Let’s talk about Geico, a company who has made themselves a household name with their wacky, character-driven commercials and catchy slogans. Their annual Adwords budget is about $23.7 million, according to this breakdown of Google’s revenue, and with the ability to spend that much money on just one portion of their advertising comes the flexibility to run a branding-style Adwords campaign. They’ve gone to great lengths to protect and promote their brand, even taking Google and Overture Services to court over copyright infringement in 2004 for allowing competitors to target their brand name as keywords (and losing). Their brand is important to them, and they’re willing to pay what they need to pay to maintain it.
If you’re a huge national corporation like Geico, Amazon, Microsoft, and countless others, brand promotion is a necessary and profitable advertising strategy, even when it comes to SEM. But if your Adwords budget is smaller than that (i.e., the rest of us), a more targeted approach is necessary. In other posts, we’ve talked about the importance of building a campaign designed to get conversions, which is one of the ways that we at Logical Position see so much success with our clients. So how exactly do the two different types of campaigns differ, and which one is right for you?
It’s safe to say that conversions are ultimately the goal of pretty much any advertising campaign, whether you’re using a branding approach or not. In the advertising world, a conversion generally refers to the transaction that happens when somebody inquires about your product or services as a result of the advertising. In the world of SEM, this metric has become even more important because of the highly measurable nature of digital marketing.
Online, nearly everything can be tracked through coding, cookies, and IP addresses. Google ads lead to sales that can easily be attributed to the specific ad that netted that sale, providing you with data that can help you determine the success of each campaign, ad group, and keyword. Conversions in their highly measurable form are the name of the Internet marketing game, the key to optimizing your campaign for the highest return on investment possible.
Adwords branding campaigns still have the intention of eventually leading to conversions (and ultimately, sales), but they pursue that intention through the more immediate goal of creating brand recognition in the consumer. Their intention is to firehose the company’s name out there so that the consumer will begin to associate the brand name with the product or service they provide. The goal is that they will think of that company when the need arises to use their services–like Geico and auto insurance, for example.
While this type of campaign has the strengths of being far-reaching, long-lasting, and indeed quite impactful, it also means that much of the budget will go toward clicks that do not lead directly to conversions. The advertiser will not see the return right away or possibly even at all, and a lot of other factors can come between them and their clients on their way to a conversion.
Most forms of traditional print and media advertising involve branding. Direct response advertising came along in the form of mail-order catalogs, mail-in coupons, 1-800 numbers, and website links — all established to make advertising more measurable so that it could be studied and improved. Digital marketing is just the next step in the evolution of one of the most important aspects of the economy: making your business known to the world. Visibility, after all, is essential for sales.
Adwords campaigns built for conversions offer a way for business owners to know that the money they’re putting into their advertising is doing more than just attempting to psychologically impact their target audience. The campaigns should be designed to yield the most measurable conversions possible with their monthly budget, therefore saving the advertiser from wasting money on non-buyers.
Let’s Get Structural
So how can you build your campaign for conversions? It’s really all about targeting the right keywords, tracking their performance, and consistently making adjustments. It’s the “study” part of this new advertising that’s truly important– since Adwords allows us to measure, it’s important not to ignore what your results are telling you.
First, when putting together your campaign, focus on keywords that are transactional rather than informational. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you might want to target “personal injury lawyer,” rather than just “personal injury law,” which someone could be typing in for a variety of reasons unrelated to hiring a lawyer. If you have an e-commerce website, however, you might actually want to target keywords related to your product, such as “refurbished laptops,” because that’s what people type in when they are looking for your product.
From there, you need to set up a way to gauge your campaign’s performance. Tracking your conversions is the best way to see what is working and what isn’t. You can set up conversion tracking by adding a code to different aspects of your website, such as your contact form, purchase confirmation page, email address link, or phone number extension. You can set up call tracking through your PPC Management company to see who actually calls you based on which ad.
It’s also important to understand how to utilize the metrics available to you. This is where a PPC Management company can prove beneficial again — it really is a scientific and technical process. Trim keywords and add new ones according the results that you get from each week or month of advertising, and learn how to use the tools available to you as well.
Work Toward Branding
As much as you want to take advantage of your ability to target and track your online advertising, don’t forget that branding still has its place. It’s still important to build your company name. As your business, revenue, and reputation grows, you can focus more on writing your ads so that they contain your company’s name, rather than focusing as much on the product or service. You can create small branding campaigns within your existing Adwords campaign to promote new product lines or services as they come about. You can get more creative with your banner ads.
You can also put time and energy into boosting your website’s organic rankings through Search Engine Optimization so that searchers see your name in both the organic and paid listings for your industry. You can branch out to email marketing, social media marketing, and other tricks. Don’t forget to keep your website up-to-date and pay attention to what your competitors are up to. And finally, get creative: do as much print and media as your budget allows, and always be looking for new strategies to add to your arsenal. Have fun!