“I’m going to put in a plug for organic right now, but if you look at a search result page, there is a lot of real estate to own. Content crops up in a lot of spaces,” said Eugene Lee, kicking off ClickZ Live’s Attract, Engage, Convert: Smart Paid Media Tactics session.
It’s clear that content marketing is the tactic of today (and tomorrow…), but it’s important to remember that content can and should be leveraged not only for inbound, but also in paid channels – which require some tool savvy to get maximum return. Lee (EVP of Communications Media Inc, and Lisa Raehsler, founder of Big Click Co, shared their tips on optimizing ad copy and campaign scope for ROI.
Establishing paid media strategies & goals
Awareness to purchase is often drawn as a simple path, but it’s actually a much wider terrain. Conversion funnels aren’t always linear, and like any good content strategy, a paid strategy has to start with audience consideration. This starts with which channels are the best investment for paid tactics: Syndication? Social ads? PPC?
“Think of paid search as the glue that binds all the campaigns you have running at a certain time.” – Lee
For those first diving in without existing comparison data to use, Lee encouraged marketers to use survey tools and even simple customer outreach to get a sense of where to start. PPC may not be the best tool for every company… but the speakers agree that it’s a good shot.
“Think of paid search as the glue that binds all the campaigns you have running at a certain time,” said Lee.
When people see a promo on a site, or an offline ad (like a commercial or billboard), PPC creates the opportunity to build a consistent experience in their next interaction (a principle of deliberate timing). The key is that brands working with paid channels are in charge of the message: Ensure the story is consistent or at least in harmony, regardless of which level of the funnel they target. The copy, the website design and all of the assets a brand has should be harmonious in paid search.
And where should marketers invest in paid search – BingAds or AdWords? Both experts agreed, go with Google. The traffic volumes in Bing “aren’t there” in some cases, limiting results and making it hard to define appropriate keywords.
Keyword bidding – in a realm where it’s still all provided
How far should companies go in longtail keywords, before they exhaust funds (and the time it takes to manage long lists)? It’s a challenge for organic search marketers, but the difference is PPC data still gives keyword performance breakdowns (though Google hinted at SMX this feature may change…)
Brands working with paid channels are in charge of the message: Ensure the story is consistent or at least in harmony, regardless of which level of the funnel they target.
Lee highlighted two layers of keywords to consider throughout the funnel:
- Asset terms: Paid and owned terms around the brand and core services.
- Vanity terms: Terms that build audience proxy by matching their language.
Ultimately, he said, it’s a balancing act, and it really depends on your audience. If the general terms are dominated by things that target an irrelevant user base, go longtail.
Raeshler echoed the audience-approach, reminding brands to “watch the conversions.” There’s usually a smaller pool of keywords that works best; use these phrases to reduce lists, make decisions on targeting “looser match” phrases or create a list of negative keywords.
Optimizing: Clicks or conversions?
Keyword targeting is often a first consideration, and it’s also vital to explore best-performing copy. Raeshler advised investing or re-investing funds according to goals for sales (conversions) or goals for branding and traffic (clicks). Additionally, you can break it down according to “converted clicks” or “conversions.”
BingAds or AdWords? Both experts agreed, go with Google.
- Converted clicks: One conversion per click.*
- Conversions: Can be multiple transactions from a single ad click.
*If you’re targeting lead gen/ contact aggregation, converted clicks may be the better choice.
Raeschler also highlighted ad optimization tools available in AdWords for different ad displays:
- Rotate evenly for 90 days: Google will automatically optimize according to clicks or conversions, as set).
- Rotate indefinitely: Manual selection is needed, which may be good for running a specific test.
Total conversions are another tool useful for seeing which devices drive the best results. For example, the feature tracks whether people are clicking on an ad on mobile and then completing a transaction on desktop.
Deciding on mobile (and local) ad optimization
Google has made no bones about it: The company views mobile as the future of search – but is this also true for ROI on paid search? Raeschler has found this to be true, particularly with mobile and location cross-optimization. Store locators are some of the best ads from her experience – especially when the copy makes clear that the brand is aware the user is on mobile.
To maximize mobile and local, adjust bids for top-performing states, skewing in their favor, and reduce bids for low-performing areas. Don’t limit to a single region.
To maximize mobile and local, try not to reduce your scope to specific states, regions, zip codes, etc. Instead, she advised to adjust bid modifiers for top-performing states, skewing in their favor, and reduce bids for low-performing areas. “You never want to exclude an audience,” she suggested.
She also offered a pro tip for favoring mobile in your PPC budget: While Bing Ads allows marketers to select mobile-only campaigns, Google requires bid adjustment. Select the maximum bid parameter for the mobile ads (+300%), so when AdWords goes to survey it see that’s where the maximum bid is – so even if it isn’t mobile exclusive, the campaign has a clear mobile focus.
Paid media is not set and forget, and there are constantly new features to explore. For example, bid by weather is a newer feature ideal for timely searches in certain consumer-facing verticals. An amusement park might up the bids when the weather is nice, while movie theaters might up the bid when it rains.
Check out Brafton’s related blogs on making PPC and content marketing work together:
… And stay tuned for more ClickZ Live updates.