How your business can get started with result driven search advertising?
Last week, we discussed the fundamentals of organic search (SEO), which briefly laid out why brands and businesses must not try to chase the rapidly changing search algorithms, but focus on high quality content that will entice people to visit their website frequently.
No brand or business can solely depend on organic search. No matter what is the quality and quantity of content generated, the process ofgetting ROI from organic search is slow and unpredictable. That is where SEM comes to rescue.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the paidadvertising program on search engines like Google and Bing that lets you get started within a day, with any budget and results are in real time, thus making SEM an imperative in a digital marketing agenda. Over 95%of Google’s revenue is from its ad business called as AdWords. That’senough said to prove the importance, but I have come across a lot ofbusinesses, specially the small and medium enterprises, who are a bitskeptical about search ads. A few others have tried it, did not get what they wanted and now suffer from what’s called – once bitten, twice shyphenomenon.
Let’s understand how SEM is unique before discussing its nuances.
SEM is a unique ad platform vis-a-vis print ads. Choosing a newspaper todisplay your ad are based on the available estimation of readership,demography, etc. But, one major shortcoming of print ad is that no oneknows how many readers have the intent or interest about your brand orbusiness at the time of reading the paper. In search ads, the biggestreason for its success is that, the ads are shown / triggered based onwhat a person ‘searches’ for at that very moment.
Whether yousearch online for Prada or guinea pig food, the ads displaced are basedon your intent- to rightly put it, your customers’ intent to buy guineapig food. This is the moment a brand can use to its advantage andconvert a prospect into a customer.
SEM is deep and hiring aprofessional to setup and run your campaign is a good idea. However,knowing the fundamentals at the three stages – start, optimize and measure, lets you get the best out of it.
You pay only when someone clicks: Search ads are also popularly called as PPC, which stands for Pay- per- Click. These are purely ‘text only’ ads you see alongside organicsearch results and on other partner websites of search engines likeBing-Yahoo and Google. Your money is spent if and only if someone clicks on your advertisement. You are not charged if someone views your ad.
One does not need a website to get started – Google offers an ad solution called AdWords Express, through which asmall / local businesses can get started with search ads under an hour.All you need are pre-requisites like listing of your business on GoogleMaps and a payment mechanism like credit card.
You are the boss – of bids, budgets, and when the ads run. If your business is closed on Sundays, the ads can be paused on Sundays. The search ad platformsprovide absolute control over the amount of money you spend. It could be Rs. 500 ($7) a day or Rs. 50 lakh ($75,000) a month – you decide thebudget along with frequency and duration of the campaign.
Manage and optimize performance
Get more done with ‘extensions’: Though search ads are text only, it lets you add extensions such asclick to call, maps, reviews, etc., If you are a local store, or cafe,then the call extension makes it easy for your prospective customers tocall you with a single click and perhaps make an enquiry or book a table respectively. (For call-only campaigns, ads will only appear on devices capable of making calls.)
Choose where your ads appear: Search ads let you control the regions down to a pin code level ofaccuracy. This is great for small businesses that operate only atcertain locations and advertising on any other mainline media means ahuge spill over.
Alternatively, let’s say you are an Agra basedtravel agent wanting to promote a tour package for the Taj Mahal and the prospective tourists are likely to be from USA, you can then set yourads visibility only to USA.
Cherry pick the keywords: To do this effectively, one must understand at which part of customer’s buying process the business fits well. Bidding for keywords is yourchoice and they range from vastly generic to highly specific.
‘Dog food recipe’ a set of keywords is way too different from ‘buy dog foodonline’. In the former search, people are trying to seek informationabout preparing dog food, whereas in the later they are clearly seekingto buy it online. It’s up to your discretion to choose which keyword tobid for, based on which service best describes your business.
Quality score and landing page: Google and Bing care about advertisers (their paying customers) as much as they care about the people using their platform to search(consumers). To hit the right balance of providing a great experiencefor both the parties, they have a mechanism called as Quality Score,which is on a scale of 1 to 10 for telling advertisers how good your adand landing page is.
Higher Quality Score means better performing campaigns, higher ad ranks at lower bids for keywords. The simplest way to get a higher score is to mean what you say. That is, the landingpage should match what your ad says; it is trustworthy and easy tonavigate.
Measurement and ROI
Search ads are driven by objectives and measured by results: Different business have different objectives. It comes in all formsincluding driving sales, generating leads, getting people to view /download something or signup for an event, etc, which at the end of thedays is based on what you think is worth spending money on advertisingfor. Based on the objective, search ads lets you create separate andmultiple set of ads and further optimize it to get maximum bang for thebuck.
Measurability is what adds elegance to digital marketingand search ads are the epitome of it. A conversion happens when yourcustomers meets your set objective. You can measure campaign performance through multiple reports including – which keywords performed, whichsearch term led a customer to click on your ad, which type of conversion was most profitable, parity or disparity in demographic of youraudience, performance across different geographies, A/B testing withdifferent URLs of your website, time segmentation and so on.
Understanding customer journey: Tools like Google Analytics gives you deeper insights through what iscalled attribution modeling (you set rules to give credit to whatactually resulted in sales or meeting the set objectives).
Let’ssay a customer saw your ad for a microwave, but dint click it. On daytwo, she clicked the ad, signed up for your newsletter, and liked yourbusiness page on Facebook but still did not buy the microwave. On alater date, she clicked on a newsletter email sent by you, and finallypurchased it. Now, with Attribution Modeling, you can give weights orcredits for what resulted in converting the sale.