The online world of marketing has diversified over the last several years due to tougher competition and Google algorithm updates. Smart business owners are realizing that maintaining a website and practicing SEO simply aren’t enough anymore. To stay ahead of the competition, business owners have to utilize PPC advertising in addition to SEO and SEM. More and more SMBs are making the choice to invest heavily in PPC as it turns into an investment when complimenting SEO and SEM campaigns.
PPC is a massive and constantly growing industry worth more than $34.9 billion across the globe. In fact, since 2012, the PPC industry grew by 18 percent and is expected to become a $61.1 billion industry by 2016, with an estimated growth of at least 75 percent over the next 5 years. This just further proves business owners can expect to spend more for their PPC campaigns in 2015.
Next to your website, PPC should be your second priority to generate more leads, increase your web traffic, increase your online sales, and to achieve a measurable ROI. However, to accomplish each of these goals, you’ll need to choose the right PPC company.
“There are so many factors that go into choosing the right company. The agency should take the time to get to know your business and its model,” says Jake Waldrop, Sr. Marketing Specialist. “Without this understanding, they cannot deliver a truly exceptional campaign. The industry, competitors, and the constituents that make up your market are all going to affect your campaigns.”
Now more than ever, it’s essential you take the time to find the right company to handle your PPC campaigns as Google has cracked down on paid advertising. Choosing the wrong company can cause you to suffer some severe Google penalties, and you simply can’t afford to be on Google’s bad side.
“PPC can, and in fact, does include Search, Display, PLAs, Remarketing etc. Each of these have a future of their own, but one thing is for certain, Google is and continues to be at the forefront of data-centric internet advertising,” says Waldrop.
In addition to staying on Google’s good side, a PPC company needs to be able to produce the results you need to reach your goals quickly and efficiently.
“Every company should know exactly what their primary goal is and what the indicators are that lead to success. For example, if my goal is to maximize ROI, I’m not going to care as much about Impressions or CTR,” says Waldrop. “An agency doesn’t know your business like you. If they don’t ask what the end goal of a PPC campaign is, that’s throwing up a major red flag.”
With U.S spending for PPC estimated to rise to $27.37 billion in 2015, you need to find the best PPC company to achieve measurable results to further your business, even if you’re a small company. To help decipher the chaos when finding the right company for PPC campaigns, we spoke with 5 internet marketers to offer their insight on choosing the best company and what we can expect to see in 2015 for paid advertising.
How Much are Businesses Going to Spend in 2015 for PPC?
When it comes to PPC spending in 2015, the size of the business must be taken into account; however, when setting your budget for the year, 3 key factors must be considered– monthly budget, campaign budget, and growth opportunities. Advertiser Mike Poller also recommends to consider what your competitors are spending, the cost of keywords, and the estimated profits from each sale when creating your budget.
The advertising channels you choose also come into play when determining your budget, such as AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, and Twitter. Not to mention, your bidding strategies will play a role in your overall PPC spending, including manual CPC, automatic CPC, enhanced CPC, and more flexible bid strategies. And, lets not forget your industry’s role in PPC costs.
“Recommended spending will depend on your industry and the types of campaigns you’re looking to run. Some verticals are extremely competitive, and average cost-per-clicks can be upwards of $50 for some of the keywords. When keyword are that competitive, it will take a higher spend to accrue any decent traffic,” says Online Marketing Consultant Kristina Cutura. “Once an advertiser has narrowed down their targets and keywords, Google has tools that can help you estimate traffic and potential cost. I recommend starting with a more conservative amounts as you go through the period of testing and figure out what works, then increase budgets once campaigns start to be profitable.”
According to early surveys, agencies are predicting to spend as much as 70 percent more for client budgets. Business owners agree that they will likely see an increase in their budget, with the majority expecting to spend as much as 68 percent more PPC alone.
Many businesses choose to budget their marketing and advertising as a whole, instead of for each campaign or type of campaign. If this is the case, you want to estimate your total online marketing budget to consist of around 47 percent of your total spending, mainly focusing on SEM and SEO. However, your online display advertising, including PPC, should include an additional 34 percent of your total online marketing and advertising budget. Overall, your online display advertising and PPC, should consist of at least 10 percent of your total marketing budget.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a Company?
A good PPC company won’t just make their campaign look good on paper, but will instead prove their skills by increasing leads and accomplishing more than simply testing dynamic keywords. In addition, a good company will stand out from the crowd as they go above and beyond the industry standards for click-through rates and the minimum cost-per-lead goal. By doing so, it will show they have a general care for your business to succeed and aren’t accomplishing the bare minimum just to get the job done. Data driven companies who have an added flare other PPC companies lack should be ranked at the top of your list when deciding on an agency to hire. The out-of-the-box mentality will allow the company to individualize your PPC campaign, while tracking the true results that are generated.
To find the right company, that possesses all of the vital skills you need for an effective PPC campaign, you‘re going to need to do your research. You can learn a lot by simply Googling a company to gain background information. Not to mention, the PPC company you’re considering should be more than willing to provide their portfolio to put your mind at ease. You want a company who knows the ins and outs of the industry and is able to provide proof of their success.
“I recommend looking for a company with a track record of success and failures. I want to see that they take calculated risk and how they succeed. I want to see how they measure success–is it just clicks or is it closed business?” says Chief Marketing Officer, Holly Wolf.
In addition, the company will understand your goals and offer a detailed analysis of how they will achieve those goals and within a reasonable time frame. The company you choose must be able to prove to you how they are going to achieve the results they will generate and have the ability to properly track those results.
“Many agencies will provide the client with a dashboard of “results” that are entirely based on the top of the funnel (Impressions, CTR, Visits, Sessions),” says Waldrop. “It’s important to have a top to bottom view of your sales funnel when employing any PPC company.”
Cutura recommends making sure the company you’re hiring is Google AdWords certified and to check the Google partner page to verify. “Ask how long they’ve been doing PPC and make sure that the person who will be in charge of your account has solid experience as well. Many agencies focus on attracting new business, then outsource campaign management to a cheaper labor who does the work on the backend.”
A good PPC company will know exactly how to achieve location targeting, capture leads, and utilize effective bid management platforms to maximize revenue. The company’s track record of success and ability to produce results is equally as important as their communication and transparency.
The company you hire needs to communicate with you at all times– clearly and effectively. PPC campaigns are a collaboration between your business and the company you hire as you work together to achieve a high ROI. You shouldn’t feel as though they are keeping any information or techniques they use a secret. Basically, they need to be an open door and willing to answer any and all questions, as well as prove to you the methods they use are meeting Google algorithm requirements. Not to mention, the company you’re considering needs to hold a firm understanding of your business, your expectations, and your goals. If any of these areas are lacking, consider them red flags and look elsewhere.
How Worried Should I be about Google Penalties?
Although paid searches and organic searches are run by separate algorithms, the two work hand-in-hand as PPC picks up the extra traffic where organic searches fail. Despite the impact of the two being indirect, in light of the Hummingbird update and Google‘s Enhanced Campaign, the performance of PPC campaigns must improve to boost the user experience.
“What Google has tried to do with all their updates is to change this perspective and make it harder for people to be able to manipulate the results,” says Aaron Grossberger. “Their objective is that the most relevant and important website should be placed higher up for the searcher to find what they’re looking for.”
In addition, all algorithms need to be followed to prevent any harm from coming your way. PPC management needs to consider both user preferences and Google parameters to find a perfect balance. Thus, this will help build your conversion rates based on user response, overall, increasing your ROI. The ideal PPC firm will understand the importance of combining landing pages, text ads, and bidding optimization, which in return will aid your marketing landscape, CTR, conversions, and ROI. A PPC company should hold the knowledge of all online marketing aspects and the proper algorithms, as they all tie to one another. This understanding will help prevent the risk for any type of Google penalty.
“Make sure you hire someone who is familiar with Google’s many product and editorial policies. Your ads should not be frequently rejected due to issues your manager could have avoided,” says Cutura. “At the same time, Google also frequently makes mistakes and incorrectly disapproves ads that are actually fine, so you need someone who can spot these issues and knows how to deal with them.”
When considering a company’s proposal to handle your business’s PPC campaign, carefully evaluate their proposal for any red flags. A good proposal will include an establishment of strategy, keyword research and bidding, proposal for landing page development, and PPC campaign development. Not only must the company hold a firm understanding of PPC strategies, but all SEO and SEM algorithms and strategies as they all work together for effective online marketing.
“They have different algorithms that drive search/paid results. However, they are in the same sandbox so there is some impact on each other. PPC has little if any effect on your SEO. On the converse, SEO can have a large effect on your PPC. CTRs have been proven to improve when you have a top search result,” says Waldrop.
Just as an example, your PPC landing page. If your PPC landing page contains duplicate content, your PPC campaign will suffer low click throughs, but you’ll also be penalized under Google‘s duplicate content penalty. The most common ways to receive penalties with PPC occur when your PPC marketing campaign conflicts with your search engine ranking strategies. Therefore, in order to avoid penalties, you need to ensure all of your online marketing campaigns work together seamlessly as to not break any algorithm requirements.
Should I Choose a Local Company?
Many businesses, especially those that are smaller, choose to hire local companies because they want to know exactly who they are working with. However, the internet opens a gateway to possibilities, including working with anyone anywhere in the world. Location isn’t a huge factor, but more a personal preference.
“Location depends on the client’s goals. If it’s important to them to meet frequently in person, location could be important. However, a lot of the best PPC talent may not be available locally, so you’ll have to weight that,” says Cutura. “With the many powerful online meeting tools, most of the PPC related tasks can be handled remotely.”
However, if location is not an issue, you must be wary of certain companies located in other countries. Although they may have cheaper rates, you’ll generally get what you pay for, which can be a very costly mistake.
If you’re comfortable working with a company via Skype, email, or phone communication, don’t let their location limit the potential you have to work with a reputable company. On the other hand, if you’re going for a local business PPC campaign, a local company may be able to better understand your local targeted audience, unless you are targeting or residing in a small town. Many small towns simply don’t have the necessary resources needed when it comes to expertise in the area; therefore, don’t let your location border your options.
Is It Better to Work With a Large, Small, or Medium SEM Company?
The answer to this question again boils down to personal preference. There are many small companies who are easily able to do the exact same job with the same results as larger companies. Most often, small businesses prefer to work with smaller companies, while larger businesses tend to choose larger companies. Although, larger companies often don’t add that personal touch many enjoy when working with smaller companies.
“Large companies tend to be automated and, therefore, treat each client the same. This may work for a national organization where efficiencies can outweigh effectiveness,” says Poller.
However, Grossberger warns against using smaller companies, saying, “A smaller company would do well to understand a company, but will – at best – offer short-term value to their company and will likely lead to penalties in the future. In terms of small or large, a larger company is more likely to have the expertise in terms of marketing and on-site changes.”
On a more positive note for smaller companies, Grossberger says, “Smaller companies tend to have one person to manage your campaign, which would help him/her understand the full picture better.”
However, Cutura says there are advantages and disadvantages to both. She recommends, to make the choice, you should consider a few factors, “First, you’ll have to consider your PPC management budget. Some of the medium and larger agencies have fixed fees, usually based on a % of your ad spend.” She goes on to say, “Smaller companies could be more flexible in this regard. Larger companies could have more resources and people that can help manage and optimize your account. At the same time, they may be less specialized and have greater turn-over.”
No matter if the company is large or small, their ability to achieve the results you want should be the defining factor. They must have the track record to prove they can achieve your business’s goals. This involves fully understanding your business and working with you to succeed.
“If the company is small or large, you want to know that you have one person you can always go to and get the answer,” says Wolf. “The firm and the person has to be willing to learn your business so they can understand how your customer thinks.”
Whether you choose a large or small company, local or remote, they need to understand the full scope of PPC, but hold the ability to get to know your company inside and out to create a customized approach. The campaign they create needs to be individualized to meet your specific needs, not a cookie-cutter campaign.
Choosing the Right Company
To choose the best company possible, do your research and look for any red flags. Although every business owner wants to stay within their budget, that doesn’t mean that cutting corners and hiring the cheapest company possible is the best option. Find a company that fully understands your business and your needs, while holding the expertise and successful portfolio to back their results.
Work with the company you choose by clearly defining your goals in order to track your results to monitor your progress. The right PPC company will make you feel like a partner, not just a customer, while working toward your business goals.
Your end goals and expectation need to be fully understood by the company you hire. The company should provide you with a detailed outline as to how they will accomplish your goals with a timeframe.
By checking references and a company’s history you’ll lessen the likeliness you hire the wrong company. Finally, once you do hire the ideal company, be open to learning more about PPC. The more you learn, the better you’ll understand what exactly is occurring, what methods are being used, and how the results are being generated. PPC is an evolving industry and you don’t want to put your business at risk of hiring an under qualified company by not holding the proper understanding of paid advertising.
“Pay per Click Advertising: Why Businesses are Spending and Earning on Paid Search.” GetFoundByDesign.com
“PPC Reboot: Planning for Fall and 2015” ClickZ.com