If you manage a large PPC campaign that is taking up a lot of your time, PPC management software probably seems like an obvious solution.
But it’s not always the right solution.
I’ll start this by making clear that I’m not about to tell you to avoid this software and hire us instead—that’s not what this is about. In fact, paid search management software is fantastic, and we use it all the time. (Later on, I’ll go over my favorite tools.)
But … there are certain situations when it can either help or hinder you. Let’s look at these.
Automation Is Amazing (Sometimes)
Automation is great for marketers, as you are probably well aware. It can save hundreds of hours, and it is getting better all the time.
As tech improves, it’s clear that computers are just better at some things—and they’re getting better.
However, there are risks involved with automation. And when it comes to PPC software, there is no such thing as complete automation.
No matter how great the tool, and how many hours it can save, you always need someone highly skilled at the helm. Someone highly trained and with a lot of experience in PPC.
The classic mistake is to invest in the software and then let the intern deal with it. But the software is not a magic solution to your account management, so dismiss that idea right now.
It can be powerful … but it is only as powerful as the person at the controls. Get the right person onto it and you can amplify the positive results … but get the wrong person in charge, and it can go the other way.
Know Your Reason for Using the Software
Start off by knowing exactly why you want to use PPC management software (and this should not be because your competitors use it).
It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if your competition is doing well out of their PPC and you want a slice of the action. But so many other factors come into play, and the reason they are getting more out of their PPC could be down to something else entirely.
Also don’t do it because you want to flick a switch and not worry about your campaigns anymore. Management software is NOT a way to avoid having to think about your campaigns.
As I already mentioned, human supervision—by an expert—is still essential. Otherwise you’ll be missing out on ways to optimize it, and you could be leaking money.
But if you have a complex account that is taking up a lot of your time, and you want help with basic tasks in order to save time on them, management software is ideal.
There are many tasks that can be automated (with supervision), those little tasks that do not require the human element all the time, and software is great for all of these.
Are You Getting Enough Conversions?
The whole idea of switching the software on and letting it do its thing to boost your results is completely misguided. We’ve already clarified that.
But there’s another thing to consider, which is the volume of your conversions.
No matter which software you use, it takes time for it to figure out what is actually working and what needs improving. According to this article at SearchEngineLand, that takes about 50 conversions a day, and I’d agree with that.
So if you are not yet getting this many leads, you will almost certainly need to improve your account first.
You May Be Better Off Cleaning Up Your Account
Another factor to consider before investing in management software is whether you might be better off simplifying your account.
Let’s say you manage your large account carefully but you find yourself spending too much time on the mundane tasks. In your case, software looks to be the ideal option.
But wait …
It could be that you just need to make your campaign smaller.
So look at your campaign closely (or get someone else to). Work out whether you really need all of those keywords.
Are they all getting conversions? There’s a good chance they are not. Perhaps a bit of spring cleaning is the best option first, and then you can see where it leaves you. You may be left with a far more manageable account that will generate more clicks.
Get rid of unproductive keywords, make your account easier to manage, and save money. If after that you still feel you need software, go for it.
Our Favorite PPC Tools
We use a selection of PPC management tools here at LeapGo. We manage some huge accounts, and it makes perfect sense for us to reduce time spent on the small manual tasks—and pass on the savings to our clients.
Of course, we are skilled PPC pros, and there is always someone keeping a careful eye on each campaign. But if you want my recommendations, here are three that I really like and use regularly.
Wordstream is one of the best known management software solutions, and ease of use is its strong point. Its WordStream Advisor service provides regular and customized tips on how to optimize your campaign, which you can use for a range of PPC platforms, including AdWords, Bing, and Facebook ads.
It can handle thousands of keywords, and it also comes with some useful free tools such as the keyword discovery tool.
One of the main reasons I use Aquisio is for the amazing report building included in the Acquisio Report Center.
These excellent automated reports are its standout feature, and you can get all the reports you want, whether based on keywords, campaigns, KPIs, or practically anything else.
Once again, you can use it for a range of ads, including search, social, and display, with support for AdWords, Facebook, Bing, and more.
Marin is my favorite for a more in-depth, technical approach to PPC. It’s perfect for managing a large number of accounts, and its daily reporting saves a lot of time. It also has powerful bid automation, and it is quick to learn. As a bonus, customer service is excellent.
There are other solutions out there, but I find that between them these three do everything I need.
Finally … Do You Need to Pay for It?
The big question to ask if you still think you can benefit from automation is whether you actually need it at all. After all, Google AdWords has come a long way in recent years, and it now provides many free features like auto bidding that may be all you need.
I’d advise you to look at the three solutions above, and any more you find, and take a good look at all of the features that you’ll be paying for. If you don’t really need these, and you can get all the features you need in AdWords, it might be best to stick to that.
But if you do think you can benefit from management software—even after everything you’ve read here—I absolutely recommend trying it out. It could save you a whole lot of time that you could put towards more productive activities, so give it a go.