One of the most inter­est­ing aspects about paid search is that you can be effec­tive whether you spend $10 or $10,000 (per week or month) on your cam­paign. Obvi­ously the more money you spend, the more impres­sions, click­throughs, and con­ver­sions you can expect—but you might see some ben­e­fit by spend­ing just a few dol­lars. Remem­ber that you can bid what­ever you want for your SEM ads. And, you only spend money on a cost-per-click basis. For these rea­sons, SEM can be an effec­tive and inex­pen­sive dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tactic.

For other mar­ket­ing tactics—whether dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing or tra­di­tional tactics—you need to spend a min­i­mum amount to either make it worth it for you or to even par­tic­i­pate in that plat­form. Also, in these other mar­ket­ing tac­tics it’s often dif­fi­cult to know whether users have ful­filled your KPI. In SEM, you can find out if users ful­fill your KPI on every dol­lar you spend. Nowa­days, most peo­ple go to search when they con­sider pur­chas­ing a prod­uct. So you should spend at least some­thing on an SEM cam­paign. But if you’re a com­pany or indi­vid­ual with a lim­ited bud­get, how can you make SEM worthwhile?

SEM for a Small Budget

No one wants to spend more than nec­es­sary; every­one wants the best mar­ket­ing ben­e­fits. But, for those with lim­ited bud­gets, find­ing a cheap way to mar­ket one’s busi­ness is vital. Here are three things you can do to spend your SEM dol­lars efficiently:

1. Lay Out a Fixed Budget

Com­pa­nies and indi­vid­u­als with small bud­gets often make this mis­take when deter­min­ing their SEM spend: they don’t lay out a fixed SEM bud­get for a con­tin­u­ing period. The dan­ger in buy­ing SEM ads only some­times is that your rel­e­vancy score fal­ters when you buy SEM space errat­i­cally. If you appear often and con­tin­u­ously in SEM ads, search engines will deter­mine your ads as more rel­e­vant to their keywords.

If you only buy SEM ads inter­mit­tently, you will sab­o­tage your rel­e­vancy score; thus your mar­ket­ing dol­lars won’t go as far as they would have if you had pur­chased the same key­words con­tin­u­ously. If you have a small bud­get, don’t splurge all of it on one month’s mar­ket­ing cam­paign. Spread that bud­get over many months to main­tain relevancy.

2. Bid on Niche Terms

If you have a small SEM bud­get, then it’s likely that you’re a small com­pany. Don’t try to play in the sea of big terms; you won’t make a dent in this vast ocean of search. Instead, look for niche terms and phrases that relate specif­i­cally to your prod­uct and services.

Let’s say you’re a small com­pany that sells sports and work­out attire in Small­town, USA. You prob­a­bly won’t be effec­tive by bid­ding on hugely pop­u­lar gen­eral terms like “sport’s attire,” “yoga pants,” or “run­ning sneak­ers.” Instead try to focus your terms on your spe­cific prod­ucts and loca­tion. Use spe­cific prod­uct names; incor­po­rate your com­pany name; link your key­words to your loca­tion. These tac­tics will nar­row the play­ing field and make it much eas­ier to influ­ence searchers.

3. Review Your Performance

Review is impor­tant in any SEM cam­paign, but it is espe­cially impor­tant for those of you with lim­ited SEM bud­gets. See what ad copy and terms work best, and focus on those. If you find that you are con­vert­ing and mak­ing money from your SEM ads, then con­sider rein­vest­ing in SEM. Max­i­mize spend before increas­ing scope. Use a bid­ding tool like Adobe Media Opti­mizer to find out what’s work­ing and what’s not in your SEM campaigns.

When work­ing with a lim­ited SEM bud­get, you need to spend every dol­lar effi­ciently. SEM can be a bar­gain plat­form for dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, as long as you man­age it well. There are numer­ous free tools for man­ag­ing your paid search cam­paigns, and there are lots of tools you can use at dis­counted rates if you are a small com­pany or indi­vid­ual. If you have a lim­ited mar­ket­ing bud­get, allot some of that to SEM. It is a great way to turn inter­ested searchers into customers.