One of the more useful techniques when it comes to pay-per-click campaigns also happens to be one of the more challenging techniques for small business owners to put in place. Dayparting, the practice of adjusting pay-per-click campaigns based on time of day or day of the week, is a highly effective means of controlling PPC costs, but it's also rarely used by small business owners.

Dayparting will be coming into its own as a tool for the masses as MSN's adCenter rolls out with integrated dayparting capabilities, but with adCenter still operating on an invite-only basis, most small business owners are still left dealing with Google and Yahoo! Search Marketing instead. Unfortunately, since Google and Yahoo! do not offer integrated dayparting management, companies that wish to setup automatic dayparting have had to rely on third-party solutions like those offered by Atlas One Point and Clicktracks BidHero. Unfortunately, these types of programs don't come cheap. That means small businesses, looking to stretch every dollar, often find such solutions to be out of reach.

So what's a small business owner to do? There's no doubting the effectiveness of being able to turn your campaigns on and off based on when you get the best return on investment. There's also no doubting the fact that some businesses can afford to increase bids dramatically during certain times of the day. The problem is, few companies have the staffing to handle these types of updates. In fact, for many small business owners, PPC management is just another hat that the company owner has to wear, making it near impossible for them to remember to set their daily updates and changes.

Thus, it's important to be reminded that there's a highly effective "poor man's" version of dayparting. It's called Microsoft Outlook. sounds simple, but it works. Simply set up a Microsoft outlook reminder that's set to give you notice whenever you need to turn your campaigns on or off.

If you are tracking your conversions, you should easily be able to find out when the majority of your sales take place. If you are selling to consumers and see high sales rates after work and over the weekends, then set your Outlook reminder to turn your campaigns off in the morning when you start work and to turn them back on before you leave at the end of the day. If you're selling business to business and you see most of your conversions during traditional work hours, then start by setting your campaigns to turn off over the weekend and then consider turning them off in the evenings as well.

Dayparting, when done right, can be highly complicated with ads turning on and off and bids going up and down at all hours of the day. That doesn't mean that it's an all or nothing thing. Even the exclusion of your work hours, or a bid increase during your best hours can make a significant difference in your bottom line. Consider starting off with minor changes using the "poor man's" method and see what type of impact it has. If you see a significant impact, you'll know that it's worth exploring a more expensive solution.

It's important to remember that even the smallest changes can make a big difference in a pay-per-click campaign. Don't let seemingly advanced concepts like dayparting and bid management scare you away from doing anything at all. Coming up with creative ways to apply these types of concepts to your own business can add up to big savings and big profits.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

February 6, 2006

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > The Poor Man's Version of Dayparting