With 86% of consumers using the internet to find a local business, there’s no question that you need to appear on relevant search engine results. It’s the key to getting your local service business found by more potential clients.
To dominate the first page of Google search results, you need to implement a combination of SEO and PPC tactics so you can increase visibility and capture prospects’ attention.
If you’re like most local business owners, you have probably considered running Google Ads. However, what’s the best way to go about it?
Should you go the DIY route or hire a PPC agency?
This article will look at the pros and cons of each option, show you the tools for managing Google Ads yourself, discuss a few pointers for hiring a PPC agency, and share our unique, from-the-trenches perspective on how you should decide if the DIY route is right for you.
Should You Manage Google Ads Yourself?
Many local service professionals wear many hats but should you take on managing Google Ads yourself?
Pros of Managing Google Ads In-House
- Without ad management overhead costs, you can dedicate 100% of your advertising budget to ads.
- You have complete control over your campaigns, including copy, keywords, and bidding strategy.
- You can learn about the platform as you run the campaigns and gain more insights into your audience.
Cons of Managing Google Ads In-House
- Running Google Ads successfully takes a lot of time, diverting your attention from servicing your customers.
- You or your team may get spread too thin, which can cause issues in other areas of the business.
- There’s a steep learning curve so if you haven’t used Google Ads before, you’d likely be spending a good amount of your budget on trial-and-error.
- Technical ability required for maximum results
Tools You Need To Manage Google Ads Yourself
Using the right tools can help you manage Google Ads cost-effectively and here are a few essentials:
- Google Ads’ built-in “Ad Rotation” feature and “Responsive Ads” to help you understand what ad copy and combinations of ad copy components works and what doesn’t.
- A/B testing tools (e.g. Optimizely, Unbounce, etc.) to help you fine-tune landing pages and increase conversion.
- Google Keyword Planner to help you identify the best keywords for your bidding strategy.
- Competitive research tools (e.g., iSpionage) that allow you to “spy” on your competitors to see what keywords are working for them.
- Google Analytics to help you track traffic and landing pages performance after searchers come to your website. You can use the information to improve conversion and increase ROI.
Should You Hire a PPC Agency?
Hiring an agency can relieve your workload but what are the downsides?
Pros of Hiring an Agency To Manage Google Ads
- Google Ads is a complex platform that requires in-depth knowledge to achieve a good ROI. Hiring an agency gives you access to experts who are up-to-date with the latest algorithms and strategies.
- You don’t have to spend hours managing your ads so you can focus on servicing your customers and generating revenue.
- Agencies have access to a variety of tools for tracking the effectiveness of your ads and optimizing their ROI.
- Many agencies get “agency perks,” such as early access to beta programs and faster support from Google, to help you get the most out of the platform.
Cons of Hiring an Agency To Manage Google Ads
- The process may lack the transparency you desire to keep track of your marketing effort and understand what works for your market.
- You may not have instant control of your ad campaigns.
- You have to pay the agency’s fee on top of the costs of running the ads.
What To Look For When Hiring a PPC Agency
If you decide to work with an agency, here’s how to find one that’s right for your business:
- Seek out an agency with experience working with local service professionals in your industry.
- Ask about the KPIs they use for tracking the campaigns’ effectiveness. These metrics should focus on driving conversion and increasing profitability.
- Get the “A-team” by asking about the specific experience of your account manager and interviewing those who will be managing your ads.
- Inquire about the pricing structure to see if the cost makes sense for your budget and avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Do some research about the agency, look for third-party reviews from clients similar to you, and talk to a few clients to ensure its service is a good fit for your needs.
Are You Cut Out To Manage Your Own Google Ads Campaigns?
Even after weighing all the pros and cons, you may still be on the fence. Here’s our honest opinion after years in the trenches on whether you should go the DIY route:
Running successful Google Ads campaigns requires a balanced combination of knowledge, experience, effort, and marketing savvy.
You need to know what to do and how to do it. You need to invest the time, patience, and resources to implement the strategy while having the ability to create, analyze, and experiment so you can optimize results.
Also, managing Google Ads is an on-going effort. You need to be constantly monitoring and tweaking your campaigns to respond to market conditions. As such, you should only run Google Ads yourself if you truly enjoy the process and have what it takes to succeed: time, effort, money, creativity, and luck.
Time and Effort
It can easily take a year to get the hang of running Google Ads. Even though it’s easy to pass the Google Ads certification exam, studying for it doesn’t teach you the ins and outs of marketing effectively to your target audience.
For example, while it’s relatively easy to find out what keywords to target, you won’t know which negative keywords to include in your campaigns – so you don’t have to pay for clicks that don’t convert – until you have run the ads and analyzed the results from the campaigns.
The only way to learn what works and what doesn’t for your market is trial-and-error, which requires substantial investment in time and effort.
Trial-and-error also means that you will make mistakes, which costs money. Every click that doesn’t yield new business is wasted ad spend and it takes time to dial in your strategy so you can get the most from your ad budget.
For example, to maximize your ROI, you need to figure out what keywords get you the highest quality leads and what keywords are attracting clicks that don’t turn into customers. This information often comes from analyzing your results over time before you can refine the campaigns with a list of effective negative keywords.
For any ad campaigns to yield the best results, you need to write good copy that gets the right people to click the ad. But that’s just the beginning!
When prospects click on your ad, they go to your website. You’ll need a landing page with relevant copy and design optimized to drive conversion (e.g., filling out a form to request a quote or making a phone call). You also need a high-quality website that projects a professional image to foster trust and build credibility.
Getting all these set up requires experience and knowledge in web design and copywriting, not to mention the right mix of creativity to create an on-brand experience that’ll attract the right leads to your business.
When you’re getting started with Google Ads, it can be expensive (i.e. high cost per lead). Trying to figure out what works can feel like rolling the dice and the cost of bad clicks can add up fast.
If you’re lucky, you may hit the right target audience and keywords on your first try… clicks convert into business. Otherwise, you may not see much other than a click charge.
You have to be ready to roll with the punches. You also need to be patient because success is measured over a month or more so you can collect enough data to fine-tune your tactics.
Getting Started With Running Your Own Google Ads
If you have what it takes to run your own campaigns but you’re just getting started, you may not have a conversion-optimized website ready. However, don’t wait! The sooner you start running campaigns, the sooner you can learn about the platform and your market.
You can use Google’s Call-Only ads. They only work on smartphones but clickers usually become callers. This often results in a high conversion rate, which is key to maximizing your ROI.
While the amount of traffic produced by Call-Only ads is small, it’s one of the best ways to get started with Google Ads. It keeps your burn rate low and ROI high.
Once you are successful with Call-Only ads and want to generate more business, you’ll need to create a website. Start with a single page that’s highly relevant to and consistent with your ad content, to which you can send the ad traffic.
When you start collecting data, you can make improvements based on the analytics. Keep in mind that optimizing your landing page will take some time and effort so don’t give up too soon. A/B testing is the best way to find out what really works for your business – some tweaks you think would work may not while others may surprise you!
And the Verdict is…
There are pros and cons associated with running your own Google Ads vs. hiring a PPC agency. You should evaluate your budget and requirements to find a solution that works best for your local service business.
While going the DIY route may be tempting thanks to the initial savings, you should only do so if you have a creative and marketing knack. Otherwise, you could be spending a lot of time and money on trial-and-error and still find yourself at the bottom of the learning curve!
For many business owners, working with a PPC agency can often lead to higher ROI over time since you can yield better results at a lower cost. Not to mention, it can free up your time so you can focus on delivering outstanding service to all the clients you have generated with your ads!