Strategies for a Successful Paid Search Campaign

First off, let’s take a step back and understand people’s behavior online.

Every minute there are 70 new website domains registered on the World Wide Web, adding to the millions of websites that already exist. This rate of websites being created makes it impossible for anyone to keep up with all of the information available. Tools like search engines were created to simplify this massive amount of data by using a complex algorithm that rank these millions of websites and consolidate them into a short list on a single page. Search engines fund this service by allowing businesses to purchase advertising on these search engine results pages (SERP). This advertising is known as Paid Search.

Paid Search is a marketing tactic that involves placing an advertisement for when, and only when, a user searches a specific keyword and clicks on the advertisement. That last part is what differentiates this kind of advertising from other forms of advertisements online, such as banner placements on websites. Most other advertising, up until Paid Search, was cost by impression or CPM for short. Paid Search is billed only after a user clicks on the ad. This is known as a cost per click, CPC for short. The distinction, although subtle, means that businesses like yours are only paying if a prospect or customer not only sees your advertisement, but is engaged enough to interact with it by clicking the hyperlink.

An important aspect of online marketing, and Paid Search, is to understand the purchase funnel. There are many versions of this model but it basically breaks down to 1) Awareness, 2) Opinion, 3) Consideration, 4) Preference, and 5) Purchase. Awareness means that users are just researching and seeing if they have a need and Purchase means they’ve made their decision and are ready to buy. When shopping for products online, people consistently use search engines regardless of their stage in the funnel. However, it is believed that users will modify their search queries depending on their stage. For example, if a user is just starting a search to buy a new printer they’ll likely type “printer” into a search engine like Google and click “Search.” Only after some research, and as they move their way down the funnel, do they modify their query to something like “all in one inkjet printers,” and then likely adding a brand name.

Paid Search strategies can now be crafted off of these concepts and understanding of the model. If you want to affect the future purchase decision at the very beginning, and have a large budget, it would be valuable for a business to bid on broad keywords such as “printer,” “printer copier,” “inkjet printer”, “printing,” etc. It’s important to note that these keywords have a large volume of visitors but are highly competitive, very expensive, and likely have a low conversion rate as they are more in the Awareness or Opinion stage. Another strategy would be to target very specific Long Tail keyword phrases that are searched less often, but are further down the purchase funnel. Targeting keywords such as “wireless all in one laser printer for mac” will likely be less expensive, less competitive, and have a higher conversion rate. Targeting many of Long Tail keywords can add up to a significant revenue stream while building an online presence.

Most small and medium size businesses don’t have the budget to pay upwards of $18 per click for keywords such as “printer.” Therefore, a more targeted approach that aims at specific Long Tail keywords would develop into a successful strategy. To further optimize Paid Search, campaigns can be limited down to other factors such as mobile or desktop device, keyword match (broad, phrase, or exact), geography (X miles from Zip Code), time of day and day of week, and languages. Campaigns should also intentionally direct users to the appropriate page based on their keyword. If someone clicks on an ad shown for “laser printer toner cartridge red”, it should go directly to the page related to that keyword. Landing Pages that focus on one call-to-action, encouraging a user to make a phone call, order a product online, or download a whitepaper are a great best practice. Limit the amount of options users have and they’re more likely to complete the designed action.

To get started with Paid Search, businesses can create a small campaign with Google AdWords or Bing Search Advertising. Build a list of a very targeted keywords and add destination URLs to the appropriate product pages. Add some more advanced targeting and set a small budget. All online advertising should be based on a foundation of testing. Try campaigns for a product, a product category, an industry, a brand, etc. Keep testing, keep learning, and you’ll likely find digital campaigns like Paid Search a valuable marketing tactic.

Success Tip: Develop a Leadership Style

As a young leader I’ve been observing how others treat their peers and subordinates. In fact, before I was a leader I was already identifying how I would and would not lead, when I had people to follow me. Influenced by both those I looked up to and established authors, I started to write down what type of leadership style I would embody.

First off, borrowed from John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader book, I firmly believe that a leader is a servant. If you’re at the top, your job is to help those below you do a better job, or as John Maxwell puts it “add value”. If you’re at the bottom, your job is to help those above you do their jobs better. If you’re in the middle, well, you’re helping above, below, and just as importantly across. Let’s also not forget that he advocates you leading yourself before any other leading takes place.

Studying some other great books and interviewing those I deemed as “good leaders”, I’ve been define and refining my own style. Below are the latest elements that I continuously refer to that define my leadership style.

  • Be firm in your decisions/actions but not overbearing.
  • Seek a genuine deeper human connection.
  • Be a servant of the individual or group.
  • Be candid and always open to feedback/direction.
  • Be confident with the group’s vision and path.
  • Give all credit to the team or individual contributors. Or never take credit without acknowledging the help of others.
  • Provide gratitude always when deserved.
  • Encourage innovation and creativity by not judging an idea as “right” or “wrong” in the moment.
  • Encourage success but allow team members to fail, thereby learning from their mistakes.
  • Lead by asking questions that allow the group to arrive at a the same destination together.
  • Reward genuinely to positive responses and based on achievement of an even scale.
  • Always be encouraging, motivating, and goal focused.

What’s yours?


Some more great leadership books:

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and  Barry Z. Posner

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni


Also, another great resource if you’re looking to learn from the latest leadership concepts is G5Leadership.com. They offer ever expanding on-demand recordings of authors and popular thought leaders on leadership topics.

Inbound Lead Generation Campaigns

If you’re executing a digital marketing campaign, there is a good chance you’re ROI (return on investment) is based on how many emails, prospects, or customers you can get inside of your database. If you’re using a CRM (customer relationship management system) such as SalesForce.com or Oracle, those contacts have some real measurable value. Even more so when you can match them up with your sales data and discover little nuggets like customer lifetime value or simple conversions.

One strategy for getting more of them into the system is to offer something of value in exchange for the low cost of getting their email address. It’s not completely free, but it’s close enough. By giving them value up front, you are establishing yourself can begin to start the relationship.

Many companies try to double-dip their lead generation tactics by putting up a pay wall or going straight for the sale in exchange for their content. In today’s new economy, customers expect you to try and build a relationship before they open their wallets. This is true for B2B companies where there are sometimes hours of research or complex models involved. It’s also true for small companies or individuals wanting to brand themselves. If a potential employer visits your online resume and learns something, you’ve just jumped ahead of the bland one-pagers on their desk.

Customers want, or even demand, that you showcase your value by providing services or information on your website. It shouldn’t be a lone sales pitch with a form saying “give us your phone and email so we can call you 20 times during dinner”. Your website should be a tool driving conversation.

At some point in the conversation you can ask them to take the next step. That’s the point during inbound marketing where you ask for their contact information. That’s the point where you begin to target and nurture them via email, social media, and customer relationship managers. That point is only after you’ve given them something for free.

5 offers that add value and drive lead generation:

  1. Live or video demonstrations. Walk the prospect or customer through some of the best features of your product or put a face on your unique services. Leverage video testimonials and executives to add the personal touch to your website. Answer questions, talk about interesting facts, or reveal data that your company has access to.
  2. Informational whitepapers. PDF whitepapers make a great resource for your customers, especially when they solve a unique problem. What partners or resources do you have that could help your customers understand or act on a particular issue they’re having? If you can document a guide on how to accomplish something or educate them in an interesting area, you’ll be able to get their information quickly.
  3. Digital tools or calculators. Small and large companies usually have access to data and processes that customers don’t. If you can provide a lite version of your product or demonstrate some value with a free online tool then you’ll be able to generate some buzz and inbound traffic. Even if your product/brand is something tangible, you could create an online component to interact with it.
  4. Webinars and podcasts. Digital media is a popular tool for sharing information. They’re a quick and easy way to disseminate important information to large audiences. It becomes even more valuable when you make them interactive with surveys and live questions. The results of the webinar can be spun off into even more educational content.
  5. Community forum. Bring people together with a common background or interest. If you establish a secure place where like-minded people can come together and discuss their issues, you’ll get their information and generate content at the same time. Leverage your customer’s knowledge into shareable information. Keep everyone involved and don’t miss the opportunity for your company to jump in and be heard.

How do you attract customers to provide their contact information?