PPC Tips for Small Budgets

How to Save & Still Get Results! 


Many people balk at PPC (pay per click) advertising on search engines like Google or Bing because they think it is too expensive.

Well, it is expensive. It’s more of an investment than social media marketing or some other forms of advertising. The bigger your budget, the better results you’re going to see. Many business owners or marketing directors look at the initial cost and decide their money could get them a better ROI somewhere else. 

There’s where we would say “it depends”. If you’re advertising budget is $150 dollars a month, you may be right, and we would probably encourage you to put your money into social because you’ll get more bang for your buck. But if you have $500 a month to spend, you can absolutely see the results you want from that amount, provided you have a solid account setup and a strategy in place for wise, careful ad spend. 

Here are some recommendations we make for small businesses that want to start PPC with a small budget!

Remarketing is your new best friend

If you have a small budget, you need to let the question “What is the cheapest way to acquire a new customer?” be ever at the forefront of your mind. It’s common sense that it is more expensive to acquire a brand-new customer, someone who has never interacted with your brand, than it is to encourage someone who has already purchased from you or is already familiar with your company to re-engage. Remarketing ads target that second group of users. These ads are much cheaper to run, and they have a higher ROAS. You can run them on search and on the GDN (Google Display Network). 

Don’t neglect your negative keyword lists or search term reports

Negative keywords are how you control your campaigns. We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve seen agencies just not check the search term reports or negative keyword lists regularly, which baffles us. If you want to get rid of wasted spend, this is one of the main ways to do it!

Negative keyword lists let Google/Microsoft know what keywords you DON’T want your ads to show for. We once managed an account for an outdoor lighting company. When we took over the account and viewed the search term report, we saw that there was a high amount of terms revealing the intent of users searching for ways to do it themselves (“diy outside lighting”, etc.). Cost dropped dramatically once we filtered out those DIY keywords, because the people using them weren’t looking to hire a lighting company. 

You should be checking at least once a day anyway, regardless of your budget, but having strong, up-to-date negative keyword lists is particularly critical for small budgets. 

Segment EVERYTHING and adjust accordingly – especially bids 

PPC can be incredibly precise, which is exactly what you need when you’re operating on a tight budget. If you lump everything together and target generally, you’re going to blow budget and not even know where it’s going or where it should be going. So segment! Segment by location – target specific states, regions, cities, or even counties where you want your customers to come from. Don’t waste clicks in Canada if you own an Ecommerce business that only ships to the United States (for example). Segment by device so you know if you need to spend more money on desktop or mobile or tablet, and which ones you need to drop completely. Segment by time of day and time of week so you can get creative with ad scheduling; if most of your clicks are coming in before 4, after 4pm you can decrease your bids to save spend. PPC without segmentation is a black box operation that will not put you in the black. 

Bid on branded terms 

If you don’t bid on branded terms, you’re missing out on reaching the people who are the most likely to convert! Don’t do that! Think about it – if someone is searching for your brand, they’re either at least interested, at most ready to convert. You may think that a search for your name will surely result in a web visit, but you may be surprised at how many of your competitors are bidding on your brand in order to appear above you in the SERP (search engine results page), or you may find that your organic presence isn’t as good as you believed. Bid on branded terms, because they show high intent, and that’s what you need on a limited budget. 

Run call-only campaigns

Calls are the most important action for many businesses. In a mobile-first age, where over 70% of people searching on mobile will call directly from the search results, it may be profitable for you to direct users to a representative or answering machine rather than to a landing page. Call-only campaigns display the phone number at the top of the ad in a highly visible, conversion-friendly format. When users click on the ad, they call your business.

As long as you have trained and experience personnel you trust ready to answer the phones, this can be a cost-effective choice for smaller budget accounts, because rather than taking the chance that they will convert by sending them to a static website, you are putting them in touch with someone who can answer their questions, gather more information about them for follow-up purposes, or persuade them to convert. 

Track the data

Guessing is the quickest way to blow through a budget, especially in PPC. If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, you’re not agile. You can’t make the best decisions – you might make a good move on accident, but you won’t know if there’s a better move out there you could be making. USE THE DATA. Rely heavily on analytics to guide your choices about optimization. Set up conversion tracking so you know exactly where all of your traffic is coming from (including offline sales, custom conversions, calls, clicks, and website submissions). In order to conserve your budget and spend it efficiently, you need to know your highest performing sources. 

Side with SKAGs

SKAGs (single keyword ad groups) are hotly debated in the PPC world. Instead of including multiple keywords in one themed ad group, like Google/Microsoft suggest, you place each distinct keyword in its own ad group. Haters say it’s too messy and
ineffectiveWe’ve tested it, and we know that for us, it’s always increased relevance and decreased cost. We wrote a blog post detailing why you need SKAGs and we’ll probably write more because we’re passionate about proving their worth! We use them for any budget, but if you are trying to cut down on lead cost, SKAGs is one of the best tools in your belt. 

Did you find these tips helpful? Want to learn more about what it takes to make a profit in PPC, even if you are a small niche business? Empirical360 is a Google Premier Partner that has extensive experience creating revenue for our clients. Get in touch with us to find out about how we can grow your business!

Shea Antonucci - Author

Director of Content Marketing

Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!