Online consultancy, like PPC or SEO, seems an attractive business. You work with interesting, innovative subjects, with modern tools and are continuously investing in new knowledge for your company and yourselves.
Most online ad agencies charge by the hour. Unlike other consultancy like strategy consulting the services in online PPC or SEO consultancy are rather fragmented in a sense that it is not unlikely that a consultant that needs to have 140 billable hours, allocates these hours to more than 10-15 customers. And I can say from experience that that is a lot harder to get efficient, than have a big consultancy assignment at 1 customer. Next to that the hourly rate you can charge is mostly lower than in strategy consulting. How to get such a business profitable?
It’s all in efficiency:
- Make sure that your services are highly standardized.
- Focus on 4-5 services max (SEO, PPC, Facebook etc.) per agency.
- Differentiate with and focus on segments, like B2B or real estate.
- Be sure you have templates for all kinds of documents.
- You have a fixed working schedule.
- Use the right tools.
- Update your knowledge, but don’t stare all day at twitter or blogs.
Starting an Adwords Agency requires, next to a good set of brains and a macbook pro, a good software toolkit.
Here’s ten of the most used tools we can advise:
1. Google Apps for business is a nice suite with which you can manage email, docs, calendar and other office tasks. No need to install anything, up and running in minutes.
2. The Adwords Editor is a tool from Google to easily manage campaigns, copy / paste ad groups and work on your campaigns offline.
3. Of course we cannot leave out Swydo. Task management and easy reporting for agencies. Track tasks, use Google docs and integrate with Google Calendar and easily report on Adwords, Analytics and webmaster tools.
4. Most agencies bill in a recurring fashion. You need a profesional billing app, like fresh books.
5. For keyword research use Google insights for search.
6. Track conversions not only via the Adwords conversion script, but always, if possible, connect the adwords account with the analytics account.
7. Get inspired through Google Agency Edge.
8. Use tools provided by Google in the Agency toolkit.
9. Be innovative. Know more and know it sooner than your clients. Follow Google Ad innovations.
10. Have some fun and some music. Tune in on Spotify and start creating those ads.
Branded PDF online marketing reporting
We like to deliver great news that Swydo has a much requested feature: White label Branded reporting for you to your clients.
All agencies and online marketing departments have the same monthly recurring issue: reporting. Now you can create a beautiful PDF report with your logo in 5 minutes!
Use the logo of your company or your client in the pdf reports. The report can include Adwords, Analytics, Webmaster tools and twitter data.
The reporting feature also has templates that you can reuse with each client.
- No more non-branded Excell, Adwords or Analytics reports.
- Includes your monthly commentary.
- Templates to save you tons of time.
- Includes the information that you want.
So, please try this great new feature in the online marketing section of Swydo. Log in, choose a client, then choose online marketing and try it. You will love this.
If you have any questions please post them at support.swydo.com and we give you an answer within 24 hours. Of course suggestions are just as welcome.
Hypothesis: Inbound marketing is more connected to the core values of an organization than outbound marketing. That’s why it is harder to outsource inbound marketing to agencies. Since inbound marketing becomes more important, some Agencies need to adept or else will get into difficult times.
Why: Inbound marketing is more about content, value, values, intrinsic motivation. Outbound marketing is less about content, it is more about looks, short messages and extrinsic motivation.
Next to CEO of Swydo I run a local Dutch online marketing agency. We take care of SEO, PPC advertising and Conversion optimization. We get more and more questions of customers what they should do with Social Media. Of course we pro-actively developed these services, so we setup nice LinkedIn company pages for our customers, implement LinkedIn direct ads and so on. But that’s not inbound, our customers need to open their tap of knowledge about their business and share it with their audience via blog posts, infographics, news articles.
Running the PPC campaigns of our customers is always a combination of technique and marketing feel. Of course we need to understand the proposition and USP’s of our clients, but CTR’s, conversions, quality scores gives us a lot extra info to manage campaigns.
Writing a blog post, twitter post, Facebook update for our clients is a different cup of thee. We need not only understand but really step into the lives of our clients.
Is that possible? hmmm. Or is our Agency role changing to consulting, best practices, initiating and project management? What’s your opinion?
On Mediapost I read an interesting post and reactions on what and how to charge for online marketing services. The article you can read here. The author, Mark Simon, makes the comparison with a home construction project and thinks it is not wise to charge more, when the Ad spend of client increases. He seems to think that the amount of work for a larger media budget is the same as for a smaller media budget. Also a pay for performance deal is not his choice, because he thinks the client has no advantages in such a deal (without further explaining this point of view). Mark seems to be an advocate of a monthly fixed fee.
I think that clients not only pay their agency for time, but also, and maybe mainly for knowledge and experience. When you see an agency as a contractor, you see the job as a predefined effort that requires a standard skill set. And this goes well for plumbing and other work, but online marketing also requires other skills that cannot be measured in hours. I’m talking about creativity, experience, holistic approaches, empathy etc.
So the reward for an agency should also be a combination of a compensation for the time spend by professionals and a reward for the creativity and experience. That’s why a retainer, covering the labour costs with a surplus, in combination with some sort of performance fee is not a bad idea. Since the relationship beween client and agency is lasting several months or even years, you can expect an appraisal that is honest and stimulating. Several options are possible: percentage of sales, fee per lead, or why not just evaluate together every 3 months and score mediocre, good , super?
Swydo offers several way to manage this. You can track time, see how much effort a consultant did take for a client and even you can define KPI’s that measure online success.
Every high school drop out with some coding skills has a couple of options: Build websites for ‘your uncle that has it’s own business’ or start your own online marketing agency. The profession has, to say in Porter terms ‘low entrance barriers’. The other forces of the 5 forces are not that positive as well. The bargaining power of suppliers, e.g. Google, is high, the bargaining power of Buyers, your customers, seems also high and the threat of substitutions, for instance Inhouse marketers, is also high. Ready to kill yourself? Don’t! There’s a way out.
You can move yourself in a position that eliminates these forces to a large extend. You can implement another concept of Porter: that of the differentiation strategy. Focus on a specific market segment, for instance B2B or even Technology, or travel or recruitment. When you do that you can specialize in the specific do’s and dont’s of that specific industry. You can train your staff in best practices, develop tools to support your business processes and reach economies of scale and scope. And suddenly your agency is unique, has a reputation and positions itself above online “PPC management” and cannot be substituted by a college dropout.
Swydo is positioned as an online marketing project management tool. But actually our main advantage compared to Basecamp, Asana, Do or whatever other tool is that we really do not focus on being a great project management tool, but we support the ongoing work that the online marketer does. Most of our work, that of the online marketer I mean, is not a project, but is the ongoing improvement process of adding new keywords, checking positions, improving content, bidding, checking scores etc. We do this for a client for a least several months and also in house marketers work on traffic for several month to years.
In this setting it is much more important Continue reading