June 9, 2015
In order to have a successful online presence and, subsequently, a successful business, you need to draw traffic to your website that will ultimately lead to conversions. One of the most effective ways to generate traffic and get fast results based on your target audience is via search engine marketing, particularly through pay-per-click solutions like AdWords. According to eMarketer, the usage of PPC and display ads by B2B marketers increased more than 10 percent in the last year alone. If you look back at the SEM industry just a few years ago, you’ll notice that there are way more methods available today for SEM professionals to put to use than ever before.
As the field of paid search marketing is extensively studied more and more, newer practices under this wide “umbrella” of PPC have evolved and older methods are no longer the only tactics available. It’s important to understand the methods that are considered best practices today so that you can achieve the best online results tomorrow.
Older Methods Aren’t Ineffective
Although PPC strategies from several years ago are by no means ineffective in the modern world of SEM, they are a bit dated in a world that has changed quickly and dramatically. Traditional methods are still effective, but a different search engine marketing landscape comes with the need for alternative options in the field that will adapt to varying audiences in order to fit their needs. A lot of the newer options stem from more traditional practices like simple text and display ads, but have since been expanded to include better features that increase ROI.
When Google AdWords first launched for example, we were restricted to text and search ads. While these two original pillars of PPC advertising are still commonly used and continue to be effective, there have been a plethora of other products added to Google Adwords that are now major players in the marketplace. Many of these newer platforms on Google AdWords can provide increased return on investment, and may be a better fit for you if you are searching for solutions that are more results-driven than standard CPM display campaigns.
In the ever-changing digital marketing industry, PPC has become increasingly relied on as an important marketing tactic for both B2B and B2C companies. For example, in 2012, just 20 percent of marketers used retargeting ads as their lead generation channel, but by 2014 that number jumped 12 percent to 32 percent. Additionally, the spend for search ads wasn’t always as focused on mobile devices as it is today. In 2011, mobile search ad spending was only 4.3 percent of total digital search ad spending. In 2015, it’s projected to be 33.7 percent of digital search ad spending, and by 2017 is expected to be 50.8 percent of digital ad search spending.
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads
A new offering that leverages existing traditional search advertising tactics to provide your business with better ROI are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). This gives you the opportunity to get the most out of your campaigns by focusing on your core, target audience — users that have already visited your website, but failed to convert. A search campaign just a few years ago wouldn’t allow you to hone in on this exact target audience—you would be using the same tactics for your entire audience, as opposed to catering to the ones that are most likely to convert. RLSA allows you to serve specific ads to users that have previously visited specific pages on your site and are now searching for pre-defined keywords that are related to your business. Seeing as they have already visited your website, when they search for another keyword they are more likely to recognize your company’s offering, and as such you’re fostering brand recognition for the user and building a close association between their search and your products or services. This is also a fairly cost-effective approach, in that the cost per click is lower than search engine marketing averages.
A new AdWords program called “Related Audiences”, currently in its beta-version, provides a similar advantage as RLSA by honing in on qualified users by targeting users that are similar to the ones that have visited your websites already. Based off whether or not a user visits a site that is similar to your own, you can reach an audience that has a lot in common with your target customer and displays the same interests and browsing behavior.
This approach is way more efficient than waiting for a user to come to your website on their own, and you’re far more likely to have users convert using this strategy than you would be when targeting a more general audience. While this method does hold a lot of promise, it’s important to make sure that your remarketing lists work well before you invest in this type of strategy. See how many people are converting once you give this strategy a shot and see if it’s worth it based on the amount of conversions and overall conversion rate of your customers. With something so new, you have to watch it carefully to monitor whether or not your business is getting good ROI.
When it comes to display marketing, you can now do so much more than just blast a general audience with a standard display ad. Targeting users based on demographic information and again through their web browsing history is now a viable tactic in the modern era of PPC. You can identify the profile of your ideal customer and reach them with display ads on any website that is either an AdWords Partner, or provides their own display advertising options.
Beyond just Google, there’s a host of other PPC options such as Quantcast, Outbrain, Taboola, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more that have retargeting and display ad services available. On all of these platforms it’s relatively easy to identify relevant users and target them with either content or actionable ads on the standard CPM (cost-per-impression) model or by using the increasingly available CPC (cost-per-click) model as well. By targeting users not only by their age, gender or location, but through spending history, interests, or their likelihood to perform a specific action, you are able to get more ROI for your business and identify exactly who potential customers are and how to reach them.
Many brands are still using display ads as an effective paid advertising method, and according to a study from eMarketer, 13 percent of marketers consider it the best-performing digital channel. While that number may not seem like a lot, when you compare it to the other tactics preferred you can see that it still holds substantial weight.
Determining Your Strategy
In order to execute a successful PPC campaign, and reap the benefits that are going to garner business growth and generate profits, it’s important to implement a strategy that fits with all of the changes and upgrades that have evolved within the PPC world. In the past, it was much simpler to create a great campaign for your company. Simply putting several keywords into Google Adwords with your budget and letting it run was sufficient. This is, of course, is no longer the case. There are so many more programs to consider and utilize when you are implementing your PPC strategy, and simply using standard text and display ads won’t provide the same kind of ROI for online businesses as it did in the past.
Before you begin your digital advertising campaigns, you need to consider all of the various touch points where you can target users across the internet, such as social media platforms, relevant websites, content marketing aggregators, and, of course, search engines. Once you have established those touch points, you need to think about all the points of possible interaction that exist on mobile devices. You need to build a cohesive, multi-device strategy that is focused on delivering the right content at the right time using the correct kind of ad products.
With the introduction of beacon technology into the marketplace, you now can even target users by location and offer specials deals through notifications on their smartphones. As your customers physically walk through certain locations within the store, you can have notifications sent to them based on what they are physically near – providing a very powerful opportunity for any brand with a physical location.
As social platforms continue to develop their ad products more extensively in the future, a new challenge is going to present itself. In the past, there were far less options available, but now advertisers are going to have an increasingly difficult time identifying what is considered bottom of the funnel. Facebook for example, has algorithms that are able to anticipate a user’s purchase intent. These types of applications are getting more and more accurate and advanced. Soon enough businesses will be able to anticipate user product needs before a user can even explicitly identify it themselves. Although digital advertising is dramatically different than it was just several years ago, it’s important that marketers consider what has changed so that they can appropriately adjust their strategies to seamlessly mesh new practices with traditional methods that still perform.
Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and CEO and founder of Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency in NYC focused on growing brands online through effective websites and online marketing. From start-ups to Fortune 1000s, Blue Fountain Media helps generate more leads and increased brand recognition Last year alone, the company, which has a client roster that includes Procter & Gamble, Harper Collins, Canon, NFL, Publishers Clearing House, Sharp, AOL and the United Nations, drove more than 200 million monthly visitors and $2 billion in revenue to the digital properties of its clients.