It’s the age-old question that every search marketer has heard from their clients at least once: why should I bid and pay for trademarked brand terms in paid search when a user would find our site through the organic listing?
The answer really depends on the client, but in general it’s important to have both paid and organic presence on branded queries for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, bidding on branded queries helps you to own the search engine results page, making it more likely that a user will click and giving your business increased credibility.
However, clients’ concerns about this topic are certainly valid. A notable example comes an Acronym client in the health insurance sector. A recent analysis found that almost 40% of PPC traffic from the trademarked term comes from current members. This is despite the fact that our ads clearly state “Apply for a Plan” and are geared towards prospects.
The implication is that paid search campaigns focused on driving in new members, prospects and/or customers could be accruing significant click costs on branded terms from current members/customers, who may only want to go to the site to do something like pay their bill.
The good news is that there are a number of tactics that advertisers can take to handle this traffic more efficiently:
Utilize sitelinks directed at current members/customers
A sitelink such as “Log in to Your Account” would allow you to direct current member traffic more efficiently and provide a better user experience. In addition, you can track spend against the links to see how much of your overall click costs are coming from current members
Utilize Google’s Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to more effectively target traffic
With RLSA, marketers have the ability to negatively target current member or converted user lists so that their PPC ads don’t show up for these audiences when they search for specific terms.
An even better option would be to utilize these lists as an opportunity for cross-sell or upsell. For example, a credit card company could send current member traffic to a landing page promoting upgrading a card. Or an e-commerce site could develop tailored ad copy to existing customers offering a discount on their next purchase.
Branded traffic is an essential component to a successful paid search campaign, as these clicks tend to be relatively cheap and convert well. A sophisticated strategy with different audiences in mind can help to ensure that you direct branded traffic effectively and maximize every click.
Before I became a new mom last year, I liked to think that I was well prepared for the experience. I spent the months leading up to the delivery reading baby books and articles on baby websites and watching videos online. But here’s the reality: until you are thrown into the gauntlet of diaper changes, crying spells and 2 a.m. feedings, you really don’t know what you are in for and can never be fully prepared.
Looking back, I see that my own experiences (both pre- and post-natal) highlight the construct of the See, Think and Do stages of today’s consumer purchase path. With a nod to Google’s Avinash Kaushik, people in the See stage are the largest addressable audience for brands—nowhere close to wanting to purchase something. In the Think stage, we are actively interested in something, a good signal of our intent. It’s in the Do stage that we can be sold goods and services. Smart marketers engage consumers in each stage with the right content and/or offers.
As new parents traverse this complex new landscape and the myriad of new buying decisions that must be made—from small purchases like diapers to larger purchases like strollers and such—we are ultimately looking for brands that we can trust. By reviewing my own recent search habits and personal experience, I have identified some strategies on how search marketers can best target new parents.
Build Loyalty Early
When it came to particular products and brands, in many cases I really didn’t know what I wanted until the baby came. It was difficult to know what I really needed from a product until I had some experience under my belt and got to know my baby’s needs. This presents the opportunity for marketers to build their digital strategy from an intent perspective and establish a trusted relationship early on. That way, when the time comes to make a purchase decision, your particular brand will be top of mind.
Develop Relevant Content
One of the most glaring trends that I noticed in my own search habits was that I conducted many of my searches in question format. For this reason, marketers should attempt to understand the types of questions that new parents are asking and develop valuable content with advice around those questions. This will help brands position themselves as trusted, authoritative resources on parenting.
Connect Strategies to the User Funnel
The Google Consumer Study also found that parenting searches tend to differ by stage (pregnant, newborn, toddler) so it’s important for marketers to align their messaging so that it is timely and personalized to that stage. For example, I find it interesting how much I relied on search as an information resource after the baby was born, especially in the early months. I’m not the only one. A 2014 Google Consumer Survey found that new and expecting parents do twice as many searches as non-parents do.
Once a brand is introduced and a connection is established, marketers can further the relationship with a strategy focused on guiding potential customers to make a buying decision. Some examples are as follows:
Develop incentives for email capture with things like coupon deals, rewards programs, newsletters and special offers. New parents particularly appreciate savings and this is another effective way to build affinity.
Grow audience lists and promote products through retargeting. If it’s a major purchase decision, consumers may need time to mull things over. Retargeting allows marketers to get in from of them again when they are more likely to purchase.
Navigating the world of new parenthood can be daunting. Marketers can best serve new parents by establishing themselves as a trusted resource early on along the purchase path and developing a digital marketing dialogue with the goal of ultimately converting people to customers.
Recommended Reading: Landing Page Optimization
This is a long but entertaining and informative read by Oli Gardner about landing page best practices with a lot of helpful copywriting tips. Here is an overview of some of the copywriting concepts he covers:
Message Match – Ensuring language consistency in your landing page headline and the clicked ad that preceded it
Gardner uses a paid search example here – a channel where copy continuity is crucial. The paid search audience is unique in that they are looking for something very specific. If they don’t find what they are looking for on the landing page right away, they are likely to drop off. Having landing page copy that closely matches the PPC ad that was clicked on is a crucial tactic to hold the audience’s attention.
Conversation Momentum – Creating a positive and friendly experience on a landing page to show the user that you care.
The overall landing page tone should be conversational, expressing gratitude for the user visit with copy that gets to the point quickly and warmly sets a user down the conversion path.
Providing the Right Context – Understanding the mindset of the visitor targeted and then communicating appropriately.
This is also something that’s very relevant in paid search where keyword data allows PPC marketers to infer what stage of the buying cycle a user is in.
For example, someone who searches for a non-branded term is likely in the research phase and would respond better to a more informative landing page with softer language and a “Learn More” call to action.
Someone who searches on a branded term is already familiar with the brand so it’s more appropriate to do the “hard” sell. This could include details on pricing, customer testimonials and a “Buy Now” call to action.
Importance of the Headline & Call to Action – The headline is typically the first thing a user sees when a user gets to a landing page so it must be compelling and interesting enough to grab users and incentivize them the read the rest of the page.
The call to action must be equally compelling and should be the final incentive to get a user to click.
Overall, there’s lot’s of good stuff here that’s worth the time investment!