I’ve seen it all — from pay-per-click (PPC) ads that had me clicking through before I knew it to campaigns that couldn’t stick the landing. If I could offer one piece of advice to companies creating ads, it’s this: Don’t wing it.
Use PPC tools and software to understand ad performance and adapt as necessary.
Why? Because there’s no middle ground with PPC ads. They either work as intended to capture your target market or get left in the dust.
The right PPC tools can help marketers and sales teams track, monitor, and manage PPC campaigns to drive more conversions and crush the competition. Here are 13 of the best in the business.
PPC Management Tools
Cost: $264/month for 12-month plans, $299/month for 3-month plans, or $2,928 for an annual pre-paid subscription.
Integrations: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter
WordStream’s PPC Advisor targets small business owners who want to take advantage of PPC properly but do not have the finances to hire staff experts or advisors.
The software can integrate with Google Ads, Bing Ads, and other major ad platforms.
With WordStream Advisor, you can activate the “20 Minute Work Week” tool, which will take a short time to analyze PPC campaigns and send recommendations on improving your campaigns.
You can then make these changes through the Wordstream software.
You can also build campaigns, identify positive and negative keywords, and adjust budgets. The software also allows you to create optimized landing pages and track and produce reports around conversion and call data.
Below is a quick explainer video:
WordStream offers a seven-day trial to those who fill out a contact information form.
What we like: WordStream covers all the extensive search and ad platforms but does it in a way that’s accessible and affordable for small business owners. In a world dominated by digital advertising, this helps SMBs level the ad playing field.
Integrations include Google, Bing, and Yahoo ads programs
I’ve found that for marketers or agencies that want to run multiple campaigns or want more automated features, Optmyzr offers slightly more advanced tools for creating and managing campaigns in bulk.
Like WordStream, this paid platform allows you to launch, track, and manage PPC campaigns on different platforms. According to Optmyzr’s website, all software versions enable users to automate scripts, alerts, and reports.
Each membership also comes with biannual product training sessions with Optmyzr reps.
One of Optmyzr’s tools, Automyzr, allows users to upload and generate campaigns in a bull from data sources like spreadsheets or integrations.
Once the data is uploaded, a user can use specific criteria such as “brand” or “product” to generate names and other ad elements automatically. Here’s a demo that walks through the process:
This software is highly recommended by Joe Martinez, who was named one of PPC Hero’s top 25 PPC experts in 2017 and 2018. He says the PPC manager is helpful to both lead-gen and e-commerce accounts.
“Optmyzr allows marketers to easily see performance data in their accounts and adjust quickly. I can also use their list of scripts to automate certain tasks I must do consistently,” he says.
He adds that the software has saved him much time over the years. “I can rely on the tool to do many tedious, high-level tasks, which gives me more time to focus on strategy or deeper analysis in the important areas of the account.”
What we like: Optmyzr lives up to its name by helping businesses optimize their PPC ad data. Access to more information more easily makes Optmyzr an excellent choice for companies of any size.
Cost: Free to Google Ads advertisers
Integrations: Google Ads
This downloadable desktop application, formerly AdWords Editor, can create, track, and edit your Google ads.
Along with performance monitoring, the app allows you to make bulk changes to multiple ads, preview edits in draft mode before they go live, and build or revise your ads offline.
The editor works alongside Google Ads, which allows users to create and assign a bid strategy to campaigns specific to the Google bid strategy. You must first create a Google Ads campaign to manage it through the Ads Editor.
Here’s a quick demo that explains how:
If you are just trying to master one PPC strategy at a time and want to focus on Google first, this tool could be an affordable and straightforward option.
However, Google Ads Editor does not give you similar automation options or improvement suggestions like WordStream or paid PPC managers will. Because of this, more manual adjustments and monitoring might be required.
What we like: While Google Ads editor may not offer the same quality-of-life features that come with for-pay products, it has the distinct advantage of being connected to the world’s largest search engine.
Sure, it might require more manual effort, but it also gives your campaign the best chance to reach the most significant market.
Cost: Free to Bing advertisers
Integrations: Bing Ads
While many marketers might think of Google as their primary PPC option, Bing PPC has gained steam as the search engine has over 100 million daily users.
Bing offers software similar to Google for its search engine’s PPC ads. Like the Google Ads Editor, you can make offline revisions to your ads, which can be uploaded to the online platform once you regain internet access.
With this management tool, you can also research keywords, manage your bids, and monitor your performance.
The demo below walks you through how to create a campaign, import data via Google Import, and use the Opportunities tab to gain suggestions on how you can improve your performance.
Similarly to Google Ads Editor, this tool does not offer any automation tools and is only accessible to those with a Bing Ads account or campaign.
What we like: Ah, Bing. While I don’t use Microsoft’s search engine, it’s gaining ground against Google.
Sure, it’s still a David v. Goliath situation, but given that Bing’s PPC tools are accessible, companies can’t go wrong by expanding their ad impact.
Cost: $129 (Pro), $249 (Guru), $499 (Business); Enterprise edition varies by company.
Integrations include Google Ads Bing Ads.
SEMRush’s PPC management software focuses on competitive research, keyword research, and campaign planning.
When researching competitors on SEMRush, you can search your domain to see a list of domains you compete with organically and those you compete with within paid search.
You can also find out which keywords competitors have bid on in the past to see if you should take a similar bidding strategy.
The ToolKit’s “Charts” tool can also show you visual graphs of multiple competitors’ performance.
Another feature is the Keyword Magic Tool, which allows you to type in a keyword or phrase and get a list of stronger keywords and data about them, such as search volume. You can then export this information into a document to share with their team.
SEMRush four pricing plans. The lowest cost plan — targeted to freelancers, startups, and small businesses — includes SEMRush’s PPC, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing tools.
The more extensive plans are targeted more towards larger companies and agencies. These offer advanced reporting features like white-labeled reports and more advanced API integrations.
To test out SEMRush, you can try features, including the Keyword Magic Tool, here. To access these free tools, you must register for a free account with an email and a password.
For a more detailed look at all the tools, here’s a demo that shows how you can use SEMRush to start a PPC campaign:
What we like: SEMRush doesn’t just tell you how you’re doing — it also offers insights about your competitors’ PPC ad performance. This is critical data for companies looking to stand out in an increasingly crowded ad market.
Cost: Free download
We recently posted this helpful template on our blog if you prefer to plan their PPC ads for the lowest cost without using the software.
This spreadsheet guides you through creating strong PPC ads for each customer journey level. It also guides you through identifying positive and negative keywords and building AdGroups.
While this template can help you plan your campaigns, it can also be a great document to share with clients or other decision-makers on your team before launching ads.
You can find the link to download and detailed instructions on how to use the tool in this blog post.
What we like: It’s our template, but that’s not the only reason we think it’s worth your time. Along with the template itself, our experts offer in-depth instructions on how to make the most of this resource for your current and next PPC campaigns.
PPC Bid Management Tools
Cost: Plans often start around $500/month. Marin does not specify specific pricing.
Integrations include Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter
MarinOne Search offers bid management features for ads on platforms including Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, and Amazon.
According to Marin, the software uses a large pool of data and patented machine-learning algorithms to “allocate budgets and calculate bids.”
According to Marin’s tour of its budgeting software, seen below, users can also adjust the budget algorithm by taking actions like assigning a dollar value to different types of conversion events:
If you want more information on Marin’s impact, its website highlights case studies on how the software has helped major clients like Nissan, Dell, and Jeep.
What we like: Bid too much, and you’re spending more than you make. Bid too little, and your ads may end up unseen. MarinOne helps pinpoint the sweet spot for ad spend to help you make the most of PPC budgets.
Cost: Varies by company. Skai provides free demos and quotes.
Integrations: Compatible with platforms including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Apple Ads.
Skai (formerly Kenshoo) offers a variety of advertising tools related to budget management, search, social media, e-commerce, and app-based ads.
The software’s bid management features allow you to make and adjust various bids, including rules-based and model-based bids.
You can integrate data from Google Ads and other online ad programs with Skai’s platform. The data can be displayed on multiple dashboards, including one that shows spend, revenue, ROI, and conversion head-to-head.
Skai says it uses award-winning machine-learning algorithms to give users bid suggestions and budget and ad performance forecasts in its dashboard interface.
Skai’s site describes its software as enterprise-level but says it offers plans and paid tools targeted at startup-level companies, along with a free trial for interested businesses.
What we like: Skai lets you import data straight from significant search engines and lets you visualize bids that work best for your team.
This makes it easier to understand how PPC ads are performing and where spend will have the biggest impact.
Cost: Varies based on your company’s ad spend, the number of accounts that will be managed, and the contract length determined between the company and Acquisio.
Integrations include Google, Bing, and significant social networks.
Acquisio’s bid and budget management tool uses machine learning algorithms to analyze and adjust bids and budget distribution on a 24/7 basis.
Because of the flexible pricing plans, this software could be helpful for companies ranging from startup to enterprise level.
This software might be helpful to marketers with multiple accounts or who may need more time to monitor bids and budget distribution regularly.
Due to the machine learning tools, you might save time on tasks related to bid research and crunching numbers. This extra time could then be used for other productive projects.
What we like: The biggest draw of Acquisio is the tool’s ability to auto-adjust budgets based on relevant ad factors. This can help teams save money and ensure that the suitable ads are in the right place at the right time.
PPC Reporting Tools
Cost: Free with short registration
Integrations: Google Ads
This WordStream tool, formerly called the AdWords Performance Grader, can give your Google Ads campaign a percentage score based on criteria including text and keyword optimization, keyword quality, click-through rates, impressions, and landing page optimization.
The report also gives more information or a sub-score related to each individual piece of criteria.
To help users in benchmarking, the report also notes how well campaigns are doing compared to the previous month.
Here’s an example of what the top of a Google Ads performance report might look like:
After registering and giving a small amount of company information, you can link this tool to your Gmail account and automatically receive the grades for ads associated with your email address.
What we like: No one wants a bad grade, but when it comes to Google PPC ads, it’s better to know if you’re coming up short — otherwise, you’re spending on ads that aren’t having the desired impact.
The crystal-clear nature of the Google Ads Performance Grader makes it a great asset for marketing teams.
Cost: $20/month (Starter), $40/month (Small), $70/month (Medium, $120/month (Large)
Integrations include: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn
This software might be a good option for marketers or agencies who wish to build whitelabel analytics dashboards that their clients can access.
Aside from the portal, ReportingNina can also be used to schedule and send automated reports to marketers or clients via email.
When integrating with Google Ads and/or Bing Ads, a marketer or client with access to the white label portal can see a dashboard that pulls in all the information from these third-party platforms.
With this integration feature, users can see all their need-to-know data in one place. Outside of PPC, data from Twitter Ads, Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Ads, MailChimp, and other accounts can be integrated as well.
What we like: Teams don’t have time to chase down data from multiple sources.
By combining ad data into a single, simple, accessible portal, marketers can access campaign data anywhere, anytime, to see how ads are performing and make necessary changes.
Cost: Octoboard offers seven plans with annual and monthly commitment options. Annual plans are $5 to $150 monthly, and monthly, no-commitment plans fall between $18 and $210.
Each plan allows a different number of clients as well as access to a different list of features.
Integrations include: Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Octoboard provides a number of customizable and white-label reporting templates for marketers and their clients.
With the software, you can create reporting documents as well as dashboards that can be sent to an unlimited amount of recipients. The software also offers report templates that can be embedded into a website.
For those who need to report to their team or clients but don’t have time to create a nice visual, Octoboard already offers templates that specifically report on Google, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn PPC.
Here’s an example of a few of the templates currently displayed on the website:
To test drive the software, you can click on one of the templates on their homepage. When you enter the template, the site will give you a prompt and instructions showing you how to integrate your data.
Similarly to ReportingNinja, the software also offers automation tools that can create and send templated reports on a schedule.
You can register and preview certain reports with your data in them for free on the Octoboard site. However, to receive more access, you will need to subscribe to one of its monthly or annual plans.
What we like: The no-code component of Octoboard is its biggest strength. Teams can easily create and customize reports that align with marketing goals and provide need-to-know data.
Cost: $38/month (Individual), $119/month (Professional), $229/month (Business), $349/month (Standard).
Integrations include: Google Ads, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Youtube, LinkedIn Ads, Twitter Ads
Like ReportingNinja and Octoboard, DashThis allows users to connect PPC and SEM tools to the platform so that all performance data appears on one dashboard.
This feature could be helpful if you need to use two or more tools to monitor your PPC ads, traffic, and other data related to your campaigns.
The platform allows users to build and customize these overarching dashboards.
When building a dashboard, DashThis allows you to build off of three templates: Periodic, Rolling, and Campaign.
While the Campaign pulls in data about a specific campaign, the Rolling dashboard shows live data and the Periodic shows data for a certain time period.
Here’s a tutorial that shows how to get started with a DashThis Periodic template:
DashThis also offers a list of pre-made KPI widgets that measure and report on factors like cost-per-click, cost-per-acquisition, conversion rate, impressions, ROI, and return on ad spend. Users can also create custom widgets of their own.
This software would be a good choice for agencies looking to save time on the reporting processes related to PPC or SEM marketing. After creating a dashboard, they can use it to share and report back on live data to their clients or colleagues.
DashThis also offers a low-cost individual subscription, which allows users to launch up to three dashboards for $39 a month.
What we like: Build your own PPC dashboard from scratch or use pre-made KPI widgets to streamline the process. The ball is in your court with DashThis.
Building Your PPC Toolkit
While all of these tools offer benefits, you don’t need all of them all at once. My advice? Start small. Pick one or two apps that align with current ad goals, and see what kind of data they return.
If it’s accurate and actionable, stay the course. If it’s not, tweak the settings and try again. If you’re still not seeing ROI, consider a software shift.
No matter which tools or software you select, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to PPC for facts, figures, strategy ideas, and best practices.