December 7th, 2007 | Published in Google DoubleClick
I read a blog post recently that gives advice to advertisers looking for an SEM. The blogger insists that in today's world an SEM firm must have a solid background in global equity markets and hedge funds. The article states, in so many words, that a minimum requirement for an SEM should be that it has a former Wall Street executive on staff.
Now, I've got a bit of advice for all of you SEMs out there. Before you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire a VP from Wall Street, consider the following free advice:
- Know your advertiser's objectives. Does the advertiser want to increase brand awareness? Does the advertiser have an ROI objective? Does the advertiser have a set budget, or is the sky the limit as long as the ROI target is being reached? Finding clarity regarding goals and objectives with your client is essential to building a successful online marketing program.
- Break campaigns into focused Ad Groups. Make sure that the ads in each Ad Group are appropriately paired with the keywords. Start with the advice provided by your search engine representatives, and adjust from there, based on performance and ingenuity.
- Develop and maintain relevant ad copy and landing pages. Bid management is only one factor among several which affect ad ranking. Build compelling, relevant copy that attracts consumers to click on your ads. Keep the content up-to-date. Test copy variations in distinct Ad Groups and compare performance. Make sure that the landing pages are relevant to the copy and to the keywords.
- Use the Geo-Targeting tools provided by the search engines. Make sure the ads are appropriately targeted towards geographic regions. Don't waste budget targeting ads towards geographic regions which don't match your target audience.
- Use match types intelligently. Explore broad, phrase, and exact match types. For each keyword, test the various match type options. Some keyword/match type combinations may result in too many clicks that don't convert well for you -- identify these combinations and eliminate them from your program. Also use negative keywords to filter out irrelevant matches.
- Study the interaction between keywords and conversions. Just because a consumer searches for "flight to Vegas" doesn't mean he or she will book a flight to Las Vegas. The consumer may end up purchasing a bus ticket to Yonkers. Know the profit margins associated with the various conversion types so that you can set CPA or ROAS goals accordingly. If there are wide variances in profit margin in your product mix, make sure you are using a bid management system that allows you to assign goals based on the conversions as well as the keywords.
- Make sure you are using a tracking, reporting, and bid management tool with a data accuracy policy. You need good data to make good decisions. Your technology provider should give you timely and accurate click and cost data, taken directly from the search engines. Make sure your technology provider does not use unreliable referrer data for bid management calculations.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Search marketing is complex, but that's not a good excuse to abandon common sense.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays.