Back to School for Search Marketers


The end of summer means it’s time for back to school. Kids of all ages are trading in their swimsuits for backpacks and heading back to class.

Now that summer vacation is behind us and a busy Q4 lies ahead, it’s as good a time as any for search marketers to crack open the books and make sure your account is in good shape and you have a solid plan for the future.

First Up, English Class

Take a look at those stale creative and come up with some new compelling messaging.

For retailers with school-related products, “back to school” messaging can go a long way. But make sure to consider that not all schools or kids are the same.

Consider breaking out different promotions into separate campaigns, lining up relevant keywords, creative and landing pages by age, geo and even type of school.

Keywords can use some refreshing too. Shake off that lazy summer reliance on broad match and start building out the long tail. Make sure to look at your search query reports to identify new lower CPC keywords as well as negatives.

Also make sure to practice your spelling – and misspellings. Many searchers are still trying to remember “i before e” and “they’re,” their” and “there,” so be sure to include any and all variations to capture that intended traffic more efficiently.

Math Class is All About Bid Optimization

Break out your workbooks and solve the following problem (make sure to show your work):

Eric has two keywords and an overall target CPA of $2.00. Assuming each keyword has a different return profile, is it more efficient to bid each keyword to exactly a $2.00 CPA or pay above the target for the higher performer and less for low performers.

Any student of portfolio optimization knows that by comparing marginal cost to return relationships across keywords, you can allocate the next dollar more efficiently than simply bidding all assets to the same target.

The Science Lab

In the scientific method, you must always test theories before confirming them. Challenge your theories and predictions.

Put together a three- to six month calendar of creative and landing page tests, new bid optimization models to try out, or different match type strategies. Make sure to include time to come up with a plan to implement what you’ve learned along the way.

Testing for the sake of testing is of limited value. But running valid tests, not being afraid to fail, and taking the time to analyze the results and use them to feed real improvements to your account can make this an invaluable exercise.

Drawing Curves in Art

Art class is your opportunity to bring it all together. By using the Marginal Cost to Marginal Return formulas we learned in math, you can draw realistic efficiency curves for your account.

By implementing everything we learned in school, we can move our target up and to the right, creating newer, more profitable curves. You can literally measure your success throughout the school year by comparing the curves you draw today with those you’re able to draw next summer. And as those curve become more and more profitable, you will agree what you have is a piece of art.

Ready for Class?

For both teachers and students the new year brings with it a fresh start. Take advantage of that attitude and approach your search campaigns with newly sharpened pencils. With lots of studying and practice, straight A’s across all of your subjects will be no problem for you.

Good luck getting on the Search Honor Roll!

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