An SME seasonal events business often means the infrastructure of a business does not follow the typical structure of an all year round company: Sometimes run by a single person, it often means an influx of temporary staff over the summer months, and with up to three quarters of revenue from the summer months (The Guardian, 2016) it can often be a whirlwind day-to-day until you settle back down in Autumn. And unless you have a specialist marketing team, marketing can often go out of the window during the busy summer months.
For companies wanting to expand into an all year round business however, many are looking to expand their current business services so they can take bookings for the full year. Thus, a marketing campaign targeting and attracting customers to book during the low tide is the first step. A PPC campaign is a great way to get to the top of potential client’s searchers, drawing traffic to your website and increase the likelihood of booking (Kanary, 2013).
As paid media is the most popular form of digital marketing right now (Kapoor et al., 2016) investing in PPC as one of the key marketing channels proposed by Chaffey (2015) can be integral to your marketing plan to turn around the low tide. As an event hire business, if time and resources are limited and you are only able to focus on a limited number of marketing channels, PPC is a strong, solid one to focus on with a good ROI (Kanary, 2013).
What to know before you start to make sure your PPC campaign is a success.
- Determine your goals and set them up on Google AdWords, in this context it would be to increase sales or clients during the low tide season. A handy how-to on how to set up your goals can be found here.
- Know your target audience. What are their pain points?
- Define a budget – set your maximum Cost per Acquisition (CPA) bids.
- Know what keywords you are going to build your campaign around. Any campaign starts with keyword research and the success relies on your keyword research.
- Know how your landing page is doing – look at your data and analytics, looking at KPI’s according to Plaza et al., (2011) and optimise your landing page.
Source: (Mordkovich & Mordkovich, 2005).
Timing is Key: Plan Ahead.
How long do clients usually book in advance? One week? A few months? Depending on the type of business you have, consider when you need those bookings during your low tide, as you may need to start planning your PPC campaign up to 6 months in advance.
Look to Google Trends to find out when your customers are searching for the keywords you want them to find you on.
For SMEs in particular, PPC can often be labour intensive, so book it into your schedule so you can prepare with plenty of time. A successful AdWords campaign should attract new customers, reduce bounce rates and increase the return rates and the session length (Moral et al., 2014) so planning is key.
Bid Adjustments and Scheduling
You may find your budget is smaller to start off, therefore making every click as efficient as possible will help your resources go further. You may find there are different times of the day, different devices or different locations where people are more likely to convert, so it’s key that you apply bid adjustments to ensure you’re maximising ad exposure at more lucrative times.
For example, you may find your conversion rate is higher on a Saturday, or the weekend, or that your best performing platform is mobile, so increasing your CPC to this time and device will mean your advert will be placed higher, meaning more traffic coming from these sources to your website (Chen et al., 2007).
Likewise, decreasing your CPC bid at 3am will probably also help you save on your resources. It means you can spend higher on more profitable traffic, and spend less on less profitable traffic. However it is important to note that a lower position can leave your campaign easily ignored (Eaton & Kenyon, 2014) so only decrease your CPC bid amounts if you’ve checked your data and you know it’s efficiently utilising your resources.
This may take some playing around; the bottom line is that your aim is to find an optimal dynamic advertising policy, in order to maximise your total revenue (Chen et al., 2007) from the resources given.
Click here to find out more about your bid adjustments.
Risky Business: What you Should Look out for as an SME
What is attractive to SMEs in the first place is the ROI that PPC can bring to a business. It is this business model that makes it so tantalising: no clicks = no cost. However, it is also this model that can make it a very expensive process for an SME and no guarantee of your ROI.
A common mistake when running a PPC campaign is setting it up and then letting it run with the wind. The default settings that come with your PPC campaign can really damage your campaign and revenue, and can eat into your budget if you do not align it with your business goals (Chen et al., 2007); thus make sure you optimise your campaigns on a thrice – weekly basis to guarantee the long term success of your PPC campaign. Here’s a handy booklet on how to optimise your PPC performance.
Optimising your campaign midweek, and just before and after the weekend will allow you to review the weekend’s perfomance and optimise accordingly.
Short on Time and Resources
As aforementioned, if you are short on time and resources as an SME event hire business, work with what you have – if you only have a short amount of time that you can invest, then create a set of campaigns that you can manage really well. Three well-managed campaigns fare much better than fifteen poorly-managed campaigns that you can’t review, optimise and improve on a thrice-weekly basis.
We recommend sticking to Google first for you PPC ads – with a 70% market share for search terms (Kanary, 2013) it means you are reaching the biggest audience.
One of the critiques of PPC for an SME is that barriers to entry can be quite high if you want a successful, high ROI PPC campaign, as is it is a skill to master especially if you are self managing the PPC campaign and do not have a marketing background. Your success with pay-per-click depends on how much time you put into expanding your knowledge on the subject. It can get extremely technical at times, so start off with one campaign and build it up. If self-managing, it can be recommended to get yourself Google Accredited at the Google Academy for Ads. By spending 30-45 minutes a day, you’ll be able to run your own campaigns and experience the power of AdWords for yourself.
And finally, here’s a quick video on how to set up a seasonal Adwords campaign. Happy PPC-ing!
Coleman, A. (2018). Running a seasonal small business from home. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/feb/20/running-seasonal-small-business-home [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Chaffey, D. 2015, Digital business and e-commerce management: strategy, implementation and practice, Sixth edn, Pearson, Harlow, England.
Chen, F.Y., Chen, J. & Xiao, Y. 2007, “Optimal Control of Selling Channels for an Online Retailer with Cost‐per‐Click Payments and Seasonal Products”, Production and Operations Management, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 292-305.
Google.com. (2018). Google Ad Traffic Quality. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com/ads/adtrafficquality/ [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
Kapoor, K.K., Dwivedi, Y.K. & Piercy, N.C. 2016, “Pay-per-click advertising: A literature review”, The Marketing Review, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 183-202
Kanary, S. 2013, Point & click: a beginner’s guide to Green Industry pay-per-click marketing, North Coast Media, LLC.
Moral, P., Gonzalez, P. & Plaza, B. 2014, “Methodologies for monitoring website performance: Assessing the effectiveness of AdWords campaigns on a tourist SME website”, Online Information Review, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 575-588.
Mordkovich, B., & Mordkovich, E. (2005). Pay-per-click search engine marketing handbook. New York: