Search Marketing 101: Plan a Winning Strategy

Search Marketing 101: Plan a Winning Strategy

Is your paid search strategy all about click-through rates? If so, you could be missing the boat.

While your search campaign also depends upon your goals, business model, and budget, understanding the customer decision journey (CDJ) will help you maximize the impact of your campaign. Meeting your customers’ needs during each of the five CDJ phases — initiation, research, comparison, transaction, and experience — can help you ensure a more successful campaign.

Below are some tips to help you plan and structure your campaign.

Understand the Customer Decision Journey

All customers go through the five stages of the CDJ, although these stages can vary in length and level of importance, based on factors such as product cost, purchase frequency, complexity and shopper demographic. For example, a consumer will typically spend less time researching a clock radio than they will a dishwasher.

What this means is that you need to ensure you have the right information readily available for the consumer at their time of need. Shoppers in the research phase will want buying guides and recommendations whereas shoppers in the comparison phase will be looking at reviews and ratings and cross-product comparisons. Shoppers in the transaction phase will be scouting promotions or purchase locations. Ensuring your customers find the information they need at the time they need it will help you optimize the success of your campaign.

Snap to Your Business Goals

Your campaign must directly support your business goals, whether you want to increase brand awareness, boost product sales or expand your customer base.

Building brand awareness is key to growing your business. In a recent study, researchers from Bing found that 72% of brand ad clicks were preceded by a non-brand or conquest term in the user’s search journey. Which means that if brand awareness is your goal, you’ll want to ensure you are bidding on non-brand, brand and competitor’s keywords.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for new customers, you’ll be interested to know that 49% of consumers find products they want using a search engine vs heading straight over to a brand website or store location. Understanding your target audience and how they are searching can help drive additional customers to your brand.

Consider Your Budget

Budget limitations also play a role in planning a campaign. For small businesses with strict budgets, your best bet is to identify and focus on your most successful products or services for maximum impact. Your campaign structure should reflect this.

For example, if you have a clothing boutique, you may already be aware that dresses and sweaters have the largest margins and are therefore the priority. You’ll want to build campaigns for those products and keywords first. Only widen your campaign to a larger catalog of products once you reach a point of diminishing return for your best-performing products. This will yield better sales than spreading your budget too thin by targeting everything you sell.

Structure Your Campaign

How you structure your campaign depends upon your budget and goals as well as your business type. Local businesses, such as accounting firms, may need to organize by geography. Ecommerce businesses may need to organize by product type and B2B businesses may need to organize by type of user.

One tactic for structuring your campaign is to look to your website’s navigation. A well-planned website typically arranges available products in a way that creates a simple and logical user experience. The same organization technique applies when building pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

Going back to the online clothing boutique, using one large campaign for all products would be the least effective structure. A better structure would be one campaign focusing on one type of product — dresses, jeans, skirts, or sweaters.

The right campaign structure will make it easy for you to optimize how your ads run based on searches for specific products or services and align ad copy and landing pages with keywords. The more you break campaigns out by theme, the better you can target and optimize.

Outline Campaigns and Ad Groups 

Before jumping into your account to build a new campaign, take time to create an outline. This simple step will save you time later and will keep the structure clean.

Using a logical naming convention for campaigns will help you keep track of what’s in each campaign. Don’t name your campaigns Campaign 1, Campaign 2 and so on. Use a short but descriptive name for each one. If you can’t keep it short, that’s a good indication the campaign is too general.

While planning your campaign doesn’t have to be rocket science, it does require thoughtful preparation based on insights and research. For more information on building out your search strategy, take time to view the free Bing Ads ebook, The growth marketer’s guide to search.

This is the second installment of this series, to view the first click here

Search Marketing 101: Why Should Small Businesses Use Paid Search?

Search Marketing 101: Why Should Small Businesses Use Paid Search?

Paid search is an incredibly effective tool for driving business growth. Search plays a critical role in the consumer decision journey, which has evolved over the years. Today, consumers have instant access to more information than ever through blogs, social media, forums, YouTube, and other channels. Consumers have come to rely on search to discover and compare products and services, scour recommendations, and scout deals and offers.

In fact, according to research from SimilarWeb, around 39% of worldwide e-commerce traffic is referred by search. But as a small business, it can be difficult to appear on first-page results through organic search alone.

Thankfully paid search can be a cost-effective and efficient strategy for small businesses. And you don’t need a marketing expert to reap the benefits. Here’s how paid search can help your business drive revenue.

Build Brand Awareness

Paid search — also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising — is an excellent way to help you increase a consumer’s ability to recall your product or business. In fact, it’s a key strategy for marketers. According to an internal Bing Ads ROI study, 60% of brands leverage paid search to boost brand awareness and 61% use paid search to improve brand perception and purchase intent.

Furthermore, when consumers begin their decision journey, 72% of the time they are using a non-brand or conquest term when they search. Consumers are less likely to go with a brand they’ve never heard of. Through paid search, you can increase the chances that your brand appears in their results, thus increasing their familiarity with your brand and the likelihood that they will eventually choose your brand over your competitor.

Target the Right Audience

One of the huge benefits of paid search is the robust set of tools that enable you to serve up personalized, relevant experiences the moment consumers are searching — no matter where they are in the customer decision journey.

Tools like keyword targeting enable you to select the specific keywords that you think will align well with users’ searches. Audience targeting allows you to pinpoint the consumers most likely to purchase from you. These tools position you to capture the attention of your intended audience and increase the impact of your marketing investment.

Amplify Other Marketing Investments

Speaking of marketing investments, search marketing is a great way to heighten the impact of your other marketing endeavors. Bing Ads recently demonstrated this in a study with Pepperjam, where they determined that conversion rates of search and social resulted in a 14% higher average order value than social alone.

And what about organic search? If you’re investing in SEO, paid search can increase the impact of those investments as well. When display ads appear with organic search results, studies show that it can increase the total number of clicks, by 31% according to this retail study.

Paid search marketing is a simple and cost-effective way to meet your sales goals. For more insights and strategies, be sure to review The Growth Marketer’s Guide to Search.