Most advertisers consider paid search management software the solution to all their problems. Invest in automation technology and eliminate the guesswork of optimization. With so many in the ecosystem, though, just how do you find the right tool with all the right features to help meet your business goals. This article looks to guide you toward an answer.
What to Look for in Paid Search Management Software
All paid search management tools can help advertisers save time and improve campaign performance, yet some are more effective and efficient than others. Here are a few key features that help the best software tools stand out from the rest:
The Right Media Channels
If you want to narrow down the list of options quickly, first look at what media channels they support. You want to choose a tool that’s compatible with all the channels and targeting options you currently use. You should also consider future growth. What if you plan to expand your strategy to include Bing PPC, but it isn’t supported by your current software? You’d then have to invest in a brand new tool.
The main media channels and features to consider are:
- Google Search
- Google Shopping
- Google RLSA
- Google mobile
- Bing Search
- Bing mobile
- Bing Shopping
- Yahoo! Search
- Yahoo Gemini
- Yahoo Shopping
Decide which channels are most important to you and be sure to select a technology that supports them.
Comprehensive Data Insights
Competing in PPC today is all about data – you need lots of it, the capacity to analyze it properly, and the right tools to act on insights derived from it to optimize your strategy. The key benefit of using paid search management software is that it can handle all of this for you, but tools differ in the amount – and quality – of data they can process and act on.
Some solutions simply can’t integrate data from certain sources, while others can’t effectively utilize data insights to calculate bidding decisions. Some solutions can analyze data but take 1-2 days to incorporate it into bidding calculations. This decreases data relevance and delays improvements.
Failing to maximize the value of data insights for your PPC strategy makes it difficult to keep up with the competition. What’s more, it can cost you significantly in wasted ad spend. With this in mind, then, make sure that when evaluating paid search management tools you determine whether they have the ability to process all relevant data sources, including:
- Search Engine Data
- Session Analytics
- Offline Data
- Contextual Data
- Non-Search Publishers
- Inventory and Capacity Data
- Deep Funnel Data
- Historical Data
- CRM data
- Point-of-sale data
- Call center Data
Keyword Targeting and Optimization
There are many platforms out there to help manage bids, yet few can help with keyword targeting and optimization. Automating bids based on predicted keyword performance is one thing but what about other keyword-related optimizations?
- Generating keywords to target based on your business niche.
- Recommendations for keyword additions, negative keywords, and ad pausing.
- Optimizing keyword grouping using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to optimize targeting and Quality Scores.
Sophisticated paid search management software calculates the value of each individual keyword based on the current competitive landscape, historical performance data, and business-relevant data. When targeting low volume (long-tail keywords) with limited associated data, QuanticMind uses NLP to substitute data from similar keywords and generate accurate bids:
This unique strategy allows bidding technology to make informed decisions on keywords with little performance data. Utilizing software with this feature makes it possible for advertisers to expand keyword targeting to include highly-targeted phrases to drive more conversions.
The Right Goal-Based Bid Strategies
Paid search management software helps marketers choose bid strategies based on important business goals. Google Smart Bidding offers five bidding strategies to choose from:
|Optimize conversions while targeting a specific (CPA)||Target cost per action (CPA)|
|Optimize for conversion value while targeting a specific ROAS||Target return on ad spend (ROAS)|
|Optimize for conversions while spending your budget||Maximize Conversions|
|Optimize for conversion value while spending your budget||Maximize Conversion Value|
|Automatically adjust manual bids to maximize conversions||Enhanced cost per click (ECPC)|
Other tools offer their own bid strategy options based on advertising goals. This is a large part of what sets them apart from each other. You don’t want to enter a bidding war with other advertisers using exactly the same bidding strategies. Instead, choose a tool that offers the right strategy for your unique marketing goals. There are a lot of options, so look for a strategy that can drive your bottom-line goals, like conversions and revenue.
QuanticMind, for example, uses a Profit Maximization bidding strategy to yield the best absolute profit figures. It optimizes bids at the keyword level, ensuring that every individual keyword either drives maximum profit or doesn’t enter the auction at all. The nuance of this bidding strategy has a significant impact on campaign success:
Some platforms offer nothing more than the software itself. Others include agency support to help you succeed. Most advertisers don’t consider agency services when evaluating software options, but assistance from your vendor is essential if you’re going to get the most value out of the tool. The benefits of partnering with a dedicated Customer Success team include:
- Learning how to use your software from a team with considerable experience and expertise.
- Recommendations that fit your business needs and help putting these ideas to work.
- Quick responses in addressing performance issues, avoiding considerable costs in lost opportunities.
Keep in mind that Customer Service and Customer Success teams are two different things. A Customer Success team knows about your business and industry; they’re actively invested in your success using their software. They’re not just people you call on for help when needed. They’re an extension of your own team.
Ease of Use
Paid search management software can help marketers automate their strategy in many different ways. It’s essential that you invest in a tool that has flexibility, allowing you to manually control certain aspects of campaign optimization.
That said, making manual optimizations shouldn’t take hours of your time. There should be quick solutions that allow you to evaluate, make changes, and optimize your efforts. Examples of these kinds of features include:
- Easily viewing performance and revenue results from past promotions.
- The ability to update bids for promotions across related publishers and objects.
- The ability to anticipate seasonal patterns in a week, month, or quarter, and adjust bids accordingly.
- Effectively utilizing offline data with seasonality trends to make bidding decisions.
Look for a tool that not only automates processes but simplifies your work in manual optimization. Say, for example, you want to increase spending at the end of a promotion. It can take hours to make these adjustments manually across objects and publishers. If you use the right tool, though, it can show you the best time to increase spending based on past historical data. It also allows you to make these changes across publishers and objects with just a few clicks.
Sophisticated Attribution Capabilities
Attributing conversions and revenue back to specific search campaign initiatives is essential for optimizing performance, but search campaigns don’t exist in isolation from other marketing channels. In order to fully understand the role search plays in meeting your marketing goals, you need to invest in a technology that comes with sophisticated attribution capabilities, including:
- Cross-channel tracking
- Customizable attribution models
- Incorporating other channels into search performance analysis (e.g. call tracking, email, display advertising, etc.)
- Attribution models that can inform bidding engine decisions for optimization
The best attribution tools are able to track your entire sales funnel, attributing revenue and conversions back to relevant channels. Analytics reports also make it easy to derive insights from your investment and performance. Budget tracking allows you to understand how marketing spending impacts audiences. Revenue tracking attributes revenue back to specific audience actions and the products they purchase.
Just because you’re investing in paid search management software doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have key features to help you optimize your marketing initiatives overall.
Marketers have a lot of factors to consider when choosing the most effective software for their specific needs. Some options will have more of the unique features required to maximize the value of automation in search engine marketing. When comparing options, consider which features are most valuable to you:
- Compatibility with certain media channels
- Comprehensive data insights
- Keyword targeting optimization
- The right goal-based bid strategies
- Agency support
- Ease of use
- Multi-channel attribution
QuanticMind is one example of a best-in-class solution that includes all these features and more to help advertisers maximize the value of their paid search optimization efforts.