Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Despite what many small business owners think, PPC (pay-per-click) advertising needn't be expensive. One beauty of this form of digital advertising is that you have complete control over how much you spend. Used well, PPC can help even the smallest enterprise compete with more prominent brands.
But there's no point trying to imitate the PPC marketing strategies of mega-corporations with limitless budgets. Even if you had access to the market data at their disposal, they'd still out-bid you for every click. To make PPC work for your small business, you need different strategies.
1. Focus on Long-Tail Keywords
Most big businesses use third-party managed PPC accounts. They can afford to aim broad and high, optimizing thousands of ads for as many keywords, each with its landing page. Big businesses go for high volume, expensive keywords because they can afford it.
A small business needs to use lower-search-volume, long-tail keywords while maintaining a high conversion rate in order to compete on Google's Search Engine Results Page or SERP. Thus, in your Google PPC campaigns, make sure you use long-tail search terms with three words or more and then develop targeted ads incorporating each. An ad that targets the keyword "cheap home insurance for first-time buyers in Atlanta" will have a lower search volume but is more likely to convert than, say, "home insurance."
Focusing your entire campaign on long-tail keywords lowers the cost of your bids. That boosts the visibility of your ads. And the narrow targeting of your ads will lead to higher CTRs (click-through rates) and conversions, leading to a positive ROI or return on investment.
2. Watch the Clock
When you have a limited budget, and you're running your PPC campaign in-house, you need to keep a close eye on what's happening. So, set your ads to run only during your business or working hours. You don't want to waste the day obsessively checking your stats but look in every few hours to monitor your campaign.
You can then tweak keywords or disable ads that aren't giving you a good return before they eat up your budget. All ad campaigns involve experimentation, and there will always be hits and misses. But time-limited campaigns and "hands-on" management will help you focus your PPC campaign for success.
3. Request 5-Star-Rating Reviews From Your Customers
Often times, you will see that big, established brands' products often appear in Google's SERP with 5-star ratings next to them; this isn't by accident. In fact, authentic ratings and reviews will have a significant impact on customer confidence, and therefore, CTR and total conversions as well. With this in mind, many small businesses are missing out if are not consistently asking their customer for feedback, ratings, and reviews.
Google aggregates ratings from several major review sites to trigger its star-ratings feature. Once your business, product, or service gets at least 30 unique, verified reviews of 3.5 stars or more in 12 months, Google will display a "seller rating" next to your ads.
So, proactively request reviews and ratings from your customers through your newsletters, websites, and social media accounts. Consequently, your high-star ratings will have a measurable impact on your overall CTR and conversion rate (CVR), while simultaneously helping to make your PPC ad campaigns more profitable.
4. Put Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) Upfront
Larger companies can leverage their established brand recognition to boost the effectiveness of their ad campaigns. But as a small business, if you want to compete, you need to push your UVP. Make sure your ads make a clear statement about your offer and that they lead to landing pages that deliver on that promise.
The key to the UVP is the "unique" part. To compete with bigger brands, all you need is a better offer. Do your due diligence before you set up your PPC campaign so that you can design ads specifically highlighting what your product or service gives to potential customers that they can't find with a competitor brand. That might be something unique to the product itself, or free delivery, a discount offer, or an added benefit such as a customer support package or a no-fuss refund guarantee.
5. Don't Forget About the Funnel
There's no point in developing a PPC ad campaign with the goal of having a good CTR if you don't optimize your landing pages first. A common mistake is linking your advertisement to a very generic home page. To make sure your click leads to conversion, you need to develop ad-specific landing pages that offer a direct follow-through on the promise the ad made.
Keep in mind: Your PPC ads are the top of a sales funnel, not just a way of driving traffic. For a small business to compete with the more prominent brands, your sales funnel needs to be seamless. Making sure your ads lead to optimized landing pages is a vital part of that aim.
6. Make Sure Your Business Website is ("AMP") Mobile-Friendly
Mobile usage, via smartphones and tablets, has been growing year-over-year (YoY) for some time now. To date, well over 50 percent of all searches are now made on mobile devices. So, you must make sure both your ads and your website are responsive and mobile-friendly. Typically, the best way to optimize your website for mobile is through Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP. Most web hosting sites offer a simple way to convert the mobile version of your website into an AMP format. For example, you can create an AMP mobile version of your website on Wordpress.
Making your business mobile-friendly works two ways to boost the effectiveness of your PPC ad campaign. It improves the user experience, which is good for your brand and helps ease the customer's journey from curiosity to conversion. But it also boosts your brand and site authority. The combination means Google will favor your ads and website over those who are not yet optimized for mobile.
7. Take Advantage of Local Search Ads
At least 30 percent of Google searches are location-related. If your business has a physical presence, you can increase the effectiveness of your PPC ad campaigns by making sure you're registered as a local business on Google My Business. That way, your business, and your ads will pop up in Google maps as well as SERPs (search engine results pages). It also gives your small business the edge over those big brands which only do business online.
It's important to know that PPC advertising isn't just a game for the "big boys"--anyone can play--including your small business. The important thing for small business owners is to ensure they put the time and effort into researching and designing before setting up a campaign. Once the research and design are complete for your website, you can begin to manage PPC campaigns. Even with a limited budget, PPC still offers the potential for a good return on your advertising spend.
If you are looking for measurement tools that help track and optimize your return on advertising spend, consider using stratEDGE App.