Heroview: PPC for SMBs

Today’s Heroview featured Robert Brady (@robert_brady). Robert is the Director of PPC & Conversion at Trafficado and is a Google AdWords Certified Partner & Microsoft adExcellence member. He has managed PPC for a variety of SMBs including a small grass-fed beef grower in Idaho, sun room installers, and a Washington DC lawyer.

PPC Hero: Welcome to today’s Heroview, everyone! Real-time interviews featuring PPC experts from around the industry! To kick things off, Robert, please tell us about your experience doing PPC for SMBs.

Robert: I’ve managed PPC campaigns with budgets as small as $500/month. Online software, plumbing, home cleaning, lawyer, rancher. I also blog about PPC for SMBs on http://SmallBizTrends.com

PPC Hero: According to BIA, SMB online media ad spend increased to almost 40% of total ad spend in the fourth quarter of 2010. Thoughts on this statement? Are more SMBs beginning to shift more advertising attention to AdWords?

Robert: In short, yes. But many have tried PPC, wasted their money (and the $100 voucher) and have a negative opinion of PPC. PPC is a very attractive channel though because it’s so targeted & trackable. That’s why SMBs keep coming back.

PPC Hero: How does a business owner determine if PPC is right for his/her small business?

Robert: Think of your ideal customer. Are they looking for you (a solution) online? If yes, you should test PPC. And you’ll need somewhere to send the traffic that “converts” them. Can be a simple 1-page landing page. Basically, I have a hard time believing all SMBs shouldn’t test PPC. People are raising their hands & saying they are looking for a solution to their problem and you have the solution.

PPC Hero: But, coming in as an underdog, how concerned should SMBs be regarding their competitors?

Robert: Competition is a valid concern, but focus more on your own efforts, who you serve best, why you’re unique. Once you’ve got your ducks in a row, then you can focus more on competitors (because they may have good ideas).

PPC Hero: What should small business owners keep in mind when setting their PPC budgets?

Robert: Work backwards to arrive at your budget. What is a new customer worth? How many leads does it take to get that customer? How many clicks did it take to get the lead? Is that a competitive CTR? Can you increase conversion rates? If you don’t know, estimate & set benchmarks. This lets you know if the effort is paying off down the road.

PPC Hero: Which advertising networks tend to work best for small business owners: Search? Display? Both?

Robert: Search is a great place to start because you have a good idea what someone is looking for. But display is very effective if you set it up correctly & keep an eye on it. Cheaper clicks. Images can support message.

PPC Hero: Since SMBs have limited funds to work with, what types of keywords should they be targeting for optimal CPCs?

Robert: Start with keywords that have high buyer intent (someone looking to sign up/buy now) and then work your way toward keywords from earlier in the buying cycle (research, general interest). Also consider geographic modifiers, ie “DC divorce lawyer”. Don’t always rely on the platform to detect location. And start with more precise match types (exact, phrase) so that you minimize irrelevant searches.

PPC Hero: Are there any ad writing techniques that you’ve seen work particularly well for small business owners?

Robert: For ads: Mention how “local” you are (city you’re in, how long you’ve been in business, family-owned). Humanize the ad. And utilize ad extensions.

PPC Hero: In your opinion, is it better for SMBs to send traffic to the homepage or customized landing pages?

Robert: What intent is behind the search? Do you have a more relevant page for that intent than the homepage? You should. Use it. But if you can, go with customized landing pages. More relevant messaging. Easier tracking & attribution.

PPC Hero: Despite working with smaller budgets and increased competition, what do SMB owners have working in their favor?

Robert: SMBs are human, personable. They can offer better customer service. They’re part of the local community.

PPC Hero: Given your personal experience, are the majority of SMBs eventually successful with PPC? Why or why not?

Robert: Yes, I believe the majority of small businesses are successful at PPC, but not the vast majority. Too many get started on the wrong foot & burn out. Going in with realistic expectations, a commitment to testing & starting right are key.

PPC Hero: Thank you for your time and insight, and for participating in this month’s #Heroview!

Robert: Thanks for having me!

Michelle Morgan (@Michellemsem): Nice Job! Lots of good things for SMB’s to think about.
: Thanks. Now let’s just hope the SMBs find the info *before* using their vouchers!


And thank you to everyone who participated in this month’s Heroview- real-time discussions with industry experts via Twitter. Stay tuned for next month’s Heroview!