theEword teamed up with Google today to present a seminar looking ahead to 2015, packed with advice on how businesses can make the most of paid search and other Google platforms as we move into the new year. Our managing director Daniel Nolan joined representatives from Google to talk to the delegates about topics including agency best practice, the value to businesses of the Google Partners scheme and what techniques and approaches marketing directors ought to be employing if they want to keep their activity cutting edge and – more importantly – profitable going forward.
Below, we’ve collected some of the best bits of advice from the seminar.
Success is all about the audience
This was absolutely the key message that came out of the seminar, something drummed home by both theEword and Google. If you want profitable online marketing campaigns, you need to start first of all with your audience and their needs. Knowing as much as you can about your target market, their interests, questions and behaviours will allow you to tailor your marketing activity to better fit them and, as a result, convert more successfully. There are so many optimisation options available to advertisers these days – including targeting by location, time, device, demographic and more – but these are wasted if your business launches a campaign based on assumptions or received wisdom. Far better to thoroughly research your audience first via focus groups and customer interviews so as to truly get a feel for what they are looking for from your business and industry and also gain an understanding of their online behaviour – useful for targeting display placements. You’ll also be able to tailor your ad groups and ad copy right down to individual groups of users and, through that granularity, achieve better conversion rates.
Make the most of the link between online and offline
As recently as ten years ago, the main touchpoints for customer research were newspapers and word of mouth. Now, thanks to the rise of internet use and smartphones, there has been a massive shift towards digital consumption. The buying process has grown to include many more touchpoints and opportunities for businesses to connect with audiences – not surprising when you consider the average Brit now spends 110 hours per month online and 93% of buyers research products and services online before purchasing. Given how ingrained digital/online is in the modern buying journey, it is vital businesses make the most of the crossover opportunities that exist between this space and the offline world. One of the best opportunities for achieving this is via mobile, which now accounts for 27% of all online sales. Google advises that advertisers make the most of their ability to target ads by location, citing an example of a visitor to a city searching for services nearby. Businesses with mobile and location-optimised campaigns are more likely to show in search results, driving better footfall into physical premises. The effect of this was highlighted by one of the more compelling stats of the afternoon, which showed that 27% of offline purchases start as a search on a smartphone.
Have a cross-device conversion path
That particular statistic also highlighted the importance of businesses making it easy for their customers to convert across various channels and devices. The trend towards cross-device consumption is not limited to people searching for things on their phones and then popping to the shops to buy them (or vice versa, as with ‘showrooming’, the supposed scourge of the bricks and mortar retailer): did you know, for example, that 63% of people watch TV and browse the internet at the same time? Meanwhile, 90% of people move between devices to complete goals. Imagine a scenario where a potential buyer sees your television advert, then Googles your brand name to find out more information. In the first instance, you’ll want a mobile-optimised search presence and website in order to give them the best possible experience and retain their interest. Moving forward from there, research shows more people switch devices – for example to a tablet or laptop – to complete goals such as ecommerce conversions. So the priority is to ensure users are given a consistently good experience across devices, making sure that those people whose attention was first grabbed by your television advertising eventually convert on the web.
Choose the right platform
Search, display, YouTube: Google has many different platforms available to users. The key to success, though, is choosing the right one(s) to connect with your target audience. This can be informed by the work you do in understanding their interests and behaviours. You might find, for example, that a particular segment of your audience are heavy consumers of YouTube content, in which case advertising via the video platform – which also doubles as the world’s second biggest search engine, after Google – would seem a natural choice. It is important to view and treat each platform and channel as being distinct, setting different expectations and budgets for each. Google revealed that average costs per click vary between different platforms, with implications for businesses calculating ROI: Search could be £1, the Google Display Network 30p, while YouTube click costs might average around 10-15p. It is vital therefore to separate all channels in your reporting to gain a true understanding of how each is performing. A note, too, on ad formats such as pre-roll video and remarketing banners – while Google concedes some people may find these annoying, the fact remains they consistently produce a good ROI for advertisers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist.
Don’t expect instant success
Perhaps as important as building a cross-device, multi-channel advertising campaign based on genuine customer insight is giving the activity time to bear results – whether good or bad. Don’t expect your campaigns to peak on day one; sometimes it might take several business cycles to fully understand the results. It is important to build up enough data to make informed decisions when it comes to refining and optimising your advertising activity, a principle which is central to paid search success. Often, it is only through testing things that advertisers can uncover the best insights – particularly around questions such as which time of day or day of the week convert best – that will feed in to future activity. The key here is to remember that PPC doesn’t just entail finding out about your audience, creating ads that speak to them and putting those ads in the right places. Your involvement shouldn’t end when you set the ads live, but should continue into a constant, ongoing process of reviewing and improving your advertising activity – and reaping the rewards.