Know a novice marketer who aspires to mastery? Tell them to begin by learning how to write a single Google ad for a single exact match keyword.
That advice may seem counterintuitive, given that AdWords is the most competitive advertising real estate on the planet. Why would you start developing your chops in the big leagues?
AdWords is competitive, yes, but not hard. Actually, it’s the easiest medium to master, due to three successive iterations of the 80/20 Rule.
The 80/20 Rule
Basically, the 80/20 Rule (or, if you’ve trying to give the impression that you attended business school, the Pareto Principle) says that 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your efforts.
If you can figure out what those “vital few” efforts are, and do more of them, then you’ll achieve more positive results.
When it comes to developing mastery, the 80/20 Rule suggests that learning 100 percent of a skill set may take years, while getting good at just the most important 20 percent can be done much more quickly, and will give you 80 percent of the results you could expect from total mastery.
So let’s look at the three 80/20 iterations of marketing to see why exact match search ads are the 20 percent of the 20 percent of the 20 percent that will give you the biggest bang for your development.
Marketing 80/20 #1: Direct, not Brand Marketing
The universe of marketing can be broken down, most broadly, into brand and direct marketing. Brand marketing, which works by repetition and inundation, seeks to assign a set of emotions to a particular brand.
You see a bazillion Budweiser commercials, all of which attempt to get you to associate Bud with happy feelings, and so you become a Bud drinker. No particular ad was designed to get you to go buy a Bud this minute (except maybe the ones at the ball game).
Direct marketing, on the other hand, works by targeting specific prospects, and asking them to take an action right now. For example, a direct mail letter to subscribers of Brew Your Own magazine offering a 6,000 watt, 55 gallon electric brewery controller.
Direct marketing is much easier than brand marketing. Since you know your audience’s interests (or at least can infer them from demographics), it’s easier to figure what to say and show. Since you’re in control of who sees your ad, it’s much easier to measure and test, and hence improve.
If you start by learning direct rather than brand marketing, you’ll achieve 80 percent of the results with 20 percent of the effort.
Marketing 80/20 #2: Permission, not Interruption Marketing
Within direct marketing, you can speak to prospects who have actively identified themselves and given you permission to speak to them, or you can attempt to interrupt qualified prospects and get them to pay attention to you.
An ad triggered by a Google search is an example of permission marketing. The searcher is actively looking for a solution to fill a need at that moment, and is willing to pay attention to anyone who can help. If someone is searching for an Electric Brewery Controller on Google, they will be highly receptive to an ad offering just what they’re looking for.
An ad in the Google Display Network is an example of interruption marketing. The prospect didn't visit the BrewDudes blog hoping to find an ad for the Embedded Control Concepts brewery control system. They visited to read about sweet potato beer or hard cider or Doppelbeck lager. The controller ad has to wrest their attention away from the blog posts in order to make a sales pitch.
It’s much easier to market to people who already want what you’re selling, and are predisposed to pay attention to you. If you start there, you’ll achieve 80 percent of the results for 20 percent of the effort.
Marketing 80/20 #3: Exact, not Broad Keywords
Within the search network, you can select exact match keywords, in which the searcher’s phrase must match exactly the keyword phrase you specify. Or you can give Google much more leeway by choosing more general keywords.
An ad for the Embedded Control Concepts brewery control system that shows for the keyword “home brew” would be hard to target well. The searcher might be looking for advice, or recipes, or grains, or equipment, or a local store.
On the other hand, it would be much easier to write an ad that was triggered by the exact search, [BCS-462 Brewery Control System]. In that case, you would know exactly what they’re looking for. Even a non-branded exact match keyword like [home electric brewery controller] would be much easier to match with an appropriate ad.
Once you’ve mastered exact match keywords, you can start writing ads for broader terms. Then try your hand at the more challenging task of interrupting people in the display network. Only when you can do that well should you attempt to advertise a brand to an unqualified audience.
If we take the 80/20 Rule literally (or numerically) for a moment, we discover something breathtaking:
20 percent x 20 percent x 20 percent = 0.08 percent
80 percent x 80 percent x 80 percent = 51.2 percent
When we focus on direct marketing rather than brand advertising, permission rather than interruption marketing, and exact rather than broad keywords, we get to expend less than 1 percent of the effort and reap over 50 percent of the rewards.
While the strategies of brand and direct, interruption and permission, and broad and exact require different tactics, they’re all based on the same basic psychological toolkit. If you try to master the whole discipline at once, you’re in for a long, slow, bumpy, frustrating ride.
Instead, focus on the most vital skill first. If all you can do is write a great Google ad for a single exact match keyword, you’re still going to be pretty good at the other parts of marketing. Whereas if you spend a decade learning how to sell Budweiser on billboards, you still might not be able to move a case of Bud in the parking lot of a frat house on a Saturday night.
Image Credit: Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ/Flickr