Google Ads for small business | Setup, budgets, and FAQs

For business owners, customer growth is a constant battle. Finding new families and turning them into loyal customers should always be top of mind. At Sawyer, we work with children’s activity businesses every day to acquire new customers, expand their offerings, and grow their revenue. 

Children’s activity businesses who work with a class registration software system like Sawyer can benefit from the Marketplace, where new families can find providers’ classes. However, if you are looking to grow more quickly, additional marketing is likely required. There are many different marketing strategies for small businesses, such as Facebook marketing, Instagram marketing, search engine marketing (such as Google advertising), and email marketing.

In this article, we will cover Google Ads for small businesses. Google Ads are an incredibly useful, and often cost-efficient, marketing tool for children’s activity businesses. Keep reading to learn important Google Ads strategies, information on how to set up a Google Ads budget, and if Google Ads are worth it for your small business.

What are Google Ads?

Traditional organic ranking on Google is based on a combination of factors that marketers try to optimize in order to be shown higher in the search results. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO). According to Google, “Google Ads is a product that you can use to promote your business, help sell products or services, raise awareness, and increase traffic to your website.” Google Ads follow a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising model, allowing users to bid on search terms, rank higher, and pay for the clicks their ads receive. There is no minimum spending requirement and businesses are in control of the copy, assets, and settings for their ads. Finally, businesses can choose where their ad appears, set a budget that works for them, and measure impact with analytics.

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How to set up Google Ads for small businesses

Even if you do not have a marketing background, it is not difficult to set up effective and efficient Google Ads that will help you find new families and increase your customer base. To create a Google Ads account, just go to the Google Ads page and click “sign up” with your Google account and business website. Then, follow these steps and Google Ads tips to set up Google Ads for your small business.

1. Research your competitors

Before you set up your ads, take some time to research your competitors and see what keywords they are targeting. Keywords are the words or phrases that people search for on Google that trigger an ad. You can find this information by searching those words to see what ads appear.

2. Organize your account

Google Ads accounts have two different levels: campaigns (higher level) and ad groups (lower level).

  • Campaigns generally represent larger categories like children’s art classes or kids dance classes
  • Ad groups are the smaller, more specific products or services, like drawing classes and sculpture sessions or ballet classes and private dance classes. 

Creating different ad groups for different keywords will help your ad be more effective with customers. For example, if someone is searching “ballet classes for kids”, then an ad about kids ballet classes is stronger than one about kids dance classes.

3. Set up your Google Ads budget 

When thinking about your Google Ads budget for your small business, you need to consider two different pieces that go into your account’s overall spend. 

  • Your daily budget, which is the amount of money you spend on each campaign each day. 
  • Your bid, which is the cost when someone who searches for your keyword actually clicks on your ad.

At the beginning, the experts at Google recommend that you spread out your resources fairly evenly amongst all of your campaigns. Then, as you begin to see traction, you can reallocate your spending to the ads that are doing well and what is the best for your business. 

For example, if you are looking to push more people towards sculpture classes for kids, then consider spending more on the budget for that ad group. If the ad is not getting a lot of clicks but you still want to push people to that product, then it might be time to try a new approach to the copy or assets.

When it comes to setting a bid, it is important to stay within your budget first and foremost. Your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid (max. CPC bid) is the most you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. When this number is higher, your ad will see more traffic but you will likely be spending more money (remember: the bid is for clicks, not views). That is why it is important to control your max CPC. Google has more information on bidding on their website.

4. Choose your keywords

As mentioned above, successful ads come from specific keywords. Luckily, Google Ads has a free Keyword Planner tool, which you can use to generate a helpful list of keywords for your campaigns. It also includes information to help you estimate how much to bid on a particular keyword so that your ad shows up in search results. You can also use tools like SEMRush and Spyfu to research your competitor’s keywords and performance. 

The Keyword Planner when you are planning your budget because you can see if certain keywords are too expensive. Remember, popular keywords are more expensive. In order to save your budget from being depleted by a couple of clicks, you might want to focus on less in-demand keywords to start.

5. Set your keyword match types

After you have determined keywords, you need to set your keyword match types, which is a Google Ads setting that further refines when your ads will appear. There are five keyword match type options.

  • Broad match: Shows your ad for searches that contain your keywords in any order as well as searches that contain related terms. This is the default keyword match type.
  • Broad match modifier: This allows you to specify that certain words in your broad match keyword must show up in a user’s search to trigger your ad. For example, if your keyword is “kids ballet classes” and you want to make sure that “kids” and “ballet” are always present in the search, then you can use the modifier to ensure that. To do this, you need to add a + before the words that need to be present.
  • Phrase match: Shows your ad for searches that contain your exact keyword or your exact keyword plus words before or after it. To do this, include quotation marks around your keyword.
  • Exact match: Shows your ad only when someone searches for the exact word or phrase you choose. For this option, put brackets around your keyword.
  • Negative match: You can also tell Google not to show your ad if the search includes certain words. For example, if you don’t teach hip hop classes, you can include a minus sign in front of “hip hop” and Google will not show your ad to someone who searches for your keyword and the word “hip hop”.
Photo of how to set up Google ads

6. Choose relevant landing pages

After a customer clicks on your ad, where will they be taken? The landing page should be as connected to your ad as possible so that you are more likely to make the sale. For example, if your ad is targeting kids ballet classes, then you should connect it to a specific landing page with ballet classes for kids and a registration link, rather than sending them to your homepage.

7. Decide your devices

Do your customers search on mobile, desktop, tablet, or all three? In our 2021 Children’s Activity Business Trend Report, we found that 60% of parents booked activities on mobile, 39% on desktop, and 1% on tablet. Therefore, if you are looking to get families to book with you, you should make sure your ads are set to appear on mobile and desktop.

8. Write your ad copy

What will get customers to click on your ad? Include the keywords in your ad copy and sell your stuff! You can even add a short testimonial to really get people interested. Be sure to add a call-to-action (CTA) like “Sign up today” or “Learn more” to entice families to click on your ad.

9. Activate your campaign and check your progress

The last step is to hit go and see what happens! You should monitor your ads to understand which are doing well and keep track of your spend. You can do this via Google Analytics, which is free and connected to Google Ads. You can learn about the behaviors of your customers and make changes based on what you see. For example, if you are getting a lot of clicks, but then they drop off immediately, it means you are likely sending them to an irrelevant landing page. 

10. (Optional) Install a Google Ads pixel on your site

For more advanced tracking you can install a Google Ads pixel on your site. This allows you to track for conversions (a specific goal like a class registration). Every time a user reaches your conversion end point (ex: the order confirmation page), Google will record this as a conversion. This will provide you with a more holistic view of the return on investment (ROI) of your Google Ads marketing efforts. To learn more about conversion tracking and setting up a Google Ads pixel, read Google's guide

Do Google Ads work for small businesses? Are Google Ads worth it?

Yes, Google Ads work for small businesses who are looking for an affordable way to find new customers and increase their revenue while maintaining a reasonable spend. As long as you include the price in your business budget, it is a worthwhile experiment for your company’s growth. 

We hope that this guide has taught you how to set up Google Ads for your small business. If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help. 

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With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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