Get the Most Out of Your Limited PPC Campaign Budget

A major selling point of Google AdWords is that it allows advertisers to control their costs. Whether you spend $5,000 a month or $50 the choice is yours. On the surface this is a great model, but as most pay-per-click (PPC) managers would tell you, the smaller your budget the harder it is to compete for more ad impressions. Yes, more conservative budgets look bigger in smaller search engines such as Yahoo and Bing. However, these engines make up very little of the market share compared to Google.

No matter the size of your budget, you have to practice intelligent PPC tactics. These tactics include tightly-themed ad groups, keyword-dense text ads with strong calls to action, and relevant landing pages. Obviously, a higher budget allows you to do more, like bid on more keywords and place your ads on contextually relevant sites, but without knowledge of PPC techniques your budget is the least of your problems.

Managers of PPC campaigns with small monthly budgets need to be creative at times in order to spend funds as wisely as possible. The list below consists of realistic methods to get the best clicks with a limited budget. By the way, I consider a small budget to be less than $200 a month. It is important to note that these methods are often utilized in campaigns with large budgets, but they become even more necessary with limited funds.

The Fewer Campaigns the Better

AdWords accounts can have up to 25 campaigns, but with a small budget, less is more.  Say your daily budget is $10 and you have 2 campaigns:

Campaign #1 – $6 daily budget
Campaign #2 – $4 daily budget

When you introduce a third campaign your daily budget is broken out like this:

Campaign #1 – $4.75 daily budget
Campaign #2 – $2.25 daily budget
Campaign #3 – $3 daily budget

Adding a campaign to your account decreases the funds allocated to other campaigns, in order to accommodate the $10 daily budget.  Assuming you keep your keyword bids the same, your average CPC will not change, but you will get fewer clicks per campaign.  In the era of first page bid estimates lowering your bids is not always a viable option.  As your campaign daily budgets decrease so does your threshold for ad impressions.  Sometimes smaller accounts have to consist of fewer campaigns for more exposure, which leads to my second point.

Bid on More Long-Tailed Keywords

Generally, the longer your keyword the less expensive it is going to be due to less competition.  For example, “baseball glove” might have a first page bid estimate of $1 where “first baseman’s baseball glove,” is only $0.50.  These long-tailed terms are your friends because they not only cost less but they are better targeted.  You will inevitably see fewer impressions for these keywords, but get better quality clicks.

Eliminate Junk Early

The ability to test keywords, text ads, and landing pages is important, but campaigns with small budgets do not have the luxury to wait for definitive results.  With a larger budget you might allow a text ad 500 impressions before you make a judgment of how well it is converting compared to other ads.  With a smaller budget 500 impressions would take too long to accrue, so you have to make a decision sooner.  Or you might have a keyword that has been clicked 10 times without any conversions vs. a keyword that has been clicked 8 times with 2 conversions.  The sample sizes are small, however, so is your budget and you have to spend funds on what is working.

PPC campaigns with small budgets have a lot less margin for error than those with substantial funds.  However, by practicing the right PPC techniques and taking advantage of these three methods, PPC campaigns with smaller budgets can succeed.

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3 Responses to Get the Most Out of Your Limited PPC Campaign Budget

  1. SEMantiks says:

    Another great post Matt,

    I find with low budget campaigns impression share reports can be key to maximising your success and identify problems at the earliest opportunity.

    You’re so right about utilising the longtail but it can be a double edged sword.
    I quite often see clients who have bid on huge amounts of longtail thinking they can cover all bases only to be stung with accounts with low IS as a result which can be terminal for low budget campaigns

    Like you say its key to eliminate the junk early and concentrate on the quality clicks to increase QS and impression share.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, SEMantiks. The impression share report is certainly beneficial, however, I would like to have it available at the ad group level.

    Long tail keywords are necessary in smaller campaigns, but so are more generic terms. Certainly you have to find the right balance, but your ads cannot be clicked if they are not seen!

  3. […] Shared Get the Most Out of Your Limited PPC Campaign Budget | The PPC Blog by Matthew Umbro. […]

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