Journey if you will, into the mind of the searcher. Anyone engaged in the practice of search has at one time or another struggled to motivate searchers. Motivation comes in the form of click action, triggered by text. But the action starts long before reaching search results.
Humans react to need, want, and a multitude of triggers that lead them in one direction or another. Inspiration comes from all types of consumed interaction ranging from television, a passing bus, watching the "Ginger Kids" episode of "South Park" online, or even a dog barking in the distance.
I've been doing a great deal of thinking, researching, and writing in the last few weeks to prepare for today's Webcast on writing compelling ads. Several common themes have emerged as I scanned input from the SES faculty and added some of my own thoughts. Some of the patterns just might surprise you.
Leveraging the Brand
Shockingly, two questions still exist in search engine advertising. The first question is easy: Should I buy my own name in search results? The second question is much more complicated: My brand terms convert so well, why should I buy any more terms?
Yes, buying brand terms is a good idea, even if you rank highly in algorithmic (natural) results. You can capture need and desire on a daily or hourly basis by changing the text to suit your audience. While you can't capture the influence of the searcher who heard a dog bark and went to Google to find a new place to get doggy grub, you can capture the one who watched "South Park" and went searching for his own "Ginger Kids" T-shirt.
Of course, you can also attempt to subvert someone else's brand campaign or pull traffic away from some bad press with brand terms, but these campaigns should be handled very delicately to say the least. In other words, when playing with fire, make sure those asbestos gloves are nearby.
The second question is much more complicated, but just as easy to address.
Generic terms often convert badly because so many people are searching for generic terms. Well, they aren't actually converting badly. Either you're not attributing the purchase (or desired action) correctly, or your message isn't in line with the searcher.
A notebook computer retailer will want to address its audience with different messaging according to the mindset of the searcher. The mindset is indicated by the keyword used. For example, a message that targets people who are considering buying a laptop should be targeted for those searchers using generic terms like "laptop" and "notebook."
By now, you've heard terms like "buying funnel" and "golden triangle" as it relates to analyzing search behavior. While these terms are well on their way to becoming cliché, they still ring true. As searchers move toward more specific terms like brands and products, this is your chance to close the deal with targeted, funnel-sensitive messaging.
Up the Down Click
One influences with generic terms, one sells with specific terms. Since study after study has taught us that messaging has to match intent, simply changing the messaging to help match intent can make an enormous difference.
I hear this one a lot, "search engine advertising is not a creative means of expression and calling it creative is just sad." The really sad part is the lack of creativity, or simply the absence of the means to be creative.
It's critically important to follow the searcher from their respective phases in information gathering to purchase point decision. I'd argue that how you choose to follow your audience with text influencers is quite possibly the most creative aspect of marketing.
Why are search marketers so comfortable with (when it works) Twitter? Because the character sets are short and communicators are forced to get their message across succinctly.
Testing and Failing
It's in the search engine's best interest to get you to buy more ads. Naturally, if you test and optimize search listings, you'll be buying a great deal more ads. In today's SEM world, there are more methods of testing than ever.
If you want a test of just how good creative can be, conduct a search for the phrase "multivariate testing" and check out the providers listed on the SERP.
Of course, you're going to fail. Failing is part of the process. With testing options coming down in price, and even free services like Google Website Optimizer, testing landing pages and messaging with methods such as A/B, multivariate, and analytics suites that pull all the data together, excuses are running thin. So get out there and get creative.