If you sign up for a new website or ecommerce site for your small business, you may receive what appears to be a nice little chunk of change in the form of a $100 Free Ad Credit for services like Google AdWords or Bing Ads.
But using that ad credit doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get tons of web traffic, increased sales and business success. You need to know how to best utilize those dollars so that you’ll get the best return on your investment. So, what’s the best way to spend that money?
How to Use Your Free Ad Credits
Advertise Specific Products or Offerings
If you’re just getting started with a new website, it might be tempting to start an ad campaign just to get people to your homepage where they can browse your products or services and just use it however they see fit. But that’s actually not the best tactic if you want to see real results. Instead, focus your ad campaign on specific products or services so that you’ll be more likely to draw in customers who are actually interested in those specific offerings. Think about what products or offerings are most likely to draw people’s attention or provide the best return on investment. If you’ve been in business for awhile, that could mean choosing one or two of your best sellers. And if you’re a newer business, that could just mean making a decision about which items you want to be your flagship offerings.
Research Potential Keywords
Once you’ve got a better view about what specific items you want to advertise, you’ll need to think about keywords. The keywords you select are the words or phrases that people are likely to use in searches where they could come across your products or services. So for example, if you sell women’s clothing and you specifically want to advertise a new line of summer dresses, you could try out keywords like “summer dresses,” “women’s dresses,” “summer fashion,” or “women’s summer fashion.” Once you’ve come up with some ideas for keywords that are relevant to the offerings you want to promote, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner or Bing’s Keyword Tool to find out more about them so that you can better make those decisions. For example, you might find that “women’s fashion” has a higher suggested bid than “summer dresses,” but they both bring about similar search traffic. That could be an indicator that selecting “summer dresses,” as a keyword is a better investment for your goals since it’s more specific and won’t cost you as much.
Outline Your Target Audience
In any ad campaign, it’s also important to have a specific audience in mind. But when it comes to search ads like those from Google and Bing, it can be even more important to take advantage of all the targeting tools at your disposal. Going back to the example of a women’s clothing store, you can target audiences who have actively searched for products in your category. Or you can even target customers who have visited your site before so that you know they’re likely to be at least somewhat interested in your brand and your offerings.
Use Location Targeting
You can also use these tools to target people based on their location. So if your women’s clothing store only ships within the U.S., you probably only want your ads to appear for people in the U.S. And if you run a more local business, you can break down your target even further so that you only reach people who are potentially going to be able to actually shop at your store.
Research Regional Trends
In addition, you might consider looking into regional trends before you run an ad for a specific location. Let’s say that your women’s clothing store has several locations, and you’ve run an ad campaign promoting summer dresses around your main store in NYC. But you now want to focus your efforts on a new location in Phoenix. Using Google Trends or a similar tool, you can research search trends in that area to find out if those consumers are actually searching for summer dresses, or if they’re potentially interested in other types of items you sell like shorts or swimsuits. If you get that information, you can better target your offerings to your ideal customers and thus get a bigger return on your investment.
Speak Directly to Your Audience
In addition, you need to keep your audience in mind when actually creating your ads. If you’ve targeted ads so that only women who have shopped for trendy swimsuits around the Phoenix area see them, but you write them as if you’re speaking to businessmen in New York City, your ads aren’t likely to resonate with those consumers. Instead, use copy that’s going to grab their attention and be specific to them. “Heat wave got you down? Shop trendy swim styles and get to the nearest pool ASAP” is likely more interesting to that audience than “Reasonably priced swimsuits available.”
In addition, some of these ad promotions come with stipulations that businesses must meet in order to actually access those credits. For example, Google’s promotions sometimes come with a time limit, like they must be used within 30 days of being issued. There are also promotions that require you to spend a certain amount, like $25, in order to access the free credit. But each specific offer can vary. So you need to read the actual rules and regulations surrounding your particular offer very carefully before signing up for an account or creating your campaign.