Tactics for Small Businesses on a Small Budget

Not every business has the capacity or capital to throw thousands of Euros into paid advertising. This is why it is so important to understand the business goals required, and maybe more importantly why do you need google advertising; or any advertising for that matter. We need to be more honest when trying to devise a strategy to see scale and revenue growth. If you do have a plan in place and pay-per click advertising is the way to go, read on. 

The big question for a small business on a tight budget is ‘what can we do to drive the most results from what we have available’? If you’re new to Google Ads, this article will explain 5 important tactics to get the best ROI.

Tactics for Small Businesses on a Small Budget

1.) Granular Advertising Ad Group Structure

Everyone say it with me; Google Ads strategists are not your friend or business advisor. When it comes to it, these strategists are working a sales role to make Google more money. They will often suggest that Google needs extra data within campaigns to maximize results (which is true). A regular suggestion from strategists is to place 10-15 keywords in an ad group and let automated bidding look after the spending. Multiple keywords and multi-themed ad groups will be detrimental to your data and ongoing optimizations. 

If you want to hold more control over your budgets and bidding, you would be best off to move towards a granular approach. This means that each ad group will have only a single keyword; or at least very closely related themed keywords, and allows bidding to be carried out at keyword level, ensuring you have that extra control over your small advertising budget. An e.g. of each of these is displayed below.

Google Ads Phrase Match Keyword Structure

The example of “personal injury lawyer” and “personal injury solicitor” is essentially the same keyword. This allows you to now bid on these closely related search terms at the ad group level. Hence, giving you more control, and more time/freedom for other account changes. 

One of the major benefits of moving to a granular targeting method is that your ads can now be made more relevant to the user’s search term. This will coincidentally help to improve your keyword quality scores. A higher-quality score is known to play a part in reducing the Avg. CPC; making your account more cost-efficient.

2.) Localised Targeting

There are two important considerations when thinking about targeting local customers. First off, does your local area hold enough potential customers to keep your business ticking? If budget allows, you wouldn’t want to only target your own county/province if you’re running an eCommerce business. However, in a situation where the budget doesn’t allow, you may want to only target built-up cities with your paid advertising. 

The idea is to get as many eyes on ads for the least amount of budget required. Another option for this would be to target your province but be advised that it would be wise to target any large city in a separate campaign to more rural targeting. 

The second consideration is regarding if localized targeting is a good fit for your business model. This has become more prevalent in recent months for service businesses (e.g. roofing, plumbing, etc.) looking to cut back on expenses, but still need additional visibility online. I think it’s safe to say that a plumber in Dublin doesn’t need to be advertising in Galway, and could keep targeting their local area. 

If in a rural area, you could try to target your county and maybe 1-2 more counties surrounding your location. If you are seeing results, but have the capacity for more work, move targeting to the next closest county.

3.) Carefully Planned Ad Scheduling

Similar to the localized targeting mentioned above, ad scheduling can be looked at in two different aspects. 

Lead generation businesses tend to place a large amount of value on receiving phone calls, as most businesses should. That is why call extensions and call-only ads generated excellent results when optimized correctly. From experience working with an insurance company, and being synonymous with strict office hours (9 am - 5:30 pm), this is most evident. If a phone call was missed due to campaigns running later than 5:30 pm, I could be almost certain to get a strongly worded email or a question about it in our monthly call. 

All this to say that we have the option to set the hours that campaigns run throughout a day/week. If your business operates on standard office hours and considering you may want to save on budget spend, it may be beneficial to only run throughout those business hours. This can be achieved by visiting the ‘Ad Scheduling’ tab on the left-hand side of the interface when clicked within a particular campaign. 

A possibly more important way to look at ad scheduling is to review your conversion data on a ‘Day & Hour’ basis. There is a lot of data available for Google Ads users to help optimize accounts and this is certainly one of the most important. Again, when situated within a campaign in the Google Ads platform, click on the ‘Ad Scheduling’ tab to the left and navigate to ‘Day & Hour’ together, or ‘Day’ or ‘Hour’ Separately. If you’re a Google Ads beginner, it may be easier to optimize each separately.

The data which is presented to you will give insights on the days (or hours) with more conversions, cheapest cost per clicks, and competitive metrics, such as Search Impression Share. This should help free up some of your small advertising budget for other areas.

Utilize bid adjustments to optimize the bidding process, or you could also remove poor-performing times altogether.

4.) Niche Down On Your Audience

The Google Adwords audience tab can be your best friend when you are working with a small advertising budget. If you have even a small idea on your target audience, and where they may be searching (or hiding) online, you are already ahead of most competitors for paid advertising. 

There are numerous options available when targeting at audience level. First off, it’s important to mention that you will still need to set up keywords, and maybe even the other tactics mentioned already above. However, you can preserve the budget somewhat due to focusing on particular users in Google Audiences and ‘Targeting’ these users. 

An example of the audiences used within a car dealership account may include:

  • In-Market Audiences: ‘Cars & Vehicles’, ‘Motor Vehicles (New)’, ‘Motor Vehicles by Brand’, ‘Audi’. 
  • Affinity Audiences: ‘Vehicles & Transportation’, ‘Car Enthusiasts’, ‘Performance & Luxury Vehicles Enthusiasts’.
  • Life Events: ‘Retiring Soon’; this will depend on the brand, and may be more beneficial to luxury car brands. 

By doing all this, you can be certain that when your ad serves in the Search Engine Results page, it is more likely that there is purchase intent involved and putting more firepower to your advertising budget. 

Note that you must distinguish whether you want to target or observe the audience within your campaigns. ‘Observation’ allows for you to run Keyword targeted campaigns and observe what other audiences or interests your users have. You might just find a very lucrative audience (sometimes irrelevant to your product/service) that you may not have thought to target.

Google PPC advertising audience targeting strategy - In-Market audiences

5.) Effective Remarketing

When setting up and carried out correctly, remarketing can be an essential part of your advertising arsenal. Generally speaking, remarketing campaigns are another form of audience targeting mentioned above. However, the number of businesses that opt not to use, or don’t know how to use remarketing is astonishing and can provide excellent results for small advertising budgets.

Remarketing is when you advertise to people who have already visited your website. They may have viewed a particular page or product that holds a high margin for your business. According to Criteo in 2019, approximately 2% of all users make a website purchase on their first visit, so it makes sense to try to re-engage that other 98%, right? Since they have already visited your website, and it operates and looks the part compared to your competitors, you certainly have a good chance to increase your sales and conversion rate. 

While Google search ads will hold more weight in terms of conversion, over display ads, be warned that they will also be more expensive, according to Wordstream. Since we are trying to keep the budget spend to a minimum, and also drive the best results, I will always suggest using Google Search remarketing ads. Sales come first! 

Remarketing audiences can be set up in Google Analytics (you can find a short tutorial from Google with images here). 


This isn’t exactly an extensive list of tactics for small businesses on a small budget. However, I think there are 5 good options to start optimising your budget to where it really matters in terms of results. We should always think about getting sales/leads first, and then work towards cost-efficiency as these goals are what will keep your business in operation.

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