D.I.Y vs. Professional PPC Management

Concerning PPC management, small business owners typically go with the Do It Yourself (D.I.Y) option.

Most articles will tell you that you should never manage your PPC account, tell you all the drawbacks of self-managed accounts, and push for their managed solution.

While it’s clear that an account managed by a pro will perform better, that doesn’t mean managing your account will be a complete failure.

Benefits of PPC Self Management

Many small businesses perform self-management and have realized a good Return On Investment (ROI). The reason is that both Google and Bing have put in a great deal of effort to make it easier for small businesses to manage their accounts.

For this article, I’ll be focusing on Google Ads, as Google and Bing Ads are very similar.

First of all, they have plenty of tutorials and documentation to help you along the way. There are hundreds of articles ranging from Google Ads setup and basics, up to more advanced topics like setting up campaign experiments.

Even low budget accounts have access to an AdWords advisor if you have any questions. They’ll also call you now and then to offer recommendations and give advice!

If you’re not sure how to set your bids, they have different automated bidding options to choose. Some of these are –

  • Maximize Clicks Sets your bids to get as many clicks as possible
  • Target Search Page Location Sets your bids to give your site the best chance of appearing on the first page
  • Maximize Conversions Sets bids to get the most conversions
PPC Bidding Options for AdWords

Another reason to choose self PPC management is the high cost of hiring an agency. It doesn’t make to much sense to pay $500 per month to manage a $500 account. It would be much better to put that money into the monthly budget, bringing it up to $1000.

With this said, if you’re going to manage your account, you can’t “set it and forget it”. When PPC advertising first started, it was possible to set up your account, and then let it run without touching it. However, that’s no longer a good option. Some of the reasons for this are that-

  • Google continually adds new functionality to their software. Competitors who keep an eye on their accounts will take advantage of these new features, and use them to outperform you.
  • Search trends change. While your main keywords will remain fairly consistent, you’ll need to change your bids or even keywords based on consumer trends.
  • Competitors who test ad copy write better-performing ads than you. Testing and experimentation are necessary to keep your PPC account performing well.

If you’re going to manage your account, just remember, you have to manage it!

The best piece of advice for D.I.Y PPC is to use exact match keywords only. These are keywords enclosed in brackets as shown here – [example keyword]

Using exact match keywords will lower your impressions (the number of people who see the ad), clicks, and conversions. That may sound like a bad thing, but it will keep you from burning through your budget. Your optimization process should look like this. –

  • See what keywords are performing the best.
  • Delete the low performing keywords.
  • Test variations of your high performing keywords.

That same process should be used for your Ad text as well. Just remember to focus on your keywords first, then your Ads.

  • See what Ads are performing the best.
  • Delete the low performing Ads.
  • Test variations of your high performing Ads.

There may be a steep learning curve to setting up your PPC account, but self-management is a perfectly viable option for small businesses. It’s an excellent way to supplement your existing self-managed advertising, and entirely possible to see some decent results. However, remember to set realistic goals and above all else, don’t neglect Marketing 101. You will need to –

  • Properly define a target market
  • Segment out unprofitable customer groups (market segmentation)
  • Define and set your market position
  • Choose keywords and ads based on your findings

Benefits of Hiring a PPC Manager

While it’s possible to see good results from managing your account, it goes without saying a professional can do it better. PPC advertising is quite complicated and is constantly changing.

If you manage your account, you’ll be responsible for maintaining the knowledge required to keep it performing well. Furthermore, you’re inevitably going to make costly mistakes.

A professional will keep their knowledge up-to-date and has already made those mistakes. They’ll already know what direction your account should go in, and know full well what not to do. They know how to analyze your business, and decide what keywords, ad text, budget, and type of campaign to use that best aligns with your goals.

However, managing low-budget accounts ($1500 and under) can be very difficult. With such little funding, it can be hard for the average small business owner to manage their account. Most tutorials and even advice from Google focus on strategy and tactics for accounts with bigger budgets.

Unfortunately, what works on an account with a large budget, doesn’t always work well with a small budget. Many owners find themselves spending their entire budget, and not getting any sales. A professional who works with small business PPC accounts will know how to optimize your account to make the most out of your budget.

You also need to keep in mind the amount of time you’ll free up to do other things. It takes a great deal of time to learn PPC while maintaining your knowledge and managing the account. All of that time could be better spent doing other productive things for your business.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that PPC management isn’t just about knowing how to use and set up the software, it’s also about your entire website. Even if your PPC account is optimized, your website might not be.

  • Page speed plays a crucial role in converting customers
  • The content on your website is just as important as the text in your ads
  • Clear, well placed CTA’s (Call To Action) need to be present
  • The site needs to be mobile optimized
  • Even the colors used on the site can affect conversions
  • And the list goes on

A good PPC account manager is also knowledgeable about web development. They’ll be able to recommend, test, and make changes to your website.

The downside is the cost of hiring another employee. Even hiring more cost-effective, outside help can be a bit too pricey. Most agencies won’t manage low budget accounts, and if they do, usually charge too much for the monthly management.

For this reason, freelancers are an excellent choice for small businesses. Without the overhead costs associated with maintaining an agency, they can offer management at a price you can afford.

With that said, it’s always important to keep an eye on the future. If you have reasonable and well-founded projections of rapid, large-scale growth, it may be better to go with an agency. Although the management may cost as much as your budget, they’ll be able to accommodate your business as it grows.

Either Way, Your Business Will Benefit From PPC

Of course, you’ll see a more significant benefit from hiring a professional, and you’ll have more time to operate your business. (Or have more free time after work). However, If you’re willing to put in the work, self-managing your account can work well. It’s possible to see a decent ROI and boost your online presence.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a simpler way of getting into PPC advertising, check out AdWords Express.

With all of that said, other types of marketing may be a better investment for you’re business. It depends on your type of business and customers, but that is something to look into as well. As I always advise, do your research and find out what’s best for your business! Whether you pay for management or D.I.Y, market research needs to be done for your company to be successful.

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Timothy Beachboard, AMA-PCM®
Digital Marketer and Web Copywriter
Wilkes Barre, Scranton Area, PA

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