For many organisations, both online and offline, PPC advertising isn’t just an important marketing channel, it is THE marketing channel. With search engines being the main gateway to the rest of the internet, having a successful advertising campaign on Google can be the difference between business success or failure.
At Inbound360 our main business is managing PPC advertising campaigns for our clients, but sometimes a campaign comes along which is so big or so mission critical it makes more sense for the client to build their own PPC team in-house rather than outsourcing the management of it to us or another agency.
Agencies are great (well some of them anyway!) but the reality is that when you employ an agency you’ll rarely get the same level of attention on your campaign as you would by hiring a full time employee, or a whole team to run the campaign in-house.
Deciding whether you need an in-house team
The obvious question to ask when deciding whether you need to recruit in-house to run your PPC or whether you’re better off with an agency is “is it cheaper to pay the salaries of X number of people than to outsource to Y agency”. Clearly cost is going to be a factor to consider but in reality this is rarely a linear equation. You need to factor in the cost of recruitment, retainment and staff churn when hiring-in against the cost of agency selection, price increases an agency management when outsourcing.
More importantly you need to be work out whether an in-house or outsourced team are going to deliver you better results. Hiring an intern to manage your PPC campaign might seem like a cost saver but the reality is if you’re running a campaign with a decent sized budget the amount mis-management could cost you may quickly wipe out any savings you might make by not paying an experienced professional to do the job. That said don’t assume hiring a PPC agency, and particularly a larger and more expensive agency, is going to guarantee you the best people working on your account. Get quotes from a number of agencies and quiz them on how many hours your monthly retainer is buying and what people will be working on the account on a day-to-day basis.
Getting the right people on-board
Recruiting good people in search marketing is extremely hard. There’s few people in this business with more than a handful of years experience and the guys who have been doing search for a decade or more are probably already at the top of their respective career ladders. That’s not to say there’s not very good, young search professionals out there to hire – the difficultly for you setting up an in-house team is working out whether the person you’re interviewing has the skills they claim to have. Unless you’re a PPC expert yourself its hard to tell the difference between real experience and well timed buzzwords.
Consider hiring an outside consultant to sit in on the interview process when you make your first PPC hire. They can quiz the applicants on their technical knowledge and experience to help you understand hat level they’re actually at.
Obviously checking references from past employers thoroughly is an essential part of the hiring process too.
Upskill existing staff
If the size of your campaigns doesn’t justify hiring a new member of staff or you want other team members to be able to provide holiday cover for your PPC person then upskilling existing members of your marketing team is an option. For handling the day to day management of your paid search campaign you want a team member with an analytical brain, an eye for numbers and some good IT skills. With some intensive training it should be quick and relatively easy to bring these team members up to a level where they can help run your PPC advertising.
Generally speaking there’s 3 options when it comes to training your team in PPC advertising:
Free online training – such as the online classrooms offered by Google are a great way for independent learners to get started with PPC. The big advantage here is they’re free and your team can fit training around their other work commitments. Bing Ads have a similar online training resource to Google.
Public training courses – a number of companies provide training courses in PPC advertising which you can send your team members along to. Prices typically range from £250-500 for a day long course which is about the right length of time to get a solid introduction to PPC advertising.
In-company training – this is how we do PPC training at Inbound360 and other agencies offer something similar. With In-company training days you get a bespoke training course tailored to your own campaign and the level of expertise among your team. The advantage of this type of training we find is that participants get a much more hands on experience and more of a chance to steer their own training to the areas of PPC where they need the most support.
Having a specialist team in-house is all well and good but as with hiring staff, how do you effectively audit the performance of the PPC team when the work they’re doing is alien to the rest of the company?
Having a PPC team lead with director level responsibility is one option. Or if you have a larger digital marketing unit within your organisation the ultimate responsibility for the PPC teams performance might lie with the marketing director or digital marketing director who will need to ensure they have enough knowledge of the workings of PPC advertising to effectively analyse whether the team are doing a good job.
Some large organisations with in-house PPC teams will also hire a PPC agency on a retainer basis to regularly consult with and audit the work of the in-house team to ensure they’re getting the most from their campaigns. This can work well as its easy for in-house staff to become siloed when only working on one campaign and agency staff, with wider experience of multiple campaigns in different sectors are likely to offer more insight when looking at the campaign with a fresh set of eyes.
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