SMB PPC: A Definition of Terms – Part 1

ppc 3xe ireland

ppc 3xe ireland

It’s been almost 3 months since the last time someone blogged on the ZATO blog. That’s a tribute to how our ecommerce holiday season went… It was crazy and busy, but the most profitable we have ever had at ZATO!

My objective this year is to blog more and speak less, so the way I’m going to begin keeping that resolution is to use last year’s sessions for this year’s blog material. One of my top sessions over the past 12 months has been my session on SMB PPC, and I wanted to break that into 5 parts since I think it’s so helpful for anyone doing any sort of PPC work in an account not spending a billion dollars a day.

As I spoke around the US (and Ireland and London!) on SMB PPC, I began to identify a trend. The sessions resounded with a lot of people, and the reason they did is because most of us are working in limited budget accounts on a daily basis. For many PPCers, we don’t care if the Target ROAS Automated Bidding Rule works better with 400 or 300 conversions a week because we’re just trying to keep the smaller accounts we have assigned to us running! Those are the people I wanted to reach, and I think there are a lot more of you out there than meets the eye 🙂  This 5-Part Series is for you!

A Definition: SMB Wut?

SMB PPC Definition

Before we get into the other parts, I wanted to spend a some time defining SMB PPC. I think this is important for this series, since we all need to be talking about the same thing before we talk about that thing.

For the remainder of this series, when I say SMB PPC, this is what I am referring to:

SMB PPC is… Often Local

SMB PPC is often, but not limited to a local business. Now, admittedly this isn’t any sort of hard and fast rule. However, often if someone has the budget for a national campaign they will likely be out of the realm of “SMB”. On the other hand, we’ve all seen clients who have the objective of reaching the world with nothing but moths in their pockets, so this definitely is a general principle rather than a hard rule.

SMB PPC is… Often a Simple Product or Service

plumbing ppc When one sells legal services for those who are in need of assistance, there is generally not an unlimited number of queries that can be thought up. Simplistic doesn’t mean I could do the service myself (I ain’t touching home plumbing!), it means simplistic to describe or target with keywords. For instance, think of some solid exact match terms for that cell phone repair service in your city, add on a few broad match modified terms to capture any modifiers with those core terms, and you’ve pretty much nailed it. You can find a few other  terms as you manage the account over time, but overall it’s not difficult to find and target in these accounts (and they often tend to be more local as well).

SMB PPC is… Often a Simple Account

I have found that limited budget accounts tend to require less strategy for account structure. You just don’t need 150 campaigns for an account spending $1500 per month.  Not only is this because it tends to be a simpler product/service (see above), but also because you usually don’t have a lot of traffic so over-segmenting can actually hurt your long-term management since it would take too long to hit statistical significance so you could actually do anything in the account!

SMB PPC is… $2500/month or less in Ad Spend

smb ppc budgets Finally, and most importantly, I define SMB PPC by the ad spend budget they are willing to devote to the account. In this regard, spend is crucial since what you can do in a PPC account is so limited by spend. The action you take on an account to improve it: ad testing, keyword exclusions, bidding decisions, etc… all of that depends on traffic data so you can make smart decisions… and in PPC that all depends on spend.

Spend is the glue that holds PPC optimizations together.

This is also why I don’t have a problem charging based on an account’s ad spend, btw… since so often (definitely not always) our work is generally in line with the amount of spend a client has to invest.

Now, admittedly, Average CPCs and industry competition can impact these things greatly. If you are paying $150 CPCs for legal terms, $2500 will barely be enough to sneeze at the account. However, with overall, general averages, I’ve personally found that any account under $2500/mo takes a certain, standard level of work to manage on a monthly basis and you’re somewhat limited with the amount of data you can get and the optimizations you can make. Once you start getting in the $2500-5000 range you have more to work with… and on up from there.

That’s why I personally put a lot of weight on $2500 as a general, averaged number. Is it a perfect number? No, but it at least gives us something to talk about!


So, we’re done with definitions. Stay tuned for the next 4 parts of the series as we discuss actually managing SMB PPC accounts!