5 Reasons to Use an SEM Agency
Editor's note: The following article is part 2 of a two-part series examining the merits of using search engine marketing agencies or managing SEM in-house.
Here, Maia Benson, director of SEM at New York City-based LexisNexis, a content-enabled workflow solutions provider, discusses the benefits of using an SEM agency. At LexisNexis, Benson leads SEM to help law firms drive measurable leads to their businesses.
1. Scale. If you're running a very large campaign or several small or medium campaigns, an SEM agency has dedicated resources and unique tools to manage your business. Agencies have had to custom develop or find third-party tools — such as Clickable, an SEM software tool — to manage multiple campaigns in increasingly complex SEM bidding forums that involve daily bidding, day parting, etc. Also, you can dial up or down your SEM campaign without having to manage the employee impact of "firing" full or half of a resource.
2. Time. Do you really understand how complex Google's/Yahoo's/Bing's SEM platforms have become? Do you have the time to manage dynamic SEM campaigns? Or A/B testing on different ad copy or landing pages?
If running SEM isn't your core competency, outsource it. Look for partners that are transparent in their offerings and services, and define your SEM campaign’s success in very clear terms. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can waste a lot of money very quickly. Agencies are for-profit businesses; they want to maximize profits and practice SEM campaign management all the time. This makes them more efficient than you.
3. Talent. Hiring, training and managing good SEM talent are big investments. Why make the investment if this isn't your business’s core competency? Leading agencies attract and retain the best SEM talent, and they also have organizational structures in place to train and grow this talent. And when talent leaves, you’re not left in the cold — agencies always have more resources. No matter how sophisticated SEM tools have become, success for an SEM campaign is still driven by people. Marketing is an art and science.
4. They have other clients. Agencies serve many clients; this perspective and collective data set benefits you. Quantitative and qualitative perspective on the larger SEM market is very valuable. How else can you get data on what trends are working in other verticals that can be applied to yours? How about benchmarking data for your own vertical? This data is invaluable when trying to understand the success and return on investment of your SEM campaign.
5. Measurement. As long as your agency has control over — or access to — the full set of data from your SEM campaigns, it can report back success metrics with custom insight and analysis. Additionally, many tools allow agencies to look at campaigns and their metrics on an enterprise basis. This view can provide great insight into how your entire SEM investment, or business, is doing as a whole.
In part 1, which ran in the Nov. 12 edition of eM+C Weekly, John Ellis, senior online marketing manager for ResortQuest, a managed vacation rental company in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., discussed the pros of do-it-yourself SEM. Read it here. This article series is based on a session called Point/Counterpoint: DIY SEM - The Pros & Cons, that'll take place at the Search Engine Strategies 2009 Conference & Expo in Chicago, Dec. 7-11.
Reach Maia at firstname.lastname@example.org.