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A large portion of WordStream’s growing customer base consists of marketing agencies that use WordStream Advisor for Agencies to better serve their clients.
We got to thinking – wouldn’t it be great if we could tap this group of customers to learn more about what makes the typical agency tick these days, then share that data with our customers and other readers?
So that’s just what we did! We sent a survey to our agency clients and collected data from almost 200 marketing agencies of all sizes and from all over the world that offer paid search marketing services. These agencies answered 10 questions about what industries they serve, what services they offer, how they structure pricing and fees, their greatest challenges, plans for growth and more.
Below you’ll find the results of our State of the Industry report – here’s how agencies are getting it done in 2017! (Also, don’t hesitate to check out our 2018 State of the Agency Report).
Agency pricing structures
About half of responders base fees for paid search services on a flat fee or retainer. Less than a third (28%) base pricing on a percentage of spend, while only 12% use billable hours. (Billable hours may undersell the value you’re offering if you use agency software to improve efficiency.)
How agencies charge as a percentage of ad spend
For those that price based on a percentage of spend, most agencies (39%) charge 15-20% of client spend, while a quarter (25%) charge 10-15% of client spend. Only 5% of agencies charge less than 10% of spend.
Agency set-up fees
About two-thirds of agencies charge a setup fee for new clients. This makes sense because setting up a new account or restructuring an inherited account can be one of the most time-consuming and difficult parts of paid search management. If you’re not charging setup fee, it might be time to start.
Agencies with full-time paid search reps
Very few of our agency clients have more than two full-time employees dedicated to paid search, meaning most reps are wearing multiple hats and doing more than one thing. About a third of respondents only have one full-time employee dedicated to paid search, while another third have none at all that are purely dedicated to paid search.
Services offered by online marketing agenices
The vast majority, about 85%, of agencies that took our survey offer SEO. Web development, social media, and content marketing services are also very popular, at 83%, 81%, and 77% respectively, followed by email marketing, display marketing, and creative services. “Other” responses varied widely, with services including video, conversion rate optimization, local advertising, branding, PR, reputation management, managed chat/texting, sales coaching, and print advertising.
Time spent on paid search management at agencies
We’re happy to say that our software helps most of our customers spend less than a quarter of their time on paid search management!
Top challenges for digital marketing agenices
Digital marketing agencies’ biggest challenges in 2017 are managing time (39%) and getting new clients (38%). Less than 10% of agencies are struggling with client retention, lack of training, or keeping up with changes in paid search.
How marketing agencies are planning for growth
61% of our agency clients are planning to grow the amount of paid search spend they manage this year by more than 25%. About a third are planning for growth of less than 25%, while only about 5% of marketing agencies are not planning for growth in the paid search channel.
Top industries served by digital marketing agenices
The industries that are using agencies to manage their online advertising run the gamut. Popular industries in these agencies’ client bases include e-commerce, home services, real estate, auto, and legal. “Other” responses again varied widely, including verticals such as food/restaurants/hospitality, tourism/hotels, education, fitness, healthcare, finance, nonprofits, and construction.
Created vs. inherited paid search accounts
Fewer than 10% of agencies are managing inherited paid search accounts that they did not create. 63% of agencies who responded say that less than a quarter of the accounts they manage were not created in-house.
Based on these survey results, we’ve noticed a few overarching trends:
If you’d like to compare results to other years, here are the other reports:
Were there any surprises in the results? Other burning questions about agencies you’d love to know the answer to? Let us know!
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