Here are the challenges many prospects and customers face and how we approach each of them.
Profitable growth (not growth at any cost) is essential to most businesses. One thing that often stands in the way of that growth is competitors. We find that whoever has the highest “lifetime value of a customer” tends to win in Paid Search, because they can afford to set the general level of the keyword auction prices.
If your marketing position is to be the “low cost” player, the cheaper alternative to the leader – generally that is an awful position and it’s very very difficult to make that work in the context of paid search. Since your gross margins don’t support bidding high on the keywords, all you can do is bid low and try to appear in a low position – and then never get the volume. In search, and online in general, success breeds success – the highest lifetime value, the highest bidder, and the person able to handle the highest cost per acquisition or lowest ROAS will be the winner and get the lion’s share of the volume
Because of the growth imperative, it’s often ideal to position your offering as “first” or “best”. If you’ve not read “Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind” by Ries & Trout – you really should run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and get your copy now and read it. It’s a classic with great insights and we love it.
Online, however, and particularly in search, we have seen something very interesting about positioning. Napoleon is said to have said “Above all else, be noticed”. If we search on early-funnel keywords for your product or service and we see keyword-oriented headlines where all the competitors are trying to match the headline to contain the keyword…then we often recommend you instead lead with your brand name. This will help you stick out. Conversely, if all you see are brand names….sometimes the keyword approach is better.
If you have a product, in the ideal world, customers can obtain it wherever they want – Amazon, resellers, your website – wherever. So usually it’s important to both make it available and do demand generation to stimulate all those channels.
If your offering is a B-to-B service, then it’s ideal to try to take the “thought leader/trusted advisor” position. Customers should see you speaking at conferences, pontificating on podcasts, they should be consuming numerous white papers. If you can get in front of the parade that is your industry and lead it, that is almost always the best position to take.
In both cases, whether consumer or B-to-B, we feel it’s important to “surround” your audience – appearing in paid search, organic search, organic social, paid social, trade shows, influential websites your customers frequent – anywhere they hang out online. Then when they are ready to convert, you will be who comes to mind.
Interestingly, sometimes you can get access to your audience through other than the obvious ways. For instance, doing work for a large nonprofit that recruits volunteers to help in disasters, we noticed an affinity for….motorcycles! Which makes sense if you think about it… motorcycle riders are risk-takers and outdoor-types – just the type of person that might be interested in helping during a disaster. Analyzing your own data can really turn up some interesting ways of getting at your target audience.
It’s great to talk about strategy, positioning, competitors…but at the end of the day, if you don’t bring home the actual bacon and put some numbers on the scoreboard, you’ll be out of a job quick. We feel it’s our job to make you look good so that never happens.
The key to driving KPI improvement is proper tracking, and relentless execution. We find that many organizations find it challenging to track and “closing the loop” to understand what keyword led to an actual sale at the end of the day, and often instead just engage in “faith-based marketing”, where you do what you feel is right for the organization but you just can’t prove it. Sometimes that’s all you can do, but we always strive for more.
We tend to put a lot of effort and attention on your Google Tag Manager setup, your conversion tracking, and in the ideal world, we’ll also pass information through ad URLs that your CMS can then grab from the landing page, and you can store with the lead or sale information in your back-end. The more we can close that loop together, the more likely we’ll drive those KPIs where they need to go.
On the execution side, that’s a matter of proper reporting, strategy, testing…a myriad of activities, too many to even go into here. Relentless execution requires a serious work ethic, which we have in abundance.
You have enough problems with changes happening in your own industry without having to worry about whether Facebook just changed their Advertising user interface for the third time this month, or how Google’s advertising policies just changed and hundreds of your ads are no longer serving. We have found change is so endemic in this business, it has become impossible for one person to be an expert at paid search, seo, and paid social; specialization is the only way to handle the sheer volume of changes coming at us all.
We see our job as helping you not only navigate the change, but to actually profit from it…often new ad formats, new targeting approaches, and new advertising channels represent arbitrage opportunities for clients, where they can get additional reach at a low CPA or high ROAS, before their competitors start using those. So we tend to push to test new beta features of the ad platforms, and are often advocates for new ad formats and campaign types.
Reach out to us today and get a complimentary business review and consultation.