Secrets to Paid Search Success Revealed, Part 1

While the world of paid search quickly began to formulate a strategy around bidding tactics, we saw early on that marketers could obtain better performance and greater profits from search by expanding their thinking two ways:

  • By using all of the 30-plus search marketing tactics, instead of just bidding.

  • By better aligning marketing with the process and strategy.

To illustrate the many pay-per-click (PPC) tactics that have proven successful in generating billions of dollars in revenue for our clients, we created a PPC tactics chart that serves as a guide for marketers looking to squeeze efficiency, blow-out volume, and create wildly profitable paid search campaigns.

PPCtactics.jpg
(Click to enlarge)

We'll explore these tactics in detail in this four-part series. Let's begin with creative.

Creative PPC Graphic.jpg

Why Ad Copy is Vital to Performance

Google, and all the search engines, want the best content to rise to the top. Best content is always that which is most relevant to users' queries.

Targeted creative, varied by keyword, is the most powerful set of tactics that can be employed.

Fourteen, fully 40 percent, of the best PPC tactics we've uncovered are creative, designed to make the ad more attractive to a searcher and more relevant to the search query.

Be Relevant

The most obvious tactic in creative is to use keyword insertion. Keyword insertion pushes the actual query used by the consumer into the title of the ad.

When users scan their search results, they instantly queue onto the search ads that have their search term in the title. In Google, the inserted keywords will also display in bold, making ads even more noticeable to the searcher.

Be Promotional

If you're selling a product, use price points and percentages off. Test both. Displaying them in the title improves click-through rate (CTR) and quality score, ultimately lowering your cost-per-click (CPC) and improving overall efficiency.

When a shopper sees a price like $79 in the ad, they are trained to know that this is an e-commerce site and they can buy the product there. That improves the click mix to include more shoppers and helps drive more conversions.

Lastly, always add a sense of urgency as the offer comes to a close. "Ends Tomorrow" always boosts CTR.

Grab Real Estate

There is a finite amount of space on the search results page, so grab as much of it as possible within the creative.

Google offers several features, such as Product Listing Ads, which when activated will display a plus box below the ad. When the plus box is clicked, product images, titles, and price points are displayed below the ad, thus occupying more space on the page.

Google Sitelinks are fantastic. This tactic allows advertisers to display up to four sub-links below the standard ad. You can control the copy that is displayed for these links, and the interior pages that users land on when clicking. We've seen CTRs improve by more than 30 percent when activating Sitelinks and have seen CPCs substantially decrease as well.

Go Granular

Setting up keywords into a large number of highly targeted ad groups helps performance immensely. This allows the creative to be tailored by ad group much more specifically, which leads to higher CTRs and greater efficiency and volume. Yes, this is time consuming, but the payoff is well worth it.

If, for example, you sell children's clothing, you want an ad group that is specific to only a handful of keywords related to children's clothing. Keep children's pajamas and children's jeans in separate ad groups or campaigns. This allows the creation of extremely targeted creative with specific price points, benefit-oriented statements about the products, and most importantly, dedicated landing pages.

Test Everything -- And Never Stop

With so many tactics in creative alone, testing is paramount to ongoing campaign improvements. Test the use of keyword insertion versus a highly targeted headline within a specific ad group. Test different price points.

It's amazing what consumers gravitate to. In one instance, we found "Save 75% Off" to outperform "Save 85% Off."

Wouldn't you rather save 85 percent? I would.

Perhaps consumers thought 85 percent was too good to be true. Who knows -- which is exactly why testing everything is imperative.

Don't ignore brand ads in the testing process either. Some of the largest efficiency wins can lie within brand campaign and ad groups.

Try "Official Site" in the headline next to the name of the brand. Through rigorous testing, many of our retail clients have found this to be golden.

The key to testing is to never stop. Don't be satisfied with the best performers. A methodical, structured, and ongoing process of challenging best performing creative with new and innovative tactics will yield continuous improvements in both efficiency and volume.

Best of luck in the ongoing quest to reach creative nirvana. Stay tuned for part two of the PPC Tactics series where we'll explore the power of keywords and match types.