SMB PPC FTW: Kirk Williams Shows Small Businesses How To Win With PPC

A lesson in three-letter acronyms, surviving PPC for small-and-medium-sized businesses

Dedicated staff. Marketing budgets with commas (sometimes more than one!) The buffer to fail.

Large brands have it all. In a world of large brands, can SMBs (small-to-medium-sized businesses) compete? During his State of Search presentation, Kirk Williams said though it’ll be tough, SMBs can compete and win against brands.

But how do we even define SMBs?

Kirk Williams defines SMBs as:

  • Are Local (Often)
  • Have a simple product
  • Have a simple PPC account
  • Usually have an ad budget not exceeding $2500

SMB PPC Tip #1: Set Yourself Up Like Chuck Norris Playing 1-Man Volleyball

Account setup is critical, especially for SMBs. Setting up a PPC account correctly initially may be time consuming, but leads to more efficiency and fewer headaches down the line.

Kirk Williams recommends setting up SMB PPC accounts according to match type at the campaign level.
Why? It allows for greater control. You can prioritize groups of keywords (like top performers or your exact-match set), and have tighter control over your budget.

Kirk also recommends using custom landing pages.

Many times, a SMB site may not be mobile friendly (if they’re even USER friendly). Sometimes, a custom landing page service like Unbounce (or a graphic design student from your local community college) may prove its value down the road.

SMB PPC Tip #2: Budget Like You’re Un-American

SMB PPC is all about control, and controlling your budget is the most important aspect of PPC – even more important than account setup. Unlike larger brands, you can’t just throw more money at it and hope it sticks (most SMBs have a less than $2500 budget.)

So how do you spend your budget wisely? Kirk’s tips:

  • Separate RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) campaigns from search campaigns. By layering RLSAs on top of search, you’ll get more bang for your buck (it’s usually cheaper to convert returning customers than it is to get new ones.)
  • Pull out your top-performing keywords into a separate campaign, and put them into SKAGs (single-keyword ad groups). Prioritize your budget amongst these, and use a shared budget amongst your remaining campaigns. (But remember to prioritize your exact-match keyword sets.)

SMB PPC Tip #3: Target Like Finn & Padme, Not Storm Troopers

Being laser-focused with who sees your ads and where you devote your budget could be the icing on the cake, or could break your efforts completely.

In addition to layering RLSA on top of search, Kirk recommends setting up RLSA based on activity.

Just because a user visits your site doesn’t mean they’ll convert, but more activity on your site signals they’ll be more likely to convert.

Setting up lists based on length of time, amount of sessions, or number of pages visited may make your campaigns go further, and will annoy less people your campaign wasn’t intended to reach.

SMB PPC Tip #4: Report Like You’re a Tattle-tale

While digital marketers have KPIs they tend to look at regularly, those may or not be the same ones that the business owner cares about. Kirk stressed that it was important to identify and report on the KPIs that the business owner cares about, and to eliminate pointless ones.

He also advised that SMBs loved big picture stats – if applicable, include year-to-date stats. And, of course, make it pretty (Kirk recommends using Swydo to report).

At the end of the day, Kirk reminded us that reporting MUST be customer-centric – It’s about the client.

Can SMBs compete against big brands?

The battle can seem like it’s uphill. But if they act smarter and more efficiently, SMBs can compete against big brands, and even have some wins.