How to Spend Your First $100 on Google Adwords


Starting up a new online business has a lot of moving parts, and on top of actually making the products or developing your service, you’re probably spending a lot of time taking photos, writing descriptions, setting up the technical stuff, and figuring out how to drive customers through developing a marketing plan.

Oh man.. marketing? That sounds hard.

Really killer marketing is a lot of hard work, but thankfully one of the best ingredients to a killer marketing formula is starting small, taking advantage of what you know, and using the tools you already have.

With $100 you can take advantage of one of the foremost platforms for search engine marketing to drive early interest, learn more about your ideal customer, and start developing your own marketing secret sauce.

So let’s get started, and take a look at what you can do with your first $100 in AdWords.

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Set up your Google accounts

Before you start spending any money, first thing’s first: set up Google Analytics and connect it to your Shopify store.

Set Up Your Google Accounts

Doing this will allow you to measure your how your AdWords campaigns are driving business. It also provides access to tools you can use to improve your advertising efforts, such as AdWords reporting, and Display Advertiser features that can be used to build laser focused remarketing campaigns.

Set Up Your Google Accounts

Note: Whether you choose to use AdWords or not, you should absolutely configure Analytics for your shop. The insights you can gain about your store from the robust, free reports in GA are extremely valuable.

If you’re a Shopify customer, you can earn up to $150 in ad credits when you get started with a Smart Shopping campaign from within the Google channel.

Set Up Your Google Accounts

Next, connect your Google Analytics and Google AdWords Accounts. Do this by logging into Google Analytics, clicking on the Admin tab at the top, navigating to All Products under the Property header for your store’s account and clicking on the Link AdWords button. (Still need help? Get the step-by-step instructions from the Google Analytics help files.)

Set Up Your Google Accounts

Once you’ve got your two major advertising toolboxes set up and connected, you can start planning how to spend your advertising dollars.

Planning and setting up your campaigns

Creating AdWords Campaigns involves a planning step, a research step, and an execution step.

  • Planning: Ask questions about your business, products, and goals.
  • Research: Do Google searches for your products, use the Keyword Planner, review your Analytics data, and read more about ways you can be more successful.
  • Execution: Set up Campaigns and Ad Groups, configure settings, and create ads.

Approaching your set up this way helps you stay focused, and it breaks things down into small, easy steps.

This step-based approach helps you reach small goals faster while helping you stretch your budget. So let’s look at ways you can get started with that $100.

What should you be advertising?

If you only offer a single, specialized product, your decision on what to advertise is an open and shut case.

For store owners with a variety of products, some decision making has to take place.

Ask yourself:

  • Which of my products have the highest ROI?
  • What are my biggest sellers?
  • Which (if any) of my products are trending?

These three questions will help you quickly identify and prioritize your most valuable products or product categories. Using these as your starting point for advertising will give you a greater chance at early success you can use to help you build your advertising out in a more thorough way.

For example, let’s say you have a store that sells plain colored tee shirts, basic jeans, socks, and other staple items of clothing.

If you know your best margins overall are on tee shirts, that might be the best place to focus. Assuming you carry multiple colors of tee shirt, let’s plug each color into Google Trends to see what has the most opportunity.

What Should You be Advertising?

In this case, you can see that white & black tee shirts are fairly even in terms of trends, followed by red tee shirts, and blue tee shirts.

Plugging each of these terms into Google Keyword Planner, you can see that the lowest suggested bids are on black & blue tee shirts.

What Should You be Advertising?

Working with a limited budget, my recommendation would be to start with the keywords that have lower suggested bids, and expanding what you advertise from there.

Once you’ve identified what you want to advertise, it’s time to choose your keywords and set up your Ad Groups.

What Should You be Advertising?

The trick with a successful ad group is to determine ahead of time how you want to categorize your products. In the tee shirt example, we’re going to group our tee shirts by color, however, there are an infinite number of ways you could categorize your products.

What Should You be Advertising?

Within each ad group, choose 5-10 words or phrases that best describe your product. For example:

What Should You be Advertising?

Grouping these keywords together based on commonalities (in the case of the tee shirts, we’re grouping by color) gives you a sense of how much you’ll be spending, and how much traffic could potentially come through each group.

What Should You be Advertising?

What Should You be Advertising?

Since we’re just starting out, don’t choose too many keywords for each product. Stick to around 5 for each product that seem to have the best combination of clicks/impressions, cost per click, and click through rate.

How should you advertise?

Once you’ve identified the products you want to advertise, and the keywords you want to use to target them, it’s time to get it set up.

There are a few key ways you can set up your advertising to make your $100 return results.

  1. Use separate Ad Groups for each product
  2. Use Modified Broad Match on your keywords

By giving each product its own Ad Group, you can more tightly control two important aspects: your keyword list for that product, and the ads for that product.

Having ad copy that match your keywords will greatly improve performance, and allows you to create ads that link directly to that specific product. Always try to link to a specific product or category of products wherever possible.

How Should You Advertise?

Read more about Match Types in the Google AdWords Help Center.

Modified Broad Match is a tool you can use to refine the searches your keywords match for with greater control than Broad match, but without as much restriction as Phrase or Exact match.

For example: handmade baby blankets as a Broad Match term could match for any variation of “handmade” “baby” and “blanket” in any order, including things that Google assumes are relevant, like quilts, monogramming, or factory-made baby blankets. Your chosen keyword will be matched to the maximum number of search terms that might match your keyword.

Phrase match for handmade baby blanket will match searches like handmade baby blanket pattern or making handmade baby blanket which don’t necessarily relate to your business, but are close matches to the phrase.

Exact match for handmade baby blanket  will only match handmade baby blanket and close variations, such as handmade baby’s blanket or handmade baby blankets.

Modified Broad match gives you flexibility between all these different match types. For example: +handmade baby blankets would mean that handmade baby binkie  or infant handmade blanket or newborn blanket handmade would all be viable matches. Adding a plus sign (+) in front of a word in your keyword means Google must match that specific word as exactly as possible, but it can appear anywhere in someone’s search.

How Should You Advertise?Image source: PPC Hero’s “The Benefits & Drawbacks of Modified Broad Match

Using Modified Broad match modifiers allows you to mark certain words as important, while still keeping your overall keyword matching options open. This allows you a good balance between fine-tuned targeting and exploring what people type into Google to find your business.

(Want to know more about Modified Broad match and keyword grouping? Read here.)

Who is your target audience?

Outlining your target audience will help in two ways, by limiting who can see your ads, and helping you write your ads.

Focus your clicks by using location targeting:

For an example of limiting your ads’ audience: let’s say you only ship within the United States. You wouldn’t want your ads appearing all over the world, right?

It’s easy to control the locations your ad is shown in, and by setting these restrictions, you can avoid spending money for clicks that aren’t relevant to your business.

By default, an AdWords Campaign will be available to all countries and territories. To change this, visit the Settings tab for your Campaign.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Select Edit next to Locations on the Campaign Settings page and you’ll be given a menu that allows you to type in names of countries, cities, states, and more.

Who is Your Target Audience?


Get critical intel through Google Trends:

You can get more in depth with your local targeting too, going after states, cities, congressional districts, and more.

One key tool for regional fine tuning - outside of your own regional performance data through Google Analytics and AdWords reports - is Google Trends.

Plug key product terms into the Explore area of Google Trends to get popularity and regional information that can give you an edge in targeting and bidding.

Who is Your Target Audience?

In the above example, bath bombs have become a hot search term over the last few months, spiking hard specifically in the last three months.

This tells you that now is a great time to go after that market. The map below the line graph shows you a ranking of top locations for that search term. People in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah clearly like to unwind with a soothing soak.

Targeting those specific states with a focused campaign or higher bids could result in better results.

Read more about geotargeting at the Google AdWords Help Center.

Write better ads by speaking to your audience:

Take some time to ask yourself who your major market is. Moms? Geeks? Sports fans? Enthusiasts of a niche hobby or interest?

When you’re writing ads for your product, you only have 3 lines and your display URL to use. Your headline is a maximum of 25 characters, and each description line is 35 characters. Put all together, that’s less than a tweet!

That means you need to find every advantage you can when you’re building your ads.

Consider this:

Who is Your Target Audience?

Versus this:

Who is Your Target Audience?

Both ads feature free shipping, and talk about customizing; both of these things have click appeal.

However, the second ad appeals to new mothers who like handmade goods. It speaks directly to an audience that would be most interested in your product, while being more direct about what you have to offer.

(Want more tips on how to write successful ads? The Google AdWords Help Center has a number of tips for writing compelling text ads.)

Bonus tip: run a low budget brand campaign

Create a Campaign with a small daily budget, around $5-$10, and create an Ad Group that features only your store’s name, or your name*. Use Exact Match and Phrase Match to make sure you’re definitely only appearing for searches for your store or yourself. Like this:

Bonus Tip: Run a Low Budget Brand Campaign

Phrase and Exact Match will severely limit what these keywords will match.

Which means that this isn’t a money making Campaign, but a brand focused Campaign. For example, if you went to a craft fair with your business, Babieez Blankeez, people may look you up by name after the fact. This ensures that you will claim a high ranking spot for your own brand name, regardless of what organic search pulls up.

*Note: If you share your name with a famous person, don’t  bid for your own name. You may consider bidding for your name plus what you do - e.g. “joanie crawford knitter” or “michael jordan sculptor” - but you should use the Keyword Planner to check traffic for those terms before your go go ahead.

Advanced techniques to consider: Product Listing Ads

Download the Google Shopping Shopify App (free) to sync your store with Google Merchant Center.

Not only will this allow you to get your products placed quickly, easily, and accurately within the Shopping tab of Google search, but it will also make you eligible to appear at the top of standard Google searches and on partner websites through Product Listing Ads.

Advanced Techniques to Consider: Product Listing Ads

Product Listing Ads appear above searches and provide an advantage over standard text ads - photos of products give people searching a clear, immediate impression that their click will take them to exactly the item they’re looking for.

You will need to link your Google Merchant Center account to your AdWords account.

Before you get started setting that up, you should do two things:

  1. Read more about how Shopping campaigns work at Google’s help center.
  2. Search for your products in Google to see who is currently appearing in Product Listing Ads.

This is an advanced technique because even though the tools provided by Shopify and Google help streamline the process, you will still have to review your products to make sure the descriptions are detailed and accurate, and use the bidding tools provided to make sure your store appears where you want at a bid price you’re comfortable with.

However, there is definitely data to suggest that Product Listing Ads are a successful - and growing! - way to advertise, with click through rates higher than text ads in 2014 studies. If you create unusual or luxury items, by participating in Product Listing Ads, you may have a unique advantage over similar retailers who aren’t.


No doubt about it, Google Adwords can be intimidating, but with a little extra planning, research, and understanding of what your market is looking for, you can make the most out of your advertising budget. 

For more Google Adwords help, see our post on 6 Common Google Ads Mistakes You Should Stop Paying For.

Further reading

About The Author: Georgene Nunn is a multidisciplinary .com veteran of 10 years. Her specialties include pay per click wizardry, and being a master at mashing up analytics and sales data. Georgene runs a search marketing blog at