15 Tips to Help Small Businesses Get the Most from Paid Ads

The bottom line of many small businesses can benefit from implementing paid ads as part of an overall digital marketing strategy. Paid ads work alongside your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to help you dominate search engine results (SERP) and win more clicks and customers away from your competitors.

The success from paid ads comes when you understand your target audience and the keywords that drive their search engine queries. Then you develop a paid ad strategy designed to attract the right types of leads to your business.

Is Your Small Business Ready For PPC?

Your small business might be ready to invest in paid placements like Google Ads that appear on SERP, social media, and display networks if you:

Understand Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) – If every click you convert into a new customer represents a reasonably high lifetime value, you can probably justify and support the necessary budget for a successful paid advertising campaign.

Offer High Profit Margin Products and Services – If the product or service you want to advertise has solidly high profit margins, you can generally set an adequate budget to attract those clicks and customers.

Sell Specialized or Niche Products – Even if your product only appeals to a smaller market, niche or specialty products are great candidates for paid advertising campaigns. If you offer a solution that is challenging for consumers to locate in their local marketplace, they will often rely on internet searches to make purchases and when they do, they have high buyer intent.

What Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is where you – or your marketing team – develop ads and bids on specific keyword phrases. These keywords are carefully selected to attract prospective customers who are ready to buy or take another desired action to increase revenue and results for your business.

When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee to the search engine, social media, or display network provider.

Strategic PPC advertising allows small businesses to compete effectively by giving you the opportunity to run ads in all the places where your ideal customers hang out online.

That’s why PPC, when done correctly, has huge benefits for small businesses. It can get expensive if you try to take a trial-and-error approach to using paid ads for your small business, but these 15 tips can ensure you get great return on ad spend (ROAS) from your PPC campaigns

Small Business Paid Ad Tips So You Get You Great ROAS

  1. Every successful PPC campaign starts with relevant keywords. You need two things to pick winning keywords:

These two things will help you discover the optimal keywords that are worth putting your advertising budget behind. Select keywords with high buying intent so you capture more clicks from people who are out of the research stage and ready to buy.

Keywords competition isn’t static and prices for your primary phrases can fluctuate over time, so set reminder to review your campaign results and make adjustments so you continue to get great returns from your ad spend.

  1. Write compelling ad copy. Even with some recently expanded limits, the Google Ad character count means every carefully chosen word needs to count. You must hit the emotional high points, promise the transformation and add a compelling call to action. Social platforms, like Facebook, give you more room to be wordy, but the shorter and more effective you force your copy to be the better your ad will perform, regardless of where you run it.
  2. Those limited words and character counts mean you must be okay with being a little sales-y. For big ROAS bid on words that allow you to take advantage of purchase intent. Don’t be afraid to pair “buy” or “purchase” with your relevant product keywords.Try out other keyword pairs like “best price” or “get” until you land on a winner.
  3. A famous ad man said to spend most of your writing effort on the headline. Because if no one reads past it, you have a problem. When your ad platform calls for a headline, you want to deliver a headline that no one can scroll past. The more compelling your headline is, the more compelling your ad results will be. Resist the urge to be clever. Clarity always wins. Because another ad man said, “a confused mind isn’t a buying mind.”

Ask some friends or colleagues to give you feedback on your headline (or any aspect of your ad copy). Make you sure you ask friends who will give honest feedback. If you think you have two potential winning headlines, that will make for a great A/B test scenario. Set up a campaign that allows you to see which headline performs better.

  1. Always consider the rest of the funnel if your sales process or ad goal requires multiple steps before you make the sale. If your funnel is clunky or confusing, you won’t achieve your desired conversion rate and you risk wasting money. Make sure the entire the entire funnel is slick, smooth, and has no friction points that will lose potential customers.
  2. The ad creative matters too. Make sure your images are top notch if you’re running ads on platforms that rely on eye-catching visuals to drive clicks and conversions. You want to appeal to the right kind of consumer for your product and for so many businesses, aesthetics matter. Make sure your imagery and branding are consistent from ad to landing page or anywhere else your ad is directing traffic flow.
  3. PPC isn’t set it and forget it. After launch, you want to give a campaign a reasonable amount of time to find its level, but you still need to monitor it closely in those early days. Track your metrics and assess what’s working and turn off what isn’t. Make sure you have sufficient creative and copy assets to run A/B tests to keep improving your ROAS.
  4. It’s smart to start small. Unless you’re hiring a marketing firm with results driven PPC experience, it’s smart to start small with your ad campaigns. Keeping track of multiple ad sets across multiple ad platforms can get confusing…fast. It’s way too easy to spend hundreds of marketing dollars before you know it if you get overwhelmed.

Pick a starter platform where you feel comfortable. If you love Facebook, that might be a great place to run your first campaign. Watch your analytics and get a good feel for how PPC advertising works. Once you develop some confidence managing an ad set and monitoring its results, you’ll be better able to add in a new platform to capture a new ready to buy audience.

  1. Optimize your landing pages for conversions. If a prospect clicks on your ad, they’re likely going to end up on a landing page. You want every aspect of that page to be optimized to convert them into a paying customer. Some things to remember when building your landing page:
  • Break up blocks of text with bulleted lists
  • Consider adding video
  • Super clear and compelling calls to action
  • Emotionally compelling text that acknowledges pain points and offers solutions
  • Trust signals like logos of companies who use your product
  • Testimonials from other satisfied customers.
  1. Promote products that are already popular. If this is your first-time doing pay-per-click ads, it can make a lot of sense to go with a proven winner. Knowing that you’re promoting something that already sells well removes doubt around the product itself if your campaign doesn’t perform as expected.

You already know why people buy this well-liked product so it can be easier to pick compelling keywords and write click-worthy ad copy. Using a successful product for an inaugural ad campaign is the opportunity to share it with a wider audience.

Set yourself up for success with paid ads by going with success.

  1. Keep geography in mind when choosing an ad audience. Just like you want to keep your keywords specific (like “goats milk soap” rather than “soap”) most paid ad platforms let you target a certain geographical audience from global to a geo-fenced radius around your specific location. Keep both your budget and fulfillment in mind when selecting your target locations. If you have a license that only allows you to work in one state, it doesn’t make sense to run ads across the line in another. Similarly, if you only do domestic shipping, you don’t want to pay to promote your products to a global audience.
  2. Keep an eye on the clock. If your call to action is “call now” and you’re running ads when the shop or office is closed, it can lead to frustration and wasted ad dollars. Most ad platforms allow you to run your ads at certain times. If the ad platform you’re using doesn’t allow you to set specific hours for when your ad will run, consider offering another product or service or modify your call to action to keep customers connected and converting.
  3. General ads might be smart to introduce your product to new people. The more general the ad, the colder the traffic, typically, but you can still find success with this strategy if you have some simple but relevant keywords. Less targeted ads are also great for driving traffic to your social media or website, or a landing page. But “new to you” prospects may not be ready to buy just yet. If you can afford to run ads strictly to get a pool of prospects to nurture, general ads that target general preferences, habits, or tendencies can be a wise move. Your business may benefit from having a lot of leads to fill a pipeline.
  4. Run retargeted ads to those new general leads or website visitors who didn’t convert on their first visit. A little warmer now than when they were first introduced to your business, ads you run to these prospects can keep their interest higher and get you closer to closing the sale with them. Retargeting can be a smart ad spending option since you know these people have expressed an interest in your product of service in the past. Retargeting adds are great for display network placements since those are the ads that make prospective customers believe they see you everywhere, and that familiarity brings in sales.
  5. Be realistic about conversion rates. Across industries, good conversion rates average around 3-4%. So, for every 500 people who click on your ad, 18 or 19 people will make a purchase or take the desired action promoted by the ad. Whether PPC is a smart move for your business depends on whether that math makes sense with your average customer’s LTV or the profit margins of your products or services. You need to understand all the costs of delivering your goods and services to determine if your marketing budget makes sense for the potential ROAS.

Ultimately, the bottom line on paid ads for small businesses is that strategic pay-per-click advertising can be beneficial for many small businesses and professional service providers. Paid ads can bring in leads that are done researching and are now ready to buy. Using well-targeted paid ad placements can maximize your return on ad spend and generate real revenue growth for your business.

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.