We've all heard the stories about companies spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads, only to forget to include their URL in the ad, or to load-test their Web site. Let's look at how to make the most of those offline marketing dollars by including PPC in your marketing mix.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Just like school, you need to do your homework if you want to get a good PPC grade. Before launching your PPC campaign, meet with the client or your in-house marketing staff to discuss the offline promotion. Get as much information as you can, including promotional calendars and offline marketing assets (TV scripts, print ad mockups, etc.).
Talk to the client about the goals of the promotion, including the desired call to action. If there's a traditional agency involved, bring them into the planning meeting, if at all possible. They'll have a plethora of useful information, including specifics about the ad buy, target demographics, and other tidbits that will be useful in planning your PPC campaign.
Step 2: Research and Launch
Now it's time for some keyword research. Often, this is a trickier prospect than you might expect. One of the great things about search marketing is that the searcher is telling you exactly what they're looking for: they're essentially raising their hand and asking a question, which the search marketer can answer in their ad copy.
Traditional marketing works to generate demand from scratch by creating awareness of a product or service. Also, unlike in search, there's a very small window in which to communicate the message: a single page in a magazine, for example; or 30 seconds of TV airtime.
Therefore, traditional advertising often appeals to emotions, using stunning photography and flowery language designed to grab attention by making the viewer feel good about the product or service.
Search marketing is anything but emotional. With search, relevance is key; emotions play little if any part in the process. And the search message is both more and less constrained than traditional. You only have 70 characters to tell your story in a PPC ad, but that ad can stay on the screen indefinitely, and searchers can return to it time and again if needed.
Bottom line: You may not be able to match the offline message exactly in PPC. That said, there are definitely some best practices:
- Find corollary keywords to the offline marketing campaign. If the main message is fall specials, for instance, research the phrase "fall specials" to find relevant keywords.
- Incorporate taglines or other key messaging into ad copy, when possible. We've done this successfully for several of our clients. Often, taglines are brief and fit well in PPC ad copy. Incorporating taglines helps reinforce the message and lets the searcher know that they've come to the right place.
- Don't forget branded terms. This isn't the time to pull back on brand bidding. People who saw your offline ad may not remember specifics of your message, but will remember the brand. Including a branded campaign in your PPC efforts will greatly increase the overall conversion rate.
- Follow offline campaign timing. One of our clients recently included a tagline with a TV campaign that was quite new and different from anything used previously. We mirrored the new tagline in their PPC during the TV campaign with great success. However, the lifespan of the new message was only as long as the TV spots. Backtesting of the new campaign message in PPC after TV ended showed a significant decrease in conversion rate compared to their usual PPC message. People have short memories -- it's important to remember this when syncing PPC with offline.
Step 3: Do a Postmortem
Reviewing campaign results should be part of any well-run PPC process, but it's especially critical for integrated campaigns. Upon completion of the campaign, sit down with the client or in-house marketing staff and review what did and didn't work.
This is probably the most important step of the entire process, and yet is probably the most frequently skipped step. PPC is akin to a huge market survey, yielding invaluable insight into what resonates with consumers.
Use the knowledge gleaned from PPC to inform future marketing efforts. Share the top-converting keywords and ad copy variations with the marketing team. Smart marketers will use this data to craft future campaigns, both online and off. If you're doing this, you get an A+.