How do you know where to pay per click?

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is a great way to juice up a campaign in the short term. It’s also a really great way to lose a metric crapton of money in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially if you’re a small, local business with a limited budget. Let’s look at one very small sliver of the PPC world and how to make more of the few advertising dollars you have.

This is Google’s AdWords PPC manager. Virtually everyone who has dabbled in PPC has seen this.

Campaign Management-1

Look carefully in campaign settings, locations. You can edit this. Clicking edit brings up… Google Maps. Now here’s where it gets cool. You can draw right on the map the area you want your ads shown in.

Campaign Management-2

Nifty, eh? If you know, for example, what ZIP codes around you have the demographic you want, you don’t have to spend money elsewhere. You can just draw out exactly the audience segments you want to attract.

How do you know what ZIP codes contain your demographics? Use the US Census Bureau Fact Finder. It’s free. What if you’re doing B2B instead of B2C? No problem! The Census Bureau also provides local business information in aggregate at its ZIP Business Patterns Index, also for free. Figure out who has your industries that you’re targeting.

Now, let’s say you want to kick it up another notch. What if you knew where interest already was? What if you could tell where interested people already lived? Wouldn’t that make your hyperlocal PPC advertising even more potent?

Lucky for you, you can do that, also for free. Sign up, register, and get plugged into Google’s Local Business Center. Once your listing is updated and is collecting data, you’ll get a nice dashboard of times your local business listing has appeared in Maps and local search. Even more powerful, though, is a nice map of where potential customers are requesting driving directions from:

Google Local Business Center - Analytics

Get it?

Take your local business center driving directions map and draw a big ol’ irregular polygon over that area in Google AdWords. You’re now targeting the geographic areas that people have already expressed interest in! This is incredibly powerful and just requires you to get your local business center listing up to scratch.

Maps. Local business center demographics. Census Bureau data. Adwords PPC. By binding all of these tools together, you can utterly crush your opponents or drive them out of business just on advertising costs alone. They’ll be spending like crazy in an unfocused way while you’ll be cherry-picking the best potential prospects. Try it!

Pro tip: make sure you bind your AdWords account to your Google Analytics account so that PPC cost data is passed through. That’s a topic for another time, though.


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  • http://twitter.com/davethackeray Dave Thackeray

    Chris, I have to say you've really picked up your game lately. This and the Twiangulate post are seriously valuable. You've hit the mark and by the end of the month I imagine I won't even be able to see the mark for it being hidden behind a dozen Penn arrows.

    Great work. Love it.

    Only one item for consideration: how do we make this relevant to a UK audience? We don't have many of these at our disposal.

  • http://www.wordandmouth.com Dave Thackeray

    Chris, I have to say you've really picked up your game lately. This and the Twiangulate post are seriously valuable. You've hit the mark and by the end of the month I imagine I won't even be able to see the mark for it being hidden behind a dozen Penn arrows.

    Great work. Love it.

    Only one item for consideration: how do we make this relevant to a UK audience? We don't have many of these at our disposal.

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    I would add that if you're spending more than $1,500 per month, it is probably worthwhile getting professional help. Under that, any worthwhile amount of effort would probably be too expensive. Over that, and the savings along from a well-optimized campaign can pay for that effort.

    The biggest mistake I see do-it-yourselfers make is being a part of the contextual network right out of the starting gate.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    Good lord, people leave that on?

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    I would add that if you're spending more than $1,500 per month, it is probably worthwhile getting professional help. Under that, any worthwhile amount of effort would probably be too expensive. Over that, and the savings along from a well-optimized campaign can pay for that effort.

    The biggest mistake I see do-it-yourselfers make is being a part of the contextual network right out of the starting gate.

  • http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/ Ric Dragon

    I would add that if you're spending more than $1,500 per month, it is probably worthwhile getting professional help. Under that, any worthwhile amount of effort would probably be too expensive. Over that, and the savings along from a well-optimized campaign can pay for that effort.

    The biggest mistake I see do-it-yourselfers make is being a part of the contextual network right out of the starting gate.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    Good lord, people leave that on?

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    Good lord, people leave that on?