5 Tips For Success With Small PPC Budgets

In the course of my pay per click career, I’ve worked with clients of all sizes. Some were small businesses struggling to gain footing in a competitive PPC landscape, and others were large multinational businesses with near-unlimited PPC budgets. I think I can safely say that the biggest challenge in PPC comes with the small budget accounts. Now that every business seems like they want in to the PPC party, things are getting so competitive that it’s getting harder and harder to see success with small budgets.

Let’s face it – the days of cheap clicks are over. There are so many competitors in so many categories that it’s almost impossible to get first-page positions under $1 per click, unless you sell something that has a ridiculously low profit amount (i.e. t-shirt sales). If you’re trying to make your PPC accounts work with a budget under $50 per day, you may be in for some disappointment unless you learn some tricks to maximize the effectiveness of your limited budget. Here are a few tips:

1. Remove Mobile Targeting

With all the talk about mobile-targeted PPC these days, you’d think it was a winner. Unfortunately, it only sees success with a select few advertisers. In fact, a recent study showed that 47% of mobile ad clicks are accidental.

Google opts you in to mobile ad targeting by default. If you want to save some money, you should check on your mobile ad performance to see if you should opt out. Run a campaign report, but segment it by “Device.” This will show you the performance stats of the ads that showed on computers vs. the ones that showed on mobile devices. If it looks like the mobile devices performed worse, you can opt out of mobile targeting on your campaign settings page, under the “Networks and Devices” heading.

2. Try Ad Scheduling

Some advertisers perform better at certain times of day. If you have access to data regarding when your PPC conversions come in (lead submission data, order times, etc.), try to figure out when your peak hours are. If you haven’t explored ad scheduling, you’ll be running 24/7 by default. It may be better to focus your budget dollars on the hours that seem most likely to show your ads to conversion-ready customers. You might be able to shave off some budget dollars by pausing your ads overnight or over the weekends.

3. Negative Keywords Are Your Friend

People put a lot of thought into their keyword lists, but often overlook their negative keywords. But, if you overlook key negatives, you could be wasting a lot of money on irrelevant traffic. Check out my previous post on building an effective negative keyword list for more tips.

4. Use Limited Match Types

Starting out keywords on broad match may seem like a good idea at first, but under a limited budget the extra traffic they bring in could be a curse instead of a blessing. Consider switching some of your broad match keywords over to phrase or exact match to limit your traffic and budget expenditures.

5. Geotarget To Your Most Valuable Customers

This is another instance where having your lead/sale data will come in handy. It’s the same principle as ad scheduling – if you know the geographic areas where your customers are coming from, you can start targeting only the best areas. If you’re a US advertiser, pick out your top states for conversion and spend the bulk of your advertising there. If you do international business, you can cherry-pick your countries just as effectively.

Got any more tips for small-budget PPC? Let’s hear them in the comments.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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One Response to 5 Tips For Success With Small PPC Budgets

  1. Some good tips Shawn. One other technique I like to use when managing small budgets is to keep keywords of different levels of qualification in separate campaigns. Your most qualified and highly-relevant keywords would be in one campaigns, and slightly less-relevant keywords in subsequent campaigns.

    You would then have a ‘pecking order’ of campaigns, and can then turn them on or off depending on budget and performance. It’s something I wrote about recently onm my blog:

    http://www.calculatemarketing.com/blog/techniques/3-steps-to-mid-tail-ppc-profitability/

    Cheers,
    Alan