility for accounts means that consultants strive to build long-term relationships and understanding your business.
- Continuity: In the world of freelance continuity is key to keeping the lights on which, in turn, is great for you as consultants put their all into doing their very best to prove their worth so that they can work with you on a continuous basis.
Cons of Working with a PPC Consultant
While PPC consultants offer a myriad benefits, there are some potential things to consider:
1. Limited Resources
- Lack of In-House Team: Not having a team around you to bounce ideas off can be restricting. However, with the influx of freelancer communities such as Freelancing Friends and Fellow Freelancers, this is becoming a lot less of an issue for consultants to contend with.
- Technology Constraints: They may rely on free or basic tools, limiting their ability to leverage advanced PPC management technology.
2. Time Constraints
- Limited Availability: Naturally a consultant is beholden to their own time constraints meaning the good ones get booked up FAST.
3. Dependency on Individual Expertise
- Single Point of Contact: If your consultant works completely solo you may experience times where communication is completely cut off when they’re away on holidays or on other client meetings.
Making Your Decision
Choosing between PPC consultants and PPC agencies ultimately depends on your specific requirements and priorities. Here are some key considerations to help you make the right decision:
- Budget: If you have a limited budget and want to allocate more funds to ad spend, a consultant or freelancer may be the way forward for you.
- Complexity: If your PPC campaigns are intricate and span multiple platforms, an agency’s diverse skill set could serve you better.
- Personalisation: If you want someone who can really get under the skin of your business and act as though they’re in your shoes a consultant could be for you.
- Industry Expertise: Look for expertise that aligns with your industry or niche. Depending on their backgrounds consultants have often covered several niches and sectors. Whereas if you’re a specialist in your field you may want a boutique agency that fits the experience bill.
To summarise, the decision between PPC consultants and PPC agencies is not a one-size-fits-all choice. Both options have enormous upsides and can really catapult your online success. No matter which route you choose there will always be the reliance on you to have a clear understanding of what you want your business to achieve. If you’re armed with this knowledge from the start of the engagement, whether that be with a consultant or an agency, the relationship you form with them will operate much smoother than working with them on a “one way street” kind of mentality.