For success with your search ad campaigns – be precise.
Whether your goals are tied to awareness, conversions, or ROI, all aspects of your campaign should be focused on specificity, not inclusivity. This approach may seem to run counter to the features, structure, and even instructions that search ad platforms offer, but it’s absolutely essential.
To your target audience, your ads must be specific answers to their specific questions. And your website is the expert.
Attention is scarce. And whatever your campaign goal, you need their attention. The digital world has re-aligned expectations when hunting for information and solutions. Everybody expects to find exactly what they’re looking for, and fast. Even if you’re on topic, your audience has little patience for relating indirect content to the specific words swirling around in their head. It’s easier to just move on to the next search result, until there’s one that is speaking directly to them.
How do you speak directly to your target audience? Message match. Directly to their search phrase. In all aspects of your campaign – without exception.
This approach is more work, there’s no way around that. But if done correctly, the payoff will be well worth it.
It starts with defining the target audience. With high variable costs, search ad campaigns can be expensive. It’s best then, to ensure that your campaigns are targeting and capturing your highest value customers. These are customers that have a high likelihood to convert and become repeat customers, maximizing lifetime value, and, if possible, require a relatively low level of ongoing maintenance.
Define any common demographic and behavioral traits you can among three categories: location of search, device used in search, and hour of the week of the search. Segment key groups among these three categories into different campaigns so that you can use bid modifiers to help target these traits. Use these characteristics, and others, in ad and landing page messaging to relate more directly with your target audience.
Next, conduct detailed keyword research and identify short and specific key phrases used by your target audience. From here, create a direct match between the search phrase and your keyword. There will only be one keyword for each ad group – the exact search phrase. This method is sometimes referred to as SKAGs (single keyword ad groups). This structure is critical to message match, and will deliver you the attention you need.
You are now aligning yourself directly with those words floating around in your target audience’s mind, maximizing your relevance and commanding attention.
Your audience’s search phrase will also be used as your ad headline. The remaining ad content will depend on the target audience’s intent when using this key phrase. Which part of the buying cycle are they in? Craft content with this in mind to address the audience’s specific concerns at this part in the buying cycle. Use the charts below from Neil Patel to determine in which phase your audience exists when using this search term, and as a result, what aspects of your offering are most important to them at that moment.
Your target audience is essentially writing your ad for you. Remember – your ad is the specific answer to their specific question. And what else? Your website is the expert. That brings us to the landing page.
When your audience clicks on your ad, they expect to be greeted with content that continues congruency with their original inquiry. The best way to manage this is to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion on your landing page through URL parameters. This ensures that your audience’s exact key phrase used in their search query appears in both your ad headline and the lead heading in your landing page. With this, you achieve the ultimate in message match and relevance – maximizing not only the click through rate of your ad, but also the conversion rate on your landing page.
To achieve message match – use your target audience’s exact search phrase as your keyword (one per ad group), ad headline, and landing page headline. This means that for every search phrase you target, you will need a separate ad group. This account structure requires more time investment and attention to detail. It is the opposite of “set it and forget it.” But for long-term success in search ads, it is crucial. Look for opportunities to use technology to assist in campaign management. Invest in development to automate repetitive creation, bidding, and analytic processes where possible.
The precision strategy leads to better campaign performance measurement and optimization – key principles of agile marketing – than any other account structure. Isolating each ad group to one keyword allows you to achieve more specificity in performance by identifying exactly which keywords (and by design, which audience’s search phrase) performs best and worst for your specific goal. From there you have precise control to optimize performance by pausing ad groups and adjusting bids.
Implement continuous procedures to regularly monitor the search term report and ensure there is an exact match between your top search terms and the keyword triggering your ad to appear for that search term. For any search terms that don’t exactly match with your keyword, create a new ad group using that search term as the keyword and ad headline. Use ad group level negative keywords on the original ad group to ensure that this search term no longer triggers the original ad group through the original keyword. Repeat this process until all top search terms exactly match a keyword, and subesequently ad and landing page content.
When you implement this strategy for your search ads, two KPIs will go through the roof – Click Through Rate and Conversion Rate. If your goal is awareness, this will help you sell your message and encourage interaction with your brand. If your goal is conversions, you’re driving more of your target audience to your website, and converting more of them. Finally, if your goal is ROI, you achieve this through maximizing CTR and ad relevance, which leads to better Quality Scores and lower CPC.
How can you afford not to make precision your search ad strategy?