If you count yourself as a performance marketer, chances are search has been in your wheelhouse for a while. It’s a go-to for you, and you are wise enough to know that, along with the rest of your mix — and hopefully you have one — you can employ search for branding as well as direct response objectives.
As with all things that are tried and true, you may regard your approach as maintenance, steady as she goes — with the occasional keyword audit, trafficking of new assets or tweaking of spend.
But, are you missing out by not being more enthralled by your own efforts? By not keeping a fresh eye or keeping current with the state of your options? Are there hidden costs to your own complacency? Yes.
Given the lush state of the ad marketplace, there is no excuse for not being strategically aggressive and thoughtful about your mix. That’s the starting point.
Hopefully, despite your long-standing love affair with search, you are past the point where you view it as a stand-alone method or silver bullet. So, the first part of keeping fresh is keeping the examination open on your mix.
Within your marketing plan, are there logical opportunities to leverage search with display? Email? Social? We must remember there is always room to learn across media types — examining successful combinations, messaging, titling, visual media, graphics and more.
This interplay is vital to sound integrated marketing. It assures you will get more out of your search, as long as you use the learning to tune your placements and your assets — and remain open to shifting your allocations according to what you learn.
Beyond a fundamental commitment to being pro-active about your mix, what are other ways to keep things fresh, productive and reflective of the current state?
Placements Are In Effect, Your Venue
It used to be that we would structure our plans around 1st and 2nd tier engines — or Premium (Google, Overture, Yahoo, MSN) and 2nd Tier (Ask Jeeves, Kanoodle, others). Remember those days?
While today it’s most likely the case that you orient your PPC around 1 or 2 engines, alone, probably leading with Google — there are still important ways to extend your reach or beef up your involvement where you already are.
If you haven’t already, you should be taking a look at the content or display networks associated with your search provider. This more expansive play allows you to test and learn in the context of content, as well as deploy different asset types and display within your search buy, in order to constantly tune your overall approach.
And, in going this broader route, you extend your placements beyond the obvious direct associations with your product or service and into more non-endemic ones — widening your radius to affinity content, i.e. closely but not directly (bulls-eye) related to your offering.
These extensions on your buy are easy to execute — so why wouldn’t you go there and learn a bit more? Way to get more out of your dollars, in an efficient way geared toward learning.
A Living Keyword Universe
We’ve all been there… that moment when you feel you’ve finally aggregated the best possible keyword portfolio for your business: a nice book of low-cost, high-volume keywords; the right mix of brand-related words; studied, select, higher cost, high-conversion keywords; and the right, most appropriate competitive keywords.
While it’s OK to pilot the plane from there and effectively operate in maintenance mode, way too many of us effectively stop there, never doing more than a light refresh. Why in the world, in such a fluid keyword marketplace, would we assume our keyword opportunity is a fixed state?
After all, this is the age of audience targeting. We are past the days when your only option is outright keyword research and conducting periodic expands.
Display Buying Can Inform Search
One of the best accompaniments to your search today is any audience buying you are doing on the display side.
If you — or your providers — are skillfully executing audience buying, using today’s tools to identify the best audience profiles for your business, you are in a position to continually apply that intelligence to your search buy.
Imagine that you launch a display buy using real-time bidding (RTB) and audience targeting tools, setting out with a few known audience profiles (combinations of demographics and behavioral aspects that tend to convert for you).
Assuming you maintain an open mind and use RTB and those tools to uncover new, additional, and even non-endemic audience profiles, you effectively identify new combinations. Those combinations — especially behaviors and interests — open up new opportunities on the keyword front.
Each month, when you look at your performance reports on the audience buying, display side to see what’s converting, cull those learnings and apply them to a keyword run. And, while you are at it, use that same intelligence to tune your titles and descriptions to potentially resonate with those implied audiences.
Keep An Open Mind And An Adventurous Spirit
These are just a couple areas to consider. But, it’s not so much about the specific elements. It’s about keeping on your toes and keeping an adventurous mindset through and through.
Just because your search team is on its game and has a certain working formula — there is no reason to operate as though it’s a fixed or static situation.
This is digital after all, not legacy media, where you file an insertion, send the assets and call it a day.
If you’ve become so complacent and bored with your own search plan that you no longer pay true attention to it, you can be sure it is yawning itself. And if you and your search plan are yawning, potential is squandered.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.