PPC Chat Streamcap – Small Business & Small Budget Campaigns

Hello again PPCChatters!

You might have noticed that this this week we moved the start time of PPCChat from 8 pm Eastern, to 12 Noon. This time slot allowed more of our fellow pay per click marketers the opportunity to participate. We’re glad that this worked out for so many of you and were blown away by the fervor of PPC knowledge that was shared. Because of the increased activity, I’m very pleased to provide the following Streamcap from this week’s live PPCChat on “Small Business & Small Budget Campaigns”.

Q1: How do you initially approach and/or develop a PPC campaign for a small business or a smaller budget?

  • Start with low-hanging fruit. Terms most likely to convert. See how much of the budget they’ll utilize. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • First off I set expectations with clients and let them know exactly what were up against (KW costs, competitors, etc) – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Make sure goals/metrics clearly identified and agreed upon w/ client and identify longer tails to determine use of budget. – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller)
  • I develop around smaller groups of longer-tail keywords, utilize dayparting and geo-targeting to control spend and budget. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • Agreed. I also am very critical of negative keywords at the beginning, making sure we eliminate poor quality traffic. – Matt Umbro
    • Modified broad match is good to use with smaller budgets…gets traffic without going after every permutation. – Andy Groller
      • modified broad match allows easier management with location based targeting – Matt Umbro
      • I start by Analyzing analytics conversions by time-of-day to restrict waste during off-peak hours. – James Svoboda
  • Use long tails and negative keywords to cancel out irrelevant clicks. – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • Stay away from short high-volume terms. If they are obvious, then everyone is on them. – Jeremy J Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Make sure you’re tracking all channels. I’ve seen a custom phone # get double conversions of online form. Don’t miss those – Robert Brady
  • It’s all about understanding and setting business goals for the campaign – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
  • Small business PPC takes longer to get answers. Analytics is even more essential to justify more spend later. – John W. Ellis (@JohnWEllis)
  • I try using long-tail broad match and monitor search queries closely. Gives both converting keywords and negative kw info. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Seems obvious, but make sure conversions are set up properly. Small biz tends to have less tech resources. If they are a local company, really granular. If national, it’s only worth it for their largest markets. – Jeremy J Brown

Q1 Summary: The use of geo-targeting and ad scheduling/dayparting are major considerations during the development of campaigns for small businesses with small budgets. Also of importance is the use of long-tail keywords and modified broad match to control targeting and to tap into higher converting terms.

Q2: How granular do you location target KWs w/ small budgets (eg: city, town, etc) & what do you do if KWs have low search volumes?

  • Depends on industry. Unless national brand, always geo target to at least metro areas. Keep KWs w/ low search unless hurting QS. – Andy Groller
  • I find many location based terms (specifically town and zip code) get low search volumes, especially when industry is niche. – Matt Umbro
  • How have people liked the new geo-targeting in AdWords where it determines location intent w/o appended city names/zip codes? – Robert Brady
    • I like the new settings. Cutting out a lot of bad broad searches. – Michelle Morgan
    • As I stated last week I love it – saves me stacks of time and there is a lot of versatility – Andrew Baker
    • I like the control. Probably a feature that was long over due. – James Svoboda
    • Good to hear positive feedback. AdWords listened to users and got it right. I like it too. – Robert Brady
  • Low search volumes still convert, I’ve had plenty in geo-targeted campaigns. Sometimes you got to stick to your instincts… they will come clicking… eventually. – Andrew Baker
    • Absolutely, but harder to get traffic to your site with low search volume KW’s. Definitely need a balance. – Matt Umbro
      • Indeed it’s one part of the overall strategy, not the only part – Andrew Baker
  • City w/ geo-radius for general keywords -OR- City + Keyword Versions with geo settings to state or region. – James Svoboda

Q2 Summary: Geo-targeting is generally recommended down to metro or city level, however, depending on location, this could lead to little to no search volume and you might have to widen geo-settings or reconsider your location targeting.

Q3: How does your ad and landing page testing strategy change for smaller campaigns?

  • With small budgets you have to focus a lot of the spend on one LP test to validate it in reasonable time frame. – Robert Brady
  • It doesn’t necessarily change as the principles are still the same, but I do stress importance of custom landing pages. Resources are usually limited with smaller campaigns, but I try & stress that PPC can’t be done in a silo – Matt Umbro
    • But do you find it harder to test LPs b/c of lower $ for creation? – Andy Groller
      • Absolutely, but you work with what you have. – Matt Umbro
      • Finding budget can be hard. Repurposing a current page sometimes works over total new design. – Robert Brady
        • I stress to clients that once we have an LP template we can duplicate the page for different content. – Matt Umbro
  • Change the ad per fewer impressions, instead of altering ad every 200 impressions, alter it every 50. – John Lavin
  • For B2Bs w/expensive kws, try to focus on best industry verticals and build LPs specifically for priority verticals.- Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Landing page testing usually eats up more of the budget, so restricting total # of LP’s can be crucial. – James Svoboda
  • Quality landing pages are needed no matter how big or small the account. – John W Ellis
    • Yes! You can stretch a PPC budget by utilizing LP’s for multiple ad-groups (if possible) and/or building for exisiting. – James Svoboda
  • In an ideal world it’s great to have specific landing pages but its sometimes difficult to convince small co’s with small budgets. – Hannah Yarrow (@PYC_Hannah)
  • Difficult to justify spend on LP testing but basics still apply. Ads take a little longer to get confidence of clear A/B winner. – Andrew Baker
  • B2C small biz should list their phone number. Many consumers are unfamiliar with their company. Many small biz need to address trust issues as consumers haven’t heard of their brand. – Jeremy J Brown
  • For smaller campaigns I focus on a stellar category landing page. For instance… Brazilian Bikinis – Jo Stumpner (@jostupner)
  • Landing pages are a crucial part of the equation if the focus is on conversions, not just traffic. Should be a dealbreaker. – Gerald McKinney (@Antvisit)
    • Goes back to my problem with AdWords slogan of “works with any budget.” So much more work than just the AdWords campaign. Need to involve web team, marketing, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • LP Templates and then some test elements coordinated w/ad copy, kws, definitely have worked for me. – Lisa Sanner
  • If ecommerce, landing pages tend to be product categories where small adjustments can go along way. – James Svoboda

Q3 Summary: Creating and testing different ads and landing pages is important no mater what the size of the business or budget. Some good ideas put forth for controlling costs for smaller campaigns is to create fewer test ads and landing pages and then take your positive results and apply them to ads in other ad groups and additional LP’s.

Q4: How has the implementation of location and phone extensions helped generate in store traffic and/or phone calls for clients?

  • Location extensions huge part of selling “we’re local” proposition for small biz. – Andy Groller
  • Never underestimate how many people still pick up the phone & call. – Robert Brady
    • Bonus -you don’t pay for the click. – Lisa Sanner
  • Phone extensions are useful for many small biz. Previously had to use ad copy space for phone number. – Jeremy J Brown
    • I’ve found ph # in ad text has a big boost for content network ads. – Michelle Morgan
  • Phone extensions are key, would love to get call metrics enabled in smaller budget campaigns. – Matt Umbro
  • Phone extensions have had big benefits. Adds credibility and calls are people in a better position in the buying process. – Michelle Morgan
  • Location & Phone extensions have changed plain text ads for local searchers. More engaging & tangible… Helps trust factors. – James Svoboda
  • Phone number works a treat if possible make sure the number is a local number not a 0845/0800 (UK) enforces locality & trust. – Andrew Baker
  • Google has said they will start charging for call metrics in a month or so. – Jeremy J Brown
    • Yes, but I’d still pay just as much for a phone call as I would a click. – Matt Umbro
      • True, but much of value in call-tracking is post-ppc click, then call from number on site. Google not addressing yet. – Jeremy J Brown
        • Can use call metrics on site as well as ads. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
          • News to me…any folks having success with that? – Jeremy J Brown
  • Phone extension is great, but are your clients still asking what the initial referrer was? – Matt Umbro
  • phone ext (and the call metrics) are a boon for local business, I like how you can use local area codes instead of toll free. – Chris Kostecki
  • Phone extensions are particularly effective w/ mobile device users, enabling them to click to call. Beats browsing on the go. – Mike Shollenberger (@webjock)
  • But how do you track the positive results when the outcome is a phone call? – notjustSEO.com (@notjustSEO)
    • I have a client using AvidTrak. Tracks what keyword they searched and records the call. – Robert Brady
      • See: www.avidtrak.com – James Svoboda
      • How does AvidTrak capture the kw & how intense is the set up? We use Insight Call Tracks. – Jo Stumpner
        • Setup wasn’t too bad. Appended a couple variables in the URL and dropped a snippet on the page. How have you liked Insight Call Tracks? – Robert Brady
          • No call track system can correctly track keywords 100%. I use a “roll your own” version. – David Kyle (@DavidKyle)
          • That sounds similar to the process we use to set up Insight Call Tracks. – Jo Stumpner
            • I really enjoy listening to the calls. Let’s you know how the end of the funnel is/isn’t working. – Robert Brady
              • I like having the data but not fond of reporting interface. Have been meaning 2 get a programmer on integrated 2 GA – Jo Stumpner
  • The same can be said for location extensions especially if you have a great Place Page to link to. – Andrew Baker
  • Need to work closely w/cust service staffing & hours and be nimble to make campaign setting changes. – Lisa Sanner
  • Real estate space in search engine results helps. I use every and all extensions I can. – John W Ellis
  • New call metric data in the dimensions provide actual timestamps & ares codes – big boost in credibility – Chris Kostecki
  • How small of a budget are we talking about? – Jo Stumpner
    • I’d say anywhere from $200 – $300 a month or lower. – Matt Umbro
      • When we’ve used call tracking (ad & dynamically updated website #) we’ve found 2 calls for every 1 RFQ form completion. – Jo Stumpner
        • I’ve seen similar results on phone tracking. – Robert Brady
      • Those are tiny budgets. Expectation setting is key at that level. – Jeremy J Brown
        • 2nd that! Setting proper expectations are key. – Jo Stumpner
  • If using phone extension make sure ads are scheduled or there is a positive voice mail out of hours to capture the lead. – Andrew Baker

Q4 Summary: Phone and Location ad extensions are good for building credibility and trust with local searchers and great for generating phone calls (leads) or tapping into the growing mobile user base.

Q5: How do you justify additional PPC spend to clients when you have so little margin for error (and testing)?

  • Good performance thus far leads to easier sell on increasing budget. – Andy Groller
  • Stress and prove how much business they are possibly missing out on. – John Lavin
  • I first ask what conversion numbers are like in other campaigns, then try to best these numbers with PPC. I also emphasize to clients that people are searching for YOUR services or solutions with PPC (at least with KWs). – Matt Umbro
  • Part of it is the market, and the other part is where they want to be in it. – Chris Kostecki
  • Once we have an established cost-per-lead or sale for the campaign, we discuss additional budget potential for same metrics. – James Svoboda
  • I’ve got nothing. This is why we won’t take accounts below $1,500. It is 2 hard 2 b profitable AND give it the love it needs. – Jo Stumpner
    • Good to set minimums. If client won’t commit budget, then they won’t commit other resources (time, attention, etc.). – Jeremy J Brown
  • I set expectations to beat overall site metrics. – Andy Groller
  • Increase budget by pointing out keywords/areas they are missing. Many people don’t realize there are myriad keywords. – Jeremy J Brown
  • PPC can only feed the rest of the business, if there are hurdles downstream ppc won’t work in any market. – Chris Kostecki
  • Get agreement upfront to invest profits in tests. Start w/ “can’t miss” tactics: Brand keywords; exact match body-tail terms. – Mike Shollenberger
  • Show results . If budget is too low, show them impression share results. Proves there’s more targeted traffic to get. – David Kyle

Q5 Summary: A main theme here is that no matter the initial scope, you’re best approach is to build a successful campaign that meets or exceeds expectations, then revisit the campaign budget with solid data to back you up.

Q6: Can the average small business owner succeed with limited PPC knowledge or is a specialist necessary?

  • They can succeed if they commit the time & effort, but may be more economical to get a specialist. – Robert Brady
  • It has grown to need a specialist, if ppc is driving less than 50% of sales, need to focus elsewhere. – Chris Kostecki
  • It depends if they read my PPC DIY blog! http://bit.ly/f0tjkQ. – John Lavin
  • I don’t think they can anymore. It’s become too complicated for the avg owner. They should spend time on what they’re good at. – Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lund)
    • Agreed. Unless you can commit several hours a week to learn PPC leave it to a specialist. – Matt Umbro
      • And those several hours are probably best spent on other facets of the business. – Pamela Lund
  • Most likely needs a specialist. Too easy to throw away money. PPC is becoming more and more complex. – Michelle Morgan
  • Google wants you to think so, but truth is small biz campaigns tend to fail because not developed/targeted correctly. – James Svoboda
  • There’s an inverse relationship btwn the time SMB’s are willing to invest in learning PPC and how much they need a specialist. – Mike Shollenberger
  • A specialist is needed. I’ve never audited a self-managed account that wasn’t throwing away money. – David Kyle
  • PPC has gotten more competitive and Google keeps rolling out a number of options and features. Knowledge is necessary. – Jeremy J Brown
    • It’s hard for a non-specialist to keep up with all the new features and opportunities. – Lisa Sanner
      • And getting harder every few months. Pace of change has picked up. – Jeremy J Brown
  • I hope biz owners continue to try, i like competing against novices ๐Ÿ™‚ – Chris Kostecki
    • I feel sorry for the ones using Boost. No negative keyword options there. – David Kyle
  • They can do OK but it’s so complex now they simply don’t have the time to make it work really well. – Andrew Baker
  • The vast majority of SMB owners can’t fathom how much time it takes to do PPC well, and even fewer can afford the time to do so. – Mike Shollenberger
    • The problem is most SMB owners don’t have the budget to pay a PPC specialist. – Matt Umbro
      • Few hrs of consulting…long way. – James Svoboda
  • If I need a new roof I’m hiring a roofing specialist…same principle should apply with PPC! – Matt Umbro
  • Specialists usually have some rep connections too – in case something is going wrong. Sm biz owner wont. – Michelle Morgan
  • I think sm biz can succeed w/effort. I conduct trainings locally 2 help the guys that r 2 small to afford a specialist. – Jo Stumpner
    • Have they come back with success stories? – Matt Umbro
      • Unfortunately… they r usually ovewhelmed when I show them how 2 do it right. My intentions are good! ๐Ÿ™‚ We find an educated client is our best so our goal is biz but we encourage all to attend regardless of their motive. – Jo Stumpner
  • Sometimes a biz owner just needs the campaign set up, they can take it from there. Or set up + optimized for a month or two. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • If Google changed the default from broad match, small biz could do better. That setting is evil. – Jeremy J Brown
    • And automatically being opted into the Display Network – Matt Umbro
      • Lets face it there is a lot of defaults Google could set to help SMBs out. – Andrew Baker
      • Google still has much room for improvement. And that motto has go to go. – Jeremy J Brown
  • If I audit an account that has a campaign w/the word “Starter”, that’s a good prospect. – Lisa Sanner
  • As long as they use our iPhone app to track spend, revenue and ROI they will be fine! – Gerald McKinney
  • Their perception is they can’t afford it, but they’re likely to lose more $$ managing PPC themselves. – Mike Shollenberger

Q6 Summary: Pay per click campaigns have become increasingly complex, through with location and keyword match type targeting, for most small businesses to develop themselves. At the very least, it is advised that a small business owner hire a PPC professional for even just a few hours to have their account reviewed. This will help limit any waste that may be occurring from loose keyword matching or geo-targeting settings.

Q7: Are lower cost PPC platforms like Facebook, adCenter, and 7Search worthwhile in terms of cost, volume of traffic, and effort?

  • It depends. FB/adCenter sometimes, 7Search no. adCenter needs to listen to advertiser feedback to start winning. ๐Ÿ™‚ – Melissa Mackey
  • You’ll notice I didn’t include LinkedIn in Q7. In my limited experience have found average CPCs to be higher than other platforms. – Matt Umbro
  • Getting good stuff from adCenter. Finding bids need to be higher but cpc is still lower than google. – Michelle Morgan
  • I have found most if not all, but facebook, has very little action and is not worth the time it takes. – John Lavin
  • My tests on 7Search show very low quality clicks, but they’re cheap & we did get conversions. – Robert Brady
  • Facebook is becoming essential as part of the upper funnel. It’s a key demand-generation tool. – Jeremy J Brown
  • Depends on goals & service/product offering… especially for FB & LinkedIn. – James Svoboda
  • Many businesses can succeed on the big G, but can grow with alternative networks. – Chris Kostecki
  • Facebook is worth a crack, something different, excellent targeting options and the huge amount of eye balls there. – Andrew Baker
  • adCenter is great for lower CPCs, but still doesn’t get enough traffic to warrant more attention. – Matt Umbro
    • Disagree, especially for B2C. – Jeremy J Brown
  • adCenter = high quality traffic, FB depends on goals/objectives/user base. But where is 70% of search and therefore customers? – Andy Groller
  • adCenter definitely worth it. Lower CPAs even after search alliance, can’t get enough volume. – Lisa Sanner
  • FB is great for growing fans, not so much for driving leads/sales. – Melissa Mackey
    • I like FB for companies who need to grow the brand and aren’t as concerned with leads/sales. – Matt Umbro
    • idk, the facebook store platform is encouraging, get shoppers and still stay in the network. – Chris Kostecki
  • Since the alliance, msn performance has not been as strong as prior to it, and cant get as much insight into the targeting. – Chris Kostecki
  • Plain & simple: You have a $500/mo spend budget. Where are you going? Google or adCenter? – Andy Groller
    • 500 budget? Probably neither. Social media instead. Heresy? – Jeremy J Brown
      • Defintely varies by client I would say. – Matt Umbro
    • Correction, $1,000/mo – Andy Groller
      • I’d still pick Google. Easier to manage, + Adwords Editor – need I say more! – Melissa Mackey
  • adCenter is not a first step for agencies dealing with smaller budget campaigns due to time to manage. – James Svoboda
  • I’ve always found adcenter to have worthwhile ROI in any vertical, as long as I’ve had a $1,000+/mo. budget to dedicate to it. – Mike Shollenberger
  • Can’t wait to target status updates on Facebook, I tihnk we’ll see some real creativity. – Andrew Baker
  • Adcenter is definitely worthwhile if your product/service has an older demographic. – David Kyle

Q7 Summary: The other PPC platforms can provide mixed results based in large part on the campaign’s audience. You are likely to receive visits at a lower cost-per-click to generate a positive conversions for the ad spend. Total available search volume tends to be the major drawback and should be evaluated based time vs. results and compared against other platforms.

PPC Tip of the Week

This week’s Clever and Insightful tip came to us once again from Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh) of SEO Edinburgh for his advice on using phone extensions:

If using phone extension make sure ads are scheduled or there is a positive voice mail out of hours to capture the lead.

The emphasis for internet marketers is first, and sometimes only, on generating the visit, lead or sale. But the customer’s experience after they pass beyond that point will often be assumed to be in the hands of the developer or site owner. They in turn might be looking to you make sure that he process is completed successfully. If something does happen, and the visitors expectation is not met, the resulting bad experience and loss of sale will reflect badly on the PPC marketer. No matter who’s to blame. And there is little you can do about it after the fact.

Andrew’s advice is solid and simple. Take into account when your ads are running and where the callers will be routed during these times. Taking a minute to call the number(s) used in your campaigns to better understand their customers experience even before your first ad is launched. If there are problems the person may not leave a message. This can affect your conversion rates and cost-per-lead levels. If you do discover an issue, or that the user experience varies during other scheduled hours, then make adjustments.

More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #ppcchat taking place Tuesday on Twitter.

This Week’s Participants

About the Author

This is a guest post by James Svoboda, managing partner at WebRanking in Portland, Sphinn Editor, infrequent pay per click blogger, SEM content hound, Tweeter @Realicity, and Co-Founder of MnSEM – the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association.

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