This is a guest post by Jenny Anderson, a search marketing consultant at Hanapin Marketing. She works with a variety of clients and writes for Hanapin’s blogs, PPC Hero and SEO Boy.
Outsourcing your clients’ work can get a little sticky, and there are plenty of reasons why some agencies may never turn to external help – even when they’re on overload with other client work. They might not want to lose the control of knowing every detail in the account, they might think they know the product better than someone on the outside, or they might be afraid of what their client will think if they find out.
In our experience with managing outsourced accounts at Hanapin, I can tell you that it’s really not that scary. Below are some tips and hints on how to successfully outsource, along with a few good reasons to persuade you if you’re on the fence.
Reasons to Outsource to Another PPC Agency
#1: The amount of attention a certain client needs often ebbs and flows in online marketing. Your consistent workflow might be interrupted when it comes time to launch a new hefty campaign that requires all of your attention or when your e-commerce client unveils a huge new line of products whose pages need to be quickly optimized for SEO. If you are a small agency and you’re not looking to expand your staff right now, establishing a good relationship with another agency that you know and trust can come in handy at times like this.
#2: Outsourcing can provide a fresh perspective. This may sound a little silly, but sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can really help pinpoint problem areas and turn an account around. Last fall, we started temporary management on a PPC account for an online marketing agency  that was bogged down. In our kick-off call, the agency told us that this client was looking to reduce the CPL (who isn’t, right?). The average was just under $16 and the client would only increase budget if the CPL was closer to $11. Long story short, with a fresh perspective we were able to pinpoint some problem areas that the agency didn’t catch and three weeks later, when they were ready to take the account back, their CPL was under $13.
5 Tips for Partnering with a PPC Agency
Once you make the decision to outsource, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind that will help set up a successful relationship with your partnered pay-per-click agency . Here a just a few tips that we’ve found to work well in the past.
Tip #1: You don’t have to outsource everything. There are some very tedious tasks in SEO and PPC that are incredibly time-consuming and fairly easy to outsource. Link building, reporting, and keyword research are just a few things that come to mind. Outsourcing only parts of the account will allow you to retain control while letting someone else take care of menial tasks.
Tip #2: Use an online project management system like Basecamp or Easy Projects. This keeps communication between the two agencies clear and open. It also allows the temp agency to document any and all changes they make in an account, which makes for easy tracking.
Tip #3: Set clear expectations. When an agency asks us to temporarily manage one of their accounts, we are incredibly careful in making sure expectations are clearly set. In our kick-off call we identify specifics that put everyone on the same page. Be sure to answer questions like how long is the commitment, what are the expectations for reporting, what are the goals for the account, and how often do you expect to communicate. When answering questions about goals, be as specific as possible. Telling someone a specific number for a cost per lead goal is much more helpful than saying "We’d like to lower the CPL."
Tip #4: You don't have to disclose everything. I’m not telling you to be dishonest to your clients, but if you do want to keep this temporary shift in management under the radar make sure that is clear to your partnered agency. At the end of the day, your partnered agency can be thought of as "temporary staff." They’ll follow your direction, you’ll pay them for their services and it’s nothing to feel bad about.
Tip #5: Do your research! It sounds obvious, but make sure you do your homework before choosing an agency to work with. Trial and error is not the best approach when it comes to these types of partnerships. Be sure to talk with the agency about their past partnership experiences and ask your industry colleagues about any experiences they might have with the agency in question.
The entire process may sound a little daunting at first, but don’t worry, it gets easier. The more accounts you and your partnered agency work on together, the more trust you’ll build and the less control you’ll feel the need to retain. At the end of the day, this will leave you with more time to work on those high-demand clients, which is the whole point!