Are you confused about PPC results? You’re not alone.
SEO is where I got my start, and what most people know me for. Paid digital media (aka PPC) is also a passion of mine. I love how fast things go with PPC. That said, there’s a ton of confusion about it when I talk to friends or prospects.
Most people know that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s well understood that results take time (although some people are sold unrealistic timelines). PPC on the other hand is something you can turn on and turn off. Want to show up at the top of Google? Turn on some Google Ads. When it’s dumbed down to a simple on/off switch, PPC seems like it should provide instant results.
That’s far from the truth.
How PPC Campaigns Should Run
Results aren’t guaranteed, but wise runners of traffic (media buyers) are constantly learning based on data. The cream of the crop live in spreadsheets, they’re expert copywriters, and they don’t mind risk. These people are hyper focused on getting results ($$$).
What can you expect as a customer hiring out an agency or PPC freelancer?
- Timeline: Data is everything to a media buyer, and there’s a setup process. Not only will you need to create and place tracking scripts, the media buyer will also be creating audiences within each channel.
- Audience Building: Starting from scratch can be rough (for you and the media buyer). If you’re stuck with using the basic demographic/behavioral targeting in a channel, it’s casting a super wide net. Audience building allows your media buyer to train the channel’s AI with what you’re really looking for in a buyer/prospect. The timeline can often depend on your budget.
- Asset Building: Chances are that the landing pages you think are awesome are indeed NOT that great. Rebuilding landing pages, building high performance lead gen forms, and other steps for quality assets that convert are key.
- Launching Ads: It’s important for everyone to understand what’s allowed, what’s not, what’s your voice, and what’s the opposite. Once you’ve approved a few basics and a first run of ads, it’s time to move fast. Speed wins. Great campaigns move faster than you can approve, but you can have peace-of-mind that the approval framework has already been built.
- Reporting: The only question that matters is, “Did you get results or not?” I’ve worked with about 1000 businesses on their SEO and PPC strategies. It’s amazing how many get bogged down with questions that don’t matter regarding the results. The questions are typically a reflection of a corporate culture of micro-management and other inefficiencies throughout the business. Agencies and freelancers can BS their way through checking off tasks. Results are what matter.
Paid Media: What to Expect When Hiring a Freelancer or Agency
A top tier PPC freelancer or agency should pull you through a variation of the above list when getting started. The process isn’t rocket science, but it is key to running a successful campaign. There are a few additional things that you can expect when hiring a paid media buyer (freelancer or agency).
- Price/Fee Structure: You will probably encounter a variation of a base + incremental fee based on ad spend. Tiers based on ad spend or ad channels are also popular PPC fee structures.
- Results: You can start running ads the day you sign up, but when will you see results? Most businesses that I’ve worked with see results that they’re excited about at about month 3 (based on under $2500/month ad spend). Big spenders typically see results faster (because they learn faster).
- Communication & Reporting: Start by building a relationship with your media buyer. This shows you care, but also helps build an advocate for your business. The more they get to know you, the more they care about delivering good news.
Weekly meetings for months 1-3 are normal. After that, bi-weekly or monthly are pretty appropriate. If your media buyer is delivering results, spend time on something more important (like time with family).
Are You Spending Enough on Your PPC Campaigns?
Note: Unfortunately, there are agencies that will tell you that you can get away with spending way less than you should. They figure that they can at least get 3-6 months of management fees from you. This is a pretty crappy move.
Great PPC agencies and freelancers will pass on the business if your budget isn’t large enough.
The amount you spend depends on the territory you’re targeting, the channel, the demographics, the product/service, and more. It’s a pretty complicated question, but I’ve done this enough to throw out some ballpark ad spend numbers to achieve results (these are very general ranges).
- Brick & Mortar SMBs (restaurants, family entertainment, etc): $1k-$2k/month
- Service based SMBs (lawn care, painters, roofers, etc): $2.5k-$10k/month
- SaaS Businesses: $10k-$25k/month
- Hotels/Hospitality: $1k-$10k/month
- Product/Manufacturers: $2k-$10k/month
PPC Results: Speed Wins
Successful PPC campaigns move fast.When it comes to strong PPC results, processes, overbearing oversight, and frequent checkins stifle results. Develop a trusting relationship with your media buyer, and then send them off to the races to win for your business.
PPC result timelines vary. Your product might require a ton of education, you might be starting your campaigns with 0 data collected in the past, and the learning curve might be steep. All of this should be discussed before signing a contract.
When I discuss timelines and results with customers, here’s what I request from them:
- Month 1: 1 month of setup, small learning spend, and an understanding that we’re just getting started.
- Months 2-3: Trends should show that we’ve found the right audience, and now we need to refine so that we’re scaling results.
- Months 4-6: Campaigns are profitable, and it’s time to scale. Get that gold card ready to spend!
Some customers will see results faster, but this is generally what I request from businesses. Other agencies might tell you something different. If they do, ask them about how they spend for their own business.