The world is changing, advertising is changing, Google AdWords is changing. And you feel you need to be doing more but you do not have a lot of time and the budget is limited.
There are still three things you can do with your pay-per-click dollars to convert more leads into happy customers.
Google AdWords Express
If you are a local business, try AdWords Express. Your ads will appear on Google maps accross all devices - desktop, mobile phones, and tablets. They will also appear on other related US sites. Google will automatically match your business to searches using your Google Plus Local profile as a guide.
You will not be able to control your keywords, but you will be able to see what keywords Google selected. You will not need to manage ad campaigns either. Google is making it easy for you. The advantage is that for mobile searches, Google matches the visitor query to their location and shows your business ad if it is relevant.
You do not need a website to use AdWords Express. You can direct your visitors to your Google Plus Local page.
I have mixed feelings about AdWords Express mainly because the results are inconsistent. Some businesses do very poorly, some do extremely well. In my opinion, ROI depends on the industry. I suggest you try it and watch the results. It might be very profitable for you. AdWords Express was designed to be very easy, so there is little maintenance required and the associated cost is usually low.
Update 5/15/2013: Google just un-synced AdWords Express from AdWords accounts. You will no longer be able to track your AdWords Express revenue through AdWords dashboard. So, when using AdWords Express, beware of the "blind spot" which is the ROI.
Try AdWords for Mobile phones. Google will place your ad in search results on mobile devices, on websites, in apps and video. You have seen the statistics. The world is obsessed with mobile. It is time you benefit from it. You are missing out if your ad does not pop up on the mobile devices of all these people roaming around your business.
It is common knowledge that people do not stick to one device. Mobile phones are very often used in searches, information consumption, and location-based apps. Use mobile ads to get your brand visible and reach the people on-the-go. Case studies show that mobile ads drive a significant amount of traffic to the business physical location. For example, this RadioShack case study claims 40%-60% conversion.
If you do not have a mobile site yet, well... it is time to get one. If you are advertising on mobile devices, it gives visitors a better experience if you send them to your mobile site. There are a couple of options for you. Responsive or mobile, it is no longer an option for your business to exist without a mobile website.
You can set up mobile campaigns through enhanced campaigns in AdWords. Enhanced campaigns are a recent change in AdWords that focuses on mobile. Google claims that it is a way to simplify campaign targeting accross multiple devices and locations. You can set up campaigns targeting mobile phone users separately from tablets and desktops.
Google Analytics makes it easy to track your mobile PPC campaigns. If your website has Google Analytics installed, monitor your mobile keywords performance, track the volume of your mobile visits and revenue from mobile traffic, evaluate engagement and visitor flow through your website. These analytics reports will help you fine tune your mobile ppc campaigns.
Remarketing allows you to reach people who have visited your website. When someone leaves without converting, you can craft compelling ads designed for them to return increasing the chances of conversion. The obvious benefit is that you are crafting your campaigns based on real people and their behavior on your website. Your offer becomes more compelling when you put it in front of people who are already familiar with your brand. Your ads show up on relevant websites making your company look like a solution, a compatible option, or a convincing alternative. Remarketing works very well in combination with search campaigns.
Segment visitors in Analytics based on some kind of behavior (a visitor added items in thir shopping cart, but did not buy or they looked at a specific page). Use that segment to create a remarketing list in Analytics and use this list in AdWords for your remarketing campaigns. Now that you start with a specific group who took a specific action on your website, it is easier to make them an offer they find hard to refuse.
The setup is relatively simple. Define additional parameters, like frequency capping, contextual targeting, or conversion filtering. Your campaigns will be more focused on a specific type of visitor keeping the cost low.
You are not done yet
Start with the three things above but do not stop there. Think about the landing pages. Bringing visitors to your website is not enough. You need to convert them. Run optimization studies, experiment with your landing pages, improve your offers, make your fonts more readable. Whatever you do, always learn from the changing world, always tweak your message just right, and always keep an eye on your audience.
What did you do to improve your advertising efforts without breaking the bank?