Limited Ad Budget? Do a Lot With a Little

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Imagine this: you manage your company’s PPC (pay per click) ad account, but are working with a severely limited budget. It might be discouraging or even intimidating to make tough advertising decisions when you know you’re not reaching your total potential audience.

For many of you reading this, you don’t have to imagine. We understand the struggle, and have worked with a number of clients in similar positions. While it can be tough at first, there are ways to optimize your campaigns through smart decision making and clever targeting. And all without breaking the bank.

Here are 4 of our favorite tips to make the most of your limited ad budget:

1) Define Your Goals

Maybe your goal is to drive sales or other conversions on your site, or maybe you simply want to increase traffic and brand awareness. Regardless, it’s vital to define these aspects of your campaign from the start, especially when dealing with a limited ad budget. Different forms of advertisements and pricing methods can have drastically different effects depending on what you want to accomplish.

Pricing a campaign on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis, for example, could be very useful for general branding purposes. You aren’t necessarily measuring its success by the number of clicks, but rather by the number of views within your target audience (and minimizing the overall cost of doing so). However, this could be costly for a marketer looking to drive online conversions, because this won’t necessarily produce a reliable number of clicks, and ultimately conversions, for that price.

For those looking to maximize conversions, the ultimate goal is reducing CPA (cost per acquisition) as much as possible. Typically, this focuses around the marriage of two strategies: reducing CPC (cost per click) and increasing the conversion rate on the landing page.

Aside from using specific, long-tail keywords, one way to reduce CPC is to use an advertising network’s Contextual Advertising service, which will get much lower CPCs than Google or Bing. And there are two great ways to increase conversions: by redesigning your landing pages for optimal conversion, or by implementing a Remarketing Campaign (which can make users up to 70% more likely to convert).

2) Narrow Your Targeting

One of the most common advertising mistakes made by online marketers is assuming that highly competitive keywords will lead to better website traffic. In fact, these generic keyword terms should sometimes be avoided (or given spend caps). The reason is because they tend to be very costly and often lead to audiences that are less than relevant. Instead, try implementing long-tail keywords. Not only can you present more relevant content to your potential customers, but you often face less competition for those keywords. You’ll be able to show your ads for less, they’ll go the right people, and your conversion stats will look better.

In addition, make sure to implement negative keywords into your ad groups. Negative keywords can be vital to the success of your campaigns by preventing your ads from showing in irrelevant search strings. For example, if your ad was linked to a website selling only women’s shoes, you would want to include negative keywords  like “men’s” or “gentlemen’s.”  That way, you’re not wasting your ad budget on customers who are only looking for men’s shoes, as they won’t even see your ad to begin with.

3) Separate Your Ad Groups

For many online advertisers, their ads have different sets of keywords, demographics, or languages and are therefore targeted to different groups. When this is the case, proper organization of your ads, ad groups, and campaigns is crucial. Instead of placing all ads together in a single campaign, try creating separate ad groups so that each of your ads is highly relevant to each set of keywords. You should then see an increase in both CTR (click through rate) and, if your landing pages are as targeted, your conversion stats well.

4) Test and Retest

One of the most important tips of all is to test everything! Test different variations of ad copy, images, offers, landing pages, geographic targets, and anything else associated with your campaigns. There are many different ways to test your campaigns, but here are a few methods we think work very well for both ads and landing pages.

With all the tools now available in the online marketing field, you have access to a plethora of data that allows you to dig deep into your ads and understand what drives their success. Be sure to monitor a variety of statistics and reports from your advertising platform. You may be surprised at which factors (be it device, location, offer language, etc.) are having material effects on your key metrics.

While it can be tempting to change and modify your ads right away, make sure you leave them alone long enough for them to collect adequate data. Just like any other science, online advertising requires a large enough sample size in order to draw reasonable conclusions and make educated decisions. In addition, it is important to have a clear, focused idea of what you want to test. Only one variable should be altered at a time within each ad or campaign, so that any effect can be tracked back to the change.

Since 2001, has offered competitive online advertiser and publisher solutions to companies around the globe. Our mission is to help advertisers achieve their best ROI with high-quality, cost-effective ad units, as well as provide our publishers with monetization tools that yield the highest revenues. Contact us to learn more or get started with your advertising campaigns.