Whether you're an agency, an experienced PPC expert, or someone just trying paid search for their business for the first time, understanding and utilizing Excel can prove invaluable for creating and interpreting data within your online campaigns. In today’s post, I’ll share five simple ways you can use Excel to improve your PPC workflow and efficiency.
Excel for PPC Tip #1: Make Use of the Quick Access Toolbar
The main objective here is figuring out how to make Excel work for you. It doesn’t have to be something big and flashy like making a tool to do the repetitive tasks that take up your day, although that is highly recommended as well. It could be something as simple as putting all your most-used buttons in your Quick Access toolbar. For me, I have all my Paste Special values variations and filters on the toolbar so that they are always just one click away.
Excel for PPC Tip #2: Leverage the CONCATENATE and LEN Functions
Using Excel when doing a fresh build or keyword expansion can be the perfect way to keep yourself organized and whip through the repetitive tasks involved in adding new keywords or campaigns to your paid search account. Two functions I find very useful when doing these tasks are CONCATENATE and LEN. These two functions together help me put together entire submissions for building out accounts by using CONCATENATE to make keywords in each match type and LEN to make sure ad copy isn’t too long.
- CONCATENATE allows you to append text to the beginning or end of another phrase or cell which you specify. This is especially useful for adding modifiers or adjectives to a set of keywords when creating a new expansion.
- LEN counts the number of characters, including spaces, within a cell.
Excel for PPC Tip #3: Master Keyboard Shortcuts
As annoying as it sounds, keyboard shortcuts can be your best friend once you learn them. People I have worked with in the past have worked to make sure that they touch their mouse as little as possible. Not everyone has to go to that extreme, but I’d recommend starting with 3 and then trying to teach yourself more each month or teach yourself a new shortcut each week. The best ones to start off with are Cut (CTRL + X), Copy (CTRL + C), and Paste (CTRL + V) because these are the ones you will use more than any other.
Here are some of the less obvious Excel keyboard shortcuts that I’ve worked into my rotation:
(Alt + D + F + F) = Creates filters at the top of each column (Repeat to remove filters)
(Alt + W + F + R) = Freezes top row in Excel sheet
(Ctrl + Shift + 4) = Changes values in selected cells to currency format
(Ctrl + H) = Find and Replace
(Ctrl + D) = Copies down formula or values from the top cell of the selected range to the bottom cell in the selected range
Excel for PPC Tip #4: Formulas, Formulas, Formulas
The name of the game in Excel is using formulas. There are formulas for most of the tasks you could possibly want to do within Excel which is one reason why it is so valuable in the PPC world. These formulas are especially useful when it comes to working with large data sets, because you can simply set a formula which applies a rule to everything at once.
The 3 formulas I would make sure you know to start with are CONCATENATE, VLOOKUP, and IF:
- CONCATENATE, as explained above, allows you to append text to the beginning or end of another phrase or cell.
- VLOOKUP allows you to look up a value within a large data set and designate a value which will be returned. Most recently I used this formula to tell me the shipping price to designate for a product based on what the cost of the product was (click image to enlarge).
- IF is just what it sounds like. IF gives you the ability to create a True/False statement and designate values that will be returned depending on whether the statement is true or false.
Excel for PPC Tip #5: Automate Repetitive Tasks
For the more advanced Excel users, Excel can be used to make tools which can complete repetitive tasks when made with the right formulas. They may take some time to build, but the benefit received in terms of time saved more than makes up for it.
Within the world of PPC, there are 3 clear repetitive tasks that could be made worlds easier with the creation of an Excel tool:
- The first task is building and reviewing submissions for your accounts. One thing that an Excel tool could be made to do here is check the length of any ad copy (using the LEN function mentioned above) to make sure that it doesn’t go over the character limits. Huge time savings and easy to build.
- For the more advanced Excel user, search query review tools could help grow any account. What this type of tool could do is make recommendations on words or phrases to add or exclude from your account based on the performance of queries that contain them in terms of conversions and CPA.
- For the Excel experts, bidding tools can become the biggest time saver. Especially for accounts which have thousands or millions of keywords, this will be invaluable. What you can do is take numbers like CPA, conversion rate, price, and if you have access to it, Revenue per Lead and make a judgment call on a percentage bid change to make. Applying bid change rules is a lot less time-consuming than individually looking through millions of keywords. Even if you are not at a point yet where you know enough about Excel to build your own tools, if you work at learning a new formula each week or month or begin to identify formulas that you use a lot, you’ll begin to see how they can work together.
Utilizing Excel to its full potential can have a direct impact on your bottom line. You can get more accomplished each day because you’re being more efficient with your time. The more time that is spent on one project, the less time you can spend on your other projects.
Hopefully this post inspires you to learn more about Excel and figure out how you can make it work for you. It may be a lot of work initially, but over time you’ll notice how much time is being saved and how much more productive your teams are. Needless to say, it’s worth the investment.