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AdWords Tutorial: Small Business Campaigns in 15 Minutes a Week

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Scott Bateman founded Promise Media in 2007. He is a former online general manager at two major media companies.

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Even the smallest business can put together a Google AdWords campaign in just 15 minutes a week.

Even better, it can cost only $1 a week -- or $1,000 a week.

Campaigns in Google AdWords cost both time and money. Time is necessary to build and maintain the campaigns. Money is necessary to pay for the clicks.

A small business can hire an expert in Google AdWords to run the campaign and save time. But hiring such an expert can cost a great deal of money. The business owner can expect to pay an AdWords expert in one of several ways:

  1. A flat rate that can easily run thousands of dollars.

  2. An hourly rate that is often more than $100 an hour.

  3. A percentage of the campaign budget that is commonly around 15 percent of the total.

An experienced consultant brings knowledge, efficiency and performance to a campaign. The better consultants require exceptional fees. For the small business, a budget in the hundreds of dollars a month or less is too small to justify the cost of hiring an expert.

That means someone in the business has to manage the campaign. And yes, depending on the size and complexity, it can work in just 15 minutes a week. I have managed campaigns ranging from hundreds of dollars a month to tens of thousands a month. Keeping it simple means getting the work done quickly.

The following tutorial focuses on tips on best practices that complement the help section in the AdWords dashboard. Read this tutorial together with those tips.

Official AdWords Video

Step 1: Create the Campaign

Campaigns usually have a beginning and an end in time. They also have specific goals and targeting. Create campaigns that are specific and narrowly targeted.

Just as importantly, label the campaigns as specifically as possible, i.e., “Youth Market August 2017”. When a time-based campaign has ended, don’t reuse it. Keep it in the archive to compare its results with future campaigns.

Keep in mind that each campaign has its own budget. For multiple campaigns over time, build and adjust each one to fit the overall budget. Set a default bid per click that needs to adjust on a weekly basis depending on the click-through rate. Beware of budget creep.

Build only one campaign a week to limit the amount of time that goes into the project.

Be as specific and narrowly targeted as possible with campaign and ad group labels. A narrow focus leads to better results.
Be as specific and narrowly targeted as possible with campaign and ad group labels. A narrow focus leads to better results. | Source

Step 2: Create the Ad Groups

Ad Groups break down campaigns even more. The example “Youth Market August 2017” could have ad groups dedicated to specific geographic areas such as states in a national campaign, cities in a regional campaign or zip codes in a local one.

“Devices” also are a way to break down ad groups. The campaign could have one ad group that targets desktop computer users, another that targets mobile users and a third that targets tablets.

That said, start with just one ad group to go with the first campaign.

The quality of the ads has a lot to do with how often Google will display them and how many clicks they get. Ads should reflect the keyword list.
The quality of the ads has a lot to do with how often Google will display them and how many clicks they get. Ads should reflect the keyword list. | Source

Step 3: Choose the Keywords

It’s possible to click on “Keywords” in the series of gray tabs near the top of the dashboard and then the red “+Keywords” button in the middle of the page. But it’s better to go to the very top of the dashboard and click on Tools and Keyword Planner.

List a series of two- and three-word phrases in the Product or Service box (one line per phrase) and click on the search button. This is a better option for research because it gives the average monthly search volume for each keyword. Note that some of them have an estimated cost per click. Note that the estimated cost per click is often over priced.

Choose one keyword with the highest volume that fits the product or service in the campaign, go back to the gray Keywords tab on the previous dashboard page and enter it into the keyword box.

On the Keyword tab page, click on Columns, Modify Columns, Quality Score and "Qaul. Score". Down below, check the box that says “Save this set of columns” and click on Apply.

The Quality Score ranks each keyword from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most relevant. Higher quality scores get more impressions, more clicks and cost less money per click.

Step 4: Create the Ads

The gray tabs at the top of the dashboard seem to suggest creating the ads before choosing the keywords. But effective ads should include the chosen keywords, so identify the keywords before creating the ad.

Use the chosen keyword phrase in the headline and then again -- or a slight variation of it -- in the text.

The ad also requires what is known as the “landing page”. It’s the page a visitor reaches on the small business website after clicking on the ad.

Keep in mind that the landing page should have the same keyword phrase or a slight variation of it as the phrase that appears in the ad. A landing page with the phrase will have a higher Quality Score than an ad without it.

This small campaign had an exceptional clickthrough rate because of its highly targeted approach. The best ad had a 60% CTR while the worst had 14%. The Internet average is less than 0.2%.
This small campaign had an exceptional clickthrough rate because of its highly targeted approach. The best ad had a 60% CTR while the worst had 14%. The Internet average is less than 0.2%. | Source

Step 5: Customize the Targeting

On the campaign dashboard, click on the gray Settings tab to customize the campaign according to devices, locations, languages and schedule.

The “Devices” link has options for increasing or decreasing bids by a certain percentage for desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets.

The “Locations” link is a tool for targeting a geographic area.

The “Languages” option is of course English for most English-speaking countries.

“Schedule” controls the days, times, start dates and end dates for each campaign.

Step 6: Judge the Results

Experts suggest many ways of judging the results of an AdWords campaign. There are four simple ways for a small business campaign:

  1. How many ad impressions does it get each week? The number should trend up over time as the campaign becomes more efficient.

  2. What is the click-through rate? The average is 2 percent, but the example above shows CTRs as high as 60 percent.

  3. What is the cost per click? The CPC should trend down over time as Quality Scores go up.

  4. What is the Quality Score? Target a minimum of 5, but 8 to 10 is ideal. Getting to 10 is difficult but not impossible.

  5. What does the clicker do after coming to the website?

The clicker’s response is of course the most important metric of all. Does he or she go to the landing page and leave again without doing anything else? Or does the visit result in a valuable action, such as a purchase, inquiry (lead), sign up, etc.?

If the visitor doesn’t produce value, then the campaign isn’t targeting the right people OR the landing page doesn’t have the right sales pitch.

A great ad with a great click-through rate can produce no results if the landing page is weak.

The first week is as simple as one campaign, one ad group, one keyword and one ad.

Step 7: Deliver on the 15-Minute Goal

The first week is as simple as one campaign, one ad group, one keyword and one ad.

In the next week, add one or two more keywords and ads. The small business owner or campaign manager should not create more campaigns and ad groups until becoming confident with managing the first campaign and ad group.

The goal of 15 minutes is possible with just four tasks:

  1. Review the results over the previous week.

  2. Tweak the existing ads, bids and keywords.

  3. Add one or two more keywords.

  4. Add one or two more ads.

The 15-minute weekly goal makes sense only for small campaigns and only for beginners in this environment. It's also much easier to achieve for people who work on AdWords campaigns on a regular basis.

If and when a campaign produces results, the business owner or campaign manager can certainly increase the budget and number of campaigns, ad groups, ads and keywords as well as the amount of time each week.

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