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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by @NeptuneMoon who sought experts view on Small Budget Campaigns, Tight Geo Targets, and Low Search Volume and how to achieve big results in these situations.


Q1: Do you work on accounts that have some type of limiting factor (limited budget, tight geo targets, low search volume, etc.) regularly? Which factors are you dealing with (please add any others I overlooked!).


All of the above! Typically limited budgets, but also tight geo’s (local campaigns), low search volume. Sometimes clients who want to target ALL THE THINGS but don’t have enough budget fall into this category as well. @amaliaefowler

I work on accounts that face all of these, hence my thinking this would be a good discussion topic! @NeptuneMoon

Yes, we deal regularly with all of the limitations! I’d say limited budget is the most common that we see. Makes sense as smaller businesses don’t have unlimited resources so even if you did increase their leads 500X, they literally wouldn’t be able to manage them. @PPCKirk

Limited search volume in Canada for one client’s product. That has been interesting to work around and help grow the business. Rarely limited budget as we wouldn’t ever max it out…if we could. There are other areas of the business we could spend it on. @duanebrown

Oh gosh, yes all of it. Budget does tend to be the most common seeing as lot either don’t fully understand digital or they simply don’t have the funds but want to see some growth even if it’s “slow.” @adwordsgirl

I give them a primer on why their ads do not appear all of the time. That’s the biggest hurdle to get past once I start a new account. People ALWAYS forget that the budget cap drives impressions first, not spend. If the ad copy sucks, the budget doesn’t matter as much. @jdb426

In B2B markets, small language like Dutch often suffers from ‘low search volume’ keywords that have high conversion value but hard time getting impressions. @ThatSearchGuyNL

Yes, despite being a sizeable ad agency, we still hit common small client problems that limit us: Geography, budget limitations, brand safety, and my favorite: overly conservative legal teams. @JonKagan

Another one that limits is the industry/trademarked terms/ad policies – just thought of it now. @amaliaefowler


Q2: Do you do anything, in particular, to manage client expectations when their accounts have limiting aspects to them?


Oh goodness. I start with it. Off the gate, before the contract is signed at the first sign I get that budget/geo/volume will be an issue. Tempering expectations, sometimes doing math equations to demonstrate why goals are unrealistic. During the relationship, it’s a matter of reminding but also having more practical solutions other than “increase your budget” – although with some accounts we’re getting to the point where that is the only option. @amaliaefowler

I think expectation management is a critical part of ALL accounts, but with accounts having limiting factors, it is even more important to communicate regularly about what is actually possible vs. what is possible in their “internet = easy biz gold mine” brains. @NeptuneMoon

Honesty. If the budget doesn’t match their dreams, we talk about what’s reasonable to expect. @JuliaVyse

I like to believe I’m pretty honest about everything. If I think the campaign’s success is going to be limited, I’ll tell them right off the bat. The same goes during the campaign management too. I think honesty is the best way to go about it. @adwordsgirl

Open, honest discussion is essential. Communicate concerns early on, even in sales process. Risk losing the prospect by being honest with them that their expectations may be off (if they are). Better to not get a frustrated someone that leaves shortly after anyway. @PPCKirk

Bring it up on our call and chat about how we want to tackle awareness. Just test and learn as we go. Selling in Canada is always a limiting factor as it is. @duanebrown

Clients need to understand that if you have small budgets and high CPAs it’s difficult to make decisions when there isn’t a steady stream of data. If you aren’t getting steady data daily, it’s incredibly difficult to optimize. They don’t get to benefit from ML too! @markpgus

I’d go so far to say as if you are waiting until after the sale to communicate expectations around budget limitations, that you’ve already set your relationship up for failure. Hopefully, it goes okay, it probably won’t. @PPCKirk

For high CPC clicks in an account with a limited budget, I have a tough time explaining the client I cannot deliver full optimization potential because there is too little data to go on. @ThatSearchGuyNL

We let clients know about potential limitations & that there is a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. We can take what we see from initial campaign performance & apply it to other platforms & when moving forward with new strategies. @Symmetri

My favorite thing to do is tell them in perspective, for every $1K spend over 30 days, its a $33 budget, and that isn’t huge, so don’t expect 10,000 clicks. @JonKagan


Q3: Let’s start with the dreaded limited budget as our first factor. If you don’t really have the dollars you need to not have to have budget be a limiting factor, how do you typically deal with that?


It depends where the budget is and what the goals are, as well as the quality of leads I’m getting. Typically, I’ll put the majority of the budget where the quality leads are coming in and then focus on reducing that cost-per-acquisition. Reducing geo too, sometimes. @amaliaefowler

But cutting out the least profitable parts of the account. @stevegibsonppc

When budgets are limited, I am like a broken record talking about narrowing the PPC focus to the *best* potential converting audience, geo areas, etc. Do a reasonable amount well, rather than being too thin across more and getting meh results. @NeptuneMoon

Focus on most promosing products/services. Reduce amount of keywords, targetting. Prove to the client this is working then scale to other aspects of the business. Also, I use scripts to first spend budget on most valuable keywords, and if there is room left enable less promising keywords. That way I don’t waste budget on less promising keywords and spend whole of budget. @ThatSearchGuyNL

I don’t recommend simply taking an ax to the non-performers without checking Analytics. I’ve found surprising ‘path to conversion’ keywords and campaigns that I would have cut if I was single platform focused. @amaliaefowler

I’ve started to shift my thinking to going GEO with limited budgets (especially severly limited). If you’re shipping a product GEO around your distribution so shipping is cheaper. Be creative! This is a tough one though :/ Go as exact as possible and limit audience. @markpgus

We talk about what we can do with the budget they have, while working towards the budget they need. We use heavy negative lists, RLSAs and dayparting to make the most of a small fund. @JuliaVyse

When working with limited budgets I prioritize the most profitable campaigns. Brand campaigns are first, then PLAs or NB depending on what has performed well historically. Also take client’s goals into account – are they more interesting in new or returning traffic? @FindingAmanda

I try to focus the budget I do have across the amount of time it would be sufficient for. If I can spend it in the course of a week and make it perform well, I have an excellent case for raising the budget. @DavidKyle

Either don’t take on the client if we don’t think we can help and be successful. Or let them know why it’s an issue. People sometimes don’t understand what things costs to bring in sales. @duanebrown

We focus on reducing bids as much as possible to make the budget last. We pair down client services/products we are targeting so budget lasts longer within smaller segments. Don’t advertise their whole offering if you can’t. @PPCKirk

We also communicate often to the client showing them things like IS Lost for Budget and demonstrating high KPIs in reporting and then requesting specific additional budget to grow things realistically rather then complaining month after month “we don’t have enough” @PPCKirk

We reduce bids as much as we can where possible to conserve budget. We also focus on limiting campaigns on core services/products first. Sometimes we separate out budget spending top level keywords in their own campaigns. @marksubel

I suggest narrowing everything down especially to lower cost from targets. We need to stretch the budget best we can. @adwordsgirl

I am devout to day parting (don’t waste money at 1 am), and demo bidding (someone that is 18-21 in a home with HHI not in the top 25%, does not need to see an ad for a Bentley) @JonKagan

Limited by budget simply means we tried to splurge on keywords/targets outside the budget. I look for #CloseVariants or implied words that come in at discount, as well as limit the amount of “Data Acquisition” sources I have active (broad terms or broad match) @navahf


Q4: Do you deal with limited budgets differently on different platforms?


Quite honestly my clients with limited budgets are almost exclusively doing bottom of funnel efforts (start with where its cheapest and going to drive revenue), so we’re almost entirely on Google Ads. We’ll do social remarketing for special events, but that’s it. @amaliaefowler

For FB it’s easier. Sure optimizing for a form fill on a LP is highest quality but shift to a lead form objective, optimize to form interaction. For Ecomm drop optimization to ATC. ML needs to function off data. Search is similar, assign small value to micro convs. @markpgus

Not really. I take the same approach of narrowing down and finding cheaper (still good quality) traffic. @adwordsgirl

This is such a great question! on FB, I play with audiences, on LinkedIn I steer towards InMail which is more effective and easier to control than sponsored posts, I can make managed buys on podcasts, lots of ways to manage limited funds. @JuliaVyse

Limited budgets are a signal to leverage different channels. For example, a $1K per month budget likely won’t have Google Search as the first touch (#Bing, #Facebook, #youtube, & display will). I absolutely use #audiences to blitz with #Display & then use #RLSA . @navahf

Kind of, we look at all platforms holistically, and if a limited budget on @MSFTAdvertising is present, but has better efficiency than @GoogleAds I make Google go into limited budget and feed Bing) @JonKagan


Q5: Tight or small geographic target areas – how do you typically deal with this? How do you get volume when target areas are very small (in the grand scheme of things)?


Lately, particularly on G Ads, I have been expanding the geo limits to be a bit outside of the actual target areas. G locates me about 25 minutes from where I actually am, so I figure I’m not the only one… Then monitor, of course. @NeptuneMoon

This is my jam! Biggest thing is to realize you likely aren’t hitting agency minimums even metro-area-wide in small places. Can be worth setting & forgetting. @ferkungamaboobo

The tighter you are with the GEO the broader your other targeting needs to get (especially in FB) You need to give Algos more data to decipher. For search it’s largely the same, but you can maintain high quality at a really low spend with great targeting. @markpgus

First, don’t force budget spend – this is a great time to diversify (i.e. if you have $1000 and can spend $500 effectively on platform A, explore platform B for other $500). Also, do people move/travel to your area often? Find those places and build awareness. @amaliaefowler

Extremely granular targeting criples FB while it doesn’t using manual CPC in Google. This is noteworthy for choosing a channel for SUPER SMB businesses. @markpgus

Also if you’re targeting at the town level in G Ads, include BOTH the towns and their corresponding zip codes in your targeting. Seems like you shouldn’t have to do this, but you do. @NeptuneMoon

I have thankfully primarily dealt with clients in large metro areas where there is volume, but I am a fan of layered targeting areas with negative bid adjustments for areas that are somewhat outside the target region. @CJSlattery

ooo….I need tips for this! @mindswanppc

HA! Just let big old G fix that one…close variants, fuzzy location targetting interpretation: “regularly not in my tCPA range” , etc @ThatSearchGuyNL

All comes down to population density. Rule of thumb, if you’re geo target has a population density of under 100/square mile, and you restrict your geo target to say 10 square miles, then you’re likely getting little to no traffic. @JonKagan


Q6: Do you deal with tight or small geographic target areas differently on different platforms?


Usually radius targeting, but I do miss the days of when @GoogleAds use to let us draw the outline on the map. @JonKagan


Q7: Now for low search volume and/or niche topics. If the volume for what you’re targeting is low, how do you typically deal with that?


Meh, Google just serves to close variants anyway now. @PPCKirk

FULL FUNNEL ATTACK FROM ALL SIDES. SEO, build awareness both brand and term, widen GEO, content, multi-platform and low-funnel search of course. @amaliaefowler

Gently remind clients that search ads capture demand, they don’t generate it. So, we should be doing some things to generate demand and raise awareness. @NeptuneMoon

I’m a one-trick pony: scripts . 1. reduce the number of terms in low search volume keyword so that you target more user queries, 2. use script to auto-negate all search terms that do not match the user queries you are trying to target @ThatSearchGuyNL

SET AND MONITOR MONTHLY. If there is super low search volume you need to let it ride until it at least exceeds your CPA. I’d honestly let it ride to 2x. It’s hard when that takes months though lol. But it’s the right thing to do! @markpgus

Give back the money. If we can’t spend it – I’m honest about it. @mindswanppc

You let the client know that the success rate might not be what they fantasized.I consider myself one of the best PPC pros in Atlanta but if the search volume isn’t there, I can’t magically fix that. Sometimes the truth is better than being disappointed after the fact. @jdb426

In some cases, niche keywords will just not spend or will only spend for irrelevant close variants. When that happens we pause. But for other niche topics w/ low volume, we sometimes expand to broader keywords and go ham on search term reports or layer audiences. @Symmetri


Q8: Do you deal with low traffic volume differently on different platforms?


On FB the only way you’re going to deal with low traffic is remarketing. You need to set a budget to not kill the audience (too high Frequency) And you need to rotate ad creative ALOT! @markpgus

Accept this is reality, then try and find a way to drive top of funnel traffic through social/display and hope it pays off. @JonKagan


Q9: What are some of your favorite strategies for smaller accounts?


I heart RLSAs so hard for smaller accounts. The volume is low, but it makes a much higher impact. I like to retarget non-converters from social into search, and I love me a big, thick, juicy negative keyword list. Keep that traffic narrow and qualified! @JuliaVyse

For me it’s all about bid adjustments. changing them for different locations, devices, times of the day etc. @mindswanppc

Don’t sleep on Google My Business if there are physical locations or a service area biz. It is more than just the place where you have your physical address verified for location extensions. @NeptuneMoon

Think outside the box, instagram profiles, yelp (for restaurants), and SEO all prove to be just as valuable when you cant foot the massive google bill. @JonKagan

I love LSA for small advertisers if it is available. Not every industry is great but it is for a lot. @CJSlattery

I don’t like small accounts and won’t work with them. If it’s local and they have boards I’d 100% go @blipbillboards I know I already mentioned them, but Traditional impact is REAL even if CPM is higher. @markpgus


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