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You’re ready to scale your PPC services but don’t want the headache of hiring more people, so you decide to outsource.
It makes sense. You only pay for what you need, gain access to expertise that an entry-level PPC manager won’t have for over 10 years, and unearth capacity that enables you to fulfill more deals.
But how do you go about outsourcing? Should you hire a freelancer or work with a white label partner?
With over 57 million people freelancing in the US alone, it’s an obvious starting point for agency owners. But as you can imagine, there are differences between your working relationship with a freelancer from sites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, or UpWork, and how you operate with an established white label provider.
The rest of this article will look at six key areas of difference that will affect your choice of AdWords outsourcing partner.
The first step in any outsourcing relationship is to find a partner to work with.
If you’re looking at a white label partner, this process is easy to do. Go to their website, have a conversation with one of their team members, and decide whether you think this is a suitable fit for your business. On their website, look for validation that they have relevant experience and are a Premier Google Partner:
It’s a well-trodden path that many have taken before you, and a process you have control and influence over.
Compare that to the recruitment process for a freelancer, and you are confronted with constraints. If you are using freelance websites such as Fiverr or UpWork, then you are restricted to the information provided by that platform.
If at some point you choose to take this conversation away from the freelance platform you may be breaching their terms of service. So you need to get the balancing act right – gain enough information to make a sound decision without actually breaking the terms of service and jeopardizing future recruitment opportunities.
One positive thing about these freelance platforms is the transparency provided in the form of customer reviews and ratings. On top of viewing the portfolio and results of each freelancer, you can ensure they have approved reviews from previous employers. However, recruiting a freelancer requires more hands-on work and has risk and variability attached to it. Compared to finding a white label partner.
2. Scalability and Reliability
Once you’ve found an outsourcing partner the next thing to consider is what will happen as your business grows. How will you resource your PPC needs as your client list scales? No doubt that is your goal, to grow and prosper.
This is where things get a little tricky if you are using freelancers to provide PPC management services for your clients. Most freelancers don’t have a contingency plan for when they are sick, and none of them have unlimited capacity. Your freelancer might want to take a vacation, or they are absent due to family issues. Their internet may drop out, or they go missing for a few days. How will you cover for them?
A white label partner, on the other hand, is built to scale. There is a standard delivery process, and they operate like a regular business. If one person is on vacation or sick, there is someone else to cover for them. If you want to scale, they can make it happen by assigning more staff to your account.
You could lose contact with a freelancer for days at a time, which can be hard for your business to maintain client relationships. The resilience features you’d expect with a white label partner are almost never there with a freelancer.
Freelancers will have peaks and troughs in their workload. When they have less work, they can focus on your needs. But when an individual is busy, they become less available to meet your expectations. They then have less capacity to fit your desires to scale.
3. Variability in process
It’s very rare to stumble across a freelancer with agency-style processes. And if you do, then they will get busy very quickly because they are in high demand. Not to mention that each freelancer works differently.
They have their own approach to PPC management, their own processes, their own standards, and this means the results for your business are variable. Some freelancers might be willing to adapt their approach, so it fits neatly with your approach to client delivery. Others won’t be so flexible. This discrepancy creates an operational headache for your account managers.
As you grow your agency, this becomes burdensome, frustrating, and difficult to scale with confidence. On the other hand, an established white label partner operates like an agency, with refined processes and consistency with outcomes.
4. Results and Experience
So far we’ve spoken about process-driven differences between the freelancer approach to outsourcing, compared to working with a white label partner. In sum, it’s more work finding capable freelancers, it’s harder to manage the relationships, and it creates problems with consistency.
But who cares if it is going to be cheaper, right? You may be thinking that it’s all worth the headache if you can maintain a bigger revenue buffer and keep your margins intact. So let’s talk about results.
If you hire a freelancer, you are tapping into a very small realm of experience. It is one person and what they have been exposed to. Yes, it may be a wonderful fit for your business as it stands today, but what if you win a new client that is different in some way? You’re back to square one. Starting a new campaign with very little knowledge about the approach to take, outcomes to expect, and how to articulate that to the client.
A white label agency partner will have experience with a far wider set of industries than any one individual. It’s common sense. If an individual is working on 30 or 40 campaigns at any one time, an entire white label organization could be working on several hundred. Their breadth of experience will be significant in comparison.
Instead of juggling freelancers with variable experience and knowledge about an industry, your white label partner becomes a centralized hub of data-driven campaign knowledge. It gives you both a bigger picture view of what a good campaign looks like, as well as a narrow focus on the metrics that could shift your clients’ performance.
With freelancers, you will be fighting a battle of information sharing. Ideally, your freelance network would share data and trade insights. But most of them don’t want to be forthcoming with their knowledge and experience because they see it as intellectual property. Getting them to work as a coherent team can be difficult and time-consuming.
On top of the results on paper – the metrics – each freelancer will have a different standard and expectation of what exceptional service means. Critical client retention levers such as speed of communication, adhering to deadlines, and addressing problems, will have varying levels of importance for each freelancer you work with. Some may respond straight away while others may take a couple of days, and if they are busy, your communication lead times may blow out even further. With your white label partner, you will agree on an expected standard of communication, and there will be consistency.
Here are some other things to consider when it comes to communication with your outsourcing partner:
- Are they in the same timezone as you and your clients? Do they speak the same language? Let’s say you are in the US for example. You will discover that US-based freelancers from UpWork or Fiverr are more expensive than ones you can come upon from other countries. So it becomes a trade-off. Yes, these overseas freelancers will be cheaper. But English may be their second language, and their response times affected by time zone differences. From a financial perspective, you make a saving, but the operational efficiency of your business takes a hit.
- Does the platform you are using restrict your ability to communicate? It is common for freelancer platforms to maintain control of the communication between you and your outsourcing partner. It isn’t the end of the world in most instances, but it does come with restrictions. If you need a quick response sometimes messaging apps, email, or even a quick phone call are best.
You are less likely to hit these communication roadblocks if you choose the right white label partner who is in your time zone.
6. Additional support
The final thing to consider when choosing your AdWords outsourcing partner is the support you will receive. White label partners provide extra bells and whistles – tools, software, insight, sales support, and collateral – the icing on top of your outsourcing cake.
On the flip side, you can’t guarantee this support with a freelancer. If they’re experienced, then they’ll provide case studies, sales support, and insight. But it is very rare for a freelancer to bring tools and software to the table. You may end up having to pay for things like call tracking tools, PPC bid management software, and a reporting platform. So you need to consider these extra costs in your calculations.
This article may seem a little one-sided, seeing as we are a white label PPC provider. But that isn’t our intention. The reality is that most agencies come to us because they are frustrated or overwhelmed with the freelancer relationships they are managing. It’s causing inconsistency with their clients, restricting their ability to scale at speed, and creating unnecessary busy work for their team.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. For smaller agencies, the freelancer route is a superb starting point. It will let you dip your toes in the water and begin building scalable processes. But as you grow and scale up your requirements, it is unlikely that freelancers will be enough to fulfill your needs. At that point, you either go in-house or seek out a white label partner.