A Basic Guide To Boosting Your Business With Paid Search

July 24, 2014 Robert Clarke

PPC, SEM, CPC, CPM, CPL: there’s a lot of lingo and confusion when it comes to paid search.

And rightfully so.

Paid search is often mistakenly grouped with things like Facebook ads, promoted Tweets, and YouTube ads – channels that have little to do with people actually searching for your product or service.

But what shouldn’t be confusing is the fact that paid search can help in getting new leads, customers, and sales (and fast).

Here is a very basic guide to the main paid search and related ad platforms that can help you boost your business.

1. Google AdWords (Search)

What it is

Whenever you Google something that has a commercial intent, the first three results will be Google AdWords text ads (as well as those on right hand column). Businesses bid on these ads based on the keywords used by the searcher, and the order of the ads that appear is based upon a combination of bid amount and your keyword quality score

 

 

What’s important to understand about AdWords is that they work like the Yellow Pages before the Internet was around.  That is, they connect businesses with people who are actively searching for their product or service.

Why use it

  • It’s one of the fastest and most effective paid search channels: “Businesses make $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords." (Google)
  • Complete control over advertising costs, you can spend as much or as little as you want and you don’t need a big budget to get started.
  • You can measure every click, every call, and the cost of acquiring every new customer right down to the penny.
  • The data gained from your paid search campaigns can help you with SEO, content, and blog topics, and other business decisions.
  • If you’re not bidding on keywords relevant to your business, your competition probably is.

Why not to use it

  • A successful AdWords campaign will likely involve a lot of keyword research, as well as the creation of multiple ads, ad groups, and landing pages, and ongoing testing and optimization.  All this requires a little experience, a little expertise, and a lot of time that you’ll need to commit to be successful.

Key tips

  • Aim for lots of long-tail keywords that are cheaper, and taken together they will produce higher volume, higher quality traffic.
  • Don’t always send users to your homepage.  Use a landing page platform that allows you to create multiple pages and a more relevant experience to the user’s search intent.
  • Ensure your homepage, landing page, or mobile-friendly landing page is optimized for conversion, complete with an incentive or promo, a crystal clear call-to-action, and an easy form to complete or obvious number to call.
  • Make sure the message in your ad is reinforced on your landing page.

 

2. Google AdWords (Display)

What it is

The Google AdWords display ads are text, banner, video, or mobile ads that are shown on the Google Display Network.  The Google Display network includes over 2 million web sites that reach over 90% of Internet users worldwide.

 

 

Why use it

  • People can’t Google something they don’t know exists, so Google Display is great for creating awareness around a new product, issue, or brand.
  • Traffic from Google Display is usually fairly cheap.
  • You can topic target your ads, allowing them to appear only on pages in the network that have content related to your product or service.
  • Can also be used for retargeting website visitors (see #4).

Why not to use it

  • The traffic is cheaper, but the quality is usually lower.  That’s because these are visitors that haven’t expressly shown interest in your product or service (like a Google search), but have simply clicked on an ad.
  • Generally speaking, Google Display is not recommended for direct sales goals but as part of a larger awareness or soft sell campaign.

Key tips

  • Use the Display Network for a soft sell, not a hard sell.  Promote webinars, white papers, or free trials — the easier the ask, the better.
  • Make sure you’re getting the message to the right audience with things like placement, interest, and keyword-contextual targeting.
  • Test different formats (text, banner, video, mobile) for maximum success.

 

3. Bing/Yahoo

What it is

Both Bing and Yahoo! use Bing’s search engine, and this includes their ad platform.  Bing Ads work essentially the same as Google AdWords, but 68% of searches are conducted on Google, whereas only 19% are on Bing and 10% on Yahoo! (Comscore).

 

 

Why use it

  • Pretty much for all the same reasons as Google AdWords (see #1)
  • Clicks on Bing tend to be cheaper than AdWords as there is often lower competition for top positions.
  • Targeting female demographic: Bing users are 58% female compared to 45% for Google (Moz).
  • Bing allows you to import your Google Adwords campaigns directly so you can test both platforms without additional work.

Why not to use it

  • Just like Google AdWords, it takes experience, expertise, and ongoing effort and commitment to produce successful results.

Key tips

  • Don’t run Bing ads on devices such as mobile phones unless your website is mobile-friendly, and remember that the needs of a mobile user (often more immediate) can be much different than a desktop user.
  • Target the right locations.  Bing lets you select zip/postal codes, states/provinces, counties, cities, and specific geographic areas. 
  • Don’t switch to autopilot.  As you get more data from your ads, shift budgets to higher converting ad groups, test different offers, and split-test landing pages to see which ones get more conversions.

 

4. Retargeting

What it is

Retargeting allows marketers to re-deploy tailored messages to people that have previously visited your site and (in most cases) did not take a specific action.  Perhaps someone left items in their shopping cart, didn’t download your white paper, didn’t complete a free trial registration, and then left your website (often forever).  Retargeting allows you to message these people again as they go elsewhere online using the Google Display Network or platforms such as AdRoll, Perfect Audience (which allows for Facebook retargeting - see #6), and even using triggered emails.

Retargeting example courtesy of Search Engine Journal:

 

 

Why use it

  • Retargeting allows you to remind users who’ve been to your site of their former desire to purchase.
  • You can use it as an opportunity to test different offers, promos, and discounts compared to the original offer.
  • In many cases you’ll be able to customize or personalize retargeting messaging based on which products a user may have left in their shopping cart, where they’re located, what device they’re using, and so forth. 

Why not to use it

  • Many consumers believe online ads that follow them around are an invasion of privacy.

Key tips

  • Give people incentive to click on a retargeting ad, preferably one that differs from the original offer.
  • Like regular banner ads, you’ll likely get more clicks with a softer sell such as a white paper download, webinar registration, or free trial offer.
  • Test different platforms, images, offers, and CTAs to find the best retargeting fit for you.

 

5. YouTube

What it is

Managed through the AdWords platform, you can show your video ad on YouTube (or in Google Display network) either before another video is played or have it show up in YouTube search results. 

 

 

Why use it

  • Videos may make up 84% of internet traffic by 2018 (Cisco).  Videos are being watched more and more across devices and are a great way to visually promote your brand.
  • You can use videos to promote your product or service, create awareness for an event or webinar, highlight tips or training — the sky’s the limit.
  • You only pay for YouTube video in-view ads that have been watched for at least 30 seconds (unless the ad is shorter).  The other video option is to have your video ad appear in the results when someone conducts a relevant YouTube search, and you are only charged when someone clicks on it (just like with AdWords). 
  • You can insert traditional display advertising on YouTube, and this can all be managed with the Google AdWords platform. 

Why not to use it

  • It’s not always the case, but you’ll likely have to dedicate the right resources for producing a high-quality video.
  • Just like image or banner advertising, it’s probably not a channel for direct sales.

Key tips

  • Keep it brief, keep it clear.  Assume that most users will skip over your ad before it ends so frontload your video and get to the offer or CTA early.
  • Show your ideal customer in the video and let them envision and experience using your product or service and how it can help them save time, save money, solve a problem, and so on.
  • Get creative with what you want users to do (besides buying from you), like subscribe to your newsletter or blog, attend a webinar, attend a meetup, or follow you on Facebook.

 

6. Facebook, Twitter and Social Media Ads

What it is

Social Media sites such as Facebook (Paid Posts, Likes, ads), Twitter (Promoted Accounts and Tweets), Pinterest (Promoted Pins), Instagram (Sponsored Photos and Videos), LinkedIn, et al, all have ad platforms that allow you to message social users.

 

 

Why use it

  • Your customers are likely on social media, and so are your competitors.
  • Sites like Facebook have a lot of customer data and demographic information so you can really target your ideal customers.
  • Most social media ad platforms have contextual-targeting capability, or the ability to deliver your marketing messaging to people consuming similar themed content to make it more relevant.
  • You can use many of these sites as part of a Retargeting strategy.

Why not to use it

  • Unlike Google AdWords or Bing Ads, people are not necessarily searching for your product or service on social media sites and thus traffic from them will likely be lower quality.
  • A lot of these new ad platforms are unproven as far as ROI, and still need time to mature.

Key tips

  • Consider your audience before you select the social media channel.  Generally speaking, Facebook can work well with B2C and LinkedIn for B2B, and Twitter for both.
  • Use the social media channel before you start advertising on it.  Get to know the ins and outs and ask others if they have any tips for advertising success.
  • Get creative with the offer, keeping in mind that people are usually using social media to be social, not necessarily to buy stuff.

 

5 Key Paid Search Takeaways

  • Start with search. Whether it’s Google AdWords or Bing Ads, you’re simply more likely to have success targeting people who are actively searching for the product or service that you sell compared to a disruptive-type of ad format.
  • Be relentlessly relevant. Create a relevant experience to a user's search, which includes creation of long-tail keywords, multiple and specific landing pages, and messaging and web format that are consistent with their device. 
  • Retarget. Whether you use Google Display, Facebook, or another platform, use retargeting as a way to capture the conversion.
  • Always be testing. There is no autopilot switch.  You need to constantly test new keywords, ads, images, headlines, prices, promos, as well as different platforms and strategies to get high ROI.
  • Seek help for added success. Paid search involves the three “Es”: expertise, experience, and effort, so consider partnering with a paid search vendor who can help you maximize your success.  Be sure that any agency you work with is a Google Partner and/or Bing Ads accredited professional.

Boost your bottom line by getting marketing and sales on the same page. Grab this free eBook to get started. 

About the Author

Robert Clarke

Robert Clarke is partner at Op Ed Marketing, a PPC Management Company that helps clients Attract, Convert, and Keep customers. Contact Robert for any PPC questions, a free PPC competitive analysis, or follow him on Twitter @opedmarketing.

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