A badly structured and unmonitored PPC account can easily burn through your marketing budget in a matter of hours.

There are plenty of horror stories recounting how small businesses have wasted hundreds or even thousands of pounds on PPC. Understandably this makes other small businesses nervous to start using channels such as Google AdWords.

It doesn’t have to be like that, and it is a shame they are missing out on sales, when all you need to do is follow some very basic rules.

Here are my tips on how to manage your PPC budget effectively.

Target the lower end of the conversion funnel

Think of the way you use search engines to search for a product or service you haven’t purchased before.

You start with broad terms such as “best headphones” or “headphones reviews”. After conducting your research, you filter down to the products you want to buy with transactional searches such as “Bose SoundTrue Around Ear Headphones”.

conversion funnel

The first search term is at the upper levels of the conversion funnel (the research stage). These traditionally have a low conversion rate because people aren’t ready to buy yet, which means higher CPAs if you bid on those keywords.

The second search term is at the purchase stage of the funnel. This is where you should focus your budget.

Only advertise on Google’s search network

By default you are opted in to advertise in Google’s search partner network. This includes websites that carry Google searches as part of their services.

These typically send lower quality traffic which means higher costs and CPA’s.

Campaign Management – Google AdWords

When I set up a new campaign, deselecting this is one of the first things I do. In some cases I have seen savings of up to 25%.

Use exact match and negative keywords

Broad match and phrase match are notorious for eating through PPC budgets. This is fine if you have thousands to spend and a high CPA is acceptable.

However, if you are on a small budget, and you need to work towards a low CPA I would recommend exclusively bidding against exact match keywords.

Additionally, don’t overlook your negative keywords.

I have had negative lists that run in to the thousands before. Some of the keywords to include in this list are obvious “sex” etc. Some are less obvious, and others are impossible to guess at.

Every week run a report to see which keywords triggered an advert. Fish out any that you don’t want to show an advert for and add them to your negative list.

The chart below is taken from Google’s support pages.

Match type

Special symbol

Example keyword

Ads may show on searches that

Example searches

Broad match none women’s hats include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations buy ladies hats
Broad match modifier +keyword +women’s +hats contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order hats for women
Phrase match “keyword” “women’s hats” are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase buy women’s hats
Exact match [keyword] [women’s hats] are an exact term and close variations of that exact term women’s hats
Negative match -keyword -women are searches without the term baseball hats

Only show ads during busy traffic and sales periods

You don’t have to shows your ads 24×7, every day. You can pick and choose the time slots your ads appear, and the days, very easily.

To do this, follow these steps:

Go to your campaign > Settings > Ad schedule > Click on +Ad schedule > Click on + Create custom schedule

Use your sales data and Google Analytics to identify when your busiest periods are. This is clearly the optimal time to advertise, and rather than spreading yourself thinly over 24 hours, invest your budget to be seen as much as possible at these times.

Use geographic targeting

PPC isn’t exclusively a national channel. Google gives advertisers some seriously cool tools to target people based on where they are. This is super-important if you are a local/regional business.

If you service a limited geographic region, the last thing you want is someone the other side of the country clicking on your advert when they can’t possibly use you.

9 Location targeting map

This is done at the campaign level of your account: Settings > Locations > Click on “+LOCATIONS”

If this is something you’d like to find out more about, check out my detailed step-by-step guide on how to create a hyper local PPC campaign.

And finally… Set a daily budget you can afford!

Don’t set your daily budget to be more than you can afford. This may sound obvious, but I have been asked to help numerous small business AdWords account that have not thought about budget control on a day to day level.

Because Google AdWords asks for a daily budget, some account managers set the daily targets higher than the monthly budget.

Don’t do this.

The maths is simple. If you want to advertise 7 days a week, take your monthly budget and divide it by the number of days in the month.

If you only want to advertise during the working week, divide your monthly total by the number of weekdays in that month and so on.

More about Google AdWords

If you are just getting started with Googe AdWords, have a read of my Teach yourself Google AdWords post. If you are looking some advanced tips, you should read my How to target mobile phone users using Google AdWords.

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