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PPC strategy for small businesses

This article is the second in our SMB PPC series to help small businesses develop a PPC (pay-per-click) advertising strategy to reach new audiences and grow their business. PPC is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics businesses can use to get consumers to their website and it can be cost effective when done properly.

Define your budget

The biggest obstacle for most small businesses trying to market themselves online is in knowing how much advertising budget they should allocate and set aside. Businesses can get started with as little as $50 per month, however the amount of budget allocated will determine how frequently your search ads appear when consumers are searching online. It’s easy and free to setup an account to advertiser on Bing, and you only pay when users click on your ads.

That said, advertisers still need to set aside budget to run a PPC campaign. Step one when beginning a new PPC campaign is to understand what budgetary constraints your business has for the channel. Understanding what average CPCs (cost per click) are for a given vertical helps you define a monthly ad budget. Try using the Bing Ads Keyword Planner to get a better understanding of what your CPC will be; and then identify the number of website visits you would like to get through PPC. This simple formula will help you set a monthly budget:
(estimated CPC) x (website sessions) = Cost
While you can set any budget amount, I wouldn’t recommend allocating less than $120 per month. Why do I set this arbitrary number? It means that you would be allocating approximately $4/day to search, about as much as a cup of coffee – and less then you’d most likely spend on out-of-home mailers. Based on $120 per month budget and an average CPC of $0.50, you would get 8 PPC visits to your website daily. Depending on how you’ve set-up the targeting in your account, you’ll most likely spend your budget in the first portion of the month or early in the day, and then your ads will be offline until more budget becomes available. When first getting started with paid search I also typically recommend allocating a small amount of incremental budget to learn how to optimize your account and adjust the keyword and ad targeting settings.

Narrow your focus through targeting

In the U.S., Bing reaches 1 in 3 PC searches. That’s close to 170 million searches in the U.S., and these searchers spend 22% more than the average internet searcher.

With millions of searches happening every day, businesses need to use targeting to find the right searchers — those who are their target audience and who are searching for their products and services. It is important that you focus your advertising tactics on areas that will be most effective at driving conversions regardless of your goals, whether they are: driving website traffic, generating phone calls or driving in-store traffic. The Bings Ads platform offers great targeting capabilities — including time of day, day of week, geographic location and device-type targeting — that will not only allow you to reach your target consumers, but will allow you to optimize your search campaigns to maximize your budget. As a small business, targeting is critical.


Focus on high-performing offerings

What products or services convert best for the business? It can be tempting to build campaigns for specific offerings to make sure that you are covering all aspects of your business. When you have a limited budget, though, don’t do this. Focus on your high-performing or high margin/revenue products and services. They represent the best opportunity to drive revenue and should be supported first and before you spend resources on other lower margin lines of business.


Use both brand and specific long-tail keywords

PPC is driven by keyword targeting. You select keywords you think will align well with user’s searches on Bing. Search is a bit like the yellow pages — consumers will search for your business directly to find specific information about your business, so you might want to include your business name in your keyword set, especially if there are similar businesses in your geographic region. It’s also where consumer go to research and find products and services. The keywords you select should be as specific as possible. This means using long-tail keywords (keywords containing two or more words) and specific match types. This helps narrow targeting and reduce the risk of clicks from unqualified users.


Narrow other targeting methods

Bing Ads provides a wide variety of other targeting options outside keywords to help you improve targeting. Tools like location targeting, device targeting and ad schedule targeting can be powerful and are crucial for all small business owners who want to be efficient with ad budget spending. These targeting methods will be covered more in-depth in future articles, but to get you started now here are some things to consider if your business is local in nature (not purely online

 Location: How far are consumers willing to travel to get your business? Use the geographic location targeting settings to narrow where your ads are shown. At a bare  minimum, you’ll most likely want to narrow the targeting to the state your business is  in, if not your city and neighboring cities. Another option is to select a mileage based  radius from your physical location, like 100-200 miles from your zip code.

Ad Scheduling: What days of week and times of day is your business open? You might choose to have your ads available to be shown during your business hours or within an hour before and after your business is open.

Device: Consumers are searching more frequently on their mobile devices. At a bare minimum think about advertising your Business Name on mobile devices and set up your PPC account so that your ads are linked to Bing Places for Business and include your business address.


Set up and use web analytics

So far, this article has focused on strategy for getting started with a new PPC campaign. The next step is to have proper analytics in place to track campaign performance. PPC is unique from other marketing channels because of its transparency when it comes to advertising results. The information you get from analytics can influence optimization and future campaigns to help improve performance over time. Bing Unified Event Tracking (UET) is our internal analytics tracking and is a crucial step in PPC campaign setup.



PPC is just one piece of an overall online marketing strategy, but for small businesses, it can be one of the most important. It provides a unique opportunity to reach highly qualified customers while they are searching for your products or services. And when executed correctly, PPC can be an effective tactic for businesses trying to grow on a limited budget.

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*comScore Explicit Core Search (custom), US, June 2016; Bing Network includes Microsoft sites, Yahoo sites (searches powered by Bing), and AOL sites in the United States.