If you’re considering running paid search ads for your business, it’s important to take the time to ask yourself the right questions and do some research before diving in. This may be an obvious statement, but it’s important to stress given some dangerous assumptions that get made about paid search.
For example, a jelly bean store might assume that paid search for them means making sure their ads are seen every time someone searches online for “jelly beans.” But that searcher might be wondering how the delightful candy is made or when it was invented. Or they might be looking for t-shirts with jelly bean drawings on them or for online stores that sell and ship jelly beans in bulk. Does this jelly bean store want pay for a click on their ad from one of these online searchers? This is a question the store needs to answer before they spend their money on very broad paid search terms.
With that, here’s the general set of questions and research that needs to be carefully completed before you can find success in paid search engine advertising.
What’s the goal?
You’ve decided to invest in advertising your business online. There must be a reason behind this.
- Was it to drive overall brand awareness?
- Or to gauge interest in a soon-to-be launched product through email signups?
- Or to increase new sales (whatever a “sale” is for you)?
Whatever you answer, you should revisit it at every step along the way of this process to make sure your decisions align with this end goal.
Know who you’re targeting
This should be a pretty simple one, since you know your business best, but it’s not to be taken lightly. This is an important time to get reacquainted with your audience. If your goal was to increase sales for your business, then ask yourself what you know about your typical new prospect:
- What’s their knowledge base at that point, how familiar are they with your brand or your product or service offering before becoming a customer?
- What are the common misconceptions about these things or challenges you typically have to overcome to “sell” your service or product?
With these answers floating in your head, slip out of your mind and into theirs. Become your target prospect, think about how they think and talk–and how they’d likely search online. It’s not necessarily going to be how you or your colleagues talk. It might even include terms that you try to avoid in your branding. But consider all this and file it away.
Keyword Research Time
This is where the harder work begins, but it’s also where the “aha!” moments happen. Using tools like the Adwords keyword tool, start yourself down a path of exploration into the search queries you think your prospects would use to find you. The goal was sales–so think about the dream prospect would search. The highly motivated, perfect fit.
For the jelly bean store, that might be “where to buy jelly beans” or “jelly beans for sale.” From there, you can widen your research and start to identify themes around which you can target your audience. You also might find at this point that a large volume of people search for “buy jelly beans in bulk” or “jelly beans on sale.” Does our jelly bean store sell in bulk? Are they a gourmet candy shop? Then they probably want to set “bulk” and “on sale” as negative keywords, so their ads don’t get displayed for those kinds of searches.
And if they are a gourmet jelly bean store and have been working to elevate the public’s jelly bean image and propel the chewy candy into a more mature category by calling their product “fruit gems” well, guess what…they’re still jelly beans. That’s how the public knows the product, so it’s wise to put ad budget toward that familiar term.
Building a smart ad campaign
This could be a whole separate blog post, but simply put: once you’ve identified your keyword themes, make sure your ads match each of them. This means taking the time to write different sets of ads that speak to each of the different inquiry types and inferred goal of the online searcher. There might end up being overlap, but do the work to determine that. Repeat your keyword in the ad (for the gourmet shop, it might be painful to use “jelly beans” in their ad copy, so they’ll have to get creative…think along the lines of “Not Your Grandma’s Jelly Beans”), highlight a unique selling point for your business, and include a call to action (paid search text ads have very limited space, so do the best you can). And be sure your landing pages, in turn, match the interest and intent of your users and support the content of the ad.
And about that landing page…
Be sure you’re also paying attention to what happens after you’ve caught a user’s attention and earned their click. That’s where your ultimate goal happens, after all. Test different destinations to gauge the preferred content of each user type and find the page that best drives those increased sales you wanted.
Look for opportunities and risks
Beyond that, you want to closely monitor your continued ad campaign performance, especially watching your query reports to see what specific searches are actually triggering your ads. You’ll find more negative keywords this way and you may find new themes to build new ad groups around. For example, our gourmet jelly bean store might decide they want to try to “convert” discount-shoppers to their product, so they should create a separate ad group for “clearance” and “on sale” keywords, write really clever ad copy that appropriately turns away the right people and intrigues others, and then drive them to a custom landing page explaining why these trendy jelly beans are so much better than any discount bulk option. This will be one to watch very closely, though, and quickly give up on if the sell to bargain hunters is just too tough.
It’s a lot of work, but if you take the time to understand your audience, their intent and needs, build smart campaigns and closely monitor performance, your paid search advertising campaign will pay off.