Google is King of the Mountain when it comes to market share for search. ComScore released their December 2010 search statistics, where Google leads the way with 66.6% of the search market. By comparison, Yahoo was in second place with 16.0% and MSN was third with 12.0% (essentially giving the Search Alliance a 28% share). Google’s numbers are overwhelming and undeniable. If you are running a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, there is a high probability you are either running ads in Google now, or have used their AdWords platform in the past. With that dominant market share comes big-time competition, and it can be very difficult for smaller companies to compete with large companies who can spend ten times or more in PPC campaigns. Optimizing your PPC campaigns, bidding on long-tail keyphrases, and building quality landing pages can help increase your conversion numbers so you can still maintain a presence in Google, without getting buried under an avalanche of competitor ads.
Another option to consider is to allocate budget toward other online media channels. One channel that has recently made positive strides for targeted advertising is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). LinkedIn recently unveiled a new targeting option that allows advertisers to target their PPC ads based on job title, company, and specific Groups LinkedIn members have associated with their account. Imagine being able to run a television commercial or radio spot that is only served to people who have a high probability of purchasing your product or service? This type of granular targeting is an excellent way for smaller companies to expand their online presence and still keep a tightly focused marketing message to their most desired demographic.
For example, if you are a painting supply company specializing in paint brushes and other accessories for contractors and design professionals, you can run a campaign just serving ads to those professionals on LinkedIn. That is a very powerful way to brand your business and at the same time closely manage your advertising costs. While you may not see the huge number of visitors or impressions that you get from Google’s user base, the conversion is more important and you may find these alternative channels to Google, such as LinkedIn, are the perfect fit for your online marketing message.
Another holiday season in the books, did you meet your goals? There are still plenty of customers out there shopping, so its time to get creative with new ad messaging. In addition, make sure those holiday ads are pulled down.
As we move into the 1st quarter of 2011, you are going to see plenty of post holiday specials. When running a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, you need to be imaginative with your message to attract customers. Many companies run big sales on overstock products, but how do you separate yourself from the competition? Price is always a big attention getter, but if you simply offer deep discounts in your ads, you will merely be bunched into a large group of similar companies saying the same thing. Yes, you have a “Clearance Sale” and so do the other 50 PPC ads competing for the first page! Think about inventive ways to attract customers beyond just the slashing of prices. Think about using humor or word play to make your ad copy stand out. Strategies such as these can be just as attractive for a searcher, if not more eye catching, than seeing another post-holiday sale offer. Once they get to your site, you can clearly show they are getting the great deal they expect with compelling landing page content.
While planning out a creative strategy for your post holiday campaigns, make sure you terminate any ads specifically written for the holiday rush. One of the quickest ways to turn off a customer is to have active ads promoting a sale that is no longer in place. You are almost certain to see high click-through rates, higher bounce rates, and very low conversions if you are not closely managing your seasonal ad copy. Additionally, if you have selling points like “Buy Now to arrive before Christmas” in ads still running in the month of January you can be sure customers will be turned off by your lack due diligence. I am always surprised by the number of PPC campaigns that are too slow to adjust to the changes in the season. I don’t think I am alone in ignoring campaigns that offer 25% discounts on orders placed before December 22nd when I am searching on January 4th.
These two concepts may seem elementary but they can go a long way to differentiate your company from the competition. Do not assume everyone is being as creative and diligent with their ads because the fact is, they are not. Conduct a few searches yourself to see what’s being promoted in ads for your top keywords. Avoid the temptation to follow the herd with bland “clearance sale” ad copy and stand out from the pack with ingenuity. Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, pull down those outdated holiday ads.
Working in the online advertising industry, I try my best to stay on top of the latest news and notes. There are many great resources to lean on, from digital (and print) magazines to blogs written by thought leaders in our field. Many times they focus on one specific channel and how businesses either need to get into that channel or how they are currently using it. Other blogs talk about recent news and rumors with the main players in our industry (see Google and the recent talk about acquiring Groupon).
Some of the most informative resources deal with statistics and trends in online advertising. It is extremely beneficial when recommending a specific marketing channel to a client when I can reference expected expenditures in that channel. It provides greater relevance by showing the expected growth in the channel I am recommending. However, the best resources of information are usually the hardest to find…real life performance of businesses implementing multi-channel marketing programs. While it helps to show expected (or predicted) results when proposing a new idea to a client, nothing beats the real thing.
I have been working with a client for the last 3 years managing a multi-channel marketing program. We manage their Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns through Google AdWords and the new Search Alliance (Bing and Yahoo). We also handle all of their SEO efforts and Affiliate marketing. In addition, we manage shopping feeds and remarketing programs on their behalf. They administer their own social media marketing and blogging, but only after extensive consultation and training by our internal teams. In other words, we have had a robust multi-channel program in place since April 2008.
I was recently reviewing the program’s overall performance via Google Analytics, and would like to share the following real life (not predicted) results:
Comparing November 2008 to November 2010
Revenue from Direct traffic increased by 137%
Revenue from Google CPC traffic increased by 142%
Revenue from Google Organic traffic increased by 566%
Revenue from *Search Alliance Organic traffic increased by 214%
Revenue from *Search Alliance CPC traffic increased by 101%
Obviously, we grew the programs over time and many of the multi-channel programs were in their infancy stages which somewhat inflated these figures. To further my point, I went ahead and compared last year to this year (at which time all programs were mature with solid previous statistics throughout the date range comparison):
Comparing November 2009 to November 2010
Revenue from Direct traffic increased by 71%
Revenue from Google CPC traffic increased by 25%
Revenue from Google Organic traffic increased by 65%
Revenue from **Search Alliance Organic traffic increased by 63%
Revenue from **Search Alliance CPC traffic increased by 45%
*For easy comparison I combined MSN and Yahoo stats pre Search Alliance formation*
In these economic times, especially when you factor what the economic climate was like during the time frame of my analysis (November 2008 — today) these are exceptional results. Basically, my client has achieved record sales growth during one of the most difficult times in our economy by leveraging and aggressively pursuing a multi-channel online marketing strategy and achieving excellent real life (not predicted) results.