Digital Marketing FAQ: Agency vs. DIY – Which One is Better?

In today’s hypercompetitive digital marketplace, businesses need to be at the top of their game to stay afloat. With new technologies and products constantly coming onto the market, embracing digital marketing strategies that will help your business gain a competitive edge is critical.

About 55% of marketing these days is digital. In 2021, around $436 billion was spent on digital advertising compared to $196 billion spent on offline advertising. That means utilizing the power of digital marketing is critical for businesses looking to reach and engage their target audiences effectively.

However, the question remains whether or not it’s better to work with a digital marketing agency to help achieve your goals or whether it’s better to do things yourself. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about hiring an agency and DIY approaches to digital marketing.

What are the main advantages of working with an agency on an SEM or social media campaign instead of doing it yourself?

Cost-efficiency and expertise. An established agency does not start from ground zero. It would have worked on many campaigns with different budgets, scopes, and unique challenges across diverse industries. It has accumulated and honed its expertise.

So, the agency’s competitive edge is its breadth and depth of domain expertise, be it in SEM or social media. For instance, experienced digital marketing teams would have:

  • Already run tests and experiments through multiple past campaigns
  • Built the best practices for campaign set-up and optimization
  • Known what to do or avoid to be efficient from the get-go.

Unless a company can build the same team with diverse expertise, it would not be easy to jump-start its campaigns and manage them at the same level as the agency.

It should be said that it’s not difficult to get started. Tech giants like Google and FB have significantly reduced entry barriers such that companies and self-starters can easily create ad accounts and build campaigns.

However, how does the company know whether it’s doing the right thing or whether its campaign is built and optimized most effectively? Many underestimate the knowledge and expertise needed to create an effective campaign based on best-in-class practices.

Just because you are capable of starting a campaign, it doesn’t mean you know whether you’re doing it correctly or not. Agencies do. We have seen many customers who ran their campaigns only to find significant advertising wastage when we audit their campaigns.

Lastly, working with a professional to run your campaigns allows you to free up time for yourself or your staff and focus on the more essential aspects of your business. Even if you are a one-person company, you’d be better off engaging a professional to do your digital marketing just as you’d hire a staff to take care of the marketing functions.

So, it becomes a matter of which option gives you better cost-efficiency: hiring a skilled professional akin to an extended outsourced marketing arm who can help scale your digital marketing campaign or someone with limited expertise?

If the hire leaves the company, you will run into campaign management issues, whereas the agency has a sustainable team that will always be there.

What kind of expertise and experience can a digital marketing agency bring to the table?

Digital Marketing Expertise

Knowledge and best-in-class practices on campaign set-up, SOPs, budget & bidding, and optimization methods. These can only be acquired by working with clients from diverse industries and budgets. In other words, agencies have already tried, tested, failed, and succeeded through various past campaigns. This lets them know the ideal way to proceed, build and optimize.

Most companies that self-manage their campaigns rarely invest in technology and tools to help manage their campaigns. On the other hand, agencies utilize technology platforms and data management tools to help them become more efficient. This also allows them to scale both the management of campaigns and their performance.

What potential pitfalls of DIY SEM and Facebook marketing can you avoid by working with an agency?

  • Not knowing whether you are doing the right thing or running the campaign correctly. You can potentially waste significant advertising dollars when you are shooting in the dark.
  • Spending excessive or insufficient time to analyze your marketing results and decipher the optimization steps. Performance is relative, and you must apply the correct lenses to evaluate results and determine the next steps. What are the benchmarks with which to assess campaign performance? How long must a campaign run before there is sufficient data for optimization?
  • Budget wastage. What if you can do more with less? Or what if your ad spend is sub-optimal for Google or FB algorithm to perform and deliver the best results?

How can an agency help clients better understand their target audience and craft more effective campaigns?

The client’s definition of the target audience may not always lend itself to straightforward targeting criteria. That’s because there is no exact match of the same audience group unless it is a defined list, such as the client’s own first-party data.

Therefore, it is important to define, build and align audience segments to the marketing funnel and user journey. This is done through the following:

  • Identify not just core but also secondary audiences that are relevant to the client’s business
  • Group these audiences based on similar characteristics, interests, or demographic profiles
  • Map the groups to the marketing funnel (prioritize the audience segments based on their intent to purchase)
  • Customize ad messages that speak to each segment

By doing the above, you are able to build different campaigns and assign budgets based on their relative importance and priority. You can control how much you want to invest to nurture the different audience segments across the entire purchase funnel. This increases your probability of achieving better marketing outcomes.

What scale and reach can an agency provide for SEM and Facebook campaigns?

Scale and reach are limited typically by budget and target population size. Through both experience and in-house tools, the agency can provide the client with meaningful forecasts to help them make informed decisions regarding budget vis-à-vis optimal reach. But this process must be premised on the client’s marketing goals and desired outcomes.

What processes or methods do they employ to ensure that campaigns are successful?

Firstly, we have to define the measurements of success and the KPIs for the campaign. This is essential to laying the foundation for an optimal campaign structure that allows us to scale or optimize efficiently. The following steps involve:

  • Research (using keyword planner tool, reviewing both client’s and competitors’ websites/ads)
  • Ad copywriting
  • Set-up
  • Applying the right bidding strategy
  • Data analysis and approach towards optimization

What sets a good agency apart is its applied knowledge of best practices and proven tactics (such as knowing what kind of copy message and campaign types are more effective). They must also be adept with optimization strategies based on different campaign stages and outcomes as the campaign unfolds.

How can an agency help track and measure campaign results so clients can continue improving their ROI?

Measure campaign results

The agency and client must first be aligned on the actions to be tracked and how they relate to the overall campaign objective. Then make sure that the goal settings and tracking is properly set up. Next is to ensure that their analytics is linked or that there is proper tagging so that the campaign data can be analyzed alongside their web analytics.

The agency’s role is to help the client navigate and ensure their campaign tracking is integrated with their web analytics so as to obtain meaningful data for analysis and insights.

What tools or software does an agency use to manage, optimize, and track the progress of campaigns?

An agency can use a variety of tools for this purpose. These tools generally fall into the following categories:

  • Planning & Forecast: This is for the pre-campaign stage, where both proprietary and third-party tools are employed for research purposes that range from keyword search volume, competition, and CPC estimator to reach/clicks/leads forecast
  • Bid Management: This is essentially machine learning and enabling technology to do what humans can’t do manually: automatic and real-time bid adjustments to maximize results and to scale the campaign quickly and efficiently
  • Reporting and Dashboard: These are just as important for monitoring and analysis. Instead of bare excel sheets, we have advanced data visualization and dashboarding tools that help the analyst focus on data that matters to make informed decisions on optimization.

What kind of reporting and transparency can you expect from an agency?

Clients can expect weekly and monthly reports, while customized reports and dashboards are available depending on their needs. Additionally, reporting and transparency are made possible by the level of access granted to the client, ranging from read-only access to custom extraction of specific data.

This allows clients to better understand their campaign’s performance and the agency’s recommendations. Overall, transparency is key to building trust between agencies and clients and is essential to ensuring the success of any campaign.

What are the other benefits of working with an agency on your SEM or Facebook campaign?

  • Knowing that there will never be disruption to the campaign because of human resource (staff departure) challenges if the campaigns were self-managed. This is because the agency will always have a trained team to manage the campaigns continually. Your staff can come and go, but the agency will always be there.
  • You take the stress and need to continually stay informed and be educated of the latest changes by ad publishers off your shoulders. Being at the forefront of ad tech changes, the agency will provide guidance and assist you whenever there are changes from the publisher’s end that impact your campaigns.

How do you keep up with the latest changes in the SEM landscape so clients can stay ahead of the curve?

We are passionate about digital. We live and breathe digital. Being part of the ecosystem, we stay updated by subscribing to multiple networks, ad tech news, publishers, and even marketing leaders. This ensures that we are kept abreast of changes in not just SEM but also the wider digital industry.

We also constantly work with new customers that run different campaigns and have different needs. This gives us an edge as we are exposed to different marketing tactics and can assess their effectiveness. This allows us to apply the learnings to other campaigns.

And lastly, as an agency, we also have direct access to publishers like Google. This means we often get informed of product beta and platform-level changes ahead of others. Consequently, we have the opportunity to get better support for our campaigns.

Consider Working with a Trusted Digital Marketing Agency

Working with a digital marketing agency could be a great option if you’re looking to take your digital marketing campaigns to the next level. Agencies have access to a wide range of tools and resources that can help improve campaign performance through planning, bidding, reporting, and more. The above questions should provide insight into what working with an agency might look like and determine if it is the right choice for your business.

If your business needs an agency to handle or help you with your digital marketing – from SEO and SEM to Social and Programmatic Advertising – consider working with PurpleClick Media. We are an award-winning, full-service digital marketing agency in Singapore with proven track records handling SME and MNC clients. Call us today to learn more about our services and how we can help improve your business.

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