Category Archives: Paid Search Marketing

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 28

If you’re not using pay-per-click (PPC) ads for your higher education digital marketing, you might be missing out on a huge recruitment opportunity.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to plan your higher education PPC campaign
  • Key ways to define your audience
  • Pro tips for keyword bidding
  • How to stay organized and leverage remarketing

Creating buzz, fueling enrollment, increasing applications — to thrive, higher education institutions need to drum up a steady influx of new students every year. An easy-to-use website and solid SEO strategy can make up a successful digital plan, but on their own, they may not attract the numbers you need. 

Competition is fierce, but there’s a reason why so many colleges and universities advertise online: It’s where future students are. 

Search engine marketing (SEM) can be one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising for the higher-education industry. It scales easily while providing swift reporting and transparency. 

PPC (or paid search) also delivers fast results. It can drive greater return on investment (ROI) for a broad range of goals, from improving recruitment numbers and lead generation to increased brand recognition.

Higher education paid search allows you to personalize each searcher’s experience with your school, from prospective students and parents of students to educators and members of the community.

PPC lets you engage your audience at the right time with the right message on the right device. The result: more exposure and higher enrollment.

We’ve gathered some of the most effective tips to help you get started and make the most of your college or university’s digital marketing budget.

HawkSEM blog: Paid Search Marketing for Higher Education: Advice from an SEM Agency

Have active campaigns for early admissions leading up to application deadlines and other time-sensitive dates. (Image via Unsplash)

Plan your higher education PPC campaign

Online activity for colleges and universities often peaks and dips predictably. While this may mean that you bump up your advertising spend more at critical times of the year, it’s essential to keep advertising going year-round. 

The budget can be shifted based on the day, week, month and quarter using historical performance and prospect cycles. When developing a year-round budget, consider these factors:

Lead time
For traditional students, the recruitment cycle is long. Prospects begin their school search throughout grades 11 and 12, and virtually no one makes a decision based on a single click. It can take months or years for them to convert.

PPC is a multi-touch affair. It requires preparation and nurturing throughout the lead generation funnel. Have active campaigns for early admissions leading up to application deadlines and other time-sensitive dates.

Undergraduate vs. graduate programs
For schools with rolling admissions, there is some predictable activity for undergrad programs, especially from prospects coming from high school. However, it’s not as clear cut for non-traditional students.

Adults may search at any time of year, and their lead time is often shorter than for high schoolers. Graduate programs are also less predictable, with ebbs and flows throughout the year.

Branding and remarketing
Starting and stopping PPC campaigns can hurt your efforts more than it helps. By optimizing a higher-ed strategy that runs all year, you can take full advantage of your branding and remarketing efforts while getting a better view of the big picture via data and reports.

Otherwise, you may drop off the map entirely, and you essentially end up starting all over again when you create new campaigns or reactivate proven ads. Keep the conversation going by maintaining a strong PPC presence.

Define your audience

When creating your paid search strategy, it’s crucial to have a firm grasp of your target personas. Who are they, and what interests them? Put yourself in their shoes and identify with their needs. 

For example, college-bound high school students may be more interested in the traditional “college experience” of sports and local hangouts. It’s a different perspective than the adult with a family who’s trying to finish their degree after 10 years in the workforce. They’re more interested in convenience, flexibility, and time management.

Focus each campaign toward your most relevant audience. Look at your data. Are most of your leads local or in-state students? Craft your higher education PPC towards that niche. Are you recruiting for a particular program? Get granular! Use terms that help searchers find that specialty. You probably won’t get as many impressions, but the lead quality could go through the roof.

Pro tip: When bidding on branded terms, you may be concerned about existing students and faculty that use Google clicking on the ad to get to your website. To mitigate this, you can always exclude a radius around the school so those in close proximity don’t get shown the ad.

HawkSEM blog: Paid Search Marketing for Higher Education: Advice from an SEM Agency

Splitting campaigns into groups using specific characteristics can help you measure the results and see which segments perform the best. (Image via Unsplash)

Organize the account structure

Make the Google Ads account structure work for you by making sure your campaigns are organized. Not only can this help you make the most of your budget, but it can help grow conversions. Make sure you use a consistent naming convention for campaigns and ad groups that make the intent identifiable. The proper structure can influence how well your ads perform.

If you have too few campaigns and too many ad groups, you might miss out on the full potential of your budget. Increase the number of campaigns and segment the account for greater insight. A compelling account structure for higher education PPC may look like this:

  • Campaign Name: Undergraduate Search
  • Ad Groups:
    • Bachelors’ Degrees
    • Degree Programs
    • Continuing Education
    • College Classes
    • Online College

Splitting campaigns into groups using specific characteristics can help you measure the results and see which segments perform the best. That way, you can make changes accordingly. Not everyone will use the exact terms that you use, so expand your bidding to related terms.

Keywords can be costly, and the wrong ones can reduce the effectiveness of campaigns. Get more bang for your buck by using specialized keywords and single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) rather than general terms. 

Instead of using the official name of your writing program, for example, use the phrase “creative writing.” Try using “digital marketing degree,” even if digital marketing is only a subcategory of your Marketing degree program. Selecting the terms searchers want is crucial to higher education SEM.

HawkSEM blog: Paid Search Marketing for Higher Education: Advice from an SEM Agency

The success of your higher education paid search hinges on how well your campaigns target your audience, address their concerns, and handle the competition. (Image via Unsplash)

Remarketing

It makes sense to target searchers who already show interest in your programs by visiting your website. You can begin the nurturing process by using remarketing. This is a type of PPC campaign that shows your ads to people who previously visited your website. It’s a great way to keep your school top of mind, especially as potential students are weighing their options.

These campaigns are generally much cheaper than Google Ads. Plus, they can help improve brand awareness by targeting people who already know about your college or university. You can even serve compelling ads for your programs each time a prospect visits a competitor’s site. The more you stay top of mind, the more likely they are to convert.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re familiar with the settings to help you properly focus your remarketing efforts. Within campaign targeting settings, turn off automated targeting settings so that you serve ads only to the exact audience you want.

PPC doesn’t have to be expensive. When you get right down to it, the success of your higher education paid search hinges on how well your campaigns target your audience, address their concerns, and handle the competition. 

PPC can help your school break into new areas by improving your reach and following up on existing leads. Continuously measuring and monitoring user behavior is the ultimate guide to effective targeting. Well-defined goals and a focused approach can help your higher education PPC become a powerful tool.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 15

When done correctly, remarketing lets you tastefully follow your audience and create valuable touchpoints to turn leads into customers.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What remarketing is
  • How to remarket the right way
  • Ways remarketing benefits your business
  • How remarketing can save you money

Picture this: you’re walking around a shopping mall (OK, so maybe think a few years — or decades — back) and you pass by a nice sweater. You’ve seen this sweater in a magazine recently, and it caught your eye. You check out the price tag, feel the fabric, but you’re not sure you’re ready to lay your credit card down.

So you decide to keep walking around. As you’re heading towards the exit, you pass by the sweater again. You’ve had some time to think about it, and you decide to go for it. 

That’s essentially how remarketing works — except online. Remarketing (often used interchangeably with “retargeting”) is a method for connecting your product or service with people who have already visited your site or mobile app. 

While the terms can be used interchangeably, remarketing is typically based on email lists and CRM data. Retargeting, on the other hand, is based on pixel data (most often from unknown potential customers).

Remarketing can be done using many platforms, from Google Ads to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (Google and Bing also offer remarketing lists for search ads — RLSAs. These vary from traditional remarketing as they require users to be actively searching Google with the campaign keywords you’re bidding on.)

Remarketing works great for multiple industries and verticals — not just e-commerce. It’s a tasteful way to remind people about you, which is especially crucial since studies report that as much as 98% of consumers don’t make a purchase during their initial visit to a brand website. Here are just a few ways remarketing can benefit your biz.

HawkSEM blog: 5 Ways Remarketing Can Benefit Your Business

With the magic of remarketing, you can stay top of mind. (Image via Unsplash)

1. It keeps you top of mind

There are plenty of reasons why people navigate to your website without converting. Maybe they got pulled into a meeting, were just casually browsing their options, or wanted to take their time making a decision.

CMO by Adobe reports that 30% of consumers react positively or very positively to retargeted ads (vs. just 11% who react negatively). With the magic of remarketing, you can stay top of mind for these people by reminding them about their interest through these targeted ads — particularly if they’re searching for similar offerings again. 

2. It ups your chances of converting a lead

If someone found their way to your site or app and was exposed to your brand, you’ve already overcome the big business hurdle of connecting with your audience. Remarketing ups your chances of turning that warm lead into a closed deal. It offers that nudge they need to further pursue what they were looking for from you in the first place.

Consumer-package goods company Kimberly-Clark claims it saw 50-60% conversion rates for consumers who were served retargeting ads, according to Digiday.

Not only do these ad types remind users about you, but they can be programmed to take this user directly back to the page they bounced from. If they last visited your pricing page, for example, then the remarketing ad can take them right back there once they click. The result: a seamless experience that tees them up to convert.

3. It allows you to hyper-focus your ads

One of the biggest benefits of remarketing ads is how they directly target those who have taken action to express interest in your product or service. According to Google, you can create various remarketing lists that apply to specific cases, such as those who added something to their cart but didn’t check out.

Plus, who doesn’t love scoring a good old-fashioned deal? You can create remarketing ads that offer a special discount to a segment of users who have completed certain actions. This way, the prospect has even more incentive to return to your site.

HawkSEM blog: 5 Ways Remarketing Can Benefit Your Business

You can use videos, text, and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network. (Image via Unsplash)

4. It lets you leverage mobile and video

Another thing that sets remarketing apart: its reach. With these ads types, you’re not just limited to the web. You can reach people browsing more than 2 million websites and apps via multiple devices. 

Consider targeting past website visitors on YouTube (or people who have watched your videos on YouTube) with video or display ads as they watch other videos. You can also use things like text and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network.

5. It saves you money

Cha-ching — yes, that’s the sound of saving money with remarketing ads. These ads are some of the most cost-effective options out there. By targeting people who have already shown interest in what you have to offer (making them more qualified), you spend less than you would if you were starting from scratch and casting a wider net.

Though the total cost will depend on your overall marketing strategy, there are other ways to save as well. You can combine remarketing with contextual targeting, for example, to ensure you’re getting in front of relevant prospects at the right time. 

People understand that ads are just part of the package when it comes to being online, whether you’re shopping, reading, or being entertained. By meeting interested users where they are through remarketing, you can turn that reminder into a click, which can lead to a conversion, which will, ideally, become a happy customer and brand evangelist down the line.

 

Here at HawkSEM, we’re no strangers to remarketing. See how we can put this service to work for your company by requesting a consultation.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 1

Major announcements and integrated tools filled this year’s Google Marketing Live, an annual event highlighting the best of what’s next when it comes to marketing and the search engine platform.

Here, you’ll find:

  • the latest changes Google has made to their ad platforms
  • how to maximize the ROI of Google Ads
  • a breakdown of the newest Google Ads tools
  • benefits of video bumper ads

Not only was privacy front and center, but Google Ads news included several features that will allow advertisers to increase conversions and run campaigns across multiple channels faster and easier — two words marketers love to hear.

Whether you’re neck-deep in advertising on a daily basis, just getting started, or working with an agency, these 5 new Google Ads tools and updates can remove a lot of the guesswork, jumpstart your productivity, and help campaigns better address your business goals.

1. Gallery Ads

Visual content entices users, increases engagement, and drives conversions. Interactive Gallery Ads, located at the top of mobile search engine results pages (SERPs), feature swipeable image carousels and a display URL.

Gallery ads feature 4 to 8 images, a headline, a tagline, and a landing page link. With the option of up to three different headlines, you can test several combinations of value propositions and CTAs.

Research shows that images are more memorable than text. Travel agencies, restaurants, car dealerships, hotels, and virtually any retail business can drive traffic to their website by adding high-quality visual content and inspiration to targeted keywords in ads.

HawkSEM blog: Google Ads Tools

Google Ads news revealed three new Smart Bid tools that allow advertisers to improve the overall performance of Smart Campaigns. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Smart Bid Controls

Smart Bid strategies take advantage of machine learning to automatically set bids based on the high and low seasons in your industry.

To have more control when using Target Return on Ad Spend, Target Cost Per Action, Enhanced CPC, and Max Conversion, you can apply specific adjustments for Display and Search campaigns.

A few Google-touted benefits to Smart Bidding include:

  • The ability to personalize bids based on context such as browser, language, remarketing lists, device, day, and location.
  • Flexibility to direct bidding performance and set targets on particular goals.
  • Reporting and status updates that tell you which ads perform the best, and tips that can help you improve.

While Smart Campaigns are often faster to set up than manual campaigns, letting Google take the reins may not be beneficial for everyone, particularly for small businesses or those with a highly specific target audience.

Customizations are needed to maximize conversions, such as defining exclusions, budgets, and conflicts of interest. Human interaction takes a campaign from generic to laser-focused on the right specialty or industry niche.

Recent Google Ads news revealed three new Smart Bid tools that allow advertisers to improve the overall performance of Smart Campaigns by manually adding data that enables them to refine the targeting.

  • Seasonality Adjustments: Google’s AI claims to save advertisers time by applying seasonal trends to bids, which also maximizes the budget. However, your business goals will determine if this is the right avenue for you. You can now apply your own expected conversion rate to the Smart Bid, essentially overriding Google’s automated seasonality trends. Use this tool when you run a promotion, similar to one you’ve run in the past, that boosted regular conversion rates. Simply enter a date range, the adjustments, and campaign specifics — Smart Bidding takes it from there.
  • Data Exclusions: You can now select past time frames to exclude from Google’s algorithm when you set up a new ad. You may want to do this if you had previous promotions that boosted conversions. By removing them from consideration, you can achieve a more realistic conversion rate.
  • Campaign Level Conversions: When bidding manually, Google Ads count every type of conversion. However, you may want to optimize for a specific conversion, such as CPA, ROAS, or enhanced CPC. If you have an online store, for example, you track whenever a customer puts items in their cart and also when they purchase. When optimizing your bids, you want to focus on purchases, not the shopping cart action. Campaign level conversions now let you do this.

3. Google Shopping, Reinvented

From the beginning, Google was a way for searchers to find the products they wanted and for businesses to attract new customers. Now, Google has upped the ante by merging Google Express into Google Shopping, creating a unique browsing and purchasing experience.

Consumers now have a customized homepage with personal recommendations and ads for products they may like. With these updates, shoppers can find new products and purchase directly on Google.

With smart shopping campaigns, ad placement and bids are set automatically at a general baseline, dependent on your chosen bid strategy. (However, to get the most out of your ads, they’ll likely need to be tweaked.)

While it’s faster and easier to set up than in the past, campaigns still require tuning based on your budget and specific products. Not only must you meet Google’s requirements for Shopping campaigns, but conversion tracking and a variety of other setup tasks must be completed.

Once set up, Google’s machine learning is combined with your assets and product feed and shown across networks. It tests different combinations of text and images, then displays the most effective options. Your ads can be shown on the Google Display Network, Search network, Gmail, and YouTube.

HawkSEM blog - Google Ads Tools

Discovery ads are targeted based on audience data such as affinity and interest, not search intent. (Image via Unsplash)

 

4. Discovery Campaigns

Google’s Discover was previously known as Google Feed and originally as Google Now. It’s a highly visual, curated feed that mobile users can see when they open the Google app on their Android or iOS device, or when visiting the Google.com homepage.

Users can customize the content seen on their Discover page by selecting topics that interest them. Otherwise, it’ll serve up content it thinks is relevant based on “power of intent,” which they glean from things like your past sites visited, apps downloaded, map searches, and more.

Discovery ads also display in this feed. They’re targeted based on audience data such as affinity and interest, not search intent.

The way users see ads depends on their account settings, including:

  • Location history
  • Home location
  • App and web activity
  • Device

Discovery campaigns let users reach consumers with the right content at the right time. You can create rich, relevant ads and reach millions of consumers across channels, from YouTube and Gmail Promotions to Social tabs.

HawkSEM blog - Google Ads Tools

Bumper Machine takes an existing video ad and generates a short-form, unskippable video. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Video Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are short video add-ons to the standard Google Preferred or TrueView campaigns. They’re not skippable and they extend the reach of campaigns.

Google launched a Bumper Machine tool that makes these ads faster and easier to create. It takes an existing 90-second or shorter video ad, identifies the most critical pieces (such as human faces, logos, and motion or contrast) to generate a short-form video. Bumper Machine is flexible, easy-to-use, and lets advertisers get more mileage from existing content.

The Takeaway

With increased transparency and the power to stay relevant across channels, Google’s new tools give advertisers the opportunity to change the way they see their target audience. The increased interaction and focus provide the personalization searchers want.

For advertisers, access to machine learning can change the way you see your target audience, how you market your brand and the way you engage the consumer at every stage.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Jane Serra on Aug 21

Paid search marketing for financial services can be an effective component of a marketing strategy — use it to build brand recognition and boost conversions quickly.

Financial services encompass everything from credit unions and banks to insurance, credit-card companies, and investment funds. But even though everyone should be thinking about at least some of these topics regularly, not everyone does.

This makes it a challenge for marketers. Luckily, Google Ads can give your financial services digital marketing a boost and build brand recognition, while paid search can attract leads quickly and drive conversions for finance-based services. Below, we highlight 13 tips to help you develop top-notch search marketing strategies in the finance industry.

1. Understand the regulations

Financial products and services are highly regulated. When creating ads, make sure you comply with local, state and national regulations. This may include specific disclosures that provide transparency to the product or services highlighted by the ad. Google and other search engines may also require specific information within the ad for it to be approved, such as:

  • Disclosure of associated fees
  • Contact information and physical location
  • Links for implied third-party endorsement or accreditation

Personal loan advertising must also contain info about the quality, fees, features, benefits, and risks associated with the product. The idea is that these disclosures provide valuable information to help consumers make informed decisions. When creating an ad, make sure your content contains:

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
  • Minimum and maximum repayment period
  • An example representing the total cost of the loan, including applicable fees

2. Know the financial products Google won’t accept

Google doesn’t allow advertisers to promote a variety of financial products, including:

  • Short-term loans (loans that require full repayment within 60 days)
  • High APR personal loans
  • Trading binary options or similar products
  • Complex speculative financial products

Advertising for loan modifications and cryptocurrencies is allowed, but there are strict rules. If you’re planning PPC for financial services in these areas, review the guidelines carefully. If your ad is not approved, Google provides guidance for what you can do to fix the issues.

3. Start paid search marketing slowly

Whether you’re experienced in PPC or are new to paid search, starting slowly can help ensure you get the most efficient results possible.

Start with one to three campaigns and a core group of four to ten keywords, then measure the results. You’ll see where your budget is being spent most effectively so you can cut the underperforming ads.

4. Prepare for higher cost per click (CPC)

Financial keywords are competitive. When it comes to digital marketing for financial services, this often translates into a higher cost than for other industries. Focus keywords in your niche rather than the industry as a whole to help attract the most qualified leads.

5. Narrow the target audience

If your company has locations in a few areas, tightly focused search engine marketing can help you make the most of your budget. In addition to geographic location, you can take advantage of targeting options such as age, gender, and household income.

The more specific you can be, the easier it is to find your ideal target audience. For example, if you want to attract management-level consumers, use income levels and demographics. This can help you find the clients that want your products in a sea of unqualified leads.

6. Create original copy

To stand apart from the crowd, you’ve got to get creative. By writing unique copy that features offers and benefits, you can increase click-through rates and attract the right consumers. For example, if you’re developing PPC for credit unions, credit cards or banking institutions, you may want to promote no annual fees or 24/7 customer service.

If your campaign revolves around insurance company products, what perks or savings can you offer? Create a call to action (CTA) that stands out and catches the consumer’s eye.

7. Customize landing pages

If your ad simply goes to your company’s homepage, you could be missing out on conversions. Make sure the link on your ad goes to a page that has the matching content.

The messaging across ads and landing pages should be consistent, relevant, and valuable to the consumer. You can even customize it based on the keywords and ad groups to encourage further interaction.

Paid Search Marketing for Financial Services: 13 Tips from an SEM Agency

Display advertising offers you several options to improve engagement and boost conversion rates. (Image via Unsplash)

8. Leverage display advertising

Although the requirements for advertising may be strict, millions of consumers need financial products – from help with tax preparation, retirement, and home equity loans to auto insurance and basic banking accounts.

Display advertising offers you several options to improve engagement and boost conversion rates:

  • Behavioral
  • Contextual
  • Geographical
  • Site-specific

9. Know these display ad best practices

The marketing strategy for an insurance company, banking institution, or financial products group must have the right mix of elements to be successful. Here are a few to consider:

  • Go local: Localize your ad to make your interactions more relevant. Use familiar local terms and graphics to increase messaging and conversion rates.
  • Add a focused hero image: If your product benefits a particular audience, use images that resonate with that specific consumer. For example, a happy young family in a yard for first-time homeowners may resonate better than a generic image of a wallet.
  • Build trust: Fear and uncertainty are common emotions associated with financial decision-making. Keep the message simple and repeat it, since most consumers need to see an ad several times before they believe it. Add any certificates or recognized local customers to establish trust.
  • Combine search marketing with display: Display ads increase brand recognition. As more consumers become aware of your product, they’ll search for it as they move through their decision-making process. As the search numbers increase, your search engine ranking improves, which can result in more sales.

10. Be aware of competitor positioning

Who are your top competitors? What features do they highlight? Be ready to outdo them with your product’s value proposition benefits.

Consumers often comparison shop, so they’ll be looking for ways that you are similar to competitors and what makes you different.

11. Make it a user-friendly experience

Keep your message simple and make it easy for consumers to understand what to do next. Use a quick form that lets them speed through the process, whether the desired action is downloading content, registering an account, or completing a request form.

Minimizing the number of steps and removing unnecessary fields has been shown to increase conversions significantly.

12. Test, adjust, and test again

Take your PPC insurance, loan, or banking campaign’s search marketing results to the next level by testing individual components. Start by auditing keywords for funding value, rather than for leads or conversions, to help you tune for the highest return on investment.

Look at the segment breakdown for tablet, mobile and desktop to see which ads perform best. You may find that it makes sense to run some ads only for mobile and others only for tablets or desktops.

All leads are not created equal. Because of this, it’s a good idea to align your sales and marketing goals by using lead scoring. This method prioritizes leads, allowing you to respond to people most interested in your products and increase the conversion rate. It assigns points to contacts so you know which leads require ongoing communication and which should be fast-tracked.

The most effective systems use a variety of attributes including but not limited to:

  • Demographics
  • Keywords
  • Clicks
  • Website visits

13. Add retargeting to your ads

Retargeting can be an effective method for increasing conversions. It encourages consumers to return to your website and complete an action they may have started but not finished, such as filling out a form or completing an order.

However, there are rules that may limit how much you can do in this area, so take some time to research the requirements in your niche to find out if it’s worth it for your company.

When people are seeking out financial services, they’re often in the midst of making their decision, so timing is critical. You have a short time frame to attract and convert prospects to customers.

Paid search marketing can jumpstart your efforts and show results quickly, which can help you tighten the focus of your messaging and improve ROI.

PPC advertising campaigns can deliver targeted, highly qualified traffic when developed correctly. At HawkSEM, we provide a customized approach based on your particular needs. Our passion for results and drive to meet goals ensure we do right by you, generating a higher ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help dramatically improve your digital marketing results.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

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Written by Jane Serra on Aug 14

Check off these boxes to ensure your paid search marketing strategies are on the right track.

Whether B2B or B2C, software as a service (SaaS) products and platforms play a huge role across many industries, from finance to event planning and everything in between.

As your SaaS company plans its marketing strategies, there are a few key areas to focus on to make your strategy more effective. To get the best results, it’s wise to leave things to the experts by hiring a professional SEM company for your SaaS marketing.

Using an agency with a proven track record of success both in your industry and with SaaS, in particular, can help you be successful.

1. Increase the right type of lead volume

There’s a drastic difference between increasing your lead count and increasing quality SaaS lead generation. If more people are clicking on your ad but there’s no increase in on-site conversions — or, ultimately, sales — you know something is wrong. This is especially crucial because you’re paying for each click.

Sometimes, aligning yourself with well-known clients or customers can encourage higher caliber prospects to jump on board. Use recognizable industry names from your portfolio or any Fortune 500 companies you’ve worked for (with their permission if it’s for an ad) as a hook to clients considering a purchase. In some industries, listing elite certifications can also be a good SaaS marketing strategy.

2. Book sales demos that close deals

As a SaaS company, sales can rely on how effectively you demonstrate the value of your product — and how it stands out from the crowd. When you know the challenges faced by your prospective clients, you can cater to the product features that will be most relevant to their needs.

Showing metrics can also be very convincing. It’s one thing to say you can save a company money. It’s a game-changer to say you can potentially save them at least $100,000, and have the data to back it up. With that in mind, you need to be booking sales demos with the right type of clients so your demos will be more effective. That’s where an SEM or B2B agency can come in handy.

3. Know how to properly use LTV

Lifetime value (LTV) can be used to make critical decisions, such as how much you pay for user acquisition and how losing users impacts your bottom line. Because of this, it’s crucial to be certain it’s calculated correctly.

Hubspot explains you can determine lifetime value by calculating the average purchase value, average purchase frequency rate, customer value, and average customer lifespan. Ultimately, multiplying customer value by the average customer lifespan should give you your LTV. Once you have an accurate number, compare that with your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to make sure you’re getting at least three dollars out of every single dollar you put in.

4. Understand what constitutes quality conversions

Your goal should always be to create clients for life. Because it costs money to acquire new clients, the more clients you keep, the less it’ll cost you (spoiler alert, right?). Plus, an increase in client volume coupled with a decrease in cost per acquisition can save you serious money.

Understanding this can help you market with the long game in mind. Big players and key clients will sometimes visit your website or contact you with questions many times before deciding to make a purchase, but that type of client can be more lucrative in the long run.

10 Tips SaaS Companies Need to Know About Paid Search Marketing

Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to more clearly display how you’re different from your competition. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Consider your landing page your lifeline

A landing page is where a user ends up after clicking an SEO search result, marketing promo or email, or an online ad. This page needs to present the purpose and products of your company clearly and convincingly. It should give viewers a reason to browse the rest of your website and make them want to look into what you offer — and plenty of companies fall short.

It typically helps to use impressive numbers and statistics on landing pages that offer a wow factor. For example, stating that you can save clients up to 50% or cut their customer service calls in half is more convincing than saying your product “utilizes the latest technology.”

Along with potentially incorporating metrics, visual aids can also be hugely effective. Using charts, diagrams and grids can allow you to more clearly display how you’re different from your competition in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Features and benefits
  • Contract or subscription type

You can also mention specifics, like cost per user and “freemium” models to attract clients’ attention.

6. Study your ideal client and your current clients

If your search marketing strategy isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, you may have misread what matters to your target audience. For example, as a technical or IT company, keyword targeting is crucial.

Due to the technical nature of the lingo in that industry, one keyword may have multiple meanings and can prevent your strategy from being effective. It can be helpful to go back through and make some of the following changes:

  • Adjust display times
  • Switch up keywords
  • Use more compelling ad copy
  • Tailor by language and location

Sometimes all you need is a display campaign targeted to a very narrow audience to start attracting the right kind of clients. When you choose to go this route, however, it’s extremely important to pick your placements carefully and make sure they’re on relevant sites.

7. Strategize based on your ROI

While we know it’s easier said than done, you don’t want to let emotions or personal preferences get in the way of profitability. You might love the emojis on your website or social media posts, for example, but anything that doesn’t appeal to the majority of your clients needs to be changed.

Focus on the areas most attractive to clients and spend money in the right places to see the best results.

8. Avoid tunnel vision

While you are certainly aware of the benefits your products and services offer, you have to assume prospective clients aren’t. Especially if your company offers a niche product or cutting-edge service, educating people is key. In these cases, it might take more convincing evidence like:

  • Demos
  • Video tutorials
  • White papers
  • Case studies

It’s a good idea to keep a thorough portfolio of the assets that make your company marketable handy, for both your team and visitors to your website.

9. Stay true to your brand

Using a variety of simultaneous campaigns is usually the ideal approach since most viewers don’t become clients after one touchpoint or interaction. But even though you’re using different ad channels, your message and mission should be consistent across all of them.

Studying typical user patterns lets you focus your efforts on the best channels to increase ad effectiveness. When you know your standard user goes from an ad click to remarketing to white paper to a YouTube video before converting, you can budget better.

10. Take the guesswork out of campaigns

Knowing your audience helps make your paid search marketing more strategic. If your demographic is millennials, a social advertising campaign might make more sense than an intense search engine marketing campaign. If your audience is primarily ballet dancers, you would use a different strategy than if your audience was mainly construction workers. This is especially true for products that aren’t deemed necessities.

Instead of focusing solely on a Google search campaign, including Bing or other more specialized marketing channels that may produce better results. For example, if you’re targeting marketing execs, you might consider a campaign on LinkedIn where you can take advantage of keywords for specific job titles.

As you talk through your marketing goals and strategies with a professional SaaS marketing agency, be prepared to hear suggestions you might not have thought of before. They may tell you, for example, that you can sometimes achieve a lower CPC when you push content downloads and assets and then follow up with an email or retargeting instead of focusing solely on free trials and demos. Take the advice of professionals — you may be surprised by the results you see.

At HawkSEM, we provide a customized approach based on your particular needs. Our passion for results and drive to meet goals ensure we do right by you, generating a higher ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help dramatically improve your digital marketing results.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

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