5 Steps for Effective Google Ads Management for Small / Midsize Businesses


Big budget projects are great. They give us tons of room to try a wide breadth of tactics. And they produce the requisite data to gather statistically relevant conclusions.

But small businesses can benefit from high-quality, targeted search traffic from Google Ads too.

CYS is having success working with small advertisers and small budgets. It's all about setting up a solid foundation, being patient, and limiting management expenses. 

Step 1: Modeling the Funnel

We always start by modeling the funnel, described in more detail here. But summarized quickly:

  • There is a cost to the traffic, which can be estimated
  • There is a conversion rate between everyone who comes to your website, compared to those that take the action you want (like buying something or calling you), and that can also be estimated
  • And a customer is worth a certain amount of money to your business—and that can be estimated as well

We build these models as estimations in the beginning, then work to refine them as we go along and get better and more accurate data. Here's an example:

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Step 2: Solid Analytics and Ad Account Set Up

Everything we do is built on data and analytics tools are the lens through which we measure our results.

Projects come to us in different stages. Some have a solid set up, some are totally fresh. Either way our first order of business is to verify that we have the tools in place to measure. 

Google Analytics is a must, but we do a lot of work with lead generation clients—aka businesses don't have an online sale.

Most of those businesses get tons of leads by phone and as a result we start focusing on call tracking tools like CallTrackingMetrics, CallRail, and PhoneWagon

There's a 'right way' to structure ad accounts as well. The strategy is simple really—campaigns = ideas. So when we look back at an account we can say, "this idea is working and that one is not". 

Differences between campaign 'ideas' can be dramatic

Step 3: Focus on Conversion Tracking

Absolutely critical. The process of defining and accurately measuring conversions is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

And a balancing act is required. We want to measure enough conversions to give bid automation tools enough data to chew on (more on bidding automation next)—especially relevant in small budget situations.

But we also want to highlight the most meaningful conversion for the business—a sale for example.

We measure enough conversions to give bid automation tools enough data to chew...but we also want to highlight the most meaningful conversion for the business

As a result we typically frame up a primary conversion, and then a bunch of other secondary conversions. Always organized at the start of a new project in a table like this:

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Step 4: Use Bid Automation

Bidding has always been one of the biggest challenges and opportunities in running Google Ads accounts. The big push from Google is Smart Bidding—and we're on board, and seeing excellent results. The caveat is that smart bidding requires solid conversion tracking. 

8 (currently) avaialble bidding strategies in Google Ads

Step 5: Drive Agency Fees Out of Profit Margins

And this part is the final touch. The previous steps require a significant level of effort, but it's upfront effort—not necessarily ongoing.

So we do the work, and we charge our clients for it. But our goal is to back our management fees out of their funnel. It looks like this when done correctly:

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