adwords on budget: start small…with a very low budget

Many small businesses have very limited cash and a low budget for advertising. If you happen to be a mom and pop store with limited cash flow, then it is quite challenging to have a pre-set budget every month for internet marketing. Internet marketing is still a very useful tool for these stores, even though they might not have online sales or the e-commerce feature. All you need is a working website.

Many of these small businesses fall into the chicken-and-egg problem of not advertising because of the money that it cost. Sometimes, you are running the business at a loss and you cannot get more business without advertising and you cannot (print, tv etc) advertise without committing a bunch of money upfront with no real idea as to if it will work.

Google AdWords is great tool for beginners and especially if you are on a small budget. There is really no right or wrong way to do this, and every SEO professional has his own ideas about how to go about it. Unless you have enough reasons to believe ahead of time that the Google campaign will have a high return on investment (ROI), you should keep the budget to a manageable limit at all times. The important thing is that you can start with a very low-budget…

So, What is a low-budget and How much is it?

Strictly speaking, the advertising budget will depend on your own revenue and profit. I have seen clients who start with a budget as low as 3 dollars a day, it is whatever you are comfortable with and can spare. This is where Google AdWords can help you as it works with very small budgets just as with big ones. Obviously the sales are not going to sky-rocket with such small budgets, but it still does have some advantages…

It allows you to get your feet wet and understand what you are doing before blowing up a lot of money. This helps to minimize the financial damage even if you do make some mistakes. It allows you to find out about the customer behavior and return on investment on specific keywords.

As your budget is low, it  will take longer to create a campaign which will return a good revenue and the effort and time you have to invest will be higher as well. But that can be a good thing.


I recommend that you start with a single campaign and a single ad group. Start with some very specific keywords that accurately describe your business and some generic ads that match those keywords. This is probably the most simple set up you can have.

Once this has been running for a few days, I recommend a week, you can go ahead and looking at the stats for these keywords. You should start to identify keywords that are in fact driving traffic and revenue. There could be several, a few or just one and it might not be very accurate because of the low count of impressions. But you will need to work with it for now as it will take a long time to get accurate stats with a low budget.

Once you have identified a keyword with good ROI, I suggest moving it into a different new campaign and creating very specific and targeted ads for that keyword. Create a small budget usually equivalent to the first campaign for this new campaign and let it run. In this process, you have typically doubled the budget but if it runs according to plan you should getting more revenue from the new campaign to cover the costs for the first one.

Wash, Rinse and Repeat every week…, each time identifying new keywords from the original campaign that have a high return on investment. I recommend doing this at least every week, but keep in mind that the more impressions the keywords have seen, the more accurate the data. So, if a particular keyword has only a few impressions in a week, it is better to wait till it has acquired more before moving it to a different campaign.

Sometimes you will see that you are getting very few impressions. There can be several different reasons for it, but there are also several different ways to improve the AdWords impressions.

As you work with AdWords, you will see several recommendations from Google, usually telling you how you can increase the impressions and clicks by adding new keywords, bidding more and increasing the budget. It is best to ignore those recommendations when you are just starting out because it keeps the budget under your control and helps you learn as to what works and what does not. Once you are comfortable and the marketing campaigns are getting a reasonable ROI, you can start paying more attention to these recommendations.

Some argue that bidding too low would affect your CTR and keyword history thus resulting in low Quality Scores. While this is true initially, I have not seen any real issues with this in the long run and nothing that cannot be fixed later on.

This is just one of the many strategy of dealing with clients and scenarios where the budget is low, actually very low. It is quite possible for different professionals to have different ideas, well there is more than one way to skin the cat.