Paid advertising

Paid advertising

Paid advertising is an effective method for generating awareness. There are many platforms for executing a paid advertising campaign, but this article will focus on Google Adwords. The case for Google Adwords is good: 3.5 billion searches per day and a reported average of $8 in advertiser revenue per $1 spent.

When setting up a Google ad campaign, the primary consideration is demand for your product. Are people looking for a solution to the problem that you solve? Who are you competing with on the platform? There are a wealth of tools available online designed to help you generate informed answers to these questions. One of these is Alexa, which can give you a broad view on how you measure up to the competition.

The second most important factor is Ad Rank. When setting up an ad, Google assigns a numerical ranking from 1-10. The ranking is defined as quality score * maximum bid. While max bid is easy enough, the quality score is a composite of several factors, including:

  • Relevancy: the perceived match between the ad and the landing page.
  • Specificity: narrow match audiences are favored over broad matches.
  • Extensions: site link, calls, location, offers and apps.

Essentially, an ad with a good quality score may appear higher on Google’s SERP than an ad with a poor quality score and a higher bid. In the spirit of surfacing relevant, converting ads to users, money won’t buy you love.

The third consideration is the landing page (and the site in general) that you will direct users to when they click on your ad. If your landing page isn’t optimized or your site is antiquated, your visitors won’t convert to customers. Determining site quality is discussed at length in the competitive positioning article. Landing page content should reiterate the promise teased in the ad, and follow a simple framework:

  • Problem. Articulate the problem that you are attempting to solve with your product.
  • Agitate. Create urgency either through positive (discounts) or negative (anxiety) reinforcement
  • Solution. Make the case for why your solution is the best.

Keywords are the terms that users type into the Google search box, and correspondingly determine which ads they will see. There are different methods for identifying keyword matches, including broad matches and negative modifiers. The key to structuring a profitable campaign is testing, both initially and ongoing, as the marketplace is constantly shifting. The best way to accomplish this is to run two campaigns in parallel, including:

  • Research. This is a low-budget, broad match campaign intended to inform you of your customers’ behavior patterns. You can observe which long-tail phrases users are searching with and incorporate these, selectively, into your production campaign.
  • Production. This is your main budget campaign, comprised of narrow-match ads, directing to ad-specific landing pages.

In addition to performing your own keyword research, there are online resources including SEM Rush, Google Trends and SpyFu that can help you to understand what your target market is looking for.

Once a user has clicked on your ad, you can remarket to him later throughout the Google display network, rendering your ads to them on 3rd-party sites. This can be effective, particularly when you are still cultivating your customer’s interest. There may be a delay before purchasing when someone is just researching, and remarketing keeps your solution fresh in their minds.

Finally, measuring your conversions and iterating is key. Link your analytics account and enable conversion tracking so you have the information you’ll need to make decisions. Watch your campaigns, double down on what’s working and dump what’s not.

Running an ad campaign through Google can be a terrific way to spread the word, but don’t expect to just switch it on and profit. Like most things, it requires thought and attention, or it can get away from you.