Built a PPC campaign lately?
It ain’t easy! PPC platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads have been rolling out new features on a seemingly weekly basis. The changes have been great (for the most part) and have made PPC an even more powerful tool to have in your marketing toolkit.
The flip side of this, however, is that setting up and managing these campaigns has gotten increasingly complex. And, at the same time, the competition has gotten more intense.
To try to stay ahead of the curve, we’re constantly evaluating tools to help give us an edge by either giving us better data, making it quicker and easier to access the data, and/or automating some of the setup/management of PPC campaigns.
Here are 3 of our favorite PPC tools that we’re using these days.
iSpionage is one of the “spy tools” available to help you see what your competition’s up to online. The tool regularly goes out and pulls information on “87 million keywords across more than 32 million domains on Google, Yahoo and Bing.”
Why should you care?
Well, there are a few ways I’ve found this data can be particularly helpful when building/managing a PPC campaign. (By the way, iSpionage provides SEO data too, but I’m just focusing on PPC here)
Keyword research is one of them. A few months ago I wrote about some of the limitations of the keyword research tools out there. One of which is that unless you know what you’re looking for, there are probably going to be some good keyword variations you’ll miss out on.
With a tool like iSpionage you can do research by either keyword or domain to find out what keywords your competition is bidding on. This is a great way to uncover keyword opportunities you’d likely miss out on if you’re just using Google’s Keyword Tool (or tools that rely on Google’s data).
I also like using iSpionage for competitive research. Most commonly, I’ll enter a keyword I’m interested in and see who the top 10 competitors are in the market.
When you get this data, pay particular attention to the advertisers that consistently have the highest average ranking and highest impression share. It’s a good bet they’re the most successful advertisers in a market.
Check out their ads and keywords, and spend some time on their websites (particularly the landing pages) because there’s a lot you can learn from them to help your own campaign.
iSpionage also has a PPC Campaign Builder to help you build your campaigns more quickly and easily. One of the tools I use the most in the Builder is a Keyword Grouper that lets you quickly sort your keywords into more tightly focused groups (which will become the ad groups in your campaign).
In the screenshot below, I wanted all the words that had the word “trainer”, but don’t include the word “free”, grouped together. So I simply typed “trainer” in the “Keep Lines containing words:” box and “free” in the “Exclude Lines containing word:” box, clicked “Move to AdGroup “ and the 83 keywords from the main list that met those 2 criteria were instantly moved to the box on the right.
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Especially when you have a long list of keywords, this tool can be a huge timesaver.
There’s also a handy feature to help you write ads. iSpionage gives you a form to enter your ads in that keeps track of characters and shows you how close you are to the AdWords character limits for each line of ad copy.
What’s really cool about this feature is that you can click on any keyword in your campaign to see a collection of competitors’ ads for that keyword that are showing up on Google, Yahoo and Bing. This is great for generating ad copy ideas and making sure your ads stand out from the competition.
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Once you create your campaign in iSpionage, you can just copy the data into AdWords Editor (Google’s free desktop AdWords tool) where you can add the finishing touches to your campaign before launching it.
Lastly, there’s a new feature that iSpionage just released that will keep track of any changes in a competitor’s campaign. If you have competitors you want to keep a particularly close eye on, you can get email alerts from iSpionage letting you know about changes in their keywords, ad copy, etc.
While I haven’t tested it extensively yet, it’s already provided some very helpful data and made keeping an eye on my clients’ main competitors much easier.
Often it’s the small AdWords accounts that are the hardest ones to manage and optimize. With larger accounts there’s lots of data you can use to optimize things. With smaller accounts, where clicks and conversions can be hard to come by, optimizing can be a slow, challenging process.
Clicksweeper is a way to automate the management of your AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. I’m quite cautious with campaign automation tools as they’re only as good as the algorithms behind them. In the case of Clicksweeper, however, I’ve been very happy with the results so far.
My favorite part about Clicksweeper is you have 5 different bidding optimization strategies to choose from depending on your campaign goals:
- Budget Based: For more clicks & conversions
- Rank Driven: To target specific positions in the rankings
- Conversion Driven: For more conversions
- Keyword ROI Based: To aim for the most profitable cost per conversion
And you can combine some of them to suit your specific needs. For example, you can select a Budget Based bidding strategy while still singling out important keywords that you want to make sure rank highly.
You probably noticed I said there were 5 bidding strategies, but I only named 4 of them. Well, Clicksweeper’s 5th bidding strategy is my favorite so far.
Analytics based bidding.
This bidding strategy taps into your Google Analytics data to help optimize campaigns based on metrics like Time on Site and Bounce Rate (as well as whatever limited conversion data is available).
What Clicksweeper then does is adjust your bids daily to focus your budget on the keywords that have the most favorable metrics in Analytics (including conversions).
And you don’t have to leave everything up to their algorithm here. As you can see from the screenshot below, you can select spending and bidding strategies based on your campaign goals. And you can create custom filters based on Bounce Rate or Time on Site to adjust bids or pause keywords based on your parameters for each.
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Ideally I’d like to base campaign decisions on conversion data, but when that’s hard to come by, using this Analytics data has proven quite useful.
One smaller client I’ve been using Clicksweeper for has seen CPCs drop from $2.21 to $1.96 while managing to raise the average position of their top keywords.
Okay, okay. I can see the eyes rolling now. The Daily Egg is touting Crazy Egg software. What a surprise!
But this strategy came from my friend Kevin Milani of Mendicant Marketing and is too good not to share here.
Kevin is a world-class AdWords expert. And I don’t use the term “world-class” lightly. He’s truly doing ninja stuff with AdWords that only a handful of people in the world are doing.
Here’s what he shared with me about an innovative way to use Crazy Egg to optimize Google Display Network campaigns…
Kevin’s running a campaign for a client in the supplement category. They were spending over $100K per month on Google Search advertising and hired Kevin to help them with Display Advertising.
His challenge was to get their cost per action (CPA) down from about $500 to $100 and boost the number of conversions (they were only getting 1 or 2 a day).
So Kevin turned to Crazy Egg to get insights into what was working and what wasn’t on the landing pages.
He started out using Crazy Egg in the usual ways by gathering helpful data from the heat maps, scroll maps and overlays. Based on this information, he set up new versions of the landing pages to test. And then…Wash…Rinse…Repeat.
But then he discovered a use for Crazy Egg that was far more valuable in optimizing the Display Network campaigns. What he found was that when it came to the product purchase choices on the landing pages, by using the Overlay Report he could clearly see what websites the people clicking to purchase were coming from.
Now true, most of the time (though not always) from within AdWords you can see what sites the Display Network traffic is coming from. However, you’re kind of blind as to what that traffic actually does once it gets to your landing page… which is what really matters!
And while you could probably figure this all out using Google Analytics, it’s more difficult and time consuming than it needs to be and Kevin found you can get this critical data more quickly and easily using Crazy Egg.
Based on this data, he started adding the sites that were sending quality traffic as specific placements in his Display Network campaigns (this is a way of telling Google exactly what sites you want your ads to appear on instead of leaving it up to them to decide).
By adding them as specific placements, Kevin was able to get even more traffic from the sites sending the highest quality visitors and further optimize his client’s campaigns and landing pages for that traffic.
In part due to this discovery, the CPA for this campaign dropped from $500 to $100 in a month and the number of conversions jumped from 1 or 2 to around 20 per day. After 3 months, the CPA dropped to under $80 with 300 conversions per day.
Your turn. What kind of “under the radar” tools are you using in Pay Per Click advertising?