Google Ads on a Budget: How Small Businesses Can Drive Big Results

google ads google ads for beginners targeting Jun 18, 2024
a desk with a calculator, some cash, some tax forms, glasses, a pen, and the google ads logo

By: Jyll Saskin Gales, Google Ads Coach

Are you a small business owner struggling to make the most of your limited Google Ads budget? Or a marketer helping a client navigate paid search on a shoestring?  Let's face it, managing Google Ads on a tight budget can feel impossible. But with the right strategies and a bit of know-how, you can make the most of your investment and drive great results for your business.


Build a Strong Data Foundation

Just like a house needs a solid foundation, a successful Google Ads campaign starts with a strong data foundation. Here's your checklist to get started:

  1. Conversion Tracking: Ensure you're accurately tracking your desired actions, the thing you want someone to do as a result of your ads. These are called your conversions. Whether it's purchases, lead form submissions, or other valuable interactions, you can use a variety of tools to track conversions like Google Analytics, Shopify's Google channel, or Google Tag Manager if you're tech-savvy.
  2. Audiences: Create website remarketing audiences and upload customer lists to your Google Ads account. While the Customer Match feature might be out of reach for small budgets, customer lists still offer valuable insights into your audience's demographics and interests, helping you tailor your messaging and targeting.
  3. Attribution: Choose a suitable attribution model (like the default, Data Driven Attribution) to understand how different ad interactions contribute to conversions.
  4. Account Linking: Connect your Google Ads account with other Google properties like YouTube, Google Business Profile, Google Analytics, and Google Merchant Center to unlock additional features and insights.

Feed the Algorithm Sufficient Data with Micro Conversions

To make the most of limited data, focus on optimizing for micro conversions—smaller steps users take on the path to conversion. For example, instead of tracking only purchases, track "add to cart" or "begin checkout" actions. This provides more data points for Google's bidding and targeting algorithms to learn from, which will help it optimize your campaigns more effectively.


Start with Search Campaigns

While Google Ads offers various campaign types, Search campaigns are often the best starting point for small budgets. They're the bread and butter of Google Ads, offering targeted reach and measurable results.

Here are a few tips to maximize your Search campaign performance on a small budget:

  • Choose the Right Ad Group Type: Decide between Standard (you choose keywords) and Dynamic (Google chooses keywords based on your website content). Most small businesses should choose Standard, but if your website is well-optimized for SEO, Dynamic can save you time and effort.
  • Budget for 10 Clicks Per Day: Aim for a minimum of 10 clicks per day to ensure your ads get enough exposure and generate meaningful data. Use Keyword Planner to estimate costs.
  • Use Responsive Search Ads and Assets: Take advantage of all the available headlines, descriptions and assets to maximize visibility and click-through rates.
  • Focus on getting 10%+ Impression Share: If your impression share is low, consider refining your targeting or increasing your budget.
  • Prioritize Quality Score: Optimize your ad relevance and expected click-through rate to improve your Quality Score, which will help lower your cost per click.

Don't Forget to Leverage Audiences

Don't underestimate the power of audiences! They can help you refine your targeting and get more out of your budget. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use Audiences to Narrow Targeting: Apply audiences in Targeting mode to show Search or Shopping ads only to specific groups of users, like B2B professionals or previous customers.
  • Create Custom Segments: Target users based on their search behavior, website visits, or app usage to reach specific demographics or interests.

Know When NOT to Advertise

Remember, not every small business is ready for Google Ads. If your website lacks SEO optimization, your budget is too limited, or your revenue per session doesn't meet the Rule of 2 (conversion rate x AOV = $2 or more), it might be better to invest elsewhere for now.

By following these tips and focusing on the right metrics, you can squeeze the most out of Google Ads and achieve sustainable results, even with a modest budget. Remember, it's all about starting with a strong foundation, optimizing for micro conversions, leveraging search campaigns and audiences effectively, and knowing when to hold back.

Want to Stay Ahead of the Google Ads Game? Subscribe to my free Google Ads newsletter, The Insider, for the latest updates, strategies, and insights on PPC.

Want more Jyll in your inbox?

Drop your name and email, then let me know which free newsletters, ebooks and resources you'd like. Easy!