When you own your business you quickly realize that you not only need to be proficient in the services and products you sell but you also need to understand how to advertise and market your business.
While you are building organic SEO or even to compliment your organic SEO, you probably want to look into PPC (pay per click) advertising. These are ads that run on search engine pages and display networks that you pay for when someone clicks on your ad.
The major player in PPC is Google Ads.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads is Google’s online advertising program. It allows you to run PPC ads on Google’s Search results pages (Google.com) and the Google Display Network (ads running on third party sites). You can sign up and get more information here: Google Ads
Google Ads are based on the keywords or phrases about your business. Think of these as the search terms someone would use to find services and products related to your business.
This sounds simple but picking the correct keywords and bidding strategy can be time consuming and expensive. Especially, if you do not have the experience or time needed to figure these out. Often it might be better to hire someone to do this for you.
In my research, I found a new offering from Google Ads designed for small business that is mostly automated called Smart Campaigns.
What are Smart Campaigns?
Smart Campaigns are a new offering under the Google Ads umbrella. They are a reworking of Google’s Express Display ads and according to Google are 20% more effective.
They are intended to be easy to set up and manage. Google is targeting small businesses that do not have the time to manage a Google Ads Campaign.
Smart Campaigns are ad campaigns that run automated based on some simple setup options. Google picks, via their AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms, what keywords to use based on the industry category of your business and the products and services you want to promote.
As with Google Ads, Smart Campaigns integrate with Google My Business, Google Maps and Google Analytics. You will get statistics on where the clicks originated from. These could be Google Search, Display Network or Google Maps.
How to create a Smart Campaign
Once you create a Google Ads account you will have the option to create a Smart Campaign. In the Google Ads dashboard click on Express Campaigns and then Create New Campaign. Note that Express Campaigns and Smart Campaigns are the same thing.
Next you need to select your Main Advertising Goal. Your options are:
- Get more calls – includes clicks and phone calls
- Get more visits to your physical location – highlights you address information
- Get more website sales or sign-ups – focuses on clicks with no option to add a phone unless you add it to your ad text.
I chose Get more calls because (from some research…) this option shows both my website and a linked phone number (for mobile users to call directly). Click Pick Goal for the option you want.
Next select the business you want to advertise. This is where you can click New Business which sends you to over the Google My Business to setup or you can select your business if it is already in Google My Business.
Next you will need to determine the location you would like to advertise. You can choose a radius around your business or a specific area like city, state or country. I chose 20 miles radius around my location. Google also lets you know your potential audience size.
Next select the business category and services you want to promote. You pick a general category and then some more specific services. Google uses these options to select the keywords and phrases for the campaign.
You can use Google’s product or services suggestions or you can create your own.
Next you will create your ad. Google will show you how your ad will look on both the search network and the display network when you click on “See How Your Ad Will Appear”. For this example, I left what Google suggested but you can change them as you need.
On the same page you can set or select the landing page that clicks go to. Here I am using the main page of the website but you could use another page or a custom landing page or blog article. Really any page can be used.
If you selected phone calls above you will get the next option. It allows Google to track phone calls to your business. Google will create a local phone number and forward those calls to your business number. This allows Google to include more information about incoming calls like the time, location, and duration.
Next you set your budget. You set a daily budget but that equates to a monthly budget. Some days you will pay more but you will not spend more than your monthly budget. It also shows estimates of clicks and impressions.
Just click through to finish up and now you have a live Google Smart Campaign. You can pause your campaign if you are not ready to go live. This gives you some time to look at your campaign and get comfortable with the interface before spending any money.
You now have a complete Google Ads Smart Campaign running in about 30 minutes.
Pros and Cons of Google Smart Campaigns
Keywords and phrases – These are picked for you and may help you figure out new keywords. The Smart Campaign I setup for Severin Web Design included 182 keywords and phrases. Google Ads shows which keywords got impressions and which got clicks. You can also disable keywords and phrases as needed.
Easy to set up – When first thinking about using Google Ads I expected to spend hours in front of the computer setting this up. It took about an hour to set up my first campaign since I read the help for each step. The set up for this article took about 30 minutes.
Ease of Management – As a small business owner your time is very limited. There are only so many hours in the day and we wear many hats. Saving time is helpful. Reporting, keywords and charts are available right on your dashboard. This makes is easier to judge the performance of your ads at a glance. If needed, you can drill down further into the reporting.
Keywords – Yep keywords are also a con for me. You cannot add specific keywords. You can only add services you are offering which Google uses to create the keyword list. I have read that too many keywords is not a good thing. This could use up your ad budget on ineffective keywords.
Less Control over Campaign – Often with the ease of use and easier management it is a trade off that you lose some control (Google picks your keywords and bidding strategy) over your campaign.
Less specific matching – In my research, I have found that Google apparently uses a broad matching strategy instead of an exact match strategy which may cause clicks you do not want.
We have covered what Smart Campaigns are, how to quickly set up a Smart Campaign and what some pros and cons of Smart Campaigns. They are definitely easy to set up and they do give you some options to select and change later.
I will run a Smart Campaign or two to test over the next few weeks or months. If they work out, Google Smart Campaigns could save my business much time and money. That’s really how you learn and a big part of being an entrepreneur.
Have you used Google Smart Campaigns? Did they work out for you? Are there pitfalls we should look out for? Subscribe and let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading! Kris.