This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
Businesses kick their marketing efforts into high gear during the holiday season – which is technically from Thanksgiving until the New Year, even though I’ve seen people hanging Christmas lights from their windows before others start carving pumpkins. Many times, businesses depend on strong sales during the holidays to take them from the red to the black. As such, there’s extra pressure on the online marketer with e-commerce clients to drive the strongest performances of the year during this time.
Without strategic planning and execution, delivering on these expectations can be next to impossible. But by following these five outlined tips, you’ll be primed for success.
This should be a no-brainer. Use the performance history of the account as well as current trends to determine what a realistic budget for the holiday season should be. Work with your client to come up with a total budget and stick to that number. If you think the budget will be insufficient, try to create a plan to move spend from one or more low-performing campaigns into a high-performing campaign.
Imagine it’s January 2016 and you’re looking back at Q4. How will you determine success? Of course it’s important to hit established goals, but if there’s an opportunity to make a push for greater revenue and sales, would a possible increase in CPA be acceptable? Speak with your client before the season kicks off to figure out where you can be most flexible and what targets can’t be sacrificed.
Way in advance. Seriously.
The fewer last-minute adjustments that need to be made to accommodate promotional messaging in search ads, sitelinks, or Merchant Center Promotions, the better. Request a promotional calendar from your clients. Review all promotion details about a week or so in advance with your client if possible, just to iron out the details. When it comes to launching promotional creatives, use automated rules whenever possible to schedule future actions and remove any chance for human error.
Because the last thing you want to see before the start of a big seasonal push is a high percentage of disapproved Shopping products, do a quick review of your Merchant Center account and make sure all feeds are in excellent condition. Review your feed schedule. And, make sure your Shopping campaigns are structured in a way that makes sense for your business.
Remember: An item placed in the High, Medium, and Low Priority campaigns will automatically revert to the bid set at the High Priority Level. This is true regardless of whether the bids set in the Medium or Low Priority campaigns are higher.
Auction Insights won’t tell you how much a competitor may be bidding for a select term. But frequently examining Auction Insights will tell you if any competitors are creeping up on you (or beating you) in Google’s auctions. One of the more overlooked features is being able to segment Auction Insights by device type. This provides a useful look at who the key players are in your auctions and where you could be getting the most pressure – on desktop, mobile devices, or tablets.
Because this can’t hurt and you may come away with some real learnings to report to your client, try adding in new targeting criteria, such as average household income, to your campaigns with no set bid adjustment before the holiday season kicks off. As time progresses, periodically check in on these new targets and see how they perform. At worst, you’ll have no real actionable data and can simply remove the new targets if performance merits. But at best, you’ll have a better understanding of a new target audience and the ability to increase or decrease marketing efforts to that audience by applying bid modifiers.
Depending on who you ask, some search marketers will tell you that dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) hurts conversions. DKI is designed to be an advanced feature, one that can help you dynamically modify parts of your ads to include the keywords that trigger the ad in question. Still, according to the general feeling out there, marketers who rely on DKI end up detracting audiences with irrelevant ads, generic messaging, and keyword misspellings and capitalization errors.
However, very rarely is something universally good or bad in search marketing. Depending on campaign goals, customer segment, historical performance, and several other factors, SEM tactics usually perform differently depending on the context. Boost Media has tested DKI extensively across every vertical, and on nearly every type of campaign. Here’s what we learned.
In an intensive analysis of retail advertisers, Boost found that long-tail ad groups tend to derive both click-through rate (CTR) and conversions-per-impression (CPI) lifts by using DKI, while head-term ad groups tend to see a drop in CPI. This is likely because head-term ad groups are optimized more frequently, and typically have a high degree of textual relevance. Long-tail ad groups are neglected and have more to gain from dynamic insertion.
DKI inserts the triggering keyword into the ad, not the query typed by the customer. As a search marketer, you’ve probably seen your fair share of funky search queries matching to broad keywords. Inserting broad keywords into the ad often doesn’t make your ad more relatable to the user. Sometimes it simply creates ads that don’t make sense.
Time and time again, we’ve seen that using DKI increases the impression volume of an ad. Direct response search marketers might argue that increased impression volume is a bad thing because it doesn’t necessarily lead to more revenue. But, consider this: an impression is not generated just because the search engine enters the ad into the auction. An ad has to win the auction to gain an impression. If the ad loses, no other ads are entered into that particular auction. As a result, using DKI to win more auctions and gain more impressions might be what you need to improve the bottom line by increasing volume.
It’s unfair to say that DKI is universally good or bad. When used in the right context, it can help you gain impressions you might not otherwise win, improve your user experience and quality score in ad groups you don’t have time to optimize, and lead to performance gains.
Sarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.
Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.
Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.
There’s been a lot of debate as to the exact definition of native advertising. Still, there is general consensus in the industry that the definition from the IAB Native Playbook is on point: “[Native advertising refers to] paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”
Despite the debate around native advertising’s definition, one thing’s certain: there are many great ways for advertisers to incorporate native into their advertising mix.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the most popular native formats and the leaders in each, according to the IAB Native Playbook.
In-feed ads are the most popular form of digital native ads. These are ads that generally have content that’s related to the surrounding content and is contextual. They can either link to other sponsored pages on a publisher’s site or may link to a brand page, video, or other content. Publishers most commonly sell these types of ads either through guaranteed placement on a certain page or through a broad category, such as “sports” in Yahoo. Ad performance is most often measured through brand lift, CTR, and conversions.
Paid search native ads blend into the native search results on the publisher SERP. They are generally located before the actual search results, and the format depends on the individual publisher, as each one has their own style and layout. These ads link to the advertiser’s landing page and are typically sold with guaranteed placement. Performance for paid search native ads is measured by conversions.
Recommendation widgets are the most similar to traditional display ads. The format of the ad does not necessarily match the native of the page that it’s on, and the ad is delivered through a “widget.” As the name suggests, these ads are presented to consumers as content they may be interested in and links to separate pages. The performance of these ads is usually measured through brand lift and interaction.
There are many other native formats that are not easily bucketed and unique in their own way. However, just because these ads don’t fall under one of the more recognizable formats doesn’t mean they’re not effective. A prime example of this is Pandora. With radio station ads displayed across devices and even in ads on connected cars, they’ve reached the number two spot in terms of total digital unique visitors, second only to Facebook.
To learn more about native advertising and how you can use it to attract audiences, check out our latest white paper, created jointly with Yahoo, The Essential Guide to Native Advertising: The Rise of a Digital Ad Format and Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention. Also be sure to register for our 9/24 webinar, Your Guide to Native Advertising: Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention.
Paid search is best known for its ability to leverage search intent to drive highly measurable direct response marketing. Paid search, however, transmits a number of extra benefits that not all marketers take into account.
In this post, I explore three areas where paid search can drive value, even if your main goal marketing goal for this channel is driving direct response.
Research shows that over 88% of shopper’s do research online before making a purchase. With only 9% of all purchases being made online, it’s clear that digital media is driving offline transactions.
The Store Visits metric in AdWords estimates the uplift paid search has on visits to retailer’s stores. This metric is calculated based on aggregated, anonymised data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. The data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population and only reported if it reaches a strict confidence level. Google claims that retailers are seeing, on average, that paid search drives four store visits for every one online conversion .
Building trust online is extremely valuable. All things being equal trusted advertisers will see more traffic and higher conversion rates then their competitors. Paid search ads offer a number of features that are designed to help build user confidence in the advertiser, such as these:
Review extensions allow advertisers to share positive write-ups, awards, or third-party rankings with potential customers in an additional line of text beneath your ads. The more respected the website, journal, or publication the higher value this extension is likely to bring.
Consumer ratings highlight industry-specific ratings based on consumer surveys. One or more of your best ratings will be presented below the text of your search ads together with a link to additional ratings. These ad extensions help increase trust with the power of consumer opinion.
Seller ratings are an automated extension that lets people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Seller ratings are gathered from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews. Good seller ratings help build trust for your brand.
Search advertising will have an incremental effect on an advertisers branding. Seeing a brand at the top of the search results page (SERP) can have a sizable uplift in top-of-mind awareness. Paid search is also well placed to increase brand awareness amongst consumers showing high intent to purchase.
Studies have shown that on average search ads seen in position 1 will have an 80% lift in consumers top-of-mind awareness. Although paid search is not seen as a branding channel, appearing at the top of a Google or Bing SERP will transmit branding value.
Paid search may be known best for driving direct response but there is little doubt it affects other areas in the marketing ecosystem as well. Being able to measure and optimise beyond direct response will allow markers to credit paid search with more than just the direct response it drives.
This is a guest post by Chris Kilbourn of Fit Marketing.
It’s an understatement to say that search engines are powerful tools. Think about it. Any time you have a question, you probably head to Google for an answer.
For businesses, search engines are mission-critical web traffic drivers – that’s free exposure for your brand. It’s an opportunity connect with prospective customers when their interest is piqued. That’s powerful.
The problem with search engine optimization (SEO) is that some shady marketers have ruined the space. These folks try to manipulate search engine rankings through artificial techniques like buying links, passing pagerank, and keyword stuffing.
But here’s the thing. Search engines don’t tolerate these practices. If an SEO company promises the moon, don’t be fooled – it’s probably too good to be true.
User Experience Is the Heart of SEO
At face value, SEO can seem a little intimidating. It’s understandable, given how dramatically the space (and search engine algorithms) have evolved over the years.
What’s key is that you stop thinking of SEO like some kind of secret recipe. SEO is, in a nutshell, the practice of building human-to-human relationships.
The first step is a solid SEO strategy is to create a great product and to prioritize user experience. There are dozens of elements that influence SEO. What ultimately brings these components together are Google and Bing’s shared commitment to connecting web users with high-quality results.
Stop chasing algorithms, and prioritize people instead. At the end of the day, you need to win your audience’s heart.
Conversations Give SEO an Extra Edge
In 2013, Google launched its biggest algorithm update in years. It’s called Hummingbird, and it’s inspiring companies to prioritize conversations online. The assumption is that when internet users want information, they want it fast.
Think of Hummingbird as a change that prioritizes relevance. Google says that it’s developed its most intelligent algorithm ever and is able to connect searchers with highly relevant content.
So what does this change mean for your business?
First and foremost, you need fresh content on your website. Google has a wealth of data about its users preferences and internet browsing habits. The algorithm is designed to deliver personalized, up-to-the-minute, and highly relevant results.
Steps to Take Now
1. Make sure that your existing content is the highest quality possible and designed to engage your users. If it’s not awesome, it shouldn’t be on your site.
2. Make sure that your product and solution descriptions are highly detailed. Be informational, but also keep your writing brief.
3. Provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions. Don’t spam your FAQ pages with recycled content. Make sure that it’s informative and high quality. You can use a tool like UserVoice to power this section. As an example, take a look at the knowledge center for Speak2Leads, a tool that helps sales teams respond to new leads in under a minute.
4. Incorporate rich markup, schema.org markup, and authorship markup. Schema and microdata can help search engines better understand what your web pages are communicating.
5. Optimize your site for mobile. Your customers and prospects can be anywhere. When people want information, they want it fast, and they want it to delivered to their fingertips (literally). A mobile strategy will ensure that your website maintains the best user experience possible.
Don’t Chase the Algorithm
Google’s algorithm is always evolving. Don’t sweat it. As long as you’re prioritizing user experience on your website (and not trying to trick users to get by with cheap tricks), you’ll be fine.
SEO is, to a large extent, common sense about forging strategic relationships with customers and prospects. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on keeping your audience as happy and informed as possible.
Last month I highlighted the importance for SEM and SEO managers to communicate their findings to one another during keyword research and analysis. By keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback, both teams can benefit from more aggressive, but mutually beneficial, strategies. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies that I mentioned—leveraging SEM keywords to drive traffic to SEO-challenged landing pages and using SEO to absorb the cost of expensive SEM keywords—can pay big dividends.
Addressing SEO-Challenged Landing Pages
For certain pages on a website, like product pages or conversion pages, even the most die-hard attempts at SEO fail to drive traffic. For example, deeply buried product pages, which often lack linking and original content, are notoriously difficult to deliver organic traffic. However, with the proper paid keywords and ads, SEM managers can help their SEO mangers drive their target audience to these pages. Not only does this increase traffic, but allows both managers to capitalize on the increased relevancy and higher conversion rates associated with landing customers on product pages. Furthermore, the ability to report on and analyze performance provides SEM and SEO managers with the transparency needed to fine-tune keyword lists, polish ad creative, and optimize campaigns to achieve business goals and objectives.
To begin building out a list of potential SEM keywords, generate an on-site search report. This analytics report is a quick and easy way to begin discovering SEO-challenged landing pages. In many cases, an on-site search report can reveal the pages your customers are searching for that they couldn’t find either through a search engine or your website’s navigation. Keep in mind that any new keywords added to your SEM campaigns should have an appropriate and specific landing page—the goal here isn’t necessarily to find new keywords, but to drive additional traffic to the deeper and less visible pages of your website.
Subsidizing Expensive SEM Keywords
Expensive SEM keywords are typically characterized by high competition and heavy search volume. These are the popular keywords that everyone wants to rank organically on and are more than likely already a part of your SEO strategy. However, there are plenty of SEM keywords out there that consistently generate clicks and conversions, but at an unprofitable cost per click (CPC). These keywords should be presented to SEO managers as secondary, or “nice to have”, keywords within the overall SEO strategy. It’s important to back up each keyword suggestion with performance metrics, such as impressions, clicks, average position, average CPC, conversion rate, and revenue per click. Keywords with higher values should be prioritized for SEO.
But let’s be honest, ranking on the first page for these “nice to have” keywords is easier said than done and is fairly difficult without the SEO machine supporting them at 100% capacity. However, if optimizing only a handful of keywords results in an increase in organic traffic, both SEM and SEO managers benefit. As increases in organic clicks occur, more SEM budget is freed up to purchase less expensive keywords or test new ones. When leveraged appropriately, these previously unprofitable SEM keywords will allow SEO managers to increase organic traffic and acquire more revenue.
As I mentioned last month, SEM and SEO managers must continuously provide results and feedback on recommendations to remain successful. Don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Understanding what works and what doesn’t will help limit losses and open the door to capitalize on opportunities. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies I presented here can pay big dividends and enable SEM and SEO managers to acquire more revenue.