Having bounced back and forth between in-house and agency roles for my entire career, my experience runs the gamut of managing PPC on both sides.
There are undoubtedly times where it makes more sense for a client to run their paid search efforts in-house.
But, there are clear advantages to having an agency get behind the wheel of an AdWords account and take the results to new heights.
Some businesses do that from the start, while others will manage it in-house until they absolutely just cannot anymore.
The latter situation can cause friction; the client may not truly want to let go, they are very married to “their way,” they feel marginalized…there are many situations that can create a tense relationship with an agency that’s brought on to take over.
The key is both the agency and client knowing the advantages the agency has, and capitalizing on those, along with making sure you hire the right agency from the start.
The agency cannot replace the institutional knowledge of the client, but they have insight the client doesn’t, making it a symbiotic relationship.
Here are some of the ways clients can get an edge by letting an agency have the reins.
1. AdWords Industry Norms & Benchmarks
Assuming the agency has experience in the client’s industry, they have a bird’s eye view of what is usual for the space the client is operating in.
They are usually familiar with CPC ranges, the likely conversion rates, and the offers that convert.
This can save the client a lot of time testing different things since they’d otherwise have to figure some of that out from scratch.
It can also give some reassurance that an account’s performance is falling within normal ranges, or a quick red flag if it isn’t.
All of that can take a lot of trial and error and a considerable amount of time to figure out when it’s managed in-house and there’s no frame of reference.
2. Beta Testing Opportunities
Agencies that have a dedicated Google rep get in on all kinds of goodies that clients aren’t as likely to be offered if they’re handling their account solo.
Agencies are an ongoing source of growing revenue potential for Google, and it’s easy for reps to send one email to an agency contact about a beta test and get five accounts enrolled.
Clients get a chance to try brand-new methods their competition may not have access to and have a strong grasp on it with solid results by the time it rolls out to the general population.
In highly competitive sectors, this is a really big advantage.
3. Two Heads Are Better Than One
Managing the same account forever as one person or internal team can lead to sleepwalking through account management.
You feel like you’ve been there, done that, tried this other thing, and there’s nothing left.
Agencies generally have a team focusing on your account, which not only brings a fresh perspective but also different ways of thinking.
This can breathe new life into a stale situation, and exploit new pockets of growth and scale for a client.
Agencies also tend to have a finger on the pulse of the industry at large, so they may have well-informed predictions about coming changes, or new opportunities.
4. Agencies Are Multi-Disciplined
There are many times where an account might struggle, but the solutions to it aren’t things a client can handle internally.
Often employers have someone who is great at managing the keywords and bids, but something like a low conversion rate is a huge torpedo to the results.
The person managing the media usually isn’t the person who can design the landing page and put together a CRO plan, so they have to find a vendor to do that… and then once they do that, they realize they’re capturing leads but don’t have an email nurturing plan in place.
In walks another vendor to handle that, and before you know it, the internal media person is now juggling multiple vendors to daisy-chain together a solution to try and make everything work better.
Agencies can typically do this more efficiently. They may have departments specifically to loop in for issues like this, or they have preexisting relationships with contractors or other agencies that specialize in other areas.
This allows them to expand and contract the team specific to client need, while everything remains stable on the client side of the equation.
There are also many nuances just within AdWords that require different expertise.
E-commerce clients who run Shopping ads can really benefit from agencies that have an arm of people disciplined in feed optimization or third-party feed management platforms.
Clients that run app install campaigns will get a leg up from agencies that have people who understand third-party tracking platforms like AppsFlyer.
5. Frozen in Place Due to Turnover
I’ve encountered a number of clients that find themselves frozen when the employee handling their paid search leaves.
It gets rolled up under someone else in the interim who doesn’t have expertise, the results suffer, and the employer scrambles to hire someone.
Agencies give stability from this standpoint, and the cost becomes savings compared to the cost associated with results plummeting, and the hiring and vetting of a new internal manager.
If a client’s agency contact leaves, there’s a transition period but they are immediately supplied with someone knowledgeable that takes over and keeps everything moving in the right direction.
There’s no downtime, and if the point of contact on the client side leaves, the media is still in the hands of the agency to manage until the new client-side contact is hired.
Ultimately, it’s not just hiring an agency that can bring these advantages, but also hiring the right agency.
Clients who know their needs and what their particular culture is like are likely to do a better job of finding the right agency partner.
When that happens, all of the above takes place effortlessly, and the results are better for it.
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