Last week I had the chance to have lunch with some friends in the industry. We both got our start at the same place but since then we have both had the opportunity to work at agencies where we get the chance to see many different brands and people in action. Our feeling is that there is still a general lack of appreciation for the little things. The little things in this context can be: match types, ad groups, geo-targeting, etc… It is easy, especially when the program is "successful" to dig deeper than you need to. Search is so often a successful tactic that people take the "if it isn’t broke don’t fix it" route. I wanted to provide some examples about why I think no matter if your program is a home run or a sinking ship, digging into the details matters.
1. Vast Differences in Geographic Performance
The most common approach for a national campaign is to put it in market targeting just that country. However, things like competitors and conversion rates vary greatly between states. I took the data across our client set for the top 10 spending states (the blue dots each represent a state). As you can see, the cost per conversion for like spending states can vary by 60 percent! This means that if you bid the same amount across all these states, you are masking significant opportunities to maximize conversions or reduce wasted spend.
2. Broad and Phrase Match Are Hiding a Lot
Let me first say, I think it is totally appropriate to use broad and phrase match. However, what I think so many people miss is digging into the search phrase report that shows what other queries are being matched to these keywords. Just looking at one account over the past seven days there were about 600 different search phrases that were not in the campaign, but were displayed for queries. There is no question that is the minority of the keywords in the account, but accounted for about 5 percent of spend. As your program scales, being able to understand and optimize more specifically that 5 percent can be the difference between a profitable program and an unprofitable one.
3. RLSAs – Knowing Your Customers Better
Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSAs) I think is possibly the biggest innovation and opportunity in search in a long time. The ability to target, exclude, or personalize your ads based on cookie data is incredible. No longer do you have to show the same ad to a customer who comes back every week as you do to a brand-new customer. Now you can show the customer that you know them, welcome them back, or create specific ad copy that directs that customer to your customer service section vs. that direct response landing page. I wrote back in April some ways I think search marketers can take advantage of this program. I really think this is just the beginning of how Google will use this approach, especially as your smartphone is more used as your unique identifier vs. maybe a shared laptop at home. The depth of targeting does require some extra work. You have to ensure certain tagging is in place, you have to think about the campaign and landing page structure so you can best take action. When we’ve used RLSAs, we’ve seen double-digit increases. The benefits of a personalized program are pretty impressive: 67 percent of agencies have seen increases in sales due to personalization.
The finer things in life often are the best and I find that the finer tuning points in a paid search campaign separate success from massive success. I encourage anyone who feels like they have reached the limit of their campaign to dig just a little bit deeper and take that extra cut of data or extra step to target to see what can be squeezed out. There is almost always something that can be done. Keep digging my friends.
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