beyond keywords

A Personal Approach to Search: Moving Beyond the Keyword

Over the last few years, Google and Bing have been rolling out features which allow search marketers to leverage increasingly complex audience data including remarketing lists for search ads (using site interaction, Google Analytics data, and even your own CRM lists with Customer Match), demographics for search, device bid adjustments, and household income targeting. While looking at these features on their own can help trim the fat and improve campaign efficiency, if you consider them together it becomes apparent that the future of search is moving beyond just a keyword. Instead, it’s essential to consider the person behind the keyword and ensure that your ad is speaking to their mindset. But with all of these targeting options, where do you start?

Consider Your Goals

The first step is to outline what you’re trying to achieve. Once your goal is defined, make sure that the audience you’re targeting is willing and able to complete that action. If your goal is revenue, increase bids when the searcher is a valuable customer. Add remarketing lists for recent purchasers (7-30 days) if your brand lends itself to quick repeat purchases. If your brand is higher end with less frequent repeat purchases, create remarketing lists for longer date ranges (30-90 days). Utilize Google Analytics data to create lists of high AOV purchasers and leverage your internal customer data to create an audience of your highest value and most loyal customers.

If you’re looking to generate leads, you can also leverage audience data to ensure you’re only spending money on people who are able to complete the lead. Exclude current customers by using Customer Match or creating an audience of people who have recently logged into their accounts. You can also exclude people who have recently submitted a lead to avoid paying twice for the same lead or create an audience who have interacted with your site but not yet filled out the lead form, as this indicates they’re still in the research phase.

Consider Your Messaging

Another way to leverage audience data is by changing messaging based on what you know about the person searching. For example, if someone has added something to their cart but didn’t purchase it and is searching again, it’s the perfect time to offer them an exclusive promo to encourage them to complete the purchase. If you’re a lead gen business and someone is already a customer, instead of excluding them from campaigns entirely, upsell them with additional or complementary products. For keywords that indicate a desire to switch (category nonbrand and competitor terms), use this as an opportunity to remind them why they should stay with your company.

Consider Your Keywords

When you start thinking about the people behind the keywords, it changes the way you approach campaign structure and overall strategy. One of the most common pain points we hear from clients is that it’s hard to make nonbrand “work.” If this is the case, use audience data to serve ads to people that are more likely to convert. Also consider that different types of keywords lend themselves to different consumer segments and should have goals that reflect this.

  • Brand terms – Indicates the person is familiar with the brand and is likely ready to purchase after researching their options. Best practice is to rank in top position for all of your brand terms to own this space; however if you have a lot of competition on some of those terms which makes this impossible, increase bids for your Core audiences (recent & high value customers) as well as Mid-Funnel audiences (non-converting visitors). These keywords should be measured based on lead or revenue generation goals and held to a target CPA or ROI.
  • Specific/Long Tail Nonbrand terms – Searcher is closer to the purchase decision since this indicates they know exactly what they want but aren’t sure where they want to buy yet. Increase bids for Core and Mid-Funnel audiences on these terms to remind the searcher you sell what they’re looking for. These keywords can be measured on lead or revenue generation goals but should also consider new customer metrics
  • General/Short Tail Nonbrand terms – Indicate the searcher is just starting their research process but isn’t sure exactly what they’re looking for or where to buy. With these keywords you can take 2 different approaches based on what you know about their behavior
    • If they have been to the site before, leverage these keywords similar to the long tail nonbrand terms. Increase bid adjustments since they may be more likely to convert given their previous interaction with your site. This is especially useful in a more competitive auction where you normally can’t afford prime page position
    • If they haven’t been to the site before, use these keywords as a brand awareness tactic. Instead of trying to get them to buy right away with a heavy conversion call-to-action in copy, message brand differentiators. Don’t try to measure success of these keywords based on conversions but use new site visitors, time on site, email sign ups and other brand awareness metrics.

Crafting an audience segmentation strategy without a strategic approach is only wishful thinking. Don’t settle for this! Instead, build a partnership with us so we can help you create an approach that organizes your target audience conveniently, to serve them well. Want more insight on our practices? Check out our case study outlining how our Paid Social team tested Facebook ads to put San Antonio Spurs fans in the seats.

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