With the PPC department expanding (Hi Chris, Adli, and Jesse!) and the need to keep an eye on ever-changing budgets, we built a PPC budget sheet that could keep up with both the growth of our partners and the growth of our team.
In this post, we’ll explain why we created this for our PPC services, how we use it internally to drive better results as a growth marketing agency on Google Ads, YouTube Ads, Bing Ads, and across various programmatic platforms, as well as give you access to the spreadsheet that you can use.
Why we created one in-house (vs using an expensive tool)
In early 2020, when we were a much smaller team here at Tuff, we noted the importance of owning a Budget Tracker for PPC Campaigns. Whilst experiencing some of the growing pains that come with doubling the size of the Paid Search department, we needed a sheet that could better help us stay on top of campaigns internally and automate budget pacing – this would help us to save time on reporting. Ultimately, a sheet that would allow us to spend more time on our partner’s accounts and to allow us to be ahead of any overspending or understanding anomalies.
After browsing around online, we were faced with steep prices of over $100/month – all to provide the level of automation, number of reports, and user access necessary to tackle the challenges faced by our, now, much larger team. The truth is that our agency needs, lay somewhere between a basic spreadsheet and a pro plan with too many unnecessary bells and whistles. All we knew is that we desperately needed an upgrade.
In order to do this, within the constraints of our own time and budget, we had to answer some basic questions:
- How do we create a more personalized budget sheet without losing the functionality we loved?
- How can we collaborate more internally to keep up-to-date with team progress?
- What kind of campaigns work in differing budget sizes, how can we find out quickly?
- Can we all work in the same sheet, or do we require individual budget sheets?
- Will this be used for other departments?
- Can we do all of this in a single streamlined document?
We also listed the features we’d want in our ideal version of a budget sheet:
- Date tracking
- Partner Name
- Associated Budget
- Monthly Budgeted Spend
- Expected Spend
- Month-To-Date Spend
- Budget Pacing Percentage
- Assigned Team Member
First, we tackled the date tracking. We used the following formula to allow us to automate how many days there will be in that month – this helps us to calculate additional metrics, like “Expected Budgeted Spend”:
In order to pull in the PPC accounts associated with our Google Ad partners, we used the Google Sheets official Google Ads add-on. This allowed us to select all the partners under our manager account. Doing this in a single Google Ads report helped us by minimizing the number of sheets used to run multiple reports.
One of the features of the Google Ads add-on is the ability to pull in several metrics in a single report. Obviously, we’d be pulling in spend data, but we’d also like a way to match the data back to the account name, campaign type, and some basic performance metrics. This is so that when there are any pacing issues due to misfiring campaigns, we are able to easily scan the performance data and identify the issue without opening up Google Ads.
Once this data is pulled into the report, we then created a query formula in a new spreadsheet so that we can match the relevant Ad Account with the Partner Name (should it be different to the given internal name), which leads us to our biggest challenge.
Assigned Team Member
Our previous budget sheet lacked the ability to show which account was associated with which strategist. On top of that, we were shifting accounts around a lot to balance out workloads, and work within our own onboarding process. We needed a sheet that could keep up with our own growing pains without.
Internally, we have a way of matching partners to our team members – this sheet is also coincidentally the perfect way of matching the naming conventions of our Google Ad accounts with the associated channel expert. After importing the necessary data via a Query formula to our spreadsheet, running a Vlookup of the partner name, and creating a simple Data Validation Dropdown, we were now able to make a more personalized, and organized, budget sheet for our team.
This dropdown feature includes every Tuff employee, meaning that should we want to create a universal budget sheet that could be used in other teams, they would be able to directly use a copy of this spreadsheet coupled with the add-on they wanted to use (i.e. a Growth Marketer could use Analytics, a Social Strategist, Facebook etc.)
A small, but important feature – the ability to keep notes. We left a cell open at the end of our data to jot down notes about the account. This leaves us the ability to make brief comments about potential budget changes, campaign pivots, or strategy changes. It also helps our team-lead to keep an eye on any important budget developments.
How does the PPC team at Tuff utilize this new sheet?
As a team, we use this multiple times a week, making sure our monthly spend is aligned with our partner’s goals, and our notes are up-to-date. We meet weekly to go over changes, anomalies, or in-month adjustments, add it to our sheet, and use it as a platform for discussing test budgets.
We’ve also found use for the notes section to talk about campaign strategy shifts or pivots based on the data (e.g. if there are any campaigns struggling to spend, we will discuss changing campaign bidding strategy, CPA/ROAS targets, etc.)
Why it’s important and helps us drive value
As PPC Strategists at an expanding growth marketing agency, a small part of our role is managing budgets, with the bigger role being to meet our partners PPC KPIs.
This requires daily automation management on platforms like Google Ads – being able to see where we’re at financially, how we’ve progressed during the month, and how much left we have to spend, allows us to make more informed decisions for our partners.
A budget sheet that is malleable enough to keep up with the growth of our existing partners, the growth of new partners, and growth of our own team is invaluable. Ultimately, we knew we needed an upgraded sheet that did all of this whilst still allowing us to work together as a team on staying on top of all budget fluctuations. Not only does this meet our needs, but we also save a couple bucks for ourselves!
Hey there, I’m Raj, a PPC Strategist currently residing in Chicago, IL! I have 4+ years experience in Paid Digital Strategies (Google Ads, Amazon Advertising, Paid Social), for both B2B & B2C clients across a plethora of industries. After drifting across the Atlantic from grey old England, I purchased a property just outside the Windy City. You can now find me trying and failing to utilize my gardening equipment.