As a local, small business owner, you constantly need to find ways to drive new customers or clients to your company. While you might have started with referrals or word-of-mouth advertising, these can not be your sole marketing tactics. You need a way to get your brand in front of customers who have never heard about you, who have no connection to previous clients. You need to make sure your business shows up at the right time, in the right place when potential customers are looking for the types of services you offer.
This is where Google Ads comes into play.
Google Ads for Beginners
Whenever someone does a search on Google for a business, product, or service, the first thing they see on the results page is paid advertising — namely Local Service Ads, Search Ads, and Display Ads. These ads run right at the top of the page, above the Local Map Pack and organic listings, making them incredibly accessible to the searcher. They can find what they need and connect with businesses with almost no effort.
As you can imagine, Google Ads is a powerful tool for local business owners. It helps you reach a larger audience than you would with traditional methods such as print or referral marketing. Even better, you can specifically target audiences that match your ideal customer profile. Moreover, Google Ads are more cost-effective than traditional methods. You can set your maximum ad spend, bidding limitations, and other parameters to ensure your budget is spent in the way you intend. You can also pull detailed data to measure campaign performance and optimize your strategy.
However, Google Ads is not just something you can set up on the fly. It is anything but a “set it and forget it” type of advertising platform. Building successful campaigns takes planning and careful management from the very beginning. If not set up correctly, a Google Ads campaign can drain your paid advertising budget without providing a good return on investment.
At this point, you might be asking yourself: “I’m a small business owner without a dedicated marketing team. How am I supposed to manage a digital advertising campaign on Google?”
Have no fear! We are going to walk you through the four critical steps of building a successful campaign that will generate good leads and unlock your growth on Google Ads.
Step 1. Set Your Campaign Objectives
The crucial first step is to make sure your advertising campaigns work hard to support your business objectives.
Too often, small business owners use simple lead generation as their main advertising metric. However, not all leads are created equal — only some of them end up converting. Instead, we suggest shifting your focus from driving lead volume to driving profit.
Start by mapping your lead-to-sales journey to get a better understanding of which conversion actions (beyond leads) will drive more sales for your business:
- Estimate the average value of a final sale to your business.
- Identify the conversion rate (CR) between each step going from initial lead to final sale.
- Example: Initial Lead Form Submitted (50% CR) → Project Quote Requested (25% CR) → Contract Signed (4% CR) →Final Sale
- Working backward from the final sale, calculate the expected value of each step by multiplying its conversion rate by the value of the next step.
- Example: Final Sale (value = $5000) → Contract Signed ($5000 * 4% CR = $200 value) → Project Quote Requested ($200 * 25% CR = $50 value)→ Initial Lead Form Submitted ($50 * 50% CR = $25 value).
Next, use this information to set advertising objectives that support your overall business goal. There are two main categories of advertising objectives:
- Brand objectives that focus on the top of the funnel activities like brand awareness and ad recall.
- Performance objectives that focus on the bottom of the funnel activities like phone calls and form submissions.
There is a temptation to focus only on performance objectives, but doing so will limit your overall growth. Instead, you want to develop a full-funnel strategy — using brand objectives to drive performance outcomes.
After you have decided on your advertising objectives, it is time to set your key performance indicators (KPIs). This is what you will use to measure the performance of a specific campaign and how well it is meeting your advertising objectives.
Step 2. Build Your Campaign Foundation
In this stage, you want to make sure you have certain key elements in place that will ensure you get the most value out of every campaign you launch.
First is making sure you can understand your customers through robust measurement. Start by installing Google’s global site tag on your website to begin collecting first-party data from visitors. Also, make sure to import data from your customer relationship management (CRM) software into your Google Ads account. Connecting your first-party data helps Google’s machine learning to understand exactly who your high-value prospects are and optimize your campaigns to attract leads that are more likely to convert.
Next is figuring out your bidding strategy. Every time someone searches on Google, Google Ads runs an auction for the available ad space. There are a number of ways to make bids for this ad space based on your specific business goals.
Finally, invest in quality creative (i.e. ad copy, images, videos, etc). The creative aspects of your ad are what will catch people’s attention and drive sales. Check out our article on how to write effective ad copy.
Step 3. Take Action
This is where the rubber meets the road. You want to focus on campaigns that support your business goals and bring a high return on every dollar spent.
Begin by using Search Ads to capture existing demand and support your performance objectives. A branded-term campaign will help you be more visible to prospects who are specifically searching for your business and are ready to submit a lead form. Also, set up non-branded search campaigns for each of your services for products. These will help you capture potential customers who are searching for said products/services but don’t have a specific brand in mind.
Flesh out your search ads by enabling Google Ad Extensions like Call Extensions, Sitelinks, Location Extensions, and Lead-form Extensions to encourage action and make it that much easier for people to convert.
Once you have captured the customers who are already looking for your products or services, it is time to generate more demand. This is where you will want to invest in display and video campaigns to support your brand objectives and fill the top of your marketing funnel with prospects that you can nurture over time into becoming sales.
Step 4. Evaluate and Expand Your Campaigns
After running your ads for a couple of weeks, you will be able to collect enough data to start evaluating how your ad campaigns are performing. Use this information to optimize your ads, test new strategies, and uncover opportunities to take growth even further!
Spend your time wisely by automating what you can (such as bidding) and focusing on strategy and optimization activities. Pay attention to when Google Ads gives you a personalized recommendation for how to improve performance. You can also use Google Ads’ “drafts” feature to test new ideas without affecting your current campaigns (until you are ready to make a change).
Google Ads also provides an “Insights” page that is updated daily. The Insights page helps you identify market trends and understand your overall account performance. It provides curated insights unique to your business, such as demand forecasts based on searches across Google for the products and services you are advertising. This feature helps you better understand current performance and identify further opportunities for growth.
Take Charge of Your Digital Advertising with Surefire Local!
As you can see, there are a lot of moving pieces that go into building and maintaining a successful Google Ads campaign. It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to track everything — especially if you are new to Google Ads. Fortunately, Surefire Local has got you covered. Our industry-leading marketing intelligence platform allows you to easily manage all of your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in one place.
Our digital tools allow you to create smart, targeted digital ad campaigns across multiple channels (including Google Ads, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook). From a single dashboard, you can monitor all of your paid advertising campaigns. Doing so helps you get an accurate picture of your advertising strategy overall and understand how individual channels and campaigns contribute to your business objectives. And if you ever get stuck or have a question, you can always talk with one of our local marketing experts.
Request your free demo to see how Surefire Local can help you unlock more growth for your business!