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Did you know that Google rolled out Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords) in October 2000, which was the first self-service ad platform?Back then, you could throw together a quick ad in the self-service portal and get results for peanuts. You didn’t need any fancy tools or much money to have a crazy high ROI.
Fast forward almost 22 years, Google Ads is still the most effective PPC channel for agencies, B2B and B2C businesses, but it is also a lot more competitive and expensive. You can’t just throw together an ad and expect even mediocre results. Now, if you want to have a positive ROI, you need to worry about keyword research, conducting customer interviews, ad copywriting, ad creative, and bid management.
So, we reached out to 46 agency, B2B, and B2C PPC specialists to share how they are using their favorite PPC tools to increase ad presence and ROI in 2022.
Out of all of the PPC specialists we surveyed, agencies spent the most money on average on PPC ads each month.
In fact, 44.44% of agencies had an average monthly PPC budget between $5k – $10k. And, 27.8% were spending $21k or more each month.
The top PPC tools agencies use include:
Their overwhelming favorite and most effective PPC channel is Google Keyword Planner.“Google Keyword Planner gives us a nice benchmark as to which keywords have the highest average monthly searches as well as which queries have the highest transactional/commercial intent as evidenced by a high cost-per-click,” says Patrick Garde of ExaWeb Corporation. That way, we can align our strategy depending on the campaign’s objective.”
Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree adds, “The tool helps understand the trends related to the keywords I am going to pick, it gives me an idea of whether or not to run a PPC advertisement for a particular keyword. Also, one can see various missed-out keywords and find out the better ones for targeting with it. As Google Search Engine is my first priority for PPC advertising, it is a relief that I have this tool to assist me and invest wisely in the campaigns.”
Their 2nd and 3rd favorite tools were keyword research software, like SEMrush and Ahrefs. These tools allow agencies to not only do keyword research, but also to spy on their competitors’ ads.
“SEMrush is the tool we use the most when running PPC advertising campaigns,” explains Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “Why? Because not only does it give us data about the keywords and research intent, you can also do extensive competitive analysis. Indeed, you can track what your competitors are doing, which keywords they’re targeting, what their ad copies are, and more. You don’t always want to reinvent the wheel and knowing what your competition is doing is key. You can get inspired by them and produce even better strategies.”
Related: The 25 Most Powerful SEMrush Features for Improving Your Search Rankings
The 4th most popular tool was the default ad editor in Google Ads.
“The one tool that we use to manage large-scale accounts is the Google Ads Editor,” says Sasha Matviienko of growth360. “It allows you to manage your ads, keywords, bids, etc in bulk. Managing hundred thousand dollar accounts or even ten thousand dollar accounts without it would be impossible. Highly recommend the tool, it’s free!”
Roy Morejon of Enventys Partners agrees, “Google AdWords is the one tool I’d never get rid of as a PPC expert. The interface is incredibly simple, meaning that any business of any size can launch a campaign with excellent reach within minutes, and though it takes a while to master campaign optimization, once you’re an expert there’s really nothing you can’t do on the platform. As a digital marketing agency, Google Ads is the only platform that offers the breadth of campaign options that help us meet each and every one of our clients’ objectives. I also love its audience list capabilities, as it allows us to target the most relevant users and cut down on wasted spend.”
To monitor and improve the performance of your Google Ads campaigns, you can spend hours running a variety of reports and compiling selected metrics manually into one dashboard. Or, you can pull all your data automatically into one dashboard with Databox.
You can instantly review all of your campaigns and drill down on important metrics, such as:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Ads experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing all the key insights you need to optimize your Google Ads campaigns for conversion and ROI. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in PPC reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Ads account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Google Trends rounded out the top 5 most used PPC tools by agencies. This free tool allows agencies to see trending topics alongside providing search volume estimates over time.
Related: 19 Ways For Using Google Trends to Build Your Content Marketing Strategy
According to our survey findings, B2B businesses on average spent less than agencies, but more than B2C businesses. In fact, 33.3% spent more than $10k, and another 33.3% spent between $5-10k per month on ads.
The top 3 PPC tools used by B2B businesses are:
Their favorite two PPC tools (which tied for first) were the default Google Ad editor as well as Google Keyword Planner.
“The absolute best tool I’ve seen so far is Google Ads,” says Natasha Rei of Explainerd. “Google is the pioneer of search advertising and has been refining it for years, making Google Ads exceedingly easy to use and the most effective. The usual drawbacks for PPC advertising are:
However, with Google Ads, these complaints disappear as you’re able to bid keywords at a certain cost-per-click or a specific cost per conversion (CPC/CPA respectively) as opposed to bidding by impressions like on other platforms such as Facebook ads.”
Christopher Moore of Quiet Light adds, “The single most important tool in PPC advertising is still thorough keyword research. You should not even start a campaign until you know who you are targeting and this means you must choose the right keywords. A great campaign Keyword takes into account your goals and where the customers are in their buyers’ journey when they see your ad.
As you choose your keywords don’t get discouraged, you’ll be refining the list before and during the campaign. As you do your research, you’ll want to get rid of words that are just too competitive or don’t get any traffic. As you refine your list, you may determine that some terms will be more effective in a different campaign.
Don’t throw anything away, you might be able to use it later. All this hard work will help you get to know your customer better, and how to engage with them in a way that will drive them to your site, and increase sales.”
Spyfu, a competitor ad research tool, was the third most used PPC tool.
“SpyFu is the single most essential tool for PPC,” says Chris Walker of Legiit. ”It cuts hours out of the keyword research process by allowing me to look at what successful advertisers are already doing, rather than having to guess myself. It gets me 75% or more of the way there before ever starting my first ad. It is like getting a peek at the answers to a test before you take it and even lets you see some of the competition’s ads. It is a must-have for doing PPC.”
Interestingly enough, despite spending more money on ads than B2C companies, B2B companies were the most likely to stick with the default Google Ads tools for their campaigns. If they were to pay for any PPC tools, they were more likely to use competitor research tools, like Spyfu, over popular keyword research tools, like SEMrush and Ahrefs.
Related: PPC Reporting Strategies: 11 Things You Should Include in a PPC Report
Finally, B2C businesses spent the least amount on average on PPC ads, according to our survey findings. In fact, 46.15% spent less than $5k per month on ads. Another 46.15% spent somewhere between $5k to $10k per month on ads. And, only 7.69% invested more than $10k per month on ads.
Top PPC tools used by B2C businesses include:
Not surprisingly, just like agencies and B2B businesses, their preferred tool was Google Keyword Planner. And, the default Google Ads editor was the third most used tool.
“The best tool for a successful PPC on even shoestring budgets is a solid keyword research strategy,” says John Li of Fig Loans. “You should focus on finding effective long-tail keywords that come with far lower competition than shorter phrases to minimize spend and maximize results. It requires some time to properly research and connect the right keywords to your PPC efforts, but the valuable payoff is well worth the time spent! Research to target your competitor’s brand names and common tags users use in their search.”
Despite spending significantly less on average than agencies, B2C businesses were just as likely to invest in keyword research tools. In fact, Ahrefs was the 2nd most used tool, and SEMrush was 4th, according to our findings.
Similar to agencies, Google Trends was the fifth most used tool for B2C businesses.
Related: Here’s How to Use Ahrefs for SEO (According to 97 Marketers)
While it is not technically a PPC tool, many B2C pros also mentioned Google Analytics.
“The one tool I can’t imagine doing PPC advertising without is Google Analytics,” says Michael Dean of Pool Research. “Google Analytics is user-friendly, and free, which is perfect for small businesses who are just starting out. Google Analytics puts all pertinent information in one organized, accessible place including number of clicks, the overall costs of your campaigns, and how much money you are gaining from each click. For business owners who aren’t very savvy when it comes to marketing, having Google Analytics on your side is essential.”
When you are spending money on PPC ads, it is important to keep track of your ad campaigns to ensure you are getting a positive ROI. Trying to manage this manually via the default reports in Google Ads and through spreadsheets can quickly become time-intensive and increase the likelihood of human error creeping in.Setting up a PPC ad dashboard using a tool like Databox can solve a lot of those problems. For one, once you know the metrics you want to track, Databox can turn all of the numbers into easy-to-read charts. Then, when you review it, you are always looking at real-time data and can see trends and patterns in a matter of minutes. Plus, it is easier to see how ad campaigns are interacting with other marketing channels.
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