The rapidly growing and changing industry of paid search requires constant analysis and strategic flexibility.
The dynamic changes and complexity of this advertising channel can make it challenging to execute a successful campaign.
Comparing paid search to rocket science is not too far off the mark, according to Irv Brechner the executive vice president of Acquirgy, a leading paid search and DRTV firm. Irv has been involved in Direct Response TV Customer Acquisition for nearly 30 years and has been doing paid search for 10.
While some people believe that this is a simple process that can be automated, Irv’s experience has taught him that it requires a combination of people and technology. It also requires a good deal of continuous proactive testing, which have provided some valuable insight that Irv has shared with us through the following 10 lessons.
We found that you need to have a balance between technology and people. The best combination is one where you recognize that computers are good for things like:
– Number crunching
– Data manipulation
– And reporting
People are great for:
– Keyword Development
– And decision making
Once you recognize that, it becomes a lot easier to become very efficient and cost-effective by placing your limited resources into the things that are most important, such as strategy and copy, and not have to worry about crunching numbers. That’s why you want that unique balance. That’s pretty much what humanology is all about.
Basically, you have to realize that search is simply a lot more than keywords and the response ads that come up. You have to take into account that consumers at every stage through the search process, have specific expectations that must be met with relevant copy.
What we found is that conversions dramatically increase when everything along the continuum was relevant. When it’s not, they decrease. It becomes a case of wasting money if you don’t do it right.
The hallmark of direct response is to focus on what action you want the consumer to take, which is clicking on your ad instead of somebody else’s and getting to a web page and quickly purchasing a product or signing up for an appointment.
I think a lot of people know how to do paid search on basic level but they may not be managing it with the right tools. You want to be able to take advantage of all the different aspects of search software. The more robust the platform is, the longer it typically takes to learn, but the greater the benefit you can derive by slicing and dicing data in ways you can only imagine. These platforms allow you to:
– Set bids based upon individual keywords or ad groups so they can maximize your ROI and profitability.
– They enable you to determine how specific keywords are performing.
– You can do an A/B test on copy so you can have two copy blocks. The technology, the platform, will tell you which one is a winner.
– It provides the ability to turn keywords on and off based upon time of day or day of week.
Those are just a few of the many, many functions that these platforms can achieve. But they are all aimed at giving you, the developer of the search program and the people that analyze the results the best possible data to make your decisions on what you do next. That’s very important. Once you set up your program, you have to analyze the results pretty much on a daily basis. With the right platform that’s been fully integrated into your search program, you can make decisions on the fly that can result in much greater profits and sales.
One of the things that I’ve observed when talking to new clients and potential clients is how poorly ad groups and keywords are organized. This could be because of lack of knowledge or any other reason. We found that so many companies have a very small number of ad groups and they have a lot of keywords in each one of them. That’s really not the right way to do it. Think of an ad group as a group of words where you can analyze the ROI and set the bids and write copy that is germane to that ad group.
We espouse having a large number of ad groups with very small numbers of keywords in each one. If you have 1000 keywords, rather than having 1000 keywords in one ad group, you may want to have 50 ad groups with an average of 20 in each. That enables you to set different bids for each ad group and write different copy for each ad group. In general, unfocused broad copy rarely works and highly targeted and focused copy works very well.
This is actually one of my all-time favorite topics to talk about. I’ve seen the incredible impact that media, other than search, has on search.
When TV media spending increases, search sales increase. When it drops, maybe during certain weeks of the year, then the search sales and search activity decreases as well.
DRTV has a major impact on search but it’s not the only media that impacts search. We’ve seen when companies do a major catalog mailing, their search activity increases. When they do a mass newspaper or print campaign, their paid search activity increases. It’s critical to understand that your offline media impacts your paid search and even more critical to figure out how to track it. At the end of the day, going back to the example, the DRTV media people need to know how many orders came in by the phone, direct to the website and through the search channel.
It’s critical to understand the relationship between offline media and search, track it and have constant communication between your search team and other teams to make sure you take full advantage of merchandising opportunities that exist when offline campaigns are run.
Consumers go through a series of steps when they buy a product. It’s not always the same, depending on what they find out, but typically for many
purchases, especially big purchases, they begin by gathering information. When they’re in that phase, they may type in keywords like cell phones or power generators or sweaters, or whatever they’re looking for. Very general words and if you’re doing search, you should be writing copy that provides information and links to a general discussion of what they’re looking for.
When they move throughout the cycle to evaluation of options and buying decisions, you want to tailor your copy and keywords to those specific cycles. For example, when people go beyond gathering information and they decide to get serious about their purchase, they begin to evaluate their options. At this point, they don’t need any more basic information, they need more detailed information that’s going to help them make up their mind.
All those different processes should go through the keyword ad groups, the keywords you choose and the copy you write. You get the best results when they relate directly to the specific stage of the cycle that the consumer is in for the product they’re considering to buy.
While bids and bid management is very important, we tend to think that copy is one of the primary drivers of paid search success. It’s very important because if you write copy the wrong way, you will spend a lot of money and waste it.
Think of it as, your copy has to do two things:
It has to encourage consumers to click on your ad versus all the other ones that are on the page. You want to write copy that encourages consumers to click on your ad instead of your competitors’.
On the other hand, you want to discourage consumers that are not likely to convert. When you add that type of copy, the number of clicks you get dramatically decreases, but they’re the most qualified. What you end up with are the most potentially qualified consumers.
The strategy that we focus on is the copy.
By highlighting copy that competes effectively against other companies on the page you will gain a significant advantage. You’ve got to look at everything that the other competitors are doing and then create your copy strategy effectively. You’ve got to do everything possible in your copy and on the web page to give customers a great feeling as to why they should order from you.
You’d be surprised how many companies send people to a home page on a very specific search because they either don’t have the resources, or for whatever reason, they haven’t set it up so that the consumer is taken to the best possible, most relevant page on the website for that specific search result and keyword.
If a search program is done correctly, probably 90-95 percent of your entry points into your website from search will be on all the inside pages, the category pages and the specific product pages and not your home page.
If you’re sending a huge percentage of your potential customers to your home page, and not all of your inside pages, you could be losing them because consumers today are very time-stressed, they want to make their purchase quickly. Remember, consumers are always a click away from your competitor. The more you can meet their expectations with relevant ads and copy, the greater your conversions will be.
It’s very good to look at search ads where generic copy is used versus specific copy for the same keyword.
When you see an ad that features generic copy that’s used for a wide range of products and not terribly focused, initially, the consumer’s going to be confused. The last thing you want to do is confuse people. They’ll look to the very next competitor that is very specific.
The more I analyze what companies are doing, the more amazed I am that things like generic copies are still being used on very specific product searches. Any time a consumer clicks on your search ad doesn’t convert, you’re wasting money and, in many cases, you can control why they’re searching on copy, they’ve clicked your link but they don’t convert. When consumers do a search, they’re very, very busy. They’re anxious. They have a set of expectations. The more you can meet their expectations with relevant ads and copy, the greater your conversions will be.
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