3 questions SMBs should ask to maximize their COVID-19 Google Ads credit

Eligible small and medium-sized businesses are starting to receive Google Ads credits in their accounts over the coming weeks. If you receive one of these credits, you may be wondering how best to spend this bonus budget for maximum impact.

Credits will show up automatically in qualifying accounts, and the maximum credit is equivalent to $1,000, based on historical spend. The credit can be used up until Dec 31 of this year. So how do you make the most of this free money to help your business re-engage customers and recover from the COVID-19 fallout?

We asked three Google Ads experts who have deep experience working with SMBs what three key questions they suggest companies consider to help guide how they allocate their Google Ads credits.

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Think about efficiency, but don’t be afraid to try something new

“Now is a time to really think about efficiency in your accounts, especially for small businesses,” says Julie Friedman Bacchini of Neptune Moon LLC. “You want to put your resources where you have the greatest chance of getting conversions, But, at the same time, don’t be afraid to do something different from what you’ve done historically. If your business’ circumstances have changed significantly, your PPC advertising might need a big shift, too!”

Friedman Bacchini recommends starting with these three questions:

  1. Where, geographically, have your ads preformed best (particularly in the past 2 months) and how can you focus on areas where you have had past success?
  2. Do you want to tighten your focus on what you’re advertising based on what or how you are able to deliver your business’ products or services?
  3. Is my ad copy relevant, up to date and appropriate for the current climate?

Support new offerings while giving proven-performers more runway

Robert Brady of Righteous Marketing says most of the SMB’s he works with typically have limited budgets, and “These would be the three questions I’d pose to an SMB with some new-found budget:”

  1. Do you have campaigns with attractive conversion metrics (high ROAS [return on ad spend], low cost/conversion, etc.) that are budget limited? These are prime candidates for using these credits at maximum return.
  2. Have you added new services recently (curbside pickup, delivery, online shopping/e-commerce, etc.) that you’re not promoting? Allocate some of these dollars to support your new offerings.
  3. Is remarketing part of your current mix? If not, use this budget boost to set up and test remarketing to those people who visit your site and DON’T convert right away.

Consider moving beyond Search

“I encourage everyone to let the data in front of them be their guide,” says Navah Hopkins, director of paid media at Hennessey Digital. “Tactics that worked a few months ago may need to be revisited (and that’s OK). So long as business metrics are at the heart of all digital marketing decisions, you will overcome this difficult period.”

Hopkins suggests posing these three questions:

1. What parts of my business do I make the best margins?

It can be tempting to use digital marketing for all parts of the business, but that can spell disaster (especially for budget-strapped SMBs). I’d encourage all businesses to evaluate where they make the most money (either in regions served or in products provided). Allocating the $13-$33 extra dollars per day to campaigns focused on high-profit products/services ensures the funds are able to do the most amount of good.

As an aside, any credit amount you get should be divided by 30.4 so you know how much to add to existing campaign [daily budgets]. If you will be running a new campaign with the money, note that Search is likely NOT the best home for it (due to auction price and ramp-up time). A Display or YouTube campaign will be the best home for it.

2. Where do I have the greatest capacity for leads/sales?

Beyond profit margins, we also need to think pragmatically about our leads. If it comes in, will I be able to service it within a reasonable amount of time, or will it become wasted spend because I can’t get to it in time? Focusing budget on prospects with whom you have the easiest time servicing will ensure those precious marketing dollars achieve the greatest ROI. This might mean changing your ad schedule to just run during working hours (adjusting for the time zone of your prospects), or upping the budget on a location/service-based campaign.

Note: if you’re on auto-bidding (which I don’t recommend right now unless you kept your campaigns active through COVID. I’ve been seeing auto-bidding underbidding more often than not since COVID), you will need to give any budget change five days. If you’re on manual, you can gradually increase week over week.

If all parts of the business are starving, factor in margins to break ties.

3. Is Search the best home for this grant?

We often fall into the default trap of thinking about Google as search-only. This leaves out the incredibly useful and increasingly profitable YouTube and Display. Given that the most you will see from this grant is $1,000, the funds might reach further if they’re fueling a community engagement campaign via Display or showcasing your amazing team and reminding folks you’re open through YouTube. Best of all, these channels provide potential audience fuel for future search campaigns.

If the prospect of creating a Display or YouTube spot seems daunting, don’t despair! Responsive display ads allow for stock photos and the scanning of your site. On YouTube, Google launched the YouTube Video Builder, which is a FREE way to make 6- and 15-second videos.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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