My 5 Favorite PPC Management Tools, 2013 Edition

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Back in 2008, I wrote a post about my 5 favorite PPC management tools. I decided to revisit that post to see how much has changed in the last few years. Interestingly, despite all the improvements and new toys out there, the tools I liked in 2008 are still pretty much the tools I like now.

Tool #1: Excel

I loved it then, and I love it now. Although there are fancy bid management systems and calculators out there, I still spend most of my time in Excel. There’s no better way to sort and filter data than in Excel. It’s still my number 1 PPC management tool.

Tool #2: Google Keyword Tool

Google recently made several improvements to the keyword tool that are really quite nice. I actually like the ad group suggestions – while they’re not perfect, they’re still a great timesaver when launching new campaigns.

keyword tool

Google recently launched a keyword planner tool, which is pretty cool. Check out Wordstream’s overview to learn more.

Tool #3: A good analytics program.

Where would we be without web analytics? I’ve written often about using web analytics for PPC – and analytics are perhaps more important today than they were in 2008.

However, in my 2008 post I mention several analytics packages that have all but gone away: NetTracker, ClickTracks, Atlas… I believe NetTracker is still around, but I don’t know anyone who uses them anymore. ClickTracks and Atlas are gone entirely. These days, it seems as though everyone is either using Google Analytics or Omniture. Who would have thought?

Tool #4: The search engines themselves.

I have to say, I find myself relying less on direct engine research than I did in 2008. Personalized search has really made it tough to see what others see when they perform a search. I find myself relying more heavily on keyword research tools and competitor research tools than I did back in the day. That said, there is still no substitute for performing actual searches to get a feel for the search landscape.

Tool #5: My own brain.

Indeed. PPC has become so complicated, especially in the world of Enhanced Campaigns, that it’s nearly impossible to do it yourself. Companies must hire a PPC professional to effectively manage their campaigns. The days of small business owners setting up a small Adwords campaign and seeing great ROI are, sadly, long gone.

Bonus Tool: The PPC community.

In 2008 when I wrote the original post, I wasn’t active on Twitter. Twitter was very new and was mostly used by people sharing what they were eating for lunch.

Fast forward to 2013, and Twitter has become my newsreader. Not only that, it’s my go-to place to ask questions and share information with the community. The advent of PPC Chat has not only helped me get answers to my questions, but has also led to some invaluable friendships. I can’t imagine life without PPC Chat!

What are your must-have PPC management tools? Share in the comments!

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  1. TextPad + Macros FTW

  2. I think Tool #5 is actually Tool #1, well at least before we all get replaced by machines…

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Ha, that is true! I should indeed have listed that first. You can’t use Excel without a good PPC brain. 🙂

  3. Great post Mel. Completely agree. Though I think number #2 is often replaced by #5. In a bid to get things done quickly we often rely on tools like the Google keyword tool to tell our brains what to do but we can often miss important keywords from a different angle. Always best to take a step back when thinking about keywords and really think about the search intent from users.

    So number 5 for me is the most important on the list and as Lisa says there is definitely an overlap and wouldn’t function without our brains!

  4. Great post (as usual!) Mel.

    I’d actually add clients to the list – those who are really interested and invested in the success of all of their marketing initiatives. Looking at all of the available data is so important, but finding out how the leads or customers are performing in their eyes is critical.

    Data can be telling you that campaigns are performing great, but if you’re not attracting the right kind of customer for the client, it is not really a successful effort.

    • Melissa Mackey says

      Very good point. An engaged and involved client is a great tool for improving PPC. After all, it’s hard to see the whole picture, even with complex CRM conversion data. Only the client can say whether PPC is driving true business value.

  5. Hi Melissa:

    Nice post.

    Really appreciate your thoughts on our Keyword Segmentation Tool. We developed it for ourselves, but have now packaged it for our PPC training customers (but kept it free).

    Kind Regards, Peter

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