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The 5 Must-Have Tools for a Kick-Ass Adwords Campaign (and how to use them)

Let’s face it. Millions of dollars are wasted on irrelevant searches in Adwords each year. Millions more are wasted by faulty campaign setup and bid design. Adwords Express (link)
I don’t have the exact numbers, but I can’t tell you as a young business owner I burned thousands in investor money on malformed ads. It wasn’t until I started doing affiliate marketing that I really invested the time figuring out Adwords. If you don’t know affiliate marketing, just think TMZ – it’s an oversimplification, but any “e-book” you see online is likely being sold by an affiliate marketer. They have a bad rep, but the reality is most big companies in a number of industries use affiliate marketers as a major marketing channel. It’s because they are better than agencies at their own game. (PPC)

Affiliate marketing is a game of quantity. You need to quickly build landing pages that match a search market that exists on the internet. After I shut down my first company I was broke, without direction, and I got a line of credit, 5000. I signed up for ClickJunction, the largest marketplace for affiliate “deals”. You see, the key to the game is finding what people are looking for, and quickly finding a product that matches the “psychographic” profile of those customers. If you don’t know what psychographic is, go back to college and get a BA in Consumer psychology as I did.

Long story short, I’ve also been a fan of SaaS marketing products, and I consume them like most people consume cars. Most of my time online after 2 am is spent on ProductHunt and the underrated “AlternativeTo”.

my guilty pleasure" - meta, much?
my guilty pleasure” – meta, much?

In my product research, I have found a number of different tools, that over the process of time, have begun an efficient system, and even now, a business.

You see, most people stick with one tool for their SEO/PPC needs – SemRush, Moz etc – in my opinion, they all do different things better. In some cases, despite have a lot of features, they do one thing very effectively. Ahrefs for example, has one of the simplest ranking difficulty indicators ever – it tells you how many backlinks you need.


And Alexa, Amazon’s legendary search ranking tool, has an incredible market research/competitor graph., man
Whoa…cool, man

Used alone, this features are awesome, but not so practical in terms of getting you that all-important ROI. Together, however, you can create a well-oiled machine -if you know what you are doing. So let’s get down to it. Here are the five tools you need to get those PPC campaigns rocking;

1. Competitor Analysis: Amazon Alexa

I don’t care how revolutionary your startup or new product line in; there are always competitors out there who have successfully sold to your audience before. The first part of any Adwords campaign is to find the absolute closest competitor to you – and find 5 more exactly like that competitor. Amazon’s Alexa (not the speaker that talks to you, the original Alexa) is able to examine shared search terms between sites and estimate if their audience is shared.


This is a reliable way to find the competitors you didn’t know you had – beyond the obvious advantages of studying your competitors, you can now find out which ones are advertising, how much they are spending, and what keywords they are spending the most on. That last piece of information, their spending, will serve as a template for all of your initial campaigns.

2. Keyword Research: SpyFu

Spyfu is a little-known research tool in the vein of bigger tools like Moz and Semrush. In my opinion, it is the most well-roudned tool for researching keywords out there – management is enough story. It’s competitive research properties make it a popular choice for affiliate marketers. I’m planning on putting together an all-inclusive guide, but to begin with, you really should be familiar with – the PPC Research tab, filtered by “Keyword”.


Simply input each of your competitors and export the results, compiling into one file. It will have all the metrics in it, so if you do have a partner or employee a little better versed in PPC, you can shoot over that file and they can sort out the best opportunities for you. If you are feeling ambitious – get on the waitlist for my sold-out course and you’ll get access to a module with walks you through how to evaluate keyword opportunities – no bullshit, just numbers.

It’s actually pretty cheap ($30) for the main plan, so definitely makes sense to check out.

3. NEGATIVE Keyword Research: Spyfu

If you don’t know what a negative keyword is, I’m seriously worried for your precious ad dollars and you need to get in touch with me immediately. Seriously. It’s an emergency. With all the different match types, Adwords an get kind of funky – you might be paying for words that have absolutely nothing to do with your customers or your product.

Spyfu has a process for doing the competitor scraping.
Spyfu has a process for doing the competitor scraping.

Ok, that’s great, you might say – but why Spyfu? All of these tools work in conjunction – the reason we made the point of studying our competitors in Step 1 is that we can see keywords that they formerly bid on, and keywords that gave them no traffic – in other words, instead of waiting for our campaigns to “misfire”, we can learn from their mistakes before we make them.

4. Copywriting: PageZii

PageZii, unlike some of the other tools mentioned, is a simple little widget. You type in your copy, and the browser extension will automatically suggest and improve your copy – those rules as to length and “extensions” that never made sense and you can never remember. If you are a marketer, you love scores, and nothing is better motivation to write a better ad than reliving your school days.


If you are doing PPC on other platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn etc) they have tools for that as well – outside the scope of this post, but may be worth getting into at some point.

5. Optimization: Wordstream

This is a pricy, next level product, but honestly its so easy to use that even the most unsophisticated of marketers are going to derive a benefit greater than the $300 a month price tag. Wordstream allows you to configure campaigns and optimize them in a few clicks – they’ve programmatically discovered a few commonalities between Adword campaigns that make them tick – for example, new negative keyword ideas, keywords that are losing money, duplicate, contradictory bids – things that would take you hours to find – things that your $5 an hour Upwork freelancer or $350 a month certified “expert” PPC manager is going to bother fixing. It’s a no-brainer – the perfect tool to top off your PPC “stack”.


6. Notable Mention: Reporting: Apptics

Yep, that’s right – we did it. If you’re an agency like us, you know that none of your hard PPC work pays off unless your clients know what happened. And you’ll never get a chance to up that budget if you don’t keep them in the loop. We just built out an integration for Adwords – and while you are at, you can keep them in the loop on web traffic to with our Analytics and Search Console Integrations. It’s free for 60 days if you join now.

Well, that’s it, folks! Hopefully, these tools are easy enough to use and self-explanatory – if not, please shoot me an email and if I get enough requests I’ll make sure to follow up with a platform by platform guide.

In any case, stay tuned an subscribe to our newsletter for more marketing tips and tricks, delivered to your inbox, weekly! Who knows – you might even get a discount on my highly reviewed You Don’t Need a CMO course -once it reopens, of course.

Chris Hanson

I’m a four-time startup founder and PPC Aficionado; I have had companies in multiple industries including E-commerce, SaaS, and advertising, and the one unifying factor is my love for insights and optimization. Now, I apply my knowledge and experience to helping market other high growth companies. You can book time with me on the skills-based learning platform Clarity.Fm.

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