Jan 2, 2020

PPC marketing tools: 17+1 must-have performance marketing software, tools & products

By Supermetrics

Performance Marketing Analytics

[ Updated Jan 2, 2020 ]

8-MINUTE READ · By Tina Arnoldi

Before you create your actionable PPC reports, you need to create well-organized PPC campaigns. There are no shortage of tools available online to help you with PPC marketing and in this post we’ve covered 17+1 different tools. Some of them are free and some of them might break the bank for smaller companies. Take a look at what we’ve highlighted below that might help you make the creation of your campaigns a bit easier.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is a goldmine of free resources for marketers with top-notch blog posts and training in the HubSpot Academy. Their Marketing Hub is a paid tool designed to help marketers “grow traffic, convert leads, and track the entire funnel in one place”. Rather than flipping back and forth between platforms, you can create and launch your Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn tools directly in HubSpot and go beyond the click to see how ads influence a specific audience in the buyer’s journey. You can also pull your HubSpot marketing & sales data into Google Sheets, Google Data Studio, and Microsoft Excel with Supermetrics. 


Hubspot is designed to get away from last-click attribution and instead show the touch points along the way. And because it syncs with your CRM, there’s no manual import and export, which is ripe for errors – and time-consuming.  Although there is a free version of Marketing Hub, the features are limited. If you want to do more, such as ad retargeting, you want the starter version which starts at $50 a month. For more automation, the price increases to $800 a month which might be out of range for some smaller teams.

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a helpful PPC marketing tool because you can see queries for where you rank organically, but do not have paid coverage. Those are terms you might want to add to your PPC campaigns. You can also see where you perform well organically and make adjustments to drop paid search bids on those keywords or pause them if you’re on a limited budget. If you are concerned about losing old data, use the Supermetrics Add-In. (And if you discover high volume paid terms where you do not rank organically, it may be a good time to revisit ways to improve your SEO strategy.)

Google Search Console

3. BigQuery

BigQuery is an enterprise data warehouse for working with large data sets with applications for PPC reporting. It serves as a repository for data and by blending data from different sources, it’s useful for marketers who do PPC on more than just the Google Ads platform. With a little help from Supermetrics for BigQuery, the power of BigQuery is more accessible for all marketers and companies of all sizes.

For Google Ads, potential SQL queries include discovering new search terms, seeing which campaigns hit budget, adjusting budgets based on how campaigns perform, or turning keywords on and off. Pricing depends on the amount of data and features used and is available on the Google Cloud website.

Google BigQuery

4. AdEspresso

AdEspresso is a tool for managing and optimizing Facebook and Google Ads.  With it, you can create campaigns to split test ads and get approval from a third-party before campaigns go live. If you are comfortable with IF-THEN rules, you can automate optimization based on criteria you decide and the dashboard offers a user-friendly glance of whether performance improves or declines based on your optimizations. If you run Lead Generation Ads, AdEspresso Data Sync offers a beta feature to sync those contacts into your CRM or Google Sheets. Pricing starts at $58 a month for ads with a spend up to $3,000 and increases from there.


5. BuzzSumo

I have used BuzzSumo when working on a content strategy for clients. You can see what’s happening with competitors on social media and the top shared content across social channels.  Although designed for content marketing, it offers ideas for PPC ad copy by identifying popular headlines you might use in your ads. By seeing what’s trending, you also get ideas of how to word your offer. The tool starts at $99 a month for the Pro plan with no long-term contracts and decreases to $79 a month if you pay annually.


6. Taboola

The purpose of Taboola is to “drive marketing results by targeting your audience when they are most receptive to new messages.” Taboola helps content stand out on sites when customers are in discovery mode. Customers see content on websites that encourages them to engage with a brand. It starts at the beginning of the funnel with brand awareness to initially reach people based on their interests. As prospects become more interested in a brand, they move along in the funnel with tactics such as retargeting to drive traffic to your website. Taboola reports include the expected data such as time of day, location, placement, and the specific campaign. As a native advertising model, you pay for campaigns on a CPC (Cost per Click) basis.


7. Outbrain

Outbrain helps over 1 billion people discover content, products and services that are of interest to them. For marketers, it includes tools for testing ads and setting the right goals for PPC campaigns. Like Taboola, Outbrain also runs on a CPC pricing model. Users have complained about the bounce rate for ads run through Outbrain. This makes sense because with so many publishers in the network, ads may show up on placements that are not relevant. Marketers who use this type of solution for PPC ads should keep a close eye on the ad placements to make sure the strategy makes sense for their businesses. Recently, Taboola and Outbrain merged under the Taboola name. They hope this will enable them to become a more serious competitor to Facebook and Google.


8. TikTok

TikTok is a social media platform for sharing and discovering music and talent videos. It’s used  as a form of self-expression, with the most users under 35 and 500 millions users worldwide. At the end of 2018, TikTok started running ads on their platform with multiple bidding options such as CPC, CPM, and CPA. The targeting options aren’t as robust as some other platforms, but it’s still possible to target by audience demographics and technology. But based on the example of an ad in this tweet, it seems there is more work to do with the look and feel.


9. Optimizely

Optimizely is your go-to tool for optimizing the landing pages used in PPC campaigns. It lets you test different elements of your landing page, such as images, CTAs, copy, forms, and goals. You can also use personalization by changing the landing page text to incorporate the search terms used by your site visitor. When your tests are completed, you can see which variation of your landing page is most engaging to visitors. By optimizing based on this data, you can increase your conversions. You will need to request pricing since it’s not publicly listed, but some users have said it can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars so clearly not it’s a tool for all shops.


10. Pinterest

Pinterest is eye candy for social media users. People are on there to discover ideas around their interests or hobbies. Each Pinterest image can link back to a website, making it a good tool for driving traffic. To use Pinterest ads, you need to install a tag on your site and set up conversion tracking to learn if your ads are successful or not. Like other platforms, pricing depends on what you’re trying to do. If you want awareness, you may pay a few dollars for a thousand impressions. If you’re aiming for engagement, it may range from a few cents to several dollars for each action. It also depends on the competitiveness of your industry. If you are uncertain about whether this is a channel that makes sense for your PPC efforts, check out the Pinterest insights page and see who is on there. Learn if this is a place where your audience is before developing a strategy and investing a budget in Pinterest.


11. Smartly.io

Smartly.io “automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity.” You can do your planning, creating, launching, testing, and measurement all within the platform which saves your team a significant amount of time. In a single dashboard, you have a glance at your campaigns, cohorts, and how visitors move through your funnel. Advertisers report a simple interface and easy onboarding so they are able to get started with the platform quickly. Pricing is based on the ad spend and starts at $2,500 per month.


12. Quora Ads

Quora is a platform to ask questions about different topics and answer questions for the 400 million monthly active users. It makes sense as an advertising platform because Quora users are looking for answers to solve a problem. Ads are displayed around organic discussions that are somewhat related to what an ad promotes. 

Similar to Facebook, you need to install a pixel on your website to track conversions and build remarketing audiences. Once you create your campaign, you can target by topic or by audience. The bid options are CPC, CPM, and conversion optimized. With the Quora Ads Connector, you can pull your Quora Ads data into Google Sheets, Google Data Studio, Excel and various BI tools to report, analyze and monitor your campaigns.

Quora Ads

13. Google AdSense

Google Ads are for advertisers to create ads to display on Google.com or a Google partner site. Google AdSense caters to publishers who want to allow for ads on different sections of their websites. Like Google Ads, it operates based on an auction where advertisers bid on keywords. If you are a website owner and want to make some money from having ads on your website, you would use Google AdSense.  For marketers, the key thing to know is that Google Ads on the Display Network will go into AdSense.

Google AdSense

14. AdForm

AdForm is a demand-side platform for programmatic advertising. They offer “a full suite of complementary tools which allow you to identify, track and engage with your audience across a wide range of different channels.”  Their advertiser tools include an integrated advertiser platform, ad-serving, a demand-side platform and a data management platform. Features include multiple bidding options, retargeting, and cross-device targeting. (They offer a separate suite of tools for the publisher side). You can combine data from multiple accounts into the same reports and get a full overview of performance with the AdForm connector. Users report it shares similar features as the Google platform with real-time bidding optimizations.


15. AdRoll

AdRoll is a platform for converting prospects into customers. It’s a popular retargeting solution used across social media platforms and websites. Google is one of their advertising partners so like the Google Display Network, with AdRoll you can reach the majority of sites online. 

Features include retargeting, audience segmentation, and personalized ads. Campaigns can include Dynamic ads designed to the preferences of a segment of customers or with email campaigns for people who are receptive to email offers. Reporting features are robust with attribution data for conversions, so you know which sources are the most valuable to you. But you can also monitor your AdRoll campaigns in Google Sheets or Google Data Studio. Pricing depends on how much you choose to spend per month on advertisements.


16. Criteo

Criteo is a global retargeting platform offering a broad range of marketing objectives for advertisers, such as brand awareness, traffic, and revenue. Their service is Dynamic retargeting across apps and Facebook, with custom banners for prospects who left a website without buying something. 

Users report it is easy to set up the Criteo script on their websites and the reporting dashboard is easy to navigate is user-friendly. Pricing is not listed on their website but user feedback indicates that it is geared more towards larger companies.


17. Bing Ads/Microsoft Advertising

Although Google is the king of search, don’t ignore Microsoft Advertising, formerly known as Bing Ads.  It’s very similar to Google with an increased focused on the role of artificial intelligence in advertising and Sponsored Products for shopping campaigns. Although it doesn’t have the market share that Google does with advertisers, the platform continues to grow and offers access to users who are not reached exclusively through Google Ads. Cost-per-click is generally less than on Google because the competition is much greater on Google Ads, especially in certain industries. You can get started by importing existing Google Ad campaigns into the Microsoft platform. Although you may want to make adjustments once the campaigns are imported, it is an easy way to try the platform without spending extensive time learning a new tool.

Bing Ads

Now what?

Yes that’s a lot of information! The intent of this post is not to urge you to sign up for every single tool out there. That quickly becomes overwhelming – and costly – rather than helpful. A good starting point is Search Console since it’s possible your website has already been verified by your webmaster and it provides some simple ideas for your ad copy. HubSpot does have a free version of their Marketing Hub that may be worth exploring. And if you’re really stumped on copy ideas, then take a look at BuzzSumo to see what already resonates with your audience.

If you want to pay per click or impression with you want a traditional PPC platform, consider Microsoft Advertising in addition to Google Ads because they are so similar. AdEspresso does have some Google Ads features, but is geared more towards Facebook advertising.

If you want a native advertising platform, you may want to consider Taboola (same as Outbrain), AdForm, and AdRoll. Depending on the makeup of your target audience, at least explore the options with TikTok, Quora, and Pinterest.

And finally, those in larger companies can look into Optimizely to help with landing pages, Criteo for retargeting, Smartly.io for social advertising, and BigQuery for large data sets.

If you want to learn more about how Supermetrics can help automate your PPC marketing, take a look at how many integrations we offer, in addition to the ones referenced above. And if you’re ready to see how Supermetrics can make life easier for you as an advertiser, sign up for a free trial today.

About Tina Arnoldi

Tina Arnoldi is Analytics and AdWords Qualified and one of the few people in the United States recognized as a Google Developer Expert (GDE) for marketing. Her agency, 360 Internet Strategy, is also a Google Partner. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn.

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