Nearly three-fourths of companies that outsource their pay-per-click search marketing to agencies are dissatisfied with their results, and only 21 percent are completely satisfied, according to a Jupiter Research published PPC Services Sydney late last year.
What causes this dissatisfaction, especially for B2B marketers? There are five factors at work:
o Most agencies specialize in consumer search marketing and their services are inappropriate for your unique needs as a B2B company.
o The agency business model skews in favor of the largest spenders and under-serves the majority of B2B advertisers.
o Agencies will never understand your customers and your business as well as you, especially B2B firms that sell more complicated products and services.
o The need to coordinate with outsiders implies latency and information loss, meaning you lose the flexibility and agility to react quickly.
o Outsourcing means losing control over a critical portion of your demand generation strategy to outsiders who may have different incentives than you.
The main value provided by agencies is expertise with SEM, and as I’ll explain, you can bring much of that expertise in-house by using the right kind of pay per click management software. A technology solution can create the best of both worlds: the control and business knowledge of doing it yourself, combined with the SEM best practices and techniques of an expert.
Before diving into this “inconvenient truth”, it helps to understand the common arguments used by agencies to convince B2B marketers to outsource their PPC campaigns.
Why Companies Outsource PPC Campaigns. The first argument falls into the broad category of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). It takes on various forms, but comes down to this basic point:
“Search is really, really hard – you should leave it to the experts.” Tactics like this are meant to instill fear that if you don’t outsource, you will fail miserably with search. The head of one agency likes to say that “There are only two kinds of marketers at the top of the auction based search results: Brilliant Marketers and Total Lunatics.” Since most people don’t think of themselves as brilliant search experts, the implication is that if you don’t hire his services then you must be a total lunatic.
A more subtle form of this argument says that the world of PPC is changing so fast that you could never keep up yourself. No matter what form it takes, this argument is self-serving to the agencies. Although it might have been true a few years ago, today the in-house B2B search marketer has access to easy-to-use PPC management software. These tools help to level the playing field by automating the techniques and best practices used by the agencies.
While the first reason B2B companies outsource their PPC marketing has to do with knowledge and expertise, the second reason has to do with time.
“I’m too busy to manage search. It’s easier to pay an agency to take care of it for me.”
I have no doubt that most B2B marketers feel beleaguered for time, and that dealing with PPC can feel like yet another burden. The allure of being able to pay an agency to have one less thing your plate is appealing. This can be a valid reason to hire an agency, although the appeal fades once you realize you should be highly involved on an ongoing basis to get the best results from an agency. The agency doesn’t understand your business like you do, so they can’t react to competitive changes or deal with new business initiatives as well as you can. The only things they can do without you are tweak bids, use tools to suggest new keywords, and generate reports – all tasks that automated software can do better and cheaper than a consultant can.