The dynamics of paid search are in a constant state of flux, with new developments, guidelines, and of course the regular updates from Google AdWords turning search into an absolute maze of challenges. Everybody wants to be part of the ‘next big thing’, but it’s easy for strategy to suffer as marketers attempt to keep up.
Reading For Relevancy
Imogen Pickles, account director at Genie Goals, explains how easy it is for even well-established brands to experience wastage in this area: “As PPC marketers, we live and breathe the idea of relevancy. It’s incredibly important that every keyword, ad group and landing page are as relevant as they possibly can be to what our potential customers are looking for, or costs can spiral out of control. Users will bounce as soon as they realise they haven’t found what they’re looking for, and nobody wins.”
And these struggles to maintain relevancy are not just rookie mistakes made by small, digitally naïve businesses. As brands expand their product catalogues, as budgets and marketing teams increase, these high standards can become watered down, or lost, resulting in financial wastage. “When we’re dealing with huge budgets and product catalogues, making sure that high standards of relevancy are maintained is easier said than done.” Says Pickles. “One ‘solution’ which we’ve seen in use when taking over large accounts is to use the short tail to maximise coverage, with the same ad copy across the board. This is a great way to waste a lot of money and doom yourself to a lot of time spent in Search Query reports finding new negative keywords.”
As PPC gets more and more difficult, it’s clear that data is going to play an increasingly important role in making sure marketers can draw actionable insights from the huge lakes of consumer information that are inevitably collected. “The most obvious solution to this challenge is through audience segmentation analysis – it’s common knowledge now that in paid search, the keyword is no longer the top dog. It’s just as important that we learn to slice our data in lots of different ways to find out who is clicking on that keyword.” Continues Pickles. “AdWords is endlessly giving us new ways to pull apart our data, so there’s no reason why we can’t have tailored bids and ad copy depending on a user’s device, perceived gender and age, income and browsing habits (through similar audiences), and then tweaked yet again depending on the context they’re searching in. When is it? Where are they? How much time have they spent on your site in the past?” By tackling paid search from a variety of angles, catering to specific demographics, marketers should see a higher lead to impression ratio, thanks to the increased consumer relevance.
“The only limit is the amount of data you have access to. For small clients it will take a while to be able to make meaningful bidding decisions if they’re looking at performance of campaigns split by number of pages their audiences have viewed.” Says Pickles. “For larger brands, the data available is often huge and it’s easy to get lost in a haze of pivot tables. Our resources have been put into making sure we’re able to automate segmentation analysis in a rational way, in order to manage the huge amount of data available to us, and find patterns across different brands and industries.”
Keeping Up With The Big Guns
So how can brands stay ahead of the curve when it comes to Google AdWords? The constant updates and changing rules have caught out many marketers and lost them money in the process. “The only ways to stay ahead of the curve are to have a great relationship with Google, or get yourself an agency which does.” Says Pickles. “On the other hand, I’d recommend never muddying your focus by jumping onto every single beta and feature which is released- not everything is right for every client, and without clear goals and guidelines around testing, you’ll find yourself with every shiny new thing and no clear understanding of why you aren’t getting the results you want.”