Promoting products and services while trying to compete with mega-giants like Amazon and Walmart is often a daunting task for small business owners. The good news is that Google AdWords has created a way for advertisers to do just that. Bigger brands may have an advantage when it comes to PPC, but they don’t hold all the cards. Even with a small budget, you can get impressions and clicks on Google with a smart account structure and the right targeting options.
Having consulted hundreds of small and medium-sized business (SMBs) owners and marketing managers, my eyes have been opened to the struggles they face every day.
Let me take a second to set the stage. Anyone who tells you that AdWords is easy or that they can guarantee you numbers is lying to you. AdWords is complicated and difficult to master, but when done right, it can yield amazing returns.
Not only does it take preparation to master but it takes time and affection. Think of your AdWords account like a new dog.
Is your AdWords account looking at you with sad eyes?
Set it and forget it doesn’t work with your dog and it doesn’t work with AdWords either. You need to love your account, take care of it, clean it up, and feed it. I can tell you it loves the taste of money. If you take the time to nurture your account it will yield you a return.
Keep it Simple
One misconception I hear time and time again is that you need a large account with thousands of keywords. You don’t. Running a small business means you wear multiple hats. You don’t need a huge account to be successful. In fact with that amount of keywords you have a greater opportunity to overreach and waste money.
Start small and progressively grow your account. I mentioned before that you need to spend the time to nurture the account, so the smaller you keep it the less time you will need to put in.
Tracking Your AdWords Progress
Tracking is one of the most important things you can do to your account. I highly recommend setting up Google Analytics with your website for in-depth analysis. Otherwise, conversion tracking is a must, as it will tell you which Campaigns, Ad Groups, Keywords, Ads, etc. are performing for you while also telling you where you are flushing money down the drain (do I have any plumbers out there?).
Overreaching can be an account killer and it can take a couple forms. For example, incorrectly targeting your ads. Whether it’s location, device, or network targeting or simply the match types you choose for your keywords, incorrectly targeting ads is going to waste your money. Make sure you have refined your targeting choices and your match types to focus your traffic down to pre-qualified viewers. Prequalifying will allow you to get higher click-through rates and with that higher conversion rates . This means more $$$$$ in your pocket!
Don’t Overpay – Set a Consistent AdWords Budget
Another common struggle I see is trying to be the top advertisement on the page . While it is important to get up to the top, it doesn’t need to happen, especially if you don’t have a large budget.
Let’s take a step back and look at budgeting. Setting a daily budget is important when it comes to how much money you will spend in a month. Here is a simple formula to budget setting:
(Total Marketing Budget * Percentage towards AdWords)/Days in the Month = Daily Budget
I can’t stress enough how you should set your budget and stick with it. Don’t go in day after day and change your budget. If you set everything correctly, you will not go over budget and you wont have to pause your account two weeks into the month. Changing your budget frequently can actually reduce your account’s performance, because Google will have to recalibrate how they show your ads.
AdWords Bidding for Small Businesses
Bidding helps determine positioning, so calculate how much you should be bidding based off of your budget to ensure an ROI. Try this formula to determine your bids:
Revenue or Customer’s LTV * conversion rate = Max Bid
Once you have determined your max bid, your quality score will determine your ad positioning. The higher your quality score the more likely you are to rank towards the top of the page.
Now that we have focused our traffic, set our budget and determined our bids, we are well on our way towards running a successful (profitable) account.
Remarketing  is a great next step for the average small business owner. Remarketing will allow you to show your ads to people who have previously shown interest in your products or services. If you are worried that remarketing won’t work for you, just keep an eye out for our WordStream display ads. I’m sure now that you have read our blog you will be followed around by our offerings. Remarketing often yields high conversion rates and is a great way for small business owners to spend their precious advertising budget.
AdWords is very complicated and can often be frustrating, so follow the strategies I’ve listed above and you will be well on your way towards AdWords success. Remember, in the end Adwords is about turning a profit so focus your strategy around being profitable. Don’t worry if you are not the first ad on the page because you can and will still make money while on the side of the page. All you should worry about is staying in the black. This will help you drive more traffic and grow your business over time. Once you’ve got your account to a spot where you can devote a larger budget, you can then take that opportunity to move up in the results. But for now, start small, refine your targeting and manage your bids and budget closely.
One last thing I would like to point out is this neat comment section we have below. Please don’t hesitate to respond with questions or comments. And let me ask you this: As a small business, what struggles have you faced? What has and has not worked for you in the past?
Image via Sukanto Debnath 
Ben Cohen  is a Customer Success Specialist at WordStream and supports WordStream’s managed services team on numerous accounts. That means his days are full of training and consulting clients on their PPC accounts. Born and raised in Boston, Ben has not wandered far from home, having studied Marketing and Management at the University of Maine, Orono. Ben is also a diehard Boston sports fan. When he is not out hiking New England, you can find him at America’s most beloved Fenway Park. Go Sox!