It's only late October - what could we possible be doing thinking about paid search for next year? Well, paid search isn't all about tweaking
ad copy and keyword research. Paid search is also a component of your
marketing plan that needs to align itself with your overall marketing
goals. Now is the time to start that process.
About 90% of the posts and articles I read regarding paid search focus
on detailed, in-campaign strategies for more clicks, better
conversions, etc. I include most of what I've written in that 90%. But
what happens when you need to buckle down and justify your budget spent
on PPC and prove that it positively affected your overall marketing
strategy for the year? Well, as an in-house marketing manager, I'm
spending time on that now. It's budgeting and planning time for 2008
and paid search is under the microscope.
For many, paid search
is a tool used in a much larger marketing strategy. That larger
marketing strategy could include print advertising, display ads, video
ads, white papers, TV commercials, etc. It all depends on your audience
and how you interact with them. But, what doesn't change is the fact
that paid search is a tool to reach that audience and its results and
goals should be in-line with your overall strategy.
Go To School on Your 2007 Paid Search Results
on your PPC goals (you had them right!?), it's time to face the truth
on what the results were for 2007. If a conversion for you means a sale
than your goal tracking could be different than a campaign that focuses
on lead conversions, for instance. But, regardless, you still need to
learn from the previous year. Remember also that we're not focusing on
granular campaign stats here. We're looking to provide information that
supports our overall marketing strategy. So, let's pull some basic
- Conversion Report: This is a no-brainer.
Run the report all the way down to the keyword so you can see what
keywords perform the best. But, also run the numbers at the ad group
and campaign level. This is a must for ROI purposes.
- Ad Click-Through-Rate (CTR):
What does your audience think of your messaging? You're most likely
running 1-3 ads for each ad group so now is the time to check out how
well your calls-to-action and/or feature/benefit text is performing. If
you're text is being used by other mediums, you'll really want to pay
- Bounce Rate Report: Through your
analytics you can isolate each landing page used in your PPC campaigns
and learn a bit more about the bounce rate for visitors. Bounce rate
indicates the percentage of people that took one look at your page and
then left the site. This works best if you're using a custom landing
page for each ad group in your campaign. If your CTRs are high on your
ad, but your bounce rate is high on your landing page, than visitors
are not finding the information that they thought they'd find by
clicking on your ad. Why is that? What needs to change in your
messaging? On the other hand, what can you learn from a page with a low
bounce rate that you could apply to your other product line ad groups?
- Geographical Reports: What regions of the state,
country, or world provide the best CTR or conversions? You may find
that certain messaging or offers work differently in different regions.
Maybe one of your products is experiencing great conversion rates in a
certain region. Can you ask for better market research than that?
- Search Query Report:
Running this report gives you all the keywords that triggered your ads.
On occasion, I'll find keywords or phrases that I was unaware my
audience was using to find products or services related to my business.
If used frequently, these new keywords offer opportunity for new
marketing messaging that can used across many mediums. If you're
separating your ad groups by region for more local targeting, this
could give you insight into phrasing used by the different territories.
I'll throw in a note here that there are many pieces of important data to pull when reviewing a PPC campaign. I'm
only throwing out a few that will help you in determining some overall
marketing strategies for the upcoming year.
Turn Stats into Business Results
CTR on individual keywords is not going to help you or your management
decide if paid search was an effective marketing medium. Turn those
endless spreadsheets of data into useful bits of information that you
can share with colleagues so that they'll understand the results. Make
sure you're pointing to how the PPC results correlated to your overall
marketing strategy. For instance, show the number of leads, sales, or conversion versus your actual budget spend on an ad group.
Look Toward The Future
- Bad Results Can Be Good:
Don't be afraid to report bad results as the bad results are often as
important as the good ones. Learning that conversions are low using one
type of call-to-action or messaging can play a large roll in how you
plan for next year. You may even find that certain products or certain
offers aren't meeting customer expectations. In this respect, a paid
search campaign can actually help guide product development.
I've heard too many
times that either in-house search engine marketers or agencies running
PPC campaigns are not in tune with the overall product marketing
strategy. How can that be? Paid search is a major expenditure and
should be in-line with overall marketing strategies. Make it a point to
sit down with sales, product management, etc. and find out their goals
for 2008. How do they view the market? Should you be spending more on
certain ad groups than others? What messaging do they think is most
likely to attract the most qualified clicks?
Don't let paid search have its own strategy!
October 30, 2007
Patrick Schaber is currently the Director of Marketing for Transition Networks, Inc – a data networking hardware manufacturer. His experience working for both large and small organizations has given him keen insights into many facets of marketing including, email marketing, advertising, search engine marketing, social media and more. Along with trainings and industry speaking engagements, Patrick authors his own site, The Lonely Marketer, which focuses on the diverse activities and culture related to the small business marketer.