Low Budgets & High CPCs: Making The Numbers Work

It’s a tale as old as time – high CPCs and low budgets. They go together like… well, like oil and water, Making the Most of Your Budgetbasically. It’s not uncommon among franchise businesses and small local businesses that we see a scenario where there are really competitive keywords with CPCs nearly as high (or higher) than the daily budget for the campaign. Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do to stop your competitors from bidding on the keywords that you’d like to stake claim on but there are some ways to make sure that you are getting the most for your money and to ensure that you aren’t missing out on valuable impression share.

Make Use of Shared Budgets

The shared budget feature certainly has its flaws but it can be very valuable in situations like these where budgets are low and CPCs are high. Setting up a shared budget across a few otherwise low-budget campaigns gives them a little more breathing room. In many cases, this will allow keywords to show that had CPCs higher than their original campaign budget. It’s important to keep a close eye on shared budgets to ensure that one campaign doesn’t eat up the whole budget without giving the others much of a chance to generate impressions. Depending on the number of campaigns that I have, I like to set up a tiered structure for shared budgets that groups like campaigns together and gives more budget to better performing campaigns.

Determine What’s Working

This might seem obvious but it goes beyond determining which keywords are generating conversions and sales. If your account is leadgen, it’s important to know your close rates and average customer value so that you can truly understand the value of each keyword to determine return.  If your account is an e-comm, you should have a good grasp on your margins and utilize metrics such as ROI and ROAS to make sure that the keywords that are generating the most revenue are also generating the most profit.

Cut The Fat

Now that you know what’s working, it’s time to give up the things that aren’t! We’ve all seen a few accounts that could qualify for the next season of Hoarders and it’s tempting to hang on to things that might work or that have low CPCs or whatever the reason may be. The bottom line is this: if you’ve given them a fair shot and they haven’t generated a positive return then it is time for them to go. You might be surprised at how many keywords you have that only spend $10 or $20 – it really adds up when you aggregate your data. Even if a keyword has generated revenue; if you’ve given it a fair shake by doing everything you can to try to make it profitable and it hasn’t worked, it’s probably time to let it go. This is true of all accounts but especially those with capped budgets – you don’t want to waste valuable budget on a poor or mediocre keyword when it could be spent on a higher performer.

Go Long-Tail and Go Local

When you’re in a competitive industry, one of the best things you can do is to try to uncover terms that have less competition. If your business operates locally, geo-modified terms can be a gold mine. They often have less competition and can have a decent amount of search volume depending on the locality that you’re targeting.

Test Other Channels

If search is proving to be a little expensive, it might be worth testing some other platforms to see if you can generate a stronger ROAS. Search often has the best conversion rate (although not always) but if you can generate clicks for a substantially cheaper amount then you can afford to have a little lower conversion rate and you may still find that your overall ROAS is better. Plus, you can always work on landing page optimization to boost your conversion rate.
If you have additional tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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