Every day millions of retailers and consumers find what they’re looking for online: each other. Meeting your perfect match on a small budget is a challenge, but by no means impossible. Even with chunks cut out of your marketing budget, it’s still possible to make a splash online and increase sales via a targeted SEM campaign. Use your small budget wisely and you can blend PPC and SEO to great effect without stretching your marketing dollars too thinly.
Although most big-name brands have snapped up huge tracts of cyber real estate, a well-ordered and concise pay-per-click campaign is actually an ideal marketing solution for businesses operating with modest financial resources. Costs are strictly controlled and adverts precisely targeted so you can dedicate a reasonably modest sum to a paid search campaign and see daily results. The build up to the holiday season and post holiday shopping bonanza is a great time to try a smaller campaign, as there’s lots of extra traffic and spare cash floating around.
For a niche or small enterprise, a tightly integrated campaign using only terms particularly relevant to your product is the only solution on a budget. The simplest way to make the most of your modest ad budget is to start with a small number of keywords and dedicate the majority of your finances towards the phrases garnering the most clicks. You can keep this list as small as just one or two lucrative keywords, but you’ll have to do a lot of research beforehand to decide on the short-listed keywords. A better option for newcomers is to select longer tail versions of more expensive keywords in order to cast a wider net while really refining your traffic and then combine that with geo-targeted adverts.
Although it’s tempting to squash general keywords into your pay-per-click account in the hope of picking up a few stray shoppers, restrict yourself to the phrases which really reflect the nature of your business. Keywords receiving little or no clicks dilute the overall quality of your campaign and lower the clickthrough rate. The search engines will punish a poor CTR with a low quality score, leaving your ad languishing in the lower reaches of its result pages. You’ll also end up paying more per click and eat up your daily budget quicker, so it’s worth spending time getting this right.
Advert text is all-important on a small budget as it may be your one chance to shine ahead of those able to snap up higher positions and throw more cash at their campaign for longer. The basic rules of PPC apply — include keywords in advert titles and advert text and don’t forget calls to action. Calls to action are especially powerful fodder on a budget, so research what your competitors are offering and then sit down and decide how you can out-do them without compromising your budget or cost-per-acquisition goals.
Can you offer free shipping? Perhaps a discount on orders over a certain price or even a voucher for a free gift next time? Is it feasible to slash your prices to win over new business or can you group products together to offer bulk buy offers? Would a complimentary gift-wrapping service give you an edge or can you give out sample-size trials of new products with each purchase? Think about your offline marketing and any techniques you have successfully used in the past to drive up sales and then set about converting them into your PPC ad text.
Finally, if you simply cannot dedicate a reasonable amount of cash to a Google AdWords campaign, consider Yahoo! and Bing as alternatives. Yes, Google has more traffic, but everything’s relative and you don’t need millions and millions of web users to make a difference to your own sales figures. There are plenty of shoppers on Yahoo! and Bing and they’re much cheaper to come by.
With dedication and a close eye on the purse strings you’ll be surprised at what a small budget PPC campaign can do for your sales figures.
Next week – SEO