Small business owners regularly wear a variety of hats and over the years many have tossed one of these into the pay-per-click (PPC) arena in an attempt to compete online.
It used to be that with a little bit of effort and a basic understanding of how PPC worked, a small business owner could potentially run a successful campaign. However, years after Google introduced AdWords as a self-service portal, it has become extremely complex and really takes a dedicated person to be able to understand and manage the minutae of a AdWords account.
With AdWords, it's easy to quickly lose a lot of money and swear off search engine marketing (SEM) altogether. Neither option is a viable strategy for building your business, or Google's.
Google realized this and about a year ago began offering a more simplistic starter edition of AdWords that they called Boost. This was directly tied into Google Places and essentially offered a business a way to create a simple AdWords-esque ad that would placed by category in the search engine results.
Near the end of July, Google took the AdWords notion of this one step further when they officially launched AdWords Express. AdWords Express replaced Boost and slightly expanded the functionality while keeping the simple interface and essentially creating an AdWords starter edition.
What changed when Boost became AdWords Express:
- A business is no longer required to claim their Places page prior to setting up an ad.
- You can now create multiple ads for different categories and split your budget among them, instead of the solitary ad/category in the previous version.
- In Boost the title of your ad was the name of your business. Express now allows you to edit this to potentially write a more compelling ad.
- Ads still show the business address and telephone number with the familiar blue balloon (as opposed to the red balloon indicating a Place page. Additionally, the reviews count and star rating also now appear with the Express ad.
These are welcome changes to the system and on the surface could be beneficial to small businesses who don't have the time or the capital to hire a firm. However it's still important to understand if AdWords Express is the right choice for you.
- Does your small business have a website? If your answer to this is no and you still wish to advertise your business through Google, then this, in conjunction with building out your Places page where you will send your traffic, is your only option. You should build out the Places page first so you have a presence on the engine and save the advertising money to put toward building your website.
- What is your monthly advertising budget? If you can only spend $300 or less ($50 per month is the minimum) then AdWords Express might be worth testing. Note: this spend is an arbitrary number and could be higher, however, spending much over this amount would likely yield better results with a full AdWords campaign.
- Is your small business local in nature? If you have a website, a small monthly budget, and your business is a local brick and mortar (e.g., you run a pizza place, barber shop, chiropractor, etc.), then you might consider testing AdWords Express.
The overall problem with using AdWords Express comes from the testing aspect and deciding whether you're getting a good return on your advertising investment.
Chances are, if you're seriously considering Express as an option then you probably don't know how to track online engagements effectively and are placing your money in an advertising wishing well of sorts. This is similar to putting an ad in the Yellow Pages or your local newspaper and hoping more business comes your way without truly understanding what works, what doesn't, and why.
Obviously people advertise in this fashion all the time, but it's not always the most efficient way of spending your dollars.
If you can allocate more resources, either in time (for you to learn a more advanced system) or money (to spend in advertising or in paying an professional) then AdWords (non-Express) is really the way to go. It will allow you precise control over where and when your ads are shown and how much you spend to get individuals to your site. AdWords will also allow you to run tests to create more effective ads and help determine how much your site visitors are worth to you.
Bottom line: the recent changes to AdWords Express make it a much more appealing option to small, local businesses on a shoestring budget.
Have you or anyone you know tried this new system? How has it worked for you.