In my years serving small business clients, there seems to be a consensus that small business owners need someone to actively manage their Google Ads and PPC campaigns. For most small business owners, this is bull.
“Management” is an additional service that independent PPC professionals and agencies sell their clients for a recurring monthly fee. For lower-budget clients, meaning clients with budgets in the realm of $2500/month or less, it is rarely necessary. I would even argue that if a campaign is setup correctly, it is rarely necessary at budgets of $20K or less.
Let me break it down for you. When you hire someone to setup your PPC campaign, the bulk of the work is in the setup.
The setup entails (or should entail) thorough research of your industry, your target market, competitors, your website/landing pages and most importantly, understanding the goals your company wants to achieve with the campaign.
From there, the campaign itself is setup. This includes the strategy and tactics. What mix will work best for your business? Search, remarketing, display, YouTube or all of the above? Choosing the right mix of strategies and campaign types for your company is important and is based on many factors.
The planning stage also takes your budget into account. If your monthly budget is $500/month, for example, you cannot take advantage of a strategy mix and likely need to settle on the one that is most likely to reach your business goals within your budget range.
From there, keywords are researched, created, forecasted. Audience segments, intent audiences and demographics are selected. Campaign tracking, suppression audiences and remarketing lists are setup. Specific ad groups are created ads are written to marry up all that research and planning into a campaign that will most effectively and efficiently find your target audience and get them to take an action (your business goal).
The campaign setup is literally the most important aspect of the long-term success of your campaign.
A strong campaign setup is your most valuable tool for long-term success with any PPC campaign. A poor campaign setup will result in a bulk of your spend going to poorly matched keywords, paying for clicks that are not relevant to your business and ultimately making you frustrated and thinking PPC is a “waste of money” and “doesn’t work”. And yeah, if your campaign setup is mediocre, both of those statements are true.
For this fact alone, never (and I mean never, for the love of all that is holy and good) use Google’s “Smart Campaign” tool to build a campaign. Always build your campaign right, the first time.
Tangent aside, let’s get to this “management fee”. If your campaign is set up appropriately, you shouldn’t need to pay any monthly management fee to a PPC professional. Whoever you hire to build your campaign should know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they have built the best possible campaign to reach your goals without wasting your valuable spend. Meaning, they actually did your business a service they can be proud of and will help your business achieve success.
When you sign into anything that requires a monthly management fee, what you are signing is one of 2 things:
- A superior campaign build which leaves the manager exactly zero things to do, yet you think they are doing something, so you pay them anyway.
- A low-quality campaign build because they know they can always “fix it later”, thus wasting spend. You continue to pay them to fix what should have been done in the first place.
…this is all assuming of course, that they are paying attention at all.
This does not apply to enterprise campaigns. When you are spending tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of dollars per month on PPC, there are typically so many advertising channels, targeting tactics, campaigns and strategies in play that this actually requires someone to keep a close eye on it day to day. This is what I do for my day job and many clients require a team, not just one professional.
For small businesses, however, I have held this belief for many years. The simple belief is that monthly management fees are a gigantic waste of money. It is in the same category as “you need the extended warranty and sealant on your car”. Now that Google Ads has all of these fantastic algorithmic bidding strategies, the need only gets more obsolete.
I am not saying that you should never have your campaign looked at. My belief system falls under the category of “you shouldn’t keep paying someone just to pay them” and more along the lines of “you should pay them when it is needed”.
If you have a killer campaign going, it is good to pay someone a one-time fee to optimize it based on results every 3-6 months or whenever you feel like it is needed (ie. a sudden change in performance, a strategy/branding change or your business is doing website updates). There really is no other reason.