Target, Value, Satisfy, Understand. That’s the mantra of High Resolution PPC.
The idea is to stop thinking about mechanical components like keywords and bids, and instead focus on a logical marketing progression.
We want the tools to support our work process instead of having to build a work process that serves the tools.
The First Step is Targeting
Targeting means showing your ads to the right people. Paid search ads are delivered as answers to questions. People type in a search query and you pay for the privilege of having your ad be one potential answer to that question.
So you must know:
- What questions do you want to answer?
- What answers do you plan on giving to those questions.
Campaigns, Ad-Groups, and Keywords are your targeting tools.
Keep in mind that they’re called ad-groups, not keyword-groups. The goal is to segregate keywords, controlled using the match-type option, so that all the queries attracted by a single ad-group are questions answered by the text-ads in the ad-group.
In other words, you want every searcher to see a a text-ad that is directly relevant to their search. To do that, you must organize your ad-groups around the search queries they attract, not the keywords they contain. Every search query that causes your text ads to be displayed, should be highly relevant to the text ad that is displayed.
Let’s illustrate with an example.
Supposed you knew that all of the following search queries would be coming into your account, and you could hand match them to appropriate text-ads before the results page was delivered to the searcher.
- Discount Dyson Vacuum
- Dyson Vacuum Features
- Dyson Vacuum Coupons
- Compare Dyson Vacuums
- Cheap Dyson Vacuum
- Dyson Extra Cyclone
Wouldn’t you want the 3 price-related queries to get a price focused text ad, and the three feature related queries to get a feature-related text ad? Doesn’t it make sense that this would produce the highest click-through-rates and the highest ROI?
Yes, of course.
This is why you have to think about queries not just keywords, and use ad-groups to target the groups of people you want to talk to.
The Second Step is Valuing
Once we’ve targeted the right people using different ad-groups, we can then look inside the ad-group and take advantage of the fact that we don’t have to place the same value on everyone in that group.
Match-Types, Negative Keywords, and Bids are some the core valuing tools.
Extending our previous example, suppose experience tells us that people who search for ‘Cheap Dyson Vacuum’ just don’t buy from us (we’re not that cheap). That has no value, so we add ‘cheap’ or ‘cheap dyson vacuum’ as a negative. But ‘Dyson Extra Cyclone’ is a very specific feature so people who search on that are far into the buying process, we see that query frequently with a high conversion rate. Make that an exact match and bid it up.
You get the idea. By correctly using these tools, watching our search queries and continually refining our campaigns, we can group queries within an ad-group, value them appropriately, and manage both budgets and returns.
The Third Step is Satisfying
People decide how well our paid search advertising does. They decide how to formulate queries which trigger our ads (or not) and they click (or don’t) and buy (or not).
Text-Ads, Landing Pages, and ultimately your offers, website, and checkout process are your satisfaction tools.
When we’re targeting accurately, and valuing properly, we have the ability to focus on satisfying those who see our ads and visit our site. Trying to do so before we’ve completed these steps means, by definition, that we’ve got too wide a range of people coming to really have a fair shot at measuring the results of any attempts at improvement.
There is little doubt that text-ad writing, let alone testing, is the paid search option that gets the least attention and effort as compared to its importance and potential impact. Rewriting a text ad and doubling performance – in terms of CTR which even if it does not improve conversion rate can proportionally increase revenue – is common. We’ve seen many ad re-writes produce 10x-20x CTR improvements. Try that with a better bid.
But writing is hard. Writing is subjective. Writing takes quite a lot of time. None of these make it less important.
All the same is true-er for landing pages, website experiences, and shopping carts. This all very hard, time consuming, and costly work. But it is ultimately directly responsible for the success or lack thereof of paid search campaigns. Even within whatever limitations exist, it should be considered, managed, and measured.
The Final Step is Understanding
Even in this greatly summarized view of the paid search process, there are a lot of moving parts. Each exists by the hundreds, thousands, or hundreds-of-thousands in typical campaigns. They occur tens-of-thousands of times every day as impression and click counts increment. And we have weeks and months of history for all of this to consider and trend.
Paid search can only be managed effectively if you can learn from this data – look into it and find information.
Website and Search Analytics are your tools for understanding.
This means knowing which metrics are important. And when trends are really trends. And how all the numbers affect each other.
It also means that you need the ability to get at the data that can inform you, and easily produce the reports and dashboards that will do so for both you and your colleages or managers.
The key is continuous improvement. Paid search campaigns are never perfect. And they exist in highly dynamic environments. Only through hard work to understand the campaign and know the best move to make next to improve it can you really drive great results.
The shift into the T-V-S-U mindset is a big one. It changes the process of managing paid search and the way you think about and use the options and tools the search engines provide. More importantly, it aligns your search and marketing goals, and makes it easier to prioritize your PPC efforts and measure your results along the way.
In future posts we’ll dig into each stage and step of this process in more detail. Have questions before then? I’d love to hear them, or your comments.
This post is part of a series on High Resolution PPC, a framework for understanding and managing paid search advertising.