Whether you outsource all of your SEM efforts or have an in-house team, it’s likely you will work with an SEM agency. I personally view SEM agencies as an extension of my internal team. The agency is just like any other employee at your company except they have their own office. World class SEM agencies can add so much value that they quickly pay for themselves. Today I wanted to share a few tips and creative ways to get amazing results from your agency! I’m going to skip the obvious tips such as having regular meetings, fostering a 2-way communication channel, and requesting regular reports. Rather, I’m going to focus on the more creative opportunities that truly flex the power of the agency model.
- Leverage your agency for true 24/7 operations. SEM is like the stock market, except it’s open 24/7. As humans, we all need sleep and we all need to diversify our time. What’s the best way to get campaign coverage on nights, weekends, and even holidays? Hire and SEM agency and make this a focus for them. Agencies are experts at resource allocation and at leveraging their global/cross-time zone capabilities.
- Rely on your agency to get into exclusive beta tests on Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Large agencies have amazing relationships with search engines. They bring a ton of business forth, so the search engines are very serious about agency account management. If you are a smaller/mid-sized advertiser, you may find an agency as your key to securing exclusive beta tests.
- Make sure to divide and conquer. This tip is for those large organizations that have both an in-house team and an agency team. In the world of SEM, it’s super easy to cross wires. Make sure there are clear lines of differentiation. Perhaps the agency owns one search engine and the in-house team owns another. Perhaps the agency owns on facet of campaign management (such as ad copy testing) and the in-house team owns another (such as keyword expansion). Perhaps the agency owns particular campaigns and the in-house team owns another. However you decide to slice it, make sure there is clear coordination. Otherwise, wires could get crossed.
- Leverage your agency to build advanced technologies. In the world of SEM, it’s all about scale. Scale often requires scripts and programs to be built. It’s not always easy to gather resources in-house, however a super agency will offer to build programs for you. Have this discussion and see if your agency can bring your team technology capacity.
- See if your SEM agency can also act as your creative agency. This point ties into the last one. Not always is it easy to get quick turnaround on in-house creative projects (such as landing page comps and display creative). However, many SEM agencies have their own creative resources (either in-house or very close by). See if your SEM agency can produce your creative assets.
- Partner on social media with your SEM agency. Most SEM teams these days are offered the fun opportunity to run paid campaigns on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, running such campaigns is different from Google AdWords and Bing Ads. It requires a different approach and the strategy is evolving rapidly. Make social media a collaborative project with your SEM agency and you are likely to achieve excellent results.
- Leverage your SEM agency for advanced bidding and campaign management technology. Large agencies often have a performance marketing platform in place, such as Acquisio. When you hire an agency, you not only get marketing expertise but you also often acquire the technology to truly achieve success. See if your in-house team can gain access to the technology platform and collaborate closely around the platform.
- Save money on competitive intelligence with your SEM agency. Large agencies often have access to tools like Hitwise and Compete. They need to have the necessary data points to drive business forward for their clients. See if your agency has access to such tools/reports and leverage those tools for your internal competitive benchmarking.
- Leverage your agency for a big picture perspective. Agencies see a lot of stuff. They manage a multitude of clients, search engines, and channels. Leverage your agency to truly understand your industry (and related industries) from an online marketing perspective.
- See if your agency can help out with SEO. At many companies, the online marketing team is responsible for both SEM and SEO. These two channels can be quite different, but they truly go hand-in-hand. See if your SEM agency has SEO experience. If yes, the relationship will truly pay extra dividends.
- See if your agency can open door in terms of relationships. Agencies mean big business and have extensive relationships across the industry. Leverage your agency to make connections. One quick tip: See if your agency would be open to holding a client summit where their clients get together and share best practices. Another tip: See if your agency can help build deep connections within search engines such as Google.
As you can see, SEM agencies provide a multitude of benefits above and beyond standard campaign management. I hope these tips help you get the most from your agency. If you don’t have an agency, I hope these tips provide some extra points to help you secure the necessary budget to make the hire.
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