Unless you’ve been stranded in outer space for the last 6 months, you will have no doubt been affected in some way by the recession. With household names such as Woolworths and MFI being blown out of the water, it is pretty safe to say that no business has a golden ticket to the finale!
So, you are then faced with the question…“how do I keep my company profitable in the recession?” Too many companies focus solely on reducing costs and forget completely about marketing and driving new customers to their sites. This can be a backward philosophy as it may enable the company to “keep afloat” for a while but they will be quickly overtaken by competitors who continue to market themselves and therefore dominate the “share of voice” in any given advertising stream.
So, how can you gain or retain an immediate “share of voice” online with a reduced marketing budget. My tip would be with Google AdWords. Now, don’t get me wrong, ROI will only be guaranteed for campaigns that are niche, specific and set up following best practise guidelines. On that basis, here are my top tips for creating a paid search campaign that will drive you quality traffic, with high conversion intent.
1. Breathe…DON’T RUSH THIS. If your manager has given you 2 hours to do this job, tell him/her that you will need more time. Setting up a paid search campaign requires planning, thought, analysis and creativity, none of which you can rush.
2. What is it exactly that you want to promote? I would steer away from generic concepts and go more specific product/service based. For example, if you were a solicitor who specialised in conveyancing, you would not want to feature generic “solicitor” terms in your campaign as these may drive traffic looking for personal injury, employment law or any other kind of legal advice, thereby potentially wasting your money on low quality clicks.
3. Use the Google AdWords keyword tool to find search terms for your campaign. Not only is it free, but you will have a vast amount of UK data (search volumes, advertising competition, etc) which is often missing in other paid-for tools.
4. If you service a specific geographical audience, take full advantage of it! Ensure that there are location variations of all important terms within your campaign. The concatenate function in excel is excellent for creating these location variant keywords.
5. When you are happy with your list of keywords, it is then time to categorise them into tightly themed ad groups. Try and divide search terms into as small and specific ad groups as possible, with around 2-10 keywords per group. This will ensure that advert copy written for each ad group is highly specific and relevant to each search term.
6. When all keywords are categorised into tightly themed ad groups, the task of writing ad copy becomes a lot easier. Key points to remember when writing ad copy are:
- Be relevant! Always try to use the search terms from the ad group in the title, advert messaging and display urls (if possible)
- Be appealing! Try and make the advert descriptions as appealing as possible. Wherever you have a core USP that sets you apart from your competitors, try to use it in ad copy (where it is applicable to the search terms in that ad group)
- Use ‘calls to action!’ Where possible try include a call to action phrase in your advert such as “order online now”
- Consider using keyword insertion for certain ad variations. Keyword insertion can be a great tool for increasing relevancy, as it will insert the search query in the advert, if the search query is less than 25 characters. For search queries over 25 characters, the default text will be shown. This should, however, be used with care and tested alongside ad variations that do not use the tool
I would recommend creating approximately three advert variations per ad group, so that you can test the performance of the different messages. From the data that you collect, you can then go on to write additional ad copy variations based on the best performing adverts.
7. To ensure that all quality leads are directed to the most relevant pages within your site, make sure you use deep links. This means that you should not direct all traffic through to the homepage, but in our example above, drive people through to the Conveyancing page. You should also consider carefully whether the pages have adequate content and ‘calls to action’ to engage the visitors you gain from paid search. Remember, when visiting a website we tend to spend just a few seconds deciding whether the page we have landed on is relevant and engaging. In the case of paid search you must be doubly-sure you have optimised your landing pages because every visitor who arrives and then departs shortly after has cost you money. In some cases, there may be a need to create stand alone landing pages separate from your main site.
8. All location keywords should be targeted to the whole of the UK to catch all relevant traffic. However, the non location terms such as “conveyancing solicitor” should be ‘geotargeted’ to the specific area that they service. This will ensure that ads are only shown to people within a chosen catchment area. Ensure that you create two separate campaigns for the UK and geotargeted campaigns so that they can target different areas. This setup will minimise your daily expenditure and maximum the volume of high quality leads directing to your site.
9. Download AdWords Editor! AdWords Editor is an absolutely fantastic tool, and again…it’s free! Not only does it make uploading new campaigns super quick, but it also simplifies and speeds up bid management, amending URLs and all sorts of lovely everyday stuff. Seriously, download it now! If I was taken to a desert island and could only take my most prized possessions, alongside a Twilight Book and my iPod touch, I would probably take AdWords Editor as well!
So, you’ve used AdWords Editor to upload your campaign, what do you do now? Well, the fun has only just begun! Keep an eye out for our next instalment where I will go through my top tips for optimising and managing your campaign on a daily basis with the goal of maximising ROI.