Here’s an excellent question from a reader:
I purchased AdWords for Dummies and have dutifully read the first 116 pages. I have paused to ask one overarching question I hope you can answer. It appears to me that the primary audience for your book is someone working on a national AdWords campaign – someone who would like to find a niche, design a product around it, and exploit the power of AdWords to dominate that market. What about those of us who have an existing local business and want to peddle our wares? So far it seems like most of the analytics you describe depend on more data than, for example, a [type of professional] in a city of 200,000 people is likely to accrue (before the next ice age).
There are always useful web analytics you can look at. I agree that some types of testing cannot be done in a small market, but others can, and the harder it is and the longer it takes, the more likely that your competitors will not avail themselves of this data.
For example: landing page bounce rate and time on page. Improve those two metrics, and you will almost certainly increase sales and ROI. And you can get those numbers from a very small sample size.
Split test for how far down the page your visitors read, or for how long they stay on the page. You may not have enough traffic to split test for sales, but look for meaningful proxy measures – steps on the way to sales. What page will a hot prospect almost always look at? Split test ads for page views. Eliminate keywords that don’t lead to those page views.
Remember Bill Murray in Groundhog Day? He had a very small sample (one – Andie McDowell’s character), but he had patience and nothing but time on his hands. And so his slow split testing (“… no white chocolate”) eventually paid off.