Using a PPC agency vs a freelancer to manage your PPC campaigns–what is better? After all, Google and Microsoft Ads are always changing with new updates. Do you have time to keep up with the latest features and adapt quickly?
You’re already investing in ads, and hiring someone else to manage it, whether it be an agency or freelancer, will require an additional expense. Some small business owners take a hands-on approach with a do-it-yourself (DIY) management style, and others hire an in-house PPC specialist.
Each management option has its advantages and drawbacks, so you must evaluate your options carefully. After all, whatever you choose will be in charge of your hard-earned marketing budget.
In this article, we’ll explore each option’s benefits and limitations to help you decide which approach is right for you.
Option 1: DIY
For many small business owners, a DIY option is the most appealing option – especially if you have a lower and limited budget. This allows you to fully control every aspect of your campaign, from set-up to ad copywriting and daily management. This means you will not have a management fee you would need to pay an agency or freelancer.
However, managing PPC campaigns can be time-consuming to do it correctly and can often have a steep learning curve. You must stay up-to-date with the best practices, PPC platform updates, and the latest trends. Many business owners wear multiple hats, and managing PPC tends to be one of the lower priority items even though they need it to get new leads. When PPC campaigns are low priority, it’s common to see poor campaign performance, wasted ad budget, and a negative ROI.
This option is only good if you are a small business owner committed to learning the ins-and-outs of PPC lead generation.
Option 2: PPC Freelancing Specialist
PPC freelancers are individuals who typically have experience in managing PPC and work independently to provide services to clients. They can work on an hourly basis or a retainer (monthly fee) basis. Great freelancers will have in-house or agency-level experience. You should find someone with at least five years of experience as they have had enough industry experience. Try to avoid freelancers who have no agency/corporate experience unless they have solid results in your niche.
Freelancers are an excellent option because they can independently manage all aspects of your campaign. Tasks will include keyword research, campaign set-up, and monitoring. Many small business owners like freelancers because they have one dedicated person and point of contact managing everything for their PPC campaign. And typically, freelancer rates are not marked up vs agencies that need to account for tons of overhead and staff.
Freelancers are not a good option if your company requires a large number of hours or you require work from multiple team members, or you’re spending $50K+ a month. You will likely need more resources for the best results. It’s still possible for freelancers to get great results at that ad spend level, but it depends on how many other clients they have on their roster.
A common problem with freelancers vs a PPC agency is that they tend to say “yes” to too many projects and become overwhelmed. Evaluating a freelancer’s workload and time commitment will be necessary if you choose to go this route.
Option 3: PPC Agency
Choosing a PPC agency vs a freelancer can be a smart investment as agencies bring a wealth of expertise and resources to the table. Expect to interact with a couple of team members depending on how the agency is structured, or you may have a team dedicated to you depending on your ad spend level.
Some Fortune 500 companies have an agency that is 100% dedicated to their company. Other PPC agencies have multiple clients and multiple teams within that agency that are dedicated to each account.
One benefit of working with an agency is that you will have access to an experienced team in your specific business field (typically if it’s a good agency). However, agencies can be costly for small business owners. Some PPC agencies will only offer long-term contracts (6 months to 1 year or more) or require a minimum budget spend to make it worthwhile for their margins.
If an agency has too many clients and not enough employees, your company will not receive enough attention, which can result in less hands-on activity and poor results. There is also the issue of a revolving door of team members if the agency is poorly run.
Option 4: In-House PPC specialist
Hiring in-house means having someone that is solely dedicated to your PPC campaigns within your company. They will be fully immersed in your business in a way agencies and freelancers cannot. You will get more control and visibility into your campaigns, enabling you to make adjustments quickly.
However, this is a costly option. You need to pay a full salary, benefits, and provide training. Hiring the right candidate can be challenging, especially if this is your first time ever running a campaign or hiring someone with PPC expertise. How will you know what questions to ask if you’re not an expert yourself? Employee turnover is something you also need to consider. If your trusted in-house PPC specialist leaves, you will need to restart the hiring process which disrupts the campaign performance.
Hire an in-house specialist if you have been running your campaigns for years and need a more dedicated resource. You need to have a large enough budget to support it and know what you’re doing with PPC. Most small business owners don’t fall into this category which is why they typically go for options 1 to 3.
What Option is Best For You?
What works for your business may not work for another. Choosing a PPC agency vs a freelancer will take some evaluation. This includes looking at your current marketing efforts and business goals in order to find the best option. Think about your monthly ad spend, how much you value PPC as a lead generation channel, and prior campaign performance (if any).
Your needs may also evolve over time! If you started with a larger agency and it’s not working out, you may need to consider other options. It really just depends on your business situation and budget.
If you need a PPC lead generation expert, contact Level 28 Media today for a free discovery call.
Michelle Kop is a marketing consultant and award-winning pay-per-click marketing strategist. She has over 8 years of professional paid advertising experience in Google and Microsoft Ads, with a specialization in lead generation for B2B and B2C companies.
After working in corporate marketing with Fortune Global 500 Brands like Toyota and BP, Michelle founded Level 28 Media, a lead generation micro-agency for small to medium businesses.