How Much Should You Pay Your AdWords Manager?

I had a call with a potential prospect the other day for a LinkedIn campaign. He was organizing a team to manage various social media tasks for his business and asked my opinion on something he didn’t think I offered with the assumption that since I didn’t offer it, I could be objective.

“How much should I expect to pay someone for AdWords management?”

I laughed.

“Well I hope you won’t consider my answer biased since I also offer AdWords assistance,” I started. “But I won’t work an account for less than 10% of the expected AdSpend. In many cases, in fact, I charge as much as 20% due to the fact that this allows me to include SEO. You’re really shooting yourself in the foot if you aren’t doing SEO on top of AdWords management.”

He went on to talk about many flat rate companies he had considered in the range of $200-$500. He seemed surprised that my answer was based on the percentage of AdSpend rather than a flat rate.

“Consider it this way,” I began. “Would you pay a valet in charge of a car the same as you’d pay the security guarding the vault of the Federal Reserve?”

“No,” he answered, of course.

“Similarly, you wouldn’t pay someone managing a $10,000 ad budget the same as you’d pay someone managing a $500 budget. It’s our job to ensure your ad spend gets managed correctly. The greater the spend, generally the larger the competition. Greater competition requires more time. If anyone tells you different, you’re throwing your money away working with them and you’d be better off managing the ad spend yourself than working with someone who argues that they can manage a large budget account for only a few hundred dollars or less a month.”

Now this gentleman wasn’t the first, nor will he be the last, to be unaware of not just the cost, but more importantly the value of an expert AdWords manager. Furthermore, with how effectively AdWords goes hand-in-hand with SEO, I’m surprised more businesses haven’t integrated an SEO plan with their AdWords management.

Here are the benefits of hiring a professional AdWords manager for your account:

They Understand the Value of SEO

I occasionally take AdWords campaigns without also managing a client’s SEO campaign, but generally only if the client already has a trusted SEO specialist and is only looking for AdWords assistance. Even in these cases, I like to have an open dialogue with the SEO provider so that I can ensure the keywords I’m targeting in the AdWords campaign get attention in the SEO work.

Why is SEO an important aspect of AdWords? SEO is, ultimately, how you eventually gain the page ranking in Google for relevant keywords to avoid having to pay for AdWords altogether.

Not that this is always the case. There are many companies who rank position one for most of the keywords they are most interested in and still pay for AdWords just so another company won’t pay for the ad space above or alongside their first position. The important distinction though is that they do this to still remain as competitive as possible, not necessarily because they have to. If you’re just running an AdWords campaign with no thought to how you will integrate SEO and begin getting clicks organically, you’re leaving out a whole potential source of income. This income, once established through a professional SEO manager, is income you don’t pay anything else for. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of it?

Higher CTR’s (Click-Through Rates)

CTR, or click-through rate, is calculated by taking the number of interactions, or clicks, on an ad and dividing it by the number of times the ad was served on a page, known as impressions. If an ad was served on a page 100 times and was clicked on 5 times, the client would have a 5% CTR.

I took over an account for a client recently who felt his former campaign manager was letting him down in some way. He was getting the clicks and a lot of calls to his business, but his numbers didn’t look right and some of the calls weren’t valuable either. His CTR was very low, at or below 1% most days, his impressions were high, and some of the calls were completely irrelevant. His campaign manager actually tried to tell him that CTR didn’t matter. He focused on the importance of the impressions and the calls. He explained having calls that were irrelevant was just part of running a Google AdWords campaign and not to worry. My client dealt with him for quite some time before calling his bluff. The reason is he still was making a profit at the end of each month. However, he finally felt he wasn’t doing as good as he could and felt he was being deceived in some way.

As I explained to my client, CTR is very important. CTR impacts quality score. If your quality score goes down, you have to pay more than your competitors to rank for the same keywords. For a competitive keyword, you could pay $20 CPC (cost-per-click) to rank where another competitor only pays $15 CPC due to having a higher quality score. Even on lower CPC keywords that can still get you front page, the difference is pretty substantial when you consider it collectively. You always want to maximize the value of your dollar. It should go without saying, but this fact is obscured by account managers who know their clients aren’t aware of how all these factors play into their bottom line.

When I perused this client’s account, he also didn’t have enough ad groups. All his keywords, several hundred, were lumped under a single ad group. A/B testing with more than one ad? Nope. Just one ad being served to every single keyword. Ad relevance impacts quality score as well, as it really is what can make or break your CTR. If you’re showing the same ad for a store that sells everything from refrigerators to couches, how are your customers searching for a couch who get a display ad with a refrigerator on it going to understand how it relates to their needs? There were multiple mistakes like this on this clients account.

It’s hard to say what a good CTR is because every industry has its own unique challenges. A highly competitive industry could even be considered successful running at 2% CTR. What matters at the end of the day is your ROI, or return on investment. Any phony account manager can brag about good numbers, but how is your business financially impacted from the campaign? This is what ultimately matters, which leads to my next point.

No Hiding Behind the Numbers

I’m not fond of quoting numbers when it comes to results, even when the numbers are good. There’s a good reason why. I’ve worked for a few professional marketing companies in the past that all too often used the numbers to hide from their clients.

Say you own a sandwich shop and are running an online marketing campaign to get new patrons. You have paid a few thousand dollars to ABC Marketing Company and have not gotten any noticeable return. After waiting on hold over 10 minutes with customer service, you get John on the line. You get John because there is always a John who works at a call center, and many mega marketing companies that advertise competitive prices have call centers. There’s always a Good John and a Bad John. You get Bad John. Bad John doesn’t care about your sandwich shop unless it’s his lunch break and you’re within walking distance.

You explain to this John fellow that you have paid a substantial amount of money for a marketing plan and demand satisfaction. The campaign needs to either deliver results or you want your money back.

After giving you some very unhelpful information about the inability to renegotiate your contract regardless of ABC Marketing Company’s failure to perform, John decides to go over the numbers with you.

“Well your website traffic is up 35%, you’re generating 60% more clicks in your PPC campaign, and you got 100 new likes on Facebook. You should have the traffic.”

The numbers are true, but you’d be happy to take those numbers and the phone and shove them up John’s nose. Whatever “numbers” this rep is quoting you, it’s apparent the traffic isn’t relevant as it’s not translating to more money in your pocket.

This wasn’t what was sold to you by Tom in sales. There’s always a Tom in the sales department. He’s sharp, confident, has the voice of a super hero, and he’s full of you-know-what. He made it seem like you’d have a personal account manager who would understand your business to ensure you got relevant traffic. None of that has happened. Sharp Tom is long gone, and now you’re dealing with Bad John who doesn’t care about you or understand your business. His distance from you and the understanding you had with Tom allows him to “hide behind the numbers”. Even if you called again and got Good John, you’d still be dealing with someone who doesn’t fully understand your business.

This is where personal, professional account management from an AdWords specialist who understands your business specifically is invaluable.

Relevant Traffic

This has been touched on previously, but at the end of the day the numbers do not matter if your traffic to your website isn’t relevant. I can get anyone 1000 likes on Facebook overnight. I can get several thousand people to visit your website in days. I can ride my bike with no handlebars. Without relevancy, none of these facts benefit you anymore than the rest. You need real people who need what you offer to visit your website or the traffic is useless. Having an open dialogue with your account manager about your needs from a PPC campaign is ultimately what can make or break the success of your campaign. Bad John in customer service won’t have this dialogue with you, but I promise that I will.


Paul Thomas is an AdWords account manager at We put the buzz in your biz with online marketing strategies that work. To request a free AdWords account review, call us at (775) 378-8900.



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