As the economic climate becomes increasingly harsh, pressure is building on marketers to deliver results with lower budgets.
The majority of advertising intrudes on the audience, interrupting their activities, but boosting search engine traffic is a non-intrusive method of online marketing. Search is unique in tapping into a searcher at the exact moment they are seeking a solution, so traffic originates from a voluntary audience.
Pay Per Click (PPC) models are tangible, providing the marketer with an opportunity to generate acquisitions – such as sales, leads or enquiries, in volume, at a fixed Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). Thus, the campaign can be self-financing and more scalable.
Search marketing is among the fastest-growing media in the UK, with advertiser spend rising 29 per cent year-on-year in the first six months of 2008, according to E-consultancy. Yet the intricacies of running a successful campaign are still alien to many marketers.
There are seven key tactics and five pitfalls to avoid:
1.Consider resourcing issues
Successful campaigns take manpower and expertise, so employing an agency team is often the best option. The hiring process has changed, with Google axing its Best Practice Funding, whereby agencies could receive up to 8% commission from Google, at the end of last year. Client companies should now shop around to ensure they get the best value from their suppliers. Meanwhile, agencies will need to redouble efforts to prove their worth to make up the revenue shortfall.
2.Consider your objectives and audience
Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve, and how search fits with your overall activity and marketing strategy. Search is a highly measurable medium so clear goals; any agency worth its salt should know instantly whether targets are being met. Note also that SEO and paid-for links may attract different audiences, with those looking for a particular product or service are likely to find being ‘sold to’ more acceptable.
3.Remember keywords are key
With the rise of social networks, links that appear on natural search rankings can be subjective and unreliable. Conversely, because of the rigorous metrics and ranking systems involved, PPC must work hard to be reliable to reach the top.
Ensure your search agency helps develop a comprehensive list of keywords around your brand, products and services, events, website content, competitor brand offerings and generic terms.
Keyword development tools on their own are not enough: businesses need to know how their target audiences are likely to search, and this is where an agency can add value. The agency should revisit keywords on a regular basis with insight tools to remove poorly performing words or add new ones.
4.Discuss remuneration the moment you brief an agency
Your supplier should openly converse with you about this, and the best will offer alternative models. For example, Jellyfish was in the vanguard of those offering CPA, where clients only pay when someone purchases your product or service after being brought in through a sponsored link, but we also offer the option of a flexible campaign management fee.
5.Monitor ongoing performance
Once the campaign has been scoped out and the fee agreed, don’t overlook monitoring the search drive to assess its ongoing performance. There are many campaign elements that must be scrutinised to manage the campaign within the agreed CPA, whilst maximising the volume of acquisitions.
Keeping all the plates spinning is another core ability of specialist agencies. For example, Jellyfish has developed the Metrics Tree to help clients understand how campaigns are run. Know how elements such as keywords in ad copy, landing page destinations and keyword bidding strategies affect each other, and it is possible to manipulate page impression levels, average costs per click, click-through rates and, ultimately, optimise conversion.
6.Decide who or what should run the campaign
Another important decision is whether you use human teams or software – or a combination of both – to run the campaign. We believe that while it is good to have automated systems monitoring progress of your PPC campaigns 24/7, it’s crucial to have specialist teams overseeing the software.
Programmes are still too rule-based to run paid search campaigns as effectively as a combination of humans and technology. Furthermore, agencies can incentivise their teams to deliver on every part of the campaign management process, acting swiftly to implement changes.
7.Finally, stay on top of your rivals’ activity
Can your agency investigate what competitors in your business sector are doing online? What strategies are they using, and how can you employ the agency’s expertise to outmanoeuvre the opposition? The good part about keeping up with the Joneses in this way is that the industry is always striving to set higher standards – and that can only be a good thing.
1.Budget burn - it’s easy to spend your budget quickly if you don’t have the correct campaign structure and strategy. CPA helps avoid this problem.
2.Underperforming keywords - these can affect the overall costs of your campaign.
3.Unnecessary SEO - if you use a dual search strategy, check whether you appear as far up the natural listings as you would like
4.Keyword confusion - avoid the mistake inexperienced people setting up PPC campaigns often make in missing out negatives. For example, a stockbroker would want to be listed when someone searches for ‘shares’ - but not ‘house share’.
5.Wrong turn - make sure the user is delivered to the most relevant page to their search; it is essential you optimise every click. Users are often taken to the home page when there are far more relevant pages likely to result in a sale or required action.
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