Digital marketing can sometimes be very monotonous: spending hours adjusting bids, updating ads, or gathering data for reporting. But it’s 2021 now (as upsetting to type as it is to read, I’m sure), and the industry as a whole has made incredible strides in automating a lot of the menial tasks that can make this career frustrating and sometimes just downright boring.
In this post, I will recommend four automation tools that every PPC practitioner should be using. Whether you’re managing accounts that spend $5K or $500K, these tools will make your life easier. Since I want these recommendations to be accessible to everyone, I’m intentionally leaving out the automation tools that require a subscription or cost money.
But! Before we get to my recommendations, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about PPC automation.
What Is PPC Automation, Anyway?
Excellent question! PPC automation is essentially any tool that takes a task that you would normally have to do manually; bid adjustments, data pulling for reporting, ad copy changes, etc., and has a computer do it for you. This naturally excludes the strategy part of marketing, so yes, you’ll still have some work to do. But PPC automation gives you more time to develop strategy by handling the easy but time-consuming tasks.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, onto the recommendations.
Best PPC Automation/Bid Management Tools
As I said before, all of the following recommendations are free tools and programs that anyone can use to introduce automation to their workflow. There are tons of paid programs available, but we’ll save that for a different post.
1. Google Ads Editor
Easily the tool that I use the most in my day-to-day work, Google Ads Editor is invaluable when performing the monotonous tasks that sometimes come with PPC work.
Need to update a headline CTA in all of your ads? Easy, just a simple find and replace. Need to add 150 new ads to the account for a holiday sale? No problem, because Ads Editor lets you bulk upload. Want to copy a campaign’s ad schedule across the account? You can’t do that in the Google Ads interface, but you CAN do that in Ads Editor.
If Google Ads Editor didn’t exist, managing extremely large accounts would be next to impossible as all your time would be spent making menial changes across the hundreds of ad groups and campaigns. Google Ads Editor, you’re the real MVP.
2. Reporting Automation With Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is a tool that solves two problems at once: the time it takes to compile data for reporting and presenting it in an appealing and easy-to-digest way.
Once you learn how to navigate it, GDS can create reports that pull in live data and allow you to present it with no effort. It also gives you a ton of different ways to display that data, such as tables, bar graphs, line graphs, deltas between two date ranges, etc.
GDS is my favorite of these four recommendations as it saves time and presents the data in a visually stunning manner.
3. Google Rules/Scripts
Rules and scripts are much less frequently used by me personally, but can really save you time and stress on tasks that are incredibly important or time-sensitive. Google Rules is a feature in Google Ads that allows you to set up a list of conditions that, when met, make a change in the account.
For example: If you have a specific cost per click that you don’t want to be above, you can create a rule that pauses keywords once they go above the CPC threshold. Another useful instance is for time-sensitive ads like a holiday sale. If the sale ends after Christmas, you can set up a rule to pause your sale ads at 11:59 on 12/25, so you don’t have to stay up and pause them yourself.
Scripts work similarly, but for more complicated tasks. The script that I use the most is a budget tracking script that automatically detects how much the campaigns spent in the previous day and dynamically changes the budget, to stay on track to meet our monthly budget.
4. Automated Bidding Strategies
This is the one form of automation that everyone should at least be familiar with if you’re not already implementing them. There are a ton of different automated bidding strategies for whatever your goals are, and they work incredibly well compared to a manual CPC bidding strategy.
If you are an e-commerce company and need to hit a specific return, there’s the Target ROAS strategy. If you have an average conversion value and just need to hit a specific CPA, use the Target CPA strategy. If you don’t have enough conversion data to make that kind of decision, the Maximize Clicks strategy will get you where you need to go.
Automated bidding strategies not only save you time that would be spent adjusting bids for all of your keywords, but they can actually improve the overall performance of the account. Win-win. If you’re not convinced of the efficacy of automated bidding strategies, my colleague Ann Robison ran a test that proved how well the Maximize Conversion strategy performs.
PPC Automation Tools Save Your Valuable Time (and Sanity)
Digital marketing is an ever-changing and dynamic industry that can sometimes be incredibly tedious and boring. But there are free tools available to everyone that, once learned and utilized effectively, can save you invaluable time that you can spend driving forward marketing strategy, or maybe to rest and relax. Who’s to say how you spend your time?
Great post, Max! It would be great to learn how to leverage Google Ads Editor as there is a huge learning curve there too.
What are paid PPC automation tools you use and/or recommend or would love to try?
There definitely is a steep learning curve for Google Ads Editor, but it more than makes up for it with the amount of time you save later on!
As for paid tools, I have the most experience using SEMRush which I highly recommend. It makes keyword research easy and helps with competitive metrics as well. I’ve heard a lot about programs like Kenshoo and Marin, but I don’t have any experience with them so I’d count those as programs I’d be interested in trying.
Thanks for you question!