These are tough threads for us because we never know who the promoters are...
Did bob just recommend that software because he works for the company or is an affiliate - or is an advertiser - or has a client who is involved?
Was the original question honest or was it a tee up for a tag team response?
Hi Brett. Thx very much for your response. My question is totally legit. I run an Internet marketing agency called Chair 10 Marketing in Seattle. If there is a better process for trying to get advice from the WebmasterWorld members on this question just let me know. Thx again.
My favorite topic, even still despite the fact I'm no longer in SEM sales.
mkelly7777 - Two things. First, in 8 years of talking to hundreds of 6-7 figure/mo spenders & up on PPC, I've only on the rarest, rarest of occasions seen ones who were doing just fine with Excel, or AdWords Editor as their primary SEM tool; sounds like you recognize its limitations, but it's worth noting that exceedingly few agencies handle SEM reporting/mgmt that way.
Second, generally when an entire class of vendors price in a way that's at odds with your way of doing business, it's your way of doing business that is off. I don't believe I know of a single SEM tool vendor who prices on a fixed monthly fee basis. The rest of the advertising world works in a way where fees are proportional to spend being managed, so why should SEM be any different?
I spent about 10 yrs at an agency and that was always something we struggled with. While we didn't use and test them all by any means, most of those systems just got in the way and made things even more difficult to deal with. Then we had to pay those prices you mention on top of the extra work to deal with the tool. In the end it seemed like no matter what the tool, to get client friendly reports, the stuff still ends up in Excel, at least in order to provide any kind of detail.
The best PPC management tool is your brain and the keyword, ad text and landing page combos make more difference in performance than any PPC management tool, IMHO. We eventually settled on the tool Channel Advisor offers. Nothing to fancy, no black box algorithms to make everything hands off. It had a few bid rules that were sometimes used (I still haven't seen a set of bid rules that works the way search actually works now or exploits the right constraints - they are/were all still based on the Overture auction model that hasn't been in use for ages now). It gave us accurate click, conversion and sales data that we could use to make decisions, had a wide variety of different reports that were useful.
In your search, find something that gives you good data first and then worry about all the fancy algorithms that will magically make everything work. Ask to see reports you want and will give to clients and if those can be produced, then listen to the pitch about how it will prepare breakfast for you each morning.
Thanks shorebreak and skibum for the replies so far, I appreciate it.
shorebreak what I don't like about PPC management agencies that charge as a percentage of spend is that in my opinion it provides the wrong incentive to the PPC agency. It motivates them to try to spend more on PPC for clients, instead of trying to spend less but drive more conversions. But I understand what you are saying about percentage of spend being ingrained as a pricing model for years and years.
skibum thx for your thoughts. Yes, in the experience and testing we've done with bid optimization or conversion optimization tools typically they have not improved ROI. So I feel similar to you. I'm not even really interested in that functionality, I'd prefer to just find a great PPC reporting tool.
Full disclosure: I run marketing at ClickEquations (http://www.clickequations.com)
There are 2 recent reports about paid search software that you may find useful:
If you're seriously considering one of the solutions above and percent of spend pricing is the only issue, then I would encourage you to contact the Sales department at each company. Most will be willing to negotiate a flat pricing arrangement.
I think mkelly7777 is looking for software that only does reporting.
Instead of downloading reports, making them pretty, and sending them to clients - software that does all of that work that can either be purchased or has a flat monthly cost.
The API will be necessary to really define reports and what you're looking for; however, I'm sure there's some solutions.
One comes to mind; but the site is having issues today so not going to link to it until I can find out what's going on.
What is everyone using for generating client reports and making them look nice and branded?
eWhisper you hit it right on the head thank you.
And a key pain point we'd like to solve is taking the Google and Bing pay-per-click reporting data and putting them together into an "All" report that combines the performance data for both together.
Hey @mkelly7777 did you ever get anywhere with this? Thanks!
@ripthesystem - We got really busy (or even busier) so it went down a bit in my priorities. I did talk to a few more of the bid management companies. They brought their pricing down a bit, but still not enough to make sense for us at this time. Could make sense for us later this year. I did, however, discover a service that is just focused on helping to streamline reporting. I have not tested it out yet though. Send me a private message and I'll fill you in.
I am in the same boat as a lot of you guys. My company does maybe 40-75k and its hard to give up half of your gross income, just to use a tool.
On the other hand, using the tool and using technology to be more efficient is the thing that will make us grow. So its kind of a growth point that I am sure agencies run into whenever they get beyond being "small" but definitely couldn't be considered "big"
At this point I have talked to just about everybody, but I can't quite get past paying 5% of the adspend at lower levels. I'm testing out clicksweeper.com because its barrier to entry is much less than a lot of other tools, and acquisio starting at 1000 per month is looking better the more tools I look at.
On the pure reporting side, did anyone find a tool that makes it easy to pull google/bing/facebook reports into one place and email reports weekly or monthly? That would be a real good thing for us.
@ripthesystem - we are waiting for our Google API token so that we can test Pegasus PPC. It is a system that uses the Google and Bing APIs to pull data from your accounts into an Excel macro. Have to see how our testing of that goes.