Mastering PPC Management for Small Businesses

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This post was written by Jordan Farrar

Jordan is an accomplished Digital Marketer leading the team at akoca. Continuously enhancing his knowledge through industry updates and best practices, Jordan delivers top-tier solutions for clients. Within akoca, he oversees and guides various projects with his extensive knowledge and expertise. In addition, he's host for Abingdon’s Buzz local networking group, establishing solid connections with fellow businesses.
31 Aug, 2023
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Introduction: The Digital Power of PPC

In today’s competitive digital landscape, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising stands out as a cost-effective way to get your products or services in front of your target audience. Unlike traditional advertising, PPC allows you to pay only when someone clicks on your ad, giving you more control over your budget and a clearer understanding of your ROI.

This guide aims to demystify the world of PPC. Whether you’re new to online advertising or looking to refine your approach, we’ll break down key terms and strategies to help you make the most of your advertising spend.

Ready to dive in? Read on to discover the ins and outs of small business PPC management and take the first step toward driving targeted traffic to your site.

What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC)?

Before we dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of PPC, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what it actually is.

Pay-Per-Click, commonly known as PPC, is an online advertising strategy where you pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. You’ve likely encountered this when searching for something online. At the top of the results, you see a few ads. Those are PPC ads, and the companies behind them are paying to be there.

Image of sponsored google PPC ads for our post on small business ppc management

Image of sponsored google PPC ads for our post on small business ppc management


Why? Because PPC allows you to cut through the digital noise and get your message directly in front of people actively looking for what you have to offer. You set a budget, bid for specific keywords, and only pay when someone clicks. Simple, but incredibly effective. It’s a fast-track ticket to visibility and customer engagement.

For a more in depth look at What PPC, in particular google ads is, check out this post on How the Google Ads auction works.

Why should small businesses care about PPC?

If you’re running a small business, you might be thinking, “Is PPC really for me?” The short answer is yes, and here’s why.

PPC allows you to compete with bigger players in your industry without breaking the bank. With a well-strategised campaign, you can get in front of potential customers who are actively searching for what you offer. Unlike traditional advertising, where you’re throwing a wide net hoping someone bites, PPC lets you target precisely, saving you both time and money. And the best part? You can start small, monitor how your ads are performing, and adjust your budget accordingly. In a nutshell, PPC offers flexibility, efficiency, and a level playing field for businesses of all sizes.

The PPC Advantage: Benefits at a Glance

PPC isn’t just a buzzword; it offers tangible benefits that can transform your marketing efforts. Let’s summarise the key advantages:

Immediate Traffic: Unlike SEO, which takes time to build up, PPC can deliver instant traffic to your website.

Budget-Friendly: You control the purse strings. Set your budget according to what you can afford, and you’ll never overspend.

Highly Targeted: Pinpoint your audience based on geography, language, or even the device they’re using. It doesn’t get much more specific than that.

Measurable: Every click, impression, and conversion can be tracked, allowing for data-driven decisions.

Brand Exposure: Even if people don’t click, your brand still appears at the top of search results, increasing visibility.

In summary, PPC provides small businesses with a cost-effective, highly targeted, and measurable way to get in front of potential customers. Whether you’re looking to boost traffic, increase sales, or both, PPC can be the catalyst to achieve those goals.

illustration of a brain with an idea on how ppc can benefit their small business

Tackling the Challenges: Myths & Misconceptions

PPC can seem like a complex world rife with jargon, leaving many small business owners feeling apprehensive. Let’s address some of the most common myths and misconceptions that often deter people from diving into PPC.

Debunking the “Too Expensive” Myth

One of the most common reservations we hear from our clients considering PPC is the perception that it’s too expensive. While we understand this point of view, let’s clear the air.

The beauty of PPC lies in its flexibility. You set a budget that suits you, and there’s no minimum spending requirement. You’re paying for potential customers who are actively searching for what you’re offering, making each click a valuable marketing opportunity.

It’s important to be aware that managing a PPC campaign doesn’t come with guaranteed success; however, any reputable company should be able to provide you with an estimated conversion rate based on past performance and industry benchmarks. This gives you a more grounded understanding of what you can realistically expect from your investment.

So, if your main objective is conversions, as opposed to merely gaining visibility, make sure the anticipated ROI justifies the expenditure. By doing your due diligence and understanding your numbers, PPC shouldn’t be a gamble but a calculated, justifiable expense.

To help you set a realistic budget for your PPC campaign, read our comprehensive guide on How to Calculate Your PPC Budget.

Addressing the Complexity Concerns

Another concern we often hear is how PPC is too complicated.

While we agree that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with terms like ‘Ad Rank,’ ‘Quality Score,’ or ‘CPC.’ thrown about (see our post on Jargon here).

At its heart, all PPC comes down to is guiding someone, who happens to be searching for what you offer, to a relevant landing page. That’s it.

While you can certainly dive into advanced strategies and metrics, the basic premise is straightforward. So if the thought of navigating through PPC complexity is stopping you, know that it can be distilled into simple, easy-to-understand steps.

Overcoming the “Only for Big Brands” Belief


Another common notion we come across is that PPC is strictly the domain of big brands with enormous budgets. While these heavy-hitters do employ PPC, it’s a platform that’s actually incredibly democratic, open to any business regardless of size.

Keyword Research: This is where the playing field evens out. Through smart keyword research, even smaller businesses can identify cost-effective opportunities. You don’t have to go head-to-head with industry giants over every high-competition keyword. There are always less obvious, but highly relevant keywords that offer a solid return on investment.

Competitive Industries & CPC: True, in highly competitive sectors, you’ll face a higher Cost Per Click (CPC). This is something you should be aware of before launching your campaign, and your budget should be structured to accommodate this reality. As we mentioned earlier, understanding the expected ROI will help you make informed decisions here.

Budget Control: Worried about overspending? PPC allows you to set a daily limit. Worst case scenario, your ad doesn’t show up once you hit your limit, meaning no clicks and no extra charges. This gives you the power to control your budget while testing the waters.

Crafting a Winning Strategy: PPC Essentials

Creating a successful PPC campaign isn’t simply a set-it-and-forget-it affair. It demands thoughtful planning and ongoing optimisation.

Below are the fundamental elements for crafting a winning PPC strategy.

The Art of Keyword Research

One of the cornerstones of a successful PPC campaign is keyword research. This isn’t just about jotting down terms connected to your business. It’s about understanding the search intent behind those terms and their respective competitiveness. The aim is to find a sweet spot—keywords that are relevant, garner good traffic, yet don’t cost the earth. With the right keywords, you’re not just driving traffic; you’re driving qualified traffic.

Crafting Compelling Ad Copies

The best keywords won’t amount to much if your ad copy doesn’t entice people to click. Your ad copy should directly address what the searcher is looking for and offer it in a compelling manner. This could be through a promotional offer, a unique selling proposition, or showcasing customer testimonials. Keep it succinct, clear, and compelling to encourage those valuable clicks.

Importance of Landing Page Optimisation

So you’ve caught a potential customer’s attention and they’ve clicked on your ad. What next? They land on your landing page, and this is where the conversion magic happens—or doesn’t. A poorly designed landing page can undo all the hard work your ad has achieved. Ensure your landing page is optimised for conversions: clear calls-to-action, persuasive copy, and a streamlined design are all vital elements.

To ensure your landing page is as effective as it can be, consider employing A/B testing methods. A/B testing allows you to compare two versions of your landing page to see which performs better in real-world conditions.

To learn more about A/B testing and how it could benefit your PPC strategy, check out our detailed post: A/B Testing: The Basics.

Flowchart of the basic steps of creating a successful PPC campaign

Real World Example: Maximising ROI for a High-Ticket Product Provider

So we’ve broken down the what, why, and how of PPC, but let’s get real for a moment. What does all this look like in action?

Here’s a quick real world example that showcases just how impactful proper PPC planning can be for a business.

The Challenge

A local client in Oxfordshire, specialising in a high-value product, approached us with a query: Would PPC be an appropriate marketing strategy for their business and target market?

The Approach

Instead of diving headlong into a full-scale campaign, we adopted a considered approach. Working in reverse, we used industry metrics to formulate a realistic projection:

  • Industry Average Conversion Rate: 6.4% (This could vary depending on the actual performance of the website, which would be assessed in due course.)
  • Average Cost-per-Click in Oxfordshire: £11.00 – £15.50

With these figures at hand, we estimated the budget required to secure five qualified enquiries for our client.

The Calculation

Based on our research, we concluded that an advertising budget between £880.00 and £1240.00 would be necessary to achieve the desired number of qualified enquiries.

The Outcome

This data-driven method empowered the client to make an informed decision, avoiding needless consumption of both time and financial resources. This facilitated their evaluation of whether PPC would be a viable marketing channel tailored to their specific needs.

Image of a graph rising over time used in context with PPC management

Image of a graph rising over time used in context with PPC management

Making the Choice: DIY vs. Professional Management

One of the questions you’ll likely face when considering PPC for your small business is whether to manage it yourself or to bring in some outside help. There are pros and cons to both, and understanding these can help you make a more informed decision.

When to Take the Reins: Pros & Cons of DIY

The temptation to handle your own PPC campaign can be rather appealing—after all, you’re in the driver’s seat and, if you’re anything like us, there’s a unique satisfaction in managing it yourself.

Yet, the road isn’t always as straightforward as it seems.


Total Control: You know your business best. Running your own PPC campaign allows you to apply this intimate knowledge instantly.

Cost-Effectiveness: No need to pay management fees to an agency.


Time-Consuming: Managing a PPC campaign effectively can be a full-time job in itself.

Lack of Expertise: Without a deep understanding of PPC management, you risk missing out on key opportunities.

Illustration showing a person with the pros and cons either side of him of managing his own PPC campaign

Recognising When It’s Time to Get Help With Your PPC Campaign

While DIY offers some advantages, there’s a point where the complexity and demands of PPC require expert input:

Scaling: If your campaign grows beyond your capacity to manage it, you’ll benefit from professional help.

Specialisation: Experts bring in-depth knowledge that can elevate your campaign to the next level.

Time: If you find you’re spending more time managing campaigns than managing your business, outsourcing may not be a bad idea.

So, whether you opt for DIY or professional management, make sure it aligns with your business needs, expertise level, and the time you can dedicate to it.

Conclusion: Small Business PPC Management

As we wrap up, it’s clear that PPC offers a wealth of opportunities for small businesses, from immediate visibility to highly targeted reach. But like any tool, its effectiveness is determined by how skillfully you use it.

Recapping the Power of PPC for Small Businesses

PPC is not just an advertising avenue; it’s a direct channel to potential customers actively searching for what you have to offer. It’s flexible, can fit any budget, and, if well-executed, provides a strong ROI. With the right strategy, even smaller players can compete with bigger brands. The key lies in understanding the various facets—from keyword research to bidding strategies—and making informed decisions.

Encouraging Steps Forward

If you’re considering PPC, the next step is to dive in.

Start with thorough research, possibly consult experts, and make use of the various tools available.

It’s a journey that requires commitment and continuous learning, but the potential rewards make it well worth the effort. And remember, you’re not alone. Whether you decide to go the DIY route or bring in a professional, there’s a wealth of resources and expertise available to help guide you to success.

So why wait? Take the first step in your PPC journey today.

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