Not everyone is great in the kitchen. It's not easy to buy the best quality ingredients. It's even harder to assemble them together in the right way to achieve a delicious result. Even when you follow a recipe to a T, you need to have command of the finer points of cooking to get a great result. Digital marketing tactics are no different, particularly paid digital advertising. With any digital tactic, you have to gather resources (or ingredients). But, these ingredients are the time, energy, money, and thought you invest. Then you combine those resources in hopes of producing a great result.
This is basically the “home cooking” of the digital marketing world. Yet, managing paid ads manually is like running a professional kitchen. It's complicated, competitive, and requires a ton of experience. “DoorDash” and other food delivery apps revolutionized the restaurant industry, making thousands of restaurants accessible to people who don’t want to cook. Similarly, paid ad optimization products make paid ads accessible to organizations who couldn’t commit the resources to “cook it themselves.”
Paid Ad Management Tool Must-Haves
There’s a ton of paid ad tools that do a ton of different things and none of them work together (just like all the delivery services). You could pick and choose a bunch of tools and get all the features you might want. But, that would get very expensive and inefficient. After all, you don’t want to create a massive zombie stack for a single tactic. What you need will vary depending on how you choose to manage your paid ads. It's easier to run your campaigns with a comprehensive paid ad tool that has a suite of features. There’s a few capabilities that these tools must have:
- Auditing/Reporting: It’s tough to improve your paid ads if you don’t know how good they are currently. Extensive reporting is crucial to do paid ads well.
- Research: Paid ad platforms make a ton of data available. You need easy access to that information so that you can better optimize your audience targeting and ad collateral.
- Bid and Campaign Management/Automation: There’s no point to getting a paid ads tool without these features. If you can’t manage or automate your campaigns, the tool will create technical debt.
Manual Campaign Management vs. Assisted Campaign Management
How you manage paid ads is up to you and depends on what’s best for your business. The question is: do you want to order your meal or cook it yourself? If you rely on paid ads, you might be better off hiring a specialist to run your PPC kitchen. They’ll find and combine your paid ad ingredients and might be able to create some unique and delicious results. You’ll still need a paid ad management tool. After all, every chef needs a good knife. And, there’s plenty of options. Even most MAPs have paid campaign management capabilities. Look for tools with lots of customization options, management capabilities, and quality reporting. These tools focus more on being comprehensive, extensive, and easy to use. They don’t pay as much attention to the automation and automated optimization of paid ad campaigns (even if they have these features). This makes them better for organizations that manual management would benefit.
You don’t want to hire a professional PPC chef if you don’t have to. It can be more resource-effective to have one of your employees use an app to order the meal. This is assisted paid ads management. Someone you already employ won’t be able to invest the resources that a dedicated specialist would because they have other duties. They certainly won’t match the experience and know-how of a specialist. This is where assisted campaign management and optimization tools come in. You need a tool that focuses on creating value for efficiency. They allow you to take a kind of “set it and forget it” approach to paid that wasn’t available before. Of course, this usually comes at the expense of customizability, extensiveness, and depth.
Our Choice: WordStream
In our experience, new hires often create more issues than they solve. It’s likely more beneficial to restructure your existing process and team to enable Paid Ads. So you should put PPC duties on someone who already works for you. They’re going to need a tool that offers tons of support, is easy to use, and will manage the finer points of paid for them. We don’t think there’s a tool out there that beats WordStream on those capabilities. Optimization tools could never replace a dedicated pay-per-click specialist, just like ordering-in can’t replace a great, home-cooked meal. However, WordStream comes closer than other tools.
It's the best choice if you’re new to paid or if you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t invest in manual paid ad management. The $49 price point for the WordStream Advisor software matches most competitors. That offering is best if you have experience doing paid ads but can’t/won’t/shouldn’t dedicate the resources to manage it manually. The “20 Minute Workweek” is the epitome of how WordStream’s software creates its value. You can set and optimize your entire stock of ad campaigns for the week in about 20 minutes on a single screen. The tool’s AI engine reacts to programmable triggers throughout the week. It adjusts bidding, targeting, and more for you. The AI is your manual paid ads manager until the time comes for you to check in and adjust your campaigns. No need for a new hire or a role change on your marketing team. Split-testing, keyword research, conversion tracking and more make WordStream one of the few one-stop-shops for all your paid digital needs.
The tool’s AI isn’t the only feature that WordStream offers to help you do paid ads better. Their onboarding and support transforms WordStream from value extractor to value creator. However, it’s available starting at their $299/month "WordStream Advisor plus Assist" subscription-level. Dedicated account and training specialists help you to achieve product and tactic mastery. Their support isn’t limited by their products. They teach you how to do paid ads correctly in the context of your business. We haven’t come across a single product in the whole MarTech and SalesTech landscape that adopts a helping mindset like WordStream. I don’t fault you for baulking at that price point at first. I’d be remiss if I didn’t express this: It’s more than worth it.
Not everyone needs that much support. Many prefer a more “hands-on” approach to managing paid digital advertising. You can fully customize your campaigns, as if you were in the native platforms. That doesn't mean you should. WordStream lacks depth that less automation-focused paid ad management tools might offer. Its research and targeting capabilities are easy to use, although fairly shallow. It’s clear the AI drives actionable insights, as the reporting isn’t deep enough for you to generate actionable insights on your own. It’s an intuitive, yet inflexible tool. There isn’t much process to design for you to slot it into your playbook. However, outside of the keyword research tool, it doesn’t have application or usability beyond PPC management. You can’t integrate with it (although no paid digital ads tools appear to have that ability), leaving you open to reporting redundancies and inconsistencies. While most analytics tools measure the impact of paid digital as a source, you lose out on signals and insights without being able to consider more specific reporting in the context of your whole business.
Using WordStream means trading away depth to get usability. The tool extracts ample value for your investment of effort into running paid ads. Its return sharply diminishes the more you invest. That’s why it’s perfect when paid digital advertising isn’t the most important thing to your business. It’s a tool that allows you to minimize the effort and attention you pay to PPC. Yet, it helps you extract multipliers of value from that investment. It’s tough to doubt that PPC is an effective tactic, so it makes sense that you consider employing it. Remember, managing paid digital advertising doesn’t have to be complicated or time intensive -- unless your business requires it. WordStream is a great place to get started quickly and achieve results just as fast.