Paid search: Sending the right message

Google’s announcement of Enhanced Campaigns has created a lot of discussion around the benefits, challenges, and implications of this major change to the paid search space.  Digital marketers are scrambling to figure out a migration strategy and worrying about increases in CPC.  In the midst of these changes affecting ad targeting and bidding, it’s important not to forget that there’s only one portion of your paid search account that your customer sees:  

Your ad copy.

1. Provide Relevance

Paid search is an incredibly effective channel because it is a customer-initiated conversation.  The customer doesn’t just tell you when they’re open to your marketing message, they also tell you exactly what they’re looking for via their search query.

Effective ad copy references the user’s search, but smart advertisers go beyond just parroting keywords in their ads.  Make sure you consider elements of your keyword phrase that indicate the customer’s current need.  Are they looking for deals (“discount laptops”)?  Are they looking for a physical store (“shoe stores in Boston”)?  Are they looking for information (“YOUR BRAND NAME return policy”)?  Each of these example keywords should be placed into separate AdGroups with unique ad copy speaking to the user’s need.

2. Differentiate Yourself

What does your site offer that competitors don’t?  Make sure your ad copy answers that question, especially in ads for competitive nonbrand keywords.  Brag about your product selection, your free shipping, your customer service, or anything else that gives a reason for searchers to choose you.  Look at what competitors are offering and identify opportunities to stand out from the crowd.

3. Be Current

Make sure to test ads calling out new products and seasonal events.  These ads really stand out against generic “evergreen” messaging, and appeal to past customers by encouraging them to come back and visit your site again. Don’t forget to pause the ads once they’re no longer relevant!

4. Leverage Sitelinks for Self-Segmentation

Many advertisers simply plug their site’s top navigation into their sitelinks, but there’s a much more effective way to utilize this extension.  Think about the actions you want users to take once they get to your site—or even better, go back up to tip #1 and see what actions users are looking to take.  By positioning these actions as sitelinks you provide the searcher with the option to self-segment.  They can jump ahead to the activity or information they’re looking for with no extra steps.

5. Experiment with Calls to Action

No, not “Click Here!” or “Shop Now!”.  Think about what the user wants and what your site provides, and leverage a call to action that makes this relationship clear.   If you’ve already reviewed the above suggestions, your ad probably already reflects this ideal—now take it a step further and write an ad that drives the user to take action.

Sitelinks are an often-overlooked opportunity for this kind of messaging.  If your sitelinks currently consist of one-word navigation options (“Shoes,” “Rental Cars,”), expand them with a call to action (“Browse Shoes,” “Reserve a Rental Car”).

In the paid search world it’s easy to focus on bids, targeting, and numbers, but it’s important to remember that all of these other efforts are in support of placing an ad in front of a potential customer—and ultimately, the ad is what drives searchers to click.