What’s the best marketing software for your agency? We asked dozens of agencies to share their “must-have” tools––here are the 38 they recommend most.
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Jessica Malnik on June 9, 2020 • 26 minute read
Did you know that mobile PPC advertising is on pace to be worth more than $247 billion?
Google and Facebook ads make up the lion share of both mobile and desktop advertising these days.
However, it is easy to waste a ton of money on campaigns that don’t net a positive return on investment (ROI).
In this post, we’re sharing 29 strategies to help you run more successful paid ad campaigns, including:
This is the most important ingredient for not only running successful paid ad campaigns but also working with clients in general. It applies to both B2B and B2C clients. In fact, of the marketers we surveyed, it was fairly evenly split between B2B and B2C.
In fact, nearly 75% of the marketers said their clients know at least a little bit about paid ads, which makes it all that more important to build trust from the start and get buy-in on the overall campaign philosophy.
“Get buy-in to your philosophy,” adds Ben Cook of JC Social Media. “It’s crucial for some clients to understand your overriding approach, especially if they know how to use a platform like Google Ads, for example. This is not just from a technical ‘bidding on keywords’ perspective, but how you’re aiming to optimize their account over time. I’d describe this as a ‘campaign philosophy’. For example, you might be trading off an immediate impact with incremental data-led improvements. Maybe you’re opting for cost-efficiency in relation to very specific KPIs. Of course, the goals must be aligned with those of your client, but I find having their support on your methodology helps hugely in maintaining a productive working relationship.”
This is an easy way to build trust with your clients and generate a better return on investment (ROI) for your ad campaigns.
Michael Alexis of Team Building says, “Treat your client’s money like you would treat your own. I’ve found that when we run our own campaigns, we are highly efficient with where we put money. We choose the best keywords, write thoughtful ad copy, and closely monitor the results. This approach is different than some agencies I’ve worked with; they produce meaningful results overall, but are less concerned with wasting money in the short term.”
”One tip for running successful paid ad campaigns for clients is to establish a growing ad spend budget from the beginning, showing them why we start our process by testing with lower amounts in ad spend then eventually ramp up the budget once we start seeing greater success, as there are huge opportunities there once we do,” says Rianna Susco of Squeeze Marketing. This way, clients are not surprised when you ask for larger ad spend budgets a few months into the process since they already understand that the budget will grow as the ads begin to pay for themselves and we’ve outlined each month of targeted ad spend for them.”
Elise Richardson of Element Marketing agrees, “Start small and build out. Many advertisers do the reverse – start large and whittle down but for clients with little to no previous paid presence, and smaller budgets, it’s better to start with your core terms and then expand.”
Erico Franco of Agencia de Marketing Digital adds, “Never bid seeking a higher ad position. Begin bidding lower and gradually increase bids for keywords that have a better conversion rate compared to others. After some time, consider using CPA bid strategy for automation on your campaign.”
“Manage expectations right away,” says Jacob Cullum of Epic Marketing. “Under promise and over-deliver every time.”
Zach Boyette of Galactic Fed says, “Set realistic expectations from the start. It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of agreeing to lofty CPA and ROAS goals, but that sets you on a path for failure. The happiest clients are ones who see the results you promised, or better.”
Eden Chai of Generation Marketing adds, “Many clients are under the impression that within the first month of PPC their business is going to explode beyond their wildest dreams, if only it were that easy. Set expectations correctly for each month, give them realistic timelines, set appropriate goals, and most importantly, overdeliver.”
For example, Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined says, “Explain to them right from the start that there’s going to be lots of testing and tweaking involved to find the ad with the best-converting copy.
And before you find the winner, you’ll have to lose some money upfront as you go through several losers first.
But, it will be worth it in the end as nothing beats the ROI of a superbly-converting ad.”
“Always ensure that ad results are centered around meeting the client’s end objective intent,” says Susan Gonzales of Node Marketing. “Oftentimes, clients express an interest to just get exposure. It’s up to the digital marketer to read between the lines and glean what success really looks like in the client’s mind. Sometimes a client may just express that they want more conversions, but they may envision conversions from a certain type of client. Always ensure you are fully understanding your client’s true interpretation of success.”
Joe Zimmer of Ripl says, “I would say the biggest thing is to make sure that you have clear goals and know who you are trying to reach. Once you have an idea of who the customer is and what you are trying to accomplish it gets a lot easier to get the right creative and target the right audience.”
Mihaita Vulpe of SEOAtlantic adds, “Every business should have a list of KPIs when it comes to paid ads in order for you to track and see if the campaign is successful. As long as you got your goals set up, there will only be room for improvement.”
Lachlan Kirkwood of ClickThrough says, “Clients must understand what objective they wish to achieve through the use of paid ads. By clearly identifying conversion goals, you can develop an ad strategy that adds genuine value to a brand, not just vanity metrics.”
“When you’re preparing to run a paid campaign for a client, it’s important to understand their goals and exactly what they’re hoping to accomplish,” says Andrea Loubier of Mailbird. “Are they wanting more visibility and to build a stronger network? Then a social media campaign might be an answer. Are they hoping to better explain what their company offers? Then display advertising might be more appropriate. Generally, the more time you take to understand what your client needs, the better the strategy you can devise.”
Eric Bergman of Serendipit Consulting adds, “Your goals should be well defined and quantitative. Saying “I want more sales, more clients, etc” isn’t a good goal. Saying “I want a 10% MoM growth in sales revenue” or “I want 25 new clients every month” is.”
Alan Gruntz of BarkleyREI recommends,“Knowing their business and what is considered a successful lead and at what cost is still profitable. Clients have different cost thresholds; a CPL that’s great for one client could result in a loss for another. Without understanding their goals and success criteria you’re driving in the dark.”
Editor’s Note: Monitor and track the progress for both your Google and Facebook ad campaigns from one dashboard.
The number one tip for running successful paid ad campaigns is identifying your target demographics,” says Eric Tyler of King Eric Tyler. “You have to understand your niche and whom you are trying to sell to. If you don’t narrow your audience down to the demographics that will actually buy, you are burning money.”
Nicole Suther of Human Marketing says, “Know your audience and hyper target your audience. Dive into consumer insights to make sure you are using the right language and targeting parameters to reach your desired audience. No need to spend extra money on ads that are shown to people who are not interested in your product or service.”
Simone Katz of OpenDor Media adds, “Make sure that you know who you are speaking to so you can communicate best with them. Knowing what they need is critical to understanding how to best deliver your message to them.”
“You must study your client’s audience so you can know how to reach them best,” says Melanie Musson of AutoInsuranceReviews.com, “A great campaign for the wrong audience will flop. It’s critical to know whom you’re trying to reach.”
Brett Konen of PrograMetrix adds, “Keep an open mind. Often our clients come to us thinking they know who their target audience is, but the people who actually end up buying their products are completely different. Data-driven audience targeting is key.”
Obaid Khan of Planet Content agrees, “Regardless of the material your clients provide you with, always do your own target audience research. Then, run minor A/B testing campaigns with the target audience research your client provided and your own research. Whichever is more successful, use that audience to run the paid ad campaign.”
For example, Omedaro Victor-Olubumoye of Bodmek Digitals says, “A well prepared customer avatar will help you in your ad set up. Knowing who your clients target audience are, their goals, demographics, pain points and how your client’s product or services address their needs goes a long way in running profitable ads”
“My one tip would be to make sure your intended audience is clear from the beginning,” says Chris Fitzner of Appian. “Making sure your audience is aligned with your overall goals will make developing the copy and creative so much easier.”
For example, Angela Ash of Flow SEO says, “We love running social media campaigns to boost a certain post, and we’ve had great success. However, one thing that you need to keep in mind is really targeting the right people who will see your ad. Try avoid selecting friends of people who already follow you, as chances are that they may see your post anyway. Instead, target those who work within your topic’s niche. They will be most likely to interact with your post, as well as other content on your page.”
“Facebook ads only require 2 things to work: A great offer that speaks to the audience and a sales funnel to collect the data,” says Ryan Stewman of Hardcore Closer. “Keeping it simple is what works and this has helped my company earn 8 figures in revenue per year for the last 4 years.”
Vytautas Aldonis of Botiffy says, “Have an attractive and competitive offer, it’s all about giving more value to the prospects than your competitors do. If you can compete with it you will be growing faster than you can expect.”
“I think it is so important when running ads to remember this: If the product or offer is not converting at the organic level, throwing money behind it will not make it magically convert,” says Crissy Conner of Crissy Conner Creates. “You need to know you have a proven offer before creating a paid ad campaign.”
“Use data to actively optimize your campaigns,” says Jeroen Minks of Vazooky Digital. “There’s no set-and-forget. Once you run your paid ad campaigns make sure you track all the conversions that are coming from it, analyze the data, and then tweak your campaigns into the details. Only this way you’ll be able to get more results out of your budget.”
Charles Greenley of Weidert Group says, “You can learn all the tactics and skills in the world to run ads, but if you aren’t watching your paid ad campaigns closely and staying engaged with them post-launch, then you aren’t getting the most possible value – and performance – out of them.”
Cheyenne Knight of Cosmitto adds,“To run successful paid ad campaigns for clients, it’s important to consistently monitor the performance of the campaign and adjust one variable at a time, as needed, to determine what will drive the most significant results. If you adjust too many variables at once, you risk not knowing what’s working and what’s not working for the specific campaign.”
Stephanie Riel of RielDeal Marketing agrees, “With paid ad campaigns, you can’t just set them and forget them – paid advertising campaigns require daily optimization and maintenance to maximize results.”
Editor’s Note: Use this Facebook Ads Dashboard template to keep track of ad engagement, click-activity, and money spent.
“Conversion tracking is an absolute must,” says Lindsay Moura of SilverTech. “It allows you to take advantage of Google’s automated bidding strategies, assess what’s working and what’s not, and most importantly, prove the ROI!”
Rayed Chaudhry of Think Orion Pte says, “Many clients I come across run campaigns without any sort of tracking on the effectiveness of these campaigns. Doesn’t matter which channel you use, you need to be able to see what creative, keyword, placement or campaign brings the results.”
Collin Slattery of Taikun Digital adds, “This can be a big challenge with clients, but the importance of having accurate conversion data is paramount. Without accurate data, you can’t optimize, you can’t demonstrate measurable results to the client, and you can’t be successful.”
This starts by deciding on an attribution model.
Nathan Nicholls of Switch Digital says, “Identify an attribution model that works best for your niche and campaign mix before leveraging cost-per-conversion bidding strategies.”
For example, Rob Sanders of Socially Found says, “For most (small) businesses, this is generally done by the number of sales or leads. Too often than not, clients think that just simply getting clicks to their website is enough, or getting new fans on their Facebook page will make a difference but these are not the right outcomes to be tracking for when it comes to selling their goods and services.
I’m not saying that clicks are not important, I’m just saying that you need to be tracking the right outcome when it comes to your business offerings.”
“Set up accurate conversion tracking for all your ad campaigns and make sure you are clear about what a ‘conversion’ is for your business,” says Matt Hughes of This Digital. “Being able to accurately attribute a sale or lead back to a specific ad campaign is one of the major pros of digital marketing compared to more traditional forms of marketing; however, we still audit so many advertising accounts where this is not put in place. It can be a slightly complicated process for those unfamiliar with Google Analytics, but definitely worth investing the time into understanding.”
Ken Christensen of Christensen Recycling adds, “When running paid ad campaigns, you absolutely must have conversion tracking and pixels in place. Without these metrics and tracking features, you won’t know what traffic sources are working and which are converting. After you have access to these stats, you can then start split testing your results and weeding out the non performers.”
Christiane Ortlepp of HypeBros says, “By measuring important actions on your website and connecting them with your campaign data, you will be able to optimize the campaigns towards your desired goal and get the best possible performance from your campaigns.”
“Measure EVERYTHING,” says Eric Elkins of WideFoc.us. “A/B test messaging, images, and targeting to learn which ads drive the best performance. And apply custom UTMs to track ad performance via Google Analytics to learn what visitors are doing once they get to your website.”
“Make sure you understand your margins really well,” says Aurelie Bangard of Shoelace. “Once you do, you will know how much you can afford to spend on paid ads to acquire new customers (target CPA). Otherwise, you may just be attracting new traffic at a loss. For the first purchase, you at least want to break even. Then you can generate profit with retention.”
Seb Brantigan of Brantigan Enterprises adds, “Know how much a customer will earn you. That makes it easier to understand how much you can spend on a campaign to get a good return.
Say for example a customer will earn you £1000 profit per sale after all expenses, excluding advertising. That means if you spent £500 on advertising to get a £1000 customer then you are in £500 profit.
It is important to know these figures before you begin advertising as well as being consistent with the advertising objective.”
“One of our guidelines for running client ad campaigns is what I call the $1:$1 rule,” says Jeremy Cross of Online Team Building. “Essentially, for every $1 the client invests both directly in ads and in our services, we aim to generate at least $1 of revenue for them. When you first start a campaign, the testing period may have results that are lower than this. As time goes on and you refine the copy and placements, the average should not only approach but eventually exceed the $1:$1 goal.”
Cayley Vos of Netpaths Net adds, “The goal of advertising is to make more than you spend. If you generate more revenue than it costs for ads then your campaigns are a success.
The way to achieve this is to optimize the ad funnel: set up the correct targeting so you reach the right audience, create the right message and creative, have a targeted landing page that will cause people to take your desired actions.
Track conversions so you know which ads are profitable. Remove unprofitable ads, and double down on the ads that generate conversions.”
“Distilling the analytics into understandable chunks for the client,” says Ashley Hill of ashleyidesign. “Clients don’t have time or motivation to log into ad accounts like Facebook Business Manager to see how things are doing, so I pull the data they need into a simple spreadsheet once a campaign is completed.”
“Experimentation is king,” says Endre Wang of Wunder. “You always want to a/b test your ads, audiences, creatives, etc to find your winners. These winners tend to carry 80% of your revenue.”
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Company says, “To run successful paid ad campaigns (Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, Youtube ads, Bing ads, etc.) for clients, it’s important to test different types of ads. Experimentation is key. You can make assumptions but at the end of the day, you will need to make tests and gather data to understand what works and what doesn’t.
There are many things you can test: advertising platform, types of ads, copy, target audience, visuals, etc.”
Eddie Cheng of Penang Media adds, “Stay on top of your numbers and always be testing. Adtech environments can change drastically which means you need to be adaptable to elements that may no longer work. In order to continue driving results without interruption, it’s important to always be testing variables (your creatives, message or audience) even when your campaign seems to be running smoothly.
If you’re not ready to replace your winning ad sets when they fail, then be prepared to waste a lot of time and money (which the client may not have) ramping back up to a scalable position.”
Dan Gower of Buddy Gardner Advertising agrees, “Start by making small buys that target different audiences or use different content. This will show you where you get the most bang for your buck, which allows you to maximize the rest of your budget.”
For example, Brett Marpipe of Marpipe says, “Run a creative test using all your client’s most recent assets to see what resonates with their audience. Then scale the winners as you use the data to create your own, higher-performing ads.”
John Reinesch of Beacon Digital Marketing adds, “Consistently testing creative or ad copy on a regular basis has helped different CTA’s in our ads promoting various content offers and also bottom funnels offers like demo requests. This helps keep our messaging and assets fresh so we consistently see strong CTR’s and conversion rates over time.”
“Social media can often provide you with the most bang for your buck,” says Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper. “Plus, you can spend low amounts to test your targets and how well the campaign will work for an individual niche. For example, you can tailor FB ads to target getting more interaction for a post, People who are more likely to click the link, etc.”
“It’s so key that the customer views you as the expert and trusts that you know what you’re doing,” says Jacob Landis-Eigsti of Jacob LE. “Clients can quickly try to take charge of your ad campaign, micromanage every action, or ask for reports and adjustments multiple times a day. This can not only make you pull your hair out, it can also kill off ad campaigns. Find people who trust you and your expertise and process.”
Bradley Stevens of LLC Formations adds, “The Internet is bombarded with tutorials on how to set an ad. But, setting an ad is a final phase. There is a lot of research and media strategy required to come up with something unique and with incredible ROI potential.
If you want to give value to a client, which is rare in the market, then you have to be the industry expert and have up to date knowledge about the relevant industry. It is essential because, after all, you are competing with the clients’ competitors. You have to know industry dynamics, near-future trends, and potential risks.
Otherwise, you might develop a strategy that would not reap the desired results.
Apart from industry understanding the actual business model of the client is not an option anymore. You should know their work process, relevant targets, opportunities, and threats. Understanding your client’s business position profoundly is vital to come up with an effective advertising program..
You have the employees who are specialized in a specific area. He can also guide the company about certain things instead of just following the client’s instructions and plans so that you can handle the project with them peacefully. If an agency wants to save money by hiring mediocre, then their client would not be much satisfied, and the agency would not grow well.”
Anjana Wickramaratne of Active Digi Solutions says, “I would recommend paid search first to a client with no real paid advertising experience as paid search allows them to easily understand how the bidding system and keyword targeting works and also there is no graphic design or video editing included to make the process much more complicated like the other paid advertising methods such as display ads and paid social.”
“In order to run a successful paid ad campaign online for clients, one needs to know which keywords to go after,” says Reuben Kats of Falcon Marketing, LLC. “One needs to minimize cost and expense per keyword. I use a platform called SEMrush. This helps find keywords that work, get conversions, and find out which keywords your competitors go after. You can modify and adjust bids with this.”
“Use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs),” says Robbie Richards of robbierichards.com. “This allows you to keep a tight focus, all the way from keyword to ad copy and through to the landing page destination.
By maintaining relevancy and strong message match through the entire user flow, you will be able to improve CTRs and quality score, while lowering your CPCs, and ultimately increasing conversion rate and lowering your CAC or CPL.
SKAGs also allow marketers to stay focused on one topic, feature, product or service line at a time, which helps with organization, especially when working on large accounts. It makes the whole process more manageable.”
“Take advantage of the responsive ad option in the Google Ads Manager,” says Maia Wells of ClearPivot. “Using up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, the platform will test your best combinations for you, making optimization of your ad content all but automatic.”
“Google Ads are all about consistency and relevance,” says Emod Vafa of The Sleep Judge. “Google wants to make sure it is serving the most relevant content to the right users who are searching. As a result, in order to run a successful paid ad campaign, you need to focus on the consistency and relevance of the keyword, ad, and landing page.
Structure your campaign based on user intent and persona. Have a specific goal for each campaign, and create a targeted landing page for each group of keywords that are related to one another.
Lastly, don’t forget to include negative keywords.”
“When running a successful campaign, it’s most important to find a balance between different digital ads,” says Greg Trahan of Digital Ads Optimism. “When working with clients, I constantly monitor the success of and sales from shopping, display, and remarketing campaigns so that I can make sure we are splitting up our allotted ad spend in the most efficient way. While there are trends that carry over, the ad spend split between different paid campaigns will always be unique from client to client. I evaluate ad spend on a monthly basis when putting together client reports and propose changes to ad spend to the client if needed, every few months.”
“Create visual ads over plain text ads for maximum impact,” says Maham Khan of PosterMyWall. “While good ad copy is effective, visuals can create a more holistic and engaging view of your offering and leave a lasting impact on your audience. They also have higher CTR and conversion rates than plain text ads. You can use attention-grabbing visuals to create more eye-catching ads to stand out from the clutter, showcase your products with high quality photography or illustrations and even go the extra mile and use video ads to capture your audience’s interest. Moreover, visuals ads can help you strengthen your brand image with the use of brand colours, brand fonts, logo and other brand elements in your ads that leave a tangible mark in people’s minds.
But, this isn’t exactly classified information. Most people opt for plain text ads despite knowing that visual ads are more effective because in their minds, creating ad visuals means hiring an expensive graphic designer and spending a lot of time creating the perfect visual. In reality, things are much simpler. With online graphic design tools like PosterMyWall, marketers and business owners can choose from thousands of professional design templates to create stunning ads that convert. The easy drag and drop interface of the tool makes it easy for anyone to become a design pro, even without any prior skills.”
“People need to get the foundations right before they do any paid ads,” says Mario Kägo of Wild Fix Media. “Under foundation, I mean that their website/funnels should be CRO optimized. We can spend small fortunes on ads, but when their website is not optimized, they are not getting any results.”
David Miles of The PPC Machine adds, “Make sure the client has proper landing pages – ones which are optimized for conversions – before you start.”
“Create a task calendar so you provide consistent improvements,” says Dan Young of Loud Digital. “When auditing accounts I’ve noticed a lot of agencies start off really strong and then let the basics slip after a couple of months. Create a dynamic task calendar using a tool such a Trello so you stay on top of the little but important jobs.”
“Content amplification,” says Cristian Mezei of Black Goat Media. “The one thing that always works for me is to pursue the goal of always expanding the digital footprint through content amplification. Some brands can capture low hanging fruits with good ads on their products (Both Google and Facebook), but at the end of the day, if you want to scale you need a large audience of engaged people. Building a proper funnel and feeding that with valuable content has always worked for me.”
Brian Kerman of Scorpion Internet Marketing adds, “If you have no recognition, and simply set up PPC or Facebook campaigns, your chances at converting will be small.
Create branded content on all of the major platforms, provide real value to your prospective customers in the form of entertainment or information, build a community over time, and you will see results.
Don’t be scared to run paid ads to your informational content, not every ad needs to have an immediate ROI.
Providing value and building a brand will help improve organic success, improve paid ad conversion rates, and increase branded traffic.”
“One of the biggest problems we see with clients doing their own advertising campaigns is that they don’t use retargeting effectively,” says Dorian Reeves of SH1FT. “Oftentimes, they simply throw ads to quickly targeted audiences and this is why they don’t get results. Setting up a complete retargeting funnel to make sure your potential customers stay in a constant loop is a good way of preventing advertising losses.”
Whether you are running Google or Facebook ads, these are a couple of dozen strategies you can use to improve the ROI of your campaigns.
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