Are you treating your PPC campaign as an advertising outlet or a marketing opportunity? Many PPC advertisers treat the engines as advertising distribution, but fail to create marketing messages.
PPC engines have many features that let you have control over ad display, however, if you just use these features to serve ads—then you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities available. You should move past just serving ads to putting forth comprehensive strategies that will grow your business.
Just to clarify, advertising is the paid promotion of goods and services. Advertising is an outlet for your creative message. Advertising is about reaching consumers. While reaching consumers is important, the message that’s delivered to those consumers is what makes them wish to do business with you instead of your competition.
Advertising is reaching consumers. Marketing is communicating with consumers. We shouldn’t be having conversations about just how to reach searchers and serve ads to them. Instead, we should be having conversations about how to connect with searchers once they have seen the advertisements.
The various PPC engines each have various features which let give us control of ad serving. However, with a little bit of effort, we can take those advertising methods and turn them into effective marketing messages.
Reaching Consumers by Time of Day
Both Microsoft adCenter and Google AdWords support the concept of ‘day parting’. Day parting (Google calls it ad scheduling) is serving your ads at certain times of the day or days of the week.
If you know that consumers are more likely to buy from your website between noon and 5pm, you can serve ads only during that time. This will help conversion rates, ROI, and reaching consumers when they are most likely to buy from you. However, this can be taken a step further and turned into a marketing message.
Consider a searcher seeing these ads while shopping around at 3pm on a Friday afternoon:
"$350 Cancun Specials, call a Travel agent today!"
"Receive a 15% discount between noon and 5pm on Fridays".
"Friday afternoon special: Spend the weekend in Cancun for $350"
The generic ad that isn’t changing its message based upon the day is not nearly as compelling as those touching a consumer in the moment. Now, instead of just running ads at times where conversions are more likely, you can connect with searchers by time of day, or day of the week. The closer you can identify with characteristics of a search, the more likely the searcher will connect with your marketing message.
Demographic targeting is most commonly done by age and gender. However, it can be quite granular and take into factors such as ethnicity, income, marital status, children status and industry into consideration. Targeting by demographic characteristics isn’t new. This is the basis for many TV and radio campaigns. Banner ads have been targeting by demographics for years. However, are you taking advantage of demographic targeting on Google’s Site Targeting or with Microsoft adCenter?
Do you know the demographics of your customers? Do you have an ideal consumer profile defined? Going through the exercise of profiling your ideal customer can be very useful as it will give your meaningful data about who you should be targeting.
Consider these ads for wrinkle reducer cream where the target audience is a female over 40. Which one seems more appealing to that audience?
"New wrinkle reducer cream. Revolutionary anti-aging cream to fight the aging process."
"New wrinkle reducer cream. Designed for women over 40 to recapture that twenties allure."
"Our wrinkle reducer cream is specially designed for the skin of women over 40."
While a more creative marketing message can be written that takes into account adjectives and conversational language of that demographic, I’m using a more straightforward ad to illustrate my point.
Don’t just write generic ads that talk about your product. First define your ideal customer. Next, determine how to use demographic targeting to advertise to that audience. And finally, craft a message that transforms your advertising efforts into a successful marketing campaign.
Identifying with consumers geographically
With the release of Panama, all three major PPC engines support geographic targeting. This is the ability to serve ads to searchers within a specific geographic area.
Geographic targeting is one of the most powerful forms of PPC targeting. It allows local businesses to bid on non-geographic based keywords. As most searchers are still not using geo-qualifiers in their searches, geographic targeting is an effective way to send your advertising message to local searchers.
However, most geographic ads are still very straightforward. Do a search for “Columbus Plumber” and almost every headline is “Columbus Plumber.” One of the key aspects of marketing is identification. The closer a user can identify with you, the higher the chance of interaction. People are proud of their locations, and often wish to do business locally. How do the locals describe the geography?
Consider these ad copies (“the loop” is what locals call the downtown Chicago area):
Chicago Sushi Restaurant Dine-in, delivery, or pick-up services. Open 11am-10pm M-F.
Chicago Loop Sushi Guaranteed delivery in under 25 minutes Our Friday special is chef’s choice sashimi.
Loop Sushi Delivery Guaranteed delivery in under 25 minutes Chicago’s freshest sushi restaurant.
Ok, I cheated and added both a geographic and a time of day message in the middle ad copy. However, there’s no rule saying you can’t combine these marketing messages to reach consumers on multiple levels at once. The goal of marketing is to encourage those who see your marketing message to do business with you.
Don’t just advertise to consumers, market to them
While undoubtedly, some marketing guru will pick apart my definitions and interpretations of advertising and marketing. Advertising is reach. Marketing is message. However, it’s about the message being communicated, not the definitions. This goes to both my usage of the words, and the message itself.
It’s not enough to just serve ads based upon a keyword search. It’s not enough to just change bids by conversion rate. It’s not enough to find your ideal time to advertise and take advantage of whatever controls are at your disposal. If you aren’t connecting with consumers, bid or keyword changes aren’t going to matter.
Learn about your customers. What are their ages, demographics, locations, and surfing habits? Understand the PPC engine ad serving controls. There are a lot of them. You can target by more options than I have listed above.
Once you understand your ad serving options, then you can determine how you can identify with the consumer. The crafting of an effective marketing campaign takes both creative and analytical skills.
PPC engines can deliver the advertisements. However, you must first create the message that compels a searcher to take action before you can be a successful advertiser.
Brad Geddes is the Director of Search for LocalLaunch, a blogger at eWhisper.net, and a frequent conference speaker. The Paid Search column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.