A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Search Campaigns

Being online is now as unremarkable a part of life as watching TV or driving around town. On average, people will spend hours every day on all of those things, and the actual event isn’t worth mentioning. This is what makes digital marketing such a fantastic opportunity for brands who want to get closer to their audience. With digital marketing, they’ll get to share the same online space as their community without it ever seeming like they’re trying to force things. 

This is what digital marketing is all about, and it encompasses everything that organizations do to connect with current and potential customers. Here, we’re going to look at the largest element of digital marketing: paid search. 

What is paid search?

Paid search has a number of different elements but can ultimately be boiled down to paying a search engine to put you at the top of the list for a certain word or phrase related to your business. 

For example:

Billy’s Sportswear specializes in selling hiking boots in the busy nature-trail town of Madeupville, Colorado. Their marketing department recognizes that as most potential customers are not from the area (they already have appropriate footwear), their shop needs to be getting in front of the eyeballs of people who are visiting, which they’ve heard from the local tourist office is about 50,000 people a year.

They set up a Google Ads account and start a campaign using the keywords “hiking boots” and focusing on their geographical area. Now, when someone in the Madeupville metro area enters “hiking boots” into Google, Billy’s Sportswear comes up at the top of the page. When someone clicks through to their website from the ad, Google is paid a pre-agreed amount, which is known as the Cost Per Click (CPC).

As can be seen from this basic example, paid search advertising has the power to massively transform a business’ success, which is why it has also become the most significant area of marketing spend in the world. Paid search accounted for over 1/5 of all advertising spending in 2018, coming in at around $100 billion with that number growing about 10% per year

What you need to know before starting a paid search campaign

As there’s a lot of terminology, targeting, and metrics to understand, getting a paid search campaign underway can be a bit daunting. Apart from enlisting help from some experts in the field, there are many other tips that can make your campaign a success.

Understand what you want

The simple answer might be obvious (more customers), but the reality is that paid search advertising can perform a wide variety of marketing roles so “more customers” might not necessarily be right for you. For example, with a Google campaign, you can set the goals as being Leads, Sales, or Website traffic. It’s worth taking the time to evaluate and plan what’s the best use of your marketing dollars and what you want to achieve with the campaign.

Set your bar for success

Once you know what you are looking to achieve with your paid search campaign, it’s important to establish what will be viewed as a success. For example, if your site gets 10,000 visitors a month, then higher click through rates of 1,000 or 1,500 will represent a 10% – 15% increase in visitors. 

Aligning your business goals with your marketing plans is a sensible plan in any situation, but with digital marketing, it can also help to track progress and understand what can actually be achieved.

Take time to understand keywords

One of the most common words in paid search and all Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is “keywords.” These are the words that people type into their search bar. In the example above, it was “hiking boots” but it can be any and all words related to your business. 

The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to rank highly for the keywords on the first page of results (which 90% of people never look beyond), but with paid search you skip the hassle of having to optimize your page and can rank on Page 1 right away in the ads section. 

When starting your campaign, Google Ads will give you information on the keywords related to your business, such as how often they are searched for, how much it costs per click to claim a paid search spot, or what the level of competition is like for that word.

Implement a holistic approach

While it is possible to just pay to be displayed on the top of Google’s results page and leave it at that, it is obviously also a good plan to back this up with efforts based around the campaign. 

For Billy’s Sportswear this might include a landing page (i.e. where the user goes after they click the paid search ad) dedicated to “hiking boots” or making sure that there are plenty of quality blogs and content related to the subject on their website. It is also important to utilize Ad Extensions, which are opportunities that Google provides to offer more information about your business which can improve your click through rates.

Keep user experience in mind

Not only does this thinking make sense from a marketing perspective, e.g. people searching for “hiking boots” being sent directly to the page that sells them, but Google also rates the user experience of ads with a Quality Score

Watch your quality score 

Google’s goal is to constantly improve the chances of users finding exactly what they are looking for with as much ease as possible. The Quality Score that they advertisers thus measures their users’ experience through metrics like expected click through rates, the quality of your landing page, and how relevant your ads and pages are to users. The better this score, the more favorably Google will treat your ads, including through lower prices and better positions.

Paid search advertising is a huge area with many niches, metrics, and strategies for achieving the best for your business, all of which can be a bit overwhelming. Yet, it’s also absolutely unavoidable for basically any organization. That’s why, when it comes to planning and executing campaigns, a good place to start is with a team of experts in the field, who know exactly how to walk you through a new campaign. Bloom Ads is full of just those type of people, who know precisely what you need to maximize your ROI on your marketing spend.  Get in touch with us here.

How to Measure Your Digital Marketing ROI

As we’ve discussed before, marketers are shifting their focus away from rigid (and sometimes misleading) ad metrics and towards measuring business outcomes. This amounts to a more holistic approach, a way of zooming out and asking simply – did the business make more money during a particular time period or not? In this way, marketers avoid getting mired in data, instead focusing on the big picture.

So how does this translate to the overwhelming number of digital marketing metrics at our fingertips, available on web analytics platforms like Google Analytics? In this blog, we hope to clear the air and make measuring the success of your digital campaigns a little easier (and more accurate).

Digital Marketing ROI: Setting Up Your Strategy

No matter what type of campaign you’re running – whether paid, organic, or social media – monitoring your success requires planning up front. Prior to launching into a campaign, make sure to set goals, then determine KPI’s to measure them.

1. Set specific, measurable goals.

In other words, decide what you want your campaign to accomplish. What do you want users to do? Sign up for a mailing list or free demo? Share your social media posts? Make a purchase? Get specific – maybe you want to get a certain number of mailing list sign-ups in a given timeframe or hit a particular conversion rate by a certain date.

Determining if and how the goals of a particular marketing campaign align with your business objectives will help you determine what kind of campaign you should be driving, and what kinds of KPI’s to set up in order to figure out whether you’re doing what you set out to do. For example, if your goal is increased sales, a lead generation campaign based on blog content won’t get you very far.

2. Set up relevant KPI’s.

Once you’ve established your goals, determine which KPI’s will help you see how you’re doing. We’ll go into more detail about which KPI’s best fit which kinds of campaigns. But as a general rule, you can ask yourself the following questions from Hootsuite to help narrow down the most appropriate metrics:

  • Does it align with my goals?
  • Does it help me make decisions about the future of my strategy?
  • Do I have the ability to actually measure it?

If your goal is conversions, for example, focus on metrics like conversion rates or cost per conversion. Define conversion – maybe it’s landing on a “Thank You” page after signing up for a free trial – and then track that behavior. At Bloom Ads, we use tags and pixels – bits of code strategically embedded into your site – to generate 1st party data you can use to track target actions so you have a fully hands-on approach to performance monitoring.

How to Calculate ROI: Revenue / Cost

Your digital marketing ROI is simply the amount of revenue your business gains for every dollar spent on marketing. As such, the specific variables will differ slightly depending on whether you’re calculating ROI for paid search, content marketing, or social media.

The most common way to calculate ROI for a marketing campaign is to divide the total revenue gained by your total marketing costs for that campaign. If the resulting number is greater than 1, you have a positive ROI – a net profit. If not, you probably need to tweak your strategy.

Choosing Metrics for Digital Marketing ROI

Paid Search

If you’re investing in paid search, you need to be able to track conversions with precision. First, that means clearly defining what conversion means to your campaign – again, do you want leads, sales/purchases, or something else? Then, set up metrics that will track that behavior.

At the very least, consider tracking the following key paid search metrics:

  • Quality Score – Quality Score determines your ad ranking and, importantly, how much you pay per click (PPC). If your keyword relevance is too low, your quality score will decrease and your PPC rate will increase, hurting your pocket.
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR) CTR measures how many people are actually clicking on the ad and going through to your landing page. It’s an important measure because it affects your quality score.
  • Conversion Rate – The rate at which users actually fulfil the conversion action you want them to take tells you a lot about the intent of the users who are being exposed to your ads.
  • Cost-Per-Conversion – Cost-per-conversion gives you an idea of how much you’re actually spending on each lead or sale. If it costs you more to get the conversion than you make from the lead or sale, you’ve lost money on the customer.

By aggregating these metrics, you get an idea of what you’re spending on each ad vs. the effectiveness of those ads on your target audience.

SEO and Content Marketing

Organic search is a long-term form of marketing that can often take lots of time and calibration to bear fruit. In some ways, measuring content and SEO performance can be less scientific than with paid search – but it can absolutely be done. Again, the idea is to set measurable goals that are aligned with business objectives.

We’ll go over a few useful KPI’s for SEO and different types of content below.

  • SEO Metrics – SEO is about ranking as high as possible on organic search engine results pages. Some things you’ll want to measure are keyword rankings for particular pages or page types (like your blog), website visits, page speed, and bounce rates.
  • Blog Content – Many of the same metrics apply, such as website visits and bounce rates. Blogs have notoriously high bounce rates, so if this is the case for your blog, it may not be a red flag. It can be useful to focus instead on something like time spent on page, which gives you an idea of whether users are actually reading your blogs through to the end (i.e. engaging with your content). You’ll also want to look at specific web traffic analytics to see how people are finding your page.
  • Case Studies and White Papers – In addition to web traffic analytics and time spent on page, consider looking at shares and engagement and brand mentions (are other people linking to your case study or featuring you in the media)?
  • Podcasts – Look at new subscribers, downloads, and listening lengths to see how many people are finding and engaging with you vs. when and where people are losing interest.
  • Webinars – Like with podcasts, you need to see how many people are making first contact vs. staying engaged. Measure registrations against actual attendees, then measure drop-offs to see where you’re losing people.

Social Media

Just like with Google Ads and Google Analytics, social media analytics platforms offer a staggering number of metrics that can all seem equally mystifying. It can be difficult to interpret how post shares and brand mentions relate to your actual revenue.

People often talk about the “vanity” metrics of social media monitoring – basically, any metrics that don’t actually align with your objectives. For a sales campaign, for example, a high click-through rate might not be very valuable, since it shows that you have lots of traffic but not necessarily lots of purchases.

To avoid relying on vanity metrics, first note that social media might be contributing to business outcomes in an indirect way, rather than straight into your pocket. After all, most users aren’t logging onto Facebook to go shopping. Once again, it’s crucial to determine what you want to get out of your social media presence and then measure that.

Hootsuite breaks down social media metrics roughly into four types of campaigns:

Results-Driven Digital Marketing

At Bloom Ads, we’re not just obsessed with media – we’re obsessed with results. Contact us today to learn more about how we build monitoring into our strategy from the beginning.

Five Things You Need to Know About Mobile Advertising

Digital marketers must adapt to the habits of mobile users.
The recent shift towards mobile advertising has been immense, accounting for 30% of global advertising in 2020, with its total of nearly $190 billion being more than twice as much as desktop advertising. What’s even more fascinating is that this dominant market position hasn’t been a slow-burner, with 80% of mobile ad spending growth happening in the last five years.

Like so many tech and digital “unicorns,” mobile advertising has sprung from nowhere and changed the game so quickly, it’s left traditional players struggling to figure out the new rules – or to even get on the field in the first place.

The reasons mobile advertising has become so popular are unsurprising when you consider what it offers to marketers:

With the unprecedented and highly individualized access to potential customers, it’s easy to see why everyone wants to grab a shovel and join in the mobile advertising gold rush that’s in full swing. But before you get in over your head, here are some important things you need to know about what makes mobile advertising different.

1. Mobile marketing has its own language.

You can’t make the most of mobile advertising without learning the language. Below are some of the most important terms you’ll come across:

Native ads: These are designed so that they look like they’re actually a part of the app or website being visited. For example, an ad for coffee might use characters from the game the user is playing.

Scrollovers: These are ads that take up a full-screen width, meaning that users have to scroll over them to get to the rest of their content, thus not being able to avoid the ad’s message.

Interstitial ads: These cover the whole screen during an appropriate moment during usage of mobile apps, such as a pause in play or changing from one screen to another.

Impressions: This is a digital marketing term that describes the moment an ad is viewed by someone or displayed on a page.

CPI (Cost Per Impression): This is a metric used to describe how much advertising costs per impression. It can also be described as CPM (Cost Per Mille), referring to cost per thousand impressions.

In-app purchases: These are purchases users make inside a company’s app, such as getting extra content to help them on a quest or give them more features, to provide a better experience or to make or renew subscriptions.

CTR: Click-through rate is the percentage of people who view your ad and follow through to visit the site or take a desired action.

Programmatic platforms: Highly automated bidding on advertising inventory in real time, which uses a wide variety of metrics to deliver intensely targeted advertising.

2. The mobile platform is a different beast.

Unlike display advertising, where everything is about capturing attention at a single glance, mobile marketing is defined by how consumers use their devices. This affects everything from the shape of the ad (e.g. mobile phone screens are generally in 16:9 ratio) to whether the user has wi-fi or not.

Effective mobile advertising means understanding how consumers use their phones, and how that will affect the display of your ads.

3. The possibilities are endless.

Mobile usage opens up a whole new world of marketing possibilities for businesses. These include location marketing to target specific geographic areas, augmented reality to blend virtual concepts into the real world, and using native ads to piggyback on the trust and brand awareness of an app they are already using.

4. Getting users on your own app is the holy grail.

While utilizing ad networks that are already positioned in the market can be a quick and effective way to get into mobile advertising, the potential to connect goes much further. By developing and pushing your own app, you will gain greater control of your customers’ experience while gaining access to data concerning their preferences and habits.

5. Users expect an experience.

While much traditional advertising is happy with simply increasing brand awareness, this is not nearly enough for mobile. The interactive nature of mobile and the journey you can take people on in a few quick clicks and swipes means that if you are not giving potential leads a full-on experience, you’re not making the most of what mobile has to offer.

Got Digital Marketing Questions? We Have Answers

Taking full advantage of the changing landscape of marketing can be overwhelming. The experienced marketers at Bloom Ads are here to help make the transition smoother. Contact us today with any questions you have about mobile and digital marketing.

SEM vs. SEO: What’s the Difference?

SEM and SEO are different branches of search marketing that can work together.

We know – search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) sound almost identical. It is true that they both describe digital marketing strategies that harness the power of search engine results to increase traffic and conversions.

However, SEM and SEO describe two different (but complementary) branches of what’s now called “search marketing.” Search marketing can be contrasted with other types of digital advertising, such as display ads, video ads, and retargeting or remarketing campaigns, which do not rely on keyword searches to gain traffic.

While some industry insiders still use “SEM” as an umbrella term to describe all search-based digital marketing (including SEO), we define SEM as a separate branch alongside SEO.

SEM vs. SEO

In a nutshell, the difference between SEM and SEO comes down to where the money goes. While all advertising comes at some cost to your business, SEM and SEO use resources in very different ways to achieve the same goal: increased traffic and conversions online.

Below, we’ll go into more detail about SEM vs. SEO – plus how they work together for a well-coordinated digital strategy.

What is SEM?

If SEM doesn’t sound terribly descriptive, its other common name – “paid search” – should give you a clue as to how it works. In an SEM campaign, a business aims to increase traffic by bidding on paid search listings. Those Google results marked “Ad” at the top of search engine results pages? Those are the products of SEM. The most popular SEM platform is Google AdWords, followed by Bing Ads and Yahoo Search Ads.

The most important thing to know about SEM ads is that they work through keywords. When bidding on ad placements, your business will bid on well-researched keywords relevant to both your target audience and your product or service.

Common Paid Search Methods

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) – In this model, your business pays the advertising platform for every click the ad receives. This model is sometimes referred to as cost-per-click (CPC) advertising.
  • Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) – Some ads charge per thousand impressions, or times an ad delivers online.

What is SEO?

Unlike SEM, search engine optimization (SEO) does not involve the purchase of ads. Instead, it aims to increase traffic and conversions with high-quality, relevant web content targeted at keywords your audience is likely to search for. This is sometimes referred to as “organic” search marketing.

Because rankings on search results pages are not bought, but rather earned with content, SEO can be an inexpensive and thus profitable marketing tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

SEO Fundamentals

Like SEM, the practice of SEO revolves around keywords. SEO content such as blogs, on-site copy, and social media posts aim to incorporate relevant keywords their audience is likely to search.

Ideally, SEO marketers should place keywords in ways that simultaneously communicate the page’s relevance to search engines and readers alike. The key to striking this balance is good writing and technical knowledge that keeps up with constantly-changing Google algorithms.

Below are some of the basics:

  • “Content is King” – You can’t talk about SEO without talking about content. This term describes any piece of writing or media – from blog articles to Facebook posts – that can demonstrate your relevance to search engines and your value to customers through keyword placement. Content can incorporate informative or entertaining writing, images, videos, or a mix of those elements, but should first and foremost be high-quality, credible, and authoritative.
  • On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO – While it’s easy to assume that on-page SEO refers to tactics you can actually see on the page, this is only a small part of the puzzle. On-page SEO includes any tactic that helps your page rank higher on search results, whether it’s “seen” by the reader or by Google. Good keyword usage in text, but also good site navigation, quality internal links, image descriptions, and even fast page load times all contribute to on-page SEO. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to SEO tactics that do not relate to webpage design, such as promotional campaigns.
  • Linkbuilding – Linkbuilding is another tenet of SEO that centers on credibility and authority. Google rewards sites that offer genuine, valuable, and relevant information. This is why simply “stuffing” keywords as many times as possible into a page won’t help your rankings. One way to build credibility for your sight is to make sure plenty of other, ideally well-ranking, sites are linking back to your site. This is another example of off-page SEO.

One important note on SEO: It’s a dynamic process that can take a long time to show results. For this reason, some recommend that newer sites prioritize SEM while revamping their site’s SEO.

To Pay or Not to Pay?

Let’s recap the similarities between SEM and SEO.

  • Both rely on keywords.
  • Both focus on increasing online traffic.
  • Both help users find what they’re looking for online.

So when it comes to SEM vs. SEO, what’s right for you? Most evidence says, both! SEM campaigns are more likely to succeed if your site already has good SEO, because good SEO contributes to your site’s credibility and authority online.

Got questions about SEM, SEO, or digital marketing in general? The advertising experts at Bloom Ads would be happy to help.

Bloom Ads Global Media Group | 818.703.0218 | info@bloomads.com
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