The old proverb, a watched pot doesn’t boil, doesn’t quite translate into the world of paid search. Unless you keep a close eye on your paid search campaigns, there is a genuine chance that your PPC pot will boil over and potentially burn your house down.
OK, perhaps we’re exaggerating here a little bit, but when a medium is as powerful as paid search, it is worth watching.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
The fact is, nothing will convert faster than a well-placed campaign. Conversely, a poorly executed campaign has the potential to eat a lot of money — and fast. However, in a rapidly moving business environment, the quality of any campaign strategy can change in the blink of an eye. What worked well today could add significant costs to your marketing activities tomorrow.
For example, if a product or service suddenly sells out or otherwise becomes unavailable and the campaign that promotes that product is still running, the costs are just going to go one way. And that’s perhaps the biggest problem with paid search — it can be costly.
While we should remember that there is no such thing as cheap or expensive marketing, only marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t — when popular keywords cost tens of dollars per click, it would be hard to ever consider PPC as cheap.
Note: If you’ve ever wondered why lawyers’ fees are so expensive, consider the cost of advertising legal services when Google charges an estimated $47.07 for a single click on a word like “attorney.”
Savvy marketers understand that those high-cost keywords aren’t always sustainable and look for alternatives. Part of the skill of managing these campaigns is digging deep enough to find those “long-tail” keywords and phrases and then figuring out which keywords convert and which keywords just add to the cost.
In the perfect world, marketers will understand two things:
From here, the marketer can do some simple math.
If it costs $X to acquire a customer worth $Y of business over a specific period of time, you can begin to understand how to set the thresholds of a marketing budget. The secret to marketing success is to maximize the potential of this spend.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, managing an optimized paid search campaign is difficult. And it’s just about to get more complex.
Multi-Channel Marketing — Retargeting
In the spirit of keeping costs down while maximizing conversions, the very best marketers look to other areas of the marketing mix to maximize the potential of their paid search activities.
This might start with a retargeting campaign that utilizes low-cost (unsold inventory) across the likes of Google’s or Facebook’s advertising networks. Re-marketing campaigns are typically deployed after a click on a paid search campaign doesn’t result in an immediate conversion.
Retargeting is an excellent opportunity to position ads on high-traffic news, information, and social media sites. These campaigns work on the principle of repetition, which builds brand familiarity. This is great because when your customers see your ads on a big-brand news network’s site or information portal, this reflects the quality of your brand. Consumers typically assume only big and trustworthy brands have the budget to advertise on these premium channels.
However, there is a fine balance between familiarity and consumer fatigue as ads follow users around the web. Therefore, understanding at what point you cut your losses is a vital component of managing any retargeting campaign.
is the next step of the paid search journey, and it’s a vital one. In fact, many marketers consider email marketing to be the profitable component of their paid search activities.
This is because email marketing is a retention marketing strategy. Most other forms of marketing, including paid search, retargeting, online marketplace sales (eBay, Amazon, etc.), comparison shopping, etc., etc. are acquisition marketing channels.
It will always be more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. But unfortunately, many marketers just focus on the acquisition side of the business and, in many cases, pay to acquire the same customers time and time again. It’s as if marketers are addicted to the thrill of the acquisition but quickly lose interest in building on those expensively acquired relationships.
With low-cost email marketing in the mix, marketers have the potential to generate significant customer lifetime value (CLV) from an expensively acquired client. This essentially allows marketers to spend more on acquiring a customer than any margin in the sale would typically allow.
For example, a business selling gaming consoles might lose money on the sale of the console due to the high cost of paid search marketing but win big by selling games and accessories in subsequent sales generated by email campaigns.
If those powerful punches from email marketing can be enhanced further with a couple of additional jabs from social media — all the better.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how good your paid search, retargeting, email marketing, and social media campaigns are if your website isn’t up to the job.
Optimizing Your Landing Experience
You can lead a potential client to your website but making them buy is a whole different story. Your campaigns will never be truly optimized if your website or landing pages don’t deliver on the promise of your campaigns.
This means landing pages need to be optimized in line with your paid search campaigns. Website optimization starts with simple A/B split testing. Just like with email marketing, this means testing various elements of your landing pages against each other.
Elements to test could include product/service titles and descriptions, form length, number of product images (more is usually better), pricing strategies, shipping options, and page localization (language, currency, etc.). Sometimes something as simple as a color change on your “buy now” buttons can significantly impact conversions.
It should not go without saying that website accessibility is not only a vital optimization strategy. It may also be a legal requirement.
If you think paid search is about quick wins, you better think again.
Maintaining a healthy paid search campaign isn’t just about compiling those all-important keywords and phrases, setting bid thresholds, and ensuring campaigns remain relevant and on budget. It’s also about managing the process post-click.
This starts with a website primed for conversions and a detailed, multi-channel follow-up strategy to ensure that any initial engagement isn’t wasted. Failure to have complete vision across all this activity will result in a less than optimized strategy. This is where working with an agency partner that has an overview of the entire journey pays real dividends.
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