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Managing a “Budget Limited” AdWords Campaign

When you’re a small-to-medium sized business (SMB) in an economy battered by low resource prices, every space becomes competitive. You’re looking to ride the line between missing out or spending too much on online advertising. SMB’s are extremely concerned about cash flow – so how do you maximize advertising ROI when it comes to using Adwords?

Focused Campaigns

Minimize the number of campaigns you have running. Ideally, no more than three campaigns, with one being your branded search, which should be relatively easy on the pocket book because your keywords are your brand name and thus, highly relevant. With a limited budget one doesn’t have the capital to spread over a lot of different areas. Using the Search Network Only – All features is likely your best bet if you’re selling a service or product.

Follow the Money

Using Adwords, if you find that one ad group or keyword is using up the lion’s share of your budget (+40%) , correlate the conversion data via Google Analytics with Clicks, Impressions, CTR, CPC, Cost, Avg. Position and Quality Score.  The objective here is to be paying as low a CPC as possible via a better Quality Score.

high-ad-group-spend Figure 1: Top Ad Group Spend

Do More of What Works, and Less of What Doesn’t

Keywords with a high CPC should be shown the door.  Consider pausing them (to keep historical data) or modifying their bid and see what effect this has on your campaign.  There might be opportunities to use phrase or exact match instead of a single broad match keyword.

high-keyword-spend

Figure 2: Top Keyword Spend

Keywords which are not performing are also ripe for being paused. A high Average Position is great but if those clicks do not result in conversions, it’s time to send that money elsewhere.  Building out a comprehensive Negative Keyword list is critical to keeping spend down to fit your budget. Analyse your keyword search terms and identify terms that are clearly not related to your business. This great article from WordStream will get you started, in fact, it might be that you end up with more negative keywords than keywords, this is good! Also a quick look at Search Terms will reveal how people search for you. Insights here will go a long way to letting you make intelligent decisions on keywords.

Targeted Bidding (Geo, Schedule, Device)

AdWords gives us a ridiculous number of ways to target the spend of your campaign. Knowing where your customers are likely to come from is critical to targeting your geo by radius, city or area code etc. You may want to increase bids for searches closer to your location, or on keywords using your neighbourhood. Know when your customers are likely to look for you and adjust your ad schedule to capitalize on your best performing times. If your product is catered to people on the move, perhaps mobile is a great segment to bid up on. Alternatively, maybe you don’t want to target mobile at all? These and other segments, individually or jointly configured can yield good savings.

While this list is not the be all and end all of all that you can do to manage your budget limited AdWords campaign, it should provide you some great starting points to bite in and start peeling away at the onion that is AdWords.

Do you have any other tips for managing a small or limited AdWords budget? Let us know in the comments! Feeling overwhelmed by all that you need to know and do to manage your AdWords account? Contact us!