6 Pro-Tips for SEA beginners

August 12, 2015

Author: Denise Gau

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SEA (Search Engine Advertising) is without doubt one of the most powerful tools in online marketing and effectively synonymous with Google AdWords. No other tool allows businesses in e-commerce to communicate so directly with potential customers, as leading industry giants such as eBay, Zalando and Amazon recognise. Numerous younger businesses such as KFZteile24.de also have large-scale SEA to thank for their astronomical rise. Given the enormous number of people using Google every single day, the potential scope of such campaigns is limited only by a company’s available budget.

But for every success story where an SEA budget has been efficiently deployed, the complexity of online advertising can also lead to many a carefully planned budget simply going out the window. Therefore, in this article, I’d like to share a few pieces of advice for business owners who may be new to SEA. The general rule is not simply to invest effectively in SEA measures ( = achieving aims) but rather to invest as efficiently as possible.

Potential analysis – identify profit-generating keywords

A successful SEA campaign begins with the identification of keywords relevant to your business. Keywords are those search terms used by potential customers when they search in Google. Your business could offer the secret to eternal life but if no-one is searching for your keywords, then no-one will know about it. A company like EasyJet on the other hand would identify a keyword set including terms like “cheap flights”, “budget airline” or “low cost airline” and optimize their SEA campaigns accordingly.

To identify potential keywords, use the Google Keywords Planner or an SEO tool such as XOVI to analyse average search queries per month for keywords relevant to you. The best keywords are searched for hundreds and thousands of times a month and therefore guarantee adequate scope for your adverts. If a keyword’s search volume is too low, it’s sometimes the case that Google doesn’t post any adverts for it.

You can also get an idea of online demand for a product or service before launching your e-commerce business.

By the end of the potential analysis, you should have a good idea of your most relevant keywords and a basis upon which to construct a far-reaching SEA campaign. As a rule of thumb, the more generic your keywords, the more expensive it is to place ads for them. You face stiff competition from fellow marketers who also want to display their adverts for the most popular keywords. Supply and demand.

For example, competition for the generic term “wine” is sure to be fierce, since hundreds of online shops sell wine or wine accessories of some sort or another. “Italian Brunello red wine from Tuscany” on the other hand is much more specific, cheaper and, providing there is sufficient demand for it, profitable.

Calculate strategically and sensibly

Depending on your industry or sector, you will have to calculate the amount you pay for keywords strategically and sensibly. Think for instance about the difference between a small online shop for Italian wine such as dall-italia.de and a major communications service provider such as Unitymedia. The former will be hoping to cover their advertising expenses within the first couple of orders and so will rarely want or be able to spend more than $1-2 per click. Huge providers such as Unitymedia or Deutsche Telekom aim to make such high profits over 24-month contracts and greater earning from single new customers that 2-figure sums per advert click can still work out profitable for them.

In addition to this basic economic view, it can sometimes also make strategic sense to pay for advertising even slightly belong your profitable means. This may be helpful for instance for a young, growth orientated business aiming to quickly win market share or for businesses wanting to sell off stock to stave off liquidation.

Produce engaging adverts

Having decided how much you are willing to spend on advertising, you then have to ensure that your advertising messages attract the attention of potential customers and engage with them. Constantly encourage them to click on your advert, perhaps using phrases such as “discover now” or “buy now”. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes – what message would entice you?

You can also use your ad text to encourage customers to buy from the very first moment of contact. Place a product’s USP in the visible text in Google, as short and sweet as possible, enabling users to proceed directly to “pre-loaded” order page which is ready to go.

Try out a range of different ad texts to see which ones work best for individual keywords.

Target your ad campaign at a relevant audience

Most advertisers will be familiar with this quote from Henry Ford:

I know that half of my advertising is wasted money. I just don’t know which half.

Given today’s range of media planning tools covering every marketing channel thinkable, this might seem a little bit over the top. There is nevertheless still potential for optimization particularly in relatively new channels such as SEA. Using the comprehensive data available to you, it is possible for example to target your campaigns regionally.

This enables national and international businesses to focus their SEA efforts on particularly relevant or potent regions for growth. Deutsche Telekom is a good example, having targeted under-performing regions through increased advertising presence. Regional focussing is also important for firms such as Unitymedia and Kabel Deutschland who can only target services such as 4G at areas where the necessary network coverage exists. On a smaller scale, local businesses are able to focus their campaigns on particular areas of a town or city where they believe potential for growth exists.

Consider carefully whether regional ad targeting is a sensible option for your business. If the answer is yes, be sure to make use of the tools offered by Google & Co to limit your campaigns geographically. This can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and the profitability of your available budget.

Create suitable landing pages

You’ve targeted the right audience with optimal ad focussing, you’ve settled on the right price-per-click on your ads and you’ve convinced customers to click – you’re well on the way to a successful conversion but there’s still work to be done!

Having clicked on your advert, it’s important that customers are taken directly to a landing page which corresponds to their initial search query as closely as possible. The higher the correlation of the Advert – Keyword – Target Page triangle, the better your conversion rate will be.

You don’t necessarily need to create a unique landing page for every single advert or product – a suitable sub-page containing either the exact product or service can suffice. For example, a user searching for “apple watch” will be pleased to land directly on Apple’s product page.

If the specific product or service isn’t available directly in your offer, not to worry. You can still ensure potential customers land on a site which at least offers suitable products related to their initial search.

Compare and contrast your own marketing channels and optimize accordingly

Paid SEA is only one source of traffic to your page. Other visitors will find their way to you via standard, unpaid, ‘organic’ Google searches, classic advertising, Facebook or other social media, or from various other sources.

Use web analytics tools such as Google Analytics (free) to compare and contrast data on bounce rates, conversion rates and visitor frequency, or go even further by exporting the raw data and analysing it using specialist statistical tools such as SPSS.

If you notice fluctuations in the key figures for different source of traffic, use the wide range of modern tools to identify exactly where you need to optimize and implement changes.

Denise Gau
SEA Manager Unitymedia

Denise Gau is an SEA expert. Following roles at various online companies such as denkwerk, OnVista and Ligatus during her time as a media and economics student, Denise began her career in the Media Planning Online with OMD Düsseldorf. She then took on a leading role at metapeople, becoming the agency’s chief representative to Deutsche Telekom. Most recently, she moved to Unitymedia where she is now SEA Manager responsible for the company’s search engine marketing.

Website: www.unitymedia.de

Author: Denise Gau