Nearly every craft uses tools to get the job done. Carpenters have hammers and saws. Doctors have expensive medical devices like MRI machines and tests. Writers have a computer (or a typewriter, or pen and paper).
PPC is no different. While it's certainly possible to manage PPC using only the AdWords and Bing Ads online interfaces, doing so will be less than optimal.
I asked 20 PPC experts to share their must-have PPC tools. They responded with gusto. Here are their top recommendations for 27 free, must-have tools for PPC success.
When it comes to free tools, Google is king. One-third of the tools on the list are from Google!
1. AdWords Editor
A few of us old-timers remember life before AdWords Editor. It wasn't fun. I was doing in-house PPC at the time, and we actually hired an intern to update ad copy for us, it was that arduous to do manually. With Adwords Editor and its many bulk editing features, those days disappeared. Several experts mentioned Editor, most with a comment like "Duh! It's essential."
2. Google Analytics
The AdWords and Bing interfaces only go so far. They don't tell you what happens after the ad click. Use Google Analytics to gauge bounce rate, pages visited, and many other analytical gems that will help optimize your marketing efforts.
3. AdWords Scripts
We've recently started using AdWords Scripts, and it's become obvious they're a must-have. Use them for exception reporting, daily stats, and client reporting – amongst other things.
4. Google Plugin for Eclipse
5. Google Documents
I love creating shared Google Docs for internal and external use. It's even possible to have multiple users editing them at once – something you can't do with Microsoft Office. (Suggested by Larry Kim of Wordstream.)
6. Google Drive
7. FTP for Google Merchant accounts
8. Google Suggest
9. Bing Ads Editor
Not to be outdone, Bing Ads has some great free tools of its own. While Bing Ads Editor isn't as robust as AdWords Editor, it's still a must-have PPC tool for those using Bing Ads.
10. Bing Ads Intelligence
I love this Excel plugin for keyword research. It'll show search volume, create ad groups, and provide demographic data – all in Excel.
11. Facebook Power Editor
If you're running more than one simple Facebook Ads campaign, you need to be using Power Editor. It's like AdWords Editor for Facebook. Use it to create audiences, play around with targeting, and create an image bank for your campaigns.
OK, it's free if your computer has Microsoft Office, which 90 percent or so of us do. Excel is necessary to analyze and manipulate PPC data. Many of the experts named it a must-have.
13. Excellent Analytics Plugin for Excel
14. Statistical Significance Spreadsheet
15. Analysis ToolPak for Excel
Use the free Excel plugin Analysis ToolPak to add advanced hypothesis testing to Excel at no cost. (Another recommendation from Sussan.)
16. Uber Suggest
Use Uber Suggest for keyword research. I've even used Uber Suggest for blog topic idea generation. (Another great recommendation from Levy.)
17. Keyword Wrapper
18. Phrase Builder
Enter a few words, and Phrase Builder will mash them up into keywords. (Another tool recommended by Kennedy.)
Soovle serves up common searches on a multitude of sites, including YouTube, Answers.com, and Amazon, in addition to the usual search engine subjects. (Yet another keyword tool from Levy.)
Convertable is a free lead generation tracking service (in beta). If you aren't ready to give Salesforce a try, check out Convertable.
SplitTester is my favorite free online statistical significance tester. Just plug in clicks and CTR (or conversion rate) for 2 ad variations to see which one is the winner, and at what level of significance.
A Few More PPC Tools
Finally, no list would be complete without the tools that each and every PPC expert uses every day:
- Experience (Sanner)
- People (e.g., sales teams, live chats) (Sanner)
- My brain (Michael Madew) and Matt Vaillancourt)
Special thanks to Aaron Levy, Andrew Bethel, Arianne Donoghue, Ben Nusekabel, David Szetela (twitter.com/Szetela), Larry Kim, Leo Sussan, Lisa Sanner, Mark Kennedy, Martin Roettgerding, Matt Umbro, Matt Vaillancourt, and Michael Madew for contributing your suggestions.
In addition to these free tools, here are 18 Must-Have Paid Tools for PPC Success.
Hopefully you've learned of a few new helpful free PPC tools from this list! What are your must-have PPC tools?