Tag Archives: paid search

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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 6 , 2020

If you’re not currently using call tracking, here’s a guide to filling in this attribution gap.

Here, you’ll find:

  • An explanation of call tracking
  • A breakdown of various tracking tiers
  • How tracking can help optimize campaigns
  • The latest call-tracking updates

People want multiple options for connecting with companies. That’s why most businesses have a phone number, even if most marketing, communications, and customer service happens online. And it’s a wise choice, since phone calls convert at 10 to 15 times the rate of clicks, according to CallRail. 

The question is, are you taking full advantage of all that phone calls have to offer your business? As Marketing Land explains, “If your marketing strategy involves driving potential customers to the phone, you could be missing out on important attribution data as well as the best source of first-party customer data.” 

Basically, if you’re not tracking calls, you could be missing a key element in your conversion tracking. Here’s how to set up call tracking for your ads, and why you should.

call tracking for digital marketing

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. (Image via Unsplash)

What is call tracking?

Call tracking is the process of gathering information about the phone calls people make to your company. Basic tracking helps you make sure you’re attributing calls to your ads to help optimize campaigns. More advanced tracking allows you to accrue data that will tell you more about your prospects and customers. This includes their wants, pain points, frequently asked questions, and more. 

Phone calls can be a key part of your buyer’s journey. Call tracking serves to help bridge the gap between online and offline touchpoints, giving you a clearer picture of your prospects and customers.

Know your call-tracking options

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. You can choose from a variety of softwares and tiers depending on your budget and needs. 

Tier 1 tracking

The basic, standard level of call tracking is simply to track phone number clicks on your website. This allows you to properly attribute the click to your campaigns. You can set up this level of call tracking through Google Tag Manager. 

It will give you some basic data about calls to your existing phone number, such as when someone clicks the phone number on your website via their smartphone to call you. 

Tier 2 tracking

The next level involves implementing call tracking into your Google Ads campaigns. At this level, Google will assign you a forwarding phone number. If someone clicks on your ads, the number on your website will route to your Google forwarding number.

This level also offers more sophisticated call data. When you implement Google call tracking through Tag Manager, you can set parameters for what counts as a conversion, such as calls only over a certain amount of seconds. This way, you’re not counting irrelevant phone calls (like accidental clicks, spam clickers, and quickly unqualified leads) as conversions. 

Pro tip: While Google call tracking is free, the number you’re assigned won’t necessarily be permanently assigned to you. Further down the line, someone could call that number in search of your business and not be able to reach you. 

Tier 3 tracking

If your company has the means to invest in paid call-tracking services, there are a ton of benefits to be found. For one, you’ll be able to purchase a dedicated phone number that won’t be in danger of being changed. 

With call-tracking services, you pay for dedicated tracking phone numbers, including a ZIP code that matches your area. In terms of data, you’re able to record phone calls (the caller is given a heads up, of course). You can go back and listen to how customer service was handled and get more information about the callers. These services also allow you to capture customer contact information in the platforms

Top-tier call tracking can often tell you what caused the person to call, what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in, and it can even sync with other programs like Google Analytics, Salesforce, or your preferred customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Pro tip: Think you’ve got tracking covered with your call center? While these centers track things like hold time and client satisfaction, proper call tracking can provide valuable data for marketers that can help optimize and improve campaigns. 

call tracking to enhance paid ads

With the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that a rise of Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. (Image via Unsplash)

How call tracking can improve your marketing

Gathering data is only half the battle. After all, what good is all that data if you don’t take the time to analyze and leverage it? Call tracking allows you to review calls and pinpoint patterns. What are some common issues customers seem to have? What products or services are they asking about most? It can also help you make these calls more efficient by allowing you to personalize and tailor the call experience.

This type of tracking can help maximize ROI by painting a more complete picture of what’s driving people to your business. According to Business2Community, “most marketers find immediate bang-for-the-buck by applying newly discovered call insights to optimize their marketing programs and media spend.”

The future of call tracking

In October 2020, Google began testing a new Google My Business featured dubbed “call history.” According to Search Engine Land, the feature was “designed to help businesses see and respond to missed calls coming from Google Search and Maps.” At the time, the option was voluntary and only available to a select group of U.S. businesses. 

And with the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that a rise of Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. If you’re a business like a doctor’s office (or if you have a stellar customer service team trained to quickly solve problems), this ad type is worth exploring.

This way, you have the chance to catch someone’s attention and allow them to immediately connect with you, rather than risking them not finding what they’re looking for on your website.

The takeaway

In marketing, the more data you have, the better. If you’re not tracking phone calls on some level, you’re missing out on a key component of your conversion tracking. It’s the same idea behind tracking forms on your website. You want to track all ways people can contact you. 

The result: Improved customer service, better insights into why people aren’t converting via phone, help training employees, and a fuller picture of your buyer persona.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 28 , 2020

Managing your pay-per-click (PPC) program shouldn’t feel like wandering through a haunted house.

Here, you’ll find:

  • A few of the most common PPC problems
  • Actionable solutions to help you overcome them
  • Pro tips to boost your PPC program
  • Best practices to help you stick to your budget

Ghouls, monsters, zombies, an underperforming PPC campaign — all pretty scary, right?

When it comes to paid search, it can be easy to spend your whole budget and still see underwhelming results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve highlighted 4 common PPC problems, complete with solutions that can help turn things around. Just beware: there’s spooky stuff ahead.

HawkSEM blog: Common PPC Problems — And How to Fix Them

Create ads that match your keywords closely to create more detailed reporting and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. (Image via Unsplash)

PPC Problem #1: You’re driving traffic, but not conversions

You’ve decided on the copy, finalized the design, organized your campaigns, and launched your ads. Now, you’re seeing traffic numbers go up — that’s great! But conversions are another story.

Traffic is one thing, but if you’re not getting conversions, something is amiss. So, what gives? It may be a matter of where you’re sending that traffic on your site.

Solution: Create optimized landing pages

If your ads send leads to your homepage, you’re not making the best use of your traffic. As we’ve said before, quality traffic can lead to more conversions, sales, and a better-performing digital marketing strategy. When people click your ads and land on your homepage, it’s not always clear where they should go or what they should do next.

By sending this traffic to optimized landing pages instead, you can deliver a minimalist visual experience with a clear message that makes it easy for your leads to know exactly what action they should take. You can even tailor these various landing pages to different audience segments and speak directly to them.

Properly optimized landing pages have elements like:

  • Consistent verbiage with their corresponding ads
  • A clear CTA
  • A mobile-friendly format
  • Easy shareability

PPC Problem #2: Your leads aren’t qualified

Sure, it’s great to have a large influx of leads coming your way. But if, upon closer inspection, the bulk of your leads aren’t qualified, you’re using up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. 

By not taking advantage of all of the keyword and targeting strategies at your disposal (like using too many overly broad keywords and not leveraging retargeting and negative keywords), you risk having a high volume of leads that don’t actually translate into sales.

Solution: Revisit your targeting strategy

It may be time to look into the audiences you’re currently targeting. Where are they in your buyer’s journey? By targeting your prospects who are further down the funnel and closer to the decision-making stage, you can create hyper-focused campaigns that’ll increase your odds of converting them into closed business.

It’s also a good time to look into single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). Experts define SKAGs as ad groups designed with a one-to-one relationship between the root keyword and the ad. These groups can include multiple variations and long-tail keywords. 

By creating ads that match your keywords closely, you can pull more detailed reports and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. 

Pro tip: While most brands know about targeting on social media platforms, don’t forget about Google and Bing audience targeting, too. When it comes to leads, it’s often a matter of quality over quantity. 

PPC Problem #3: Your PPC program relies too heavily on automation

Automated marketing can be great for time-saving and repetitive manual tasks. But being too hands-off with your PPC program can have drawbacks.

This can result in underperformance along with a lack of understanding about what’s going right and what needs attention. When you opt for the “set it and forget it” model, you risk wasted spend and losing control of the whole operation.

Solution: Keep the human element intact

At its core, marketing is about connecting with people. Because of this, it’s essential that you keep the human element at the center of any marketing strategy or initiative if you want to see long-term success.

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach. This means taking the time to understand your audience (in a way no algorithm can), revisiting your goals, and iterating when necessary. By continuing to test, track, and reconfigure your PPC program, you’ll land on the combination that works best for your company — with or without automation.

Get solutions to even more PPC problems here: Our Ultimate Guide to Problem-Solving for Your PPC Program and Getting the ROI You Deserve.

HawkSEM blog: Scary PPC Problems (And How to Fix Them)

It’s easy to spend your budget in a flash when you’re managing PPC campaigns. (Image via Unsplash)

PPC Problem #4: You’re not sticking to your budget

One of the PPC problems we often see is how easy it can be to go through your allotted budget in a snap. But, as we said above, if your campaigns are bringing you a high volume of leads without resulting in substantial return on investment (ROI), then there’s work to be done.

But, wait! Don’t throw more money into Google Ads to try to boost profits and fix your wasted ad spend issue just yet. You don’t necessarily need to modify your budget just because you’re consistently underspending and not hitting your goals. 

Solution: Identify your “money keywords”

We’re all about money keywords — the keywords that bring you the most PPC ROI. By zooming in on the right data, you can get a better idea of your money keywords and the ones that can be scrapped.

First, check out your PPC performance over the last 3-4 months (as long as your current strategy has been in place at least that long).

Go into your Google Ads account in the Keywords tab. Next, then identify all the keywords that haven’t produced any conversions during those months (you can organize this info in a spreadsheet or PivotTable) and dump them. It’s worth noting here that branded keywords are a different story, as these can help boost your quality score, even if they don’t result in conversions.

It’s not all about clicks and traffic, both of which may decrease after you eliminate those keywords. Look at which ones are driving the best lifetime value (LTV), then put as much of your budget as you can towards your money keywords. 

Pro tip: Not hitting budget? Try increasing your cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit and expanding your audience location. By creating a simple budget tracker that includes your overall budget, average spend rates, and actual monthly spend rates, you can get a grasp on where you are and where you want to be. 

The takeaway

Your paid search strategy shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re simply throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

By identifying your PPC problems and arming yourself with the solutions, you can turn a broken program into a high-performing strategy that yields big results.

Need more PPC help? Let’s talk. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 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 Sep 18 , 2020

Paid search and SEO are key to building a solid digital marketing strategy — and they’re even better together. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons to have both paid search and SEO in your marketing plan
  • Ways SEO and paid search complement each other
  • How leveraging both can increase ROI
  • Ways these strategies can be integral to overall campaign success

Paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two sides of the same coin. While paid search targets those searching for keywords related to your business through ads on the search engine results page (SERP), SEO ensures your website, content, and social profiles are poised to rank well in organic search results.

While each of these strategies can be effective on its own, pairing them together is an effective way to build a strong digital marketing foundation for your brand. 

So, how can paid search and SEO work together? For starters, each initiative should be deployed consistently and with cohesive messaging. After all, creating ads that look and sound nothing like your website may confuse visitors and cause them to bounce. It’s up to you to make sure they fit together smoothly instead of working in silos.  

The good news: By proactively making the paid and organic components of your search engine marketing (SEM) work together, you can speed up your campaign optimization and boost ROI. 

1. Test new keywords

Keywords are the pillars of both SEO and paid search marketing strategies. You can use the same keywords for both. However, when the time comes to add new search terms to your campaign, testing them with SEO tactics can be time-consuming and labor-intensive (like writing new content and regularly updating existing posts).

On the flip side, testing new keywords with PPC ads is quicker and, often, easier. Creating an ad with a new keyword and monitoring results can take less than a week. With SEO, it could take months to have enough data to glean real results.

As soon as you see how well a keyword is doing with paid search, you can decide whether it could work for your SEO campaigns and projects.

2. Retarget visitors

After a decent amount of time and effort put towards SEO, you could see this work paying off handsomely by attracting more and more visitors to your website. However, data show that only about 2% of them will convert after the first visit. 

The last thing you want is to provide valuable content only to have potential clients use this knowledge for buying products elsewhere. To avoid this problem, you can take advantage of retargeting, also called remarketing. 

When a user leaves the website, you can inconspicuously attach a piece of code to “cookie” or anonymously track them. As these visitors go to other websites, your ads appear to guide them back to your landing pages, which ups your chances of converting the lead. 

paid search and seo together

Paid search marketing can give an SEO campaign the push it needs, since the latter can take several months to show significant results. (Image via Unsplash)

3. Cross-analyze data

Both SEO and paid search tactics give you a variety of data to work with.This data is crucial to campaign success because it can illuminate what’s working and what’s not, so you can iterate and make updates accordingly. 

You can analyze the same metrics from both campaign types, including but not limited to:

  • Time spent on website
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Local conversions

By using this information and conducting A/B tests, you can figure out which keywords work best and how effectively you’re targeting your buyer persona. And, while it’s possible to analyze metrics for each campaign separately, doing it together can give you more valuable and detailed insights.

4. Dominate the SERPs

Some companies feel tempted to stop their paid search marketing campaigns once they manage to rank high in organic search results. But even if your website is proudly sitting on page 1 of the SERP, paid ads will always be higher up on the page, increasing your chances of visibility.

You can dominate the first page of Google in more than one way by:

  • Implementing regular content updates
  • A/B testing your PPC ads
  • Taking advantage of retargeting 
  • Optimizing content for the SERP features

When consumers see the same website on top of the SERP and in the ad, they tend to consider it credible. In this case, SEO and PPC complement each other perfectly, with SEO picking up where paid search left off.  

5. See faster results

Paid search marketing can give an SEO campaign the push it needs, since the latter can take several months to show significant results. You may already have a high-quality, well-structured website filled with valuable content. But things like domain authority, high-traffic blogs, and strong social followings usually take a while to gain momentum. 

PPC ads can bring more visitors to your website in less time than with SEO alone. This information allows you to tweak your SEO campaigns while improving the bounce rate and dwelling time to rank higher on Google.  

6. Enhance SEO content through PPC ad copy

The tactics that work for your paid search marketing campaign can often work for SEO as well. The best part about PPC ads is that you can get first results (even if it’s just analysis) quickly.

Once you see which PPC ads bring the most conversions, you can get valuable information about what type of content, title tags, and meta descriptions to use for your website.

And with PPC ads, it’s easy to split-test your work. By testing several types of ad copy, you can understand what works for both the ad and what could work on your website.  

rowing teamwork

Paid search and SEO complement one another, improve your bottom line, and help your overall program succeed. (Image via Unsplash)

7. Learn more about your target audience

Paid social media ads are another effective way you can gain insight into the way your target audience feels, thinks, and acts.

One great thing about social media advertising is the target options available on the various main platforms. You can get hyper-specific about who you want seeing your ads (like middle-aged luxury car owners who live in Chicago and love fishing, for example). When you analyze data from these campaigns, you can discover new information about the target audience and use it for both your future PPC and SEO programs.

8. Optimize your budget

Using PPC and SEO together doesn’t just enhance your overall marketing efforts. It can also help you cut costs, generate additional revenue, and save time. 

Leverage both of these in tandem by:

  • Cutting content creation costs by testing keywords with PPC ads
  • Generating revenue with PPC conversions while the SEO campaign is gaining momentum
  • Saving time on keyword search by using the same keywords for both campaigns
  • Speeding up your SEO campaign with PPC retargeting and lead generation efforts

The takeaway

Paid search and SEO don’t only coexist well, but they can enhance one another with results greater than the sums of their parts. In this way, they complement one another, improve your bottom line, and help your overall program succeed. 

By learning how to make these two strategies work together, you are giving your marketing campaign a powerful boost. Want more PPC or SEO expert insights? Get in touch.

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 Sam Yadegar on Aug 17 , 2020

Saving time on your marketing campaigns is always a win. Luckily, there are Google Ads shortcuts that will streamline your process and boost campaign efficiency. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons for using Ads shortcuts
  • Helpful Google features to simplify your work
  • Ways to access and use these time-saving tools
  • Expert advice to stay ahead of the competition

Google Ads is one of the most effective and nuanced PPC platforms in the market. Its comprehensive approach means that there are hundreds of sections to work on. 

When it comes to ad upkeep, common tasks include text optimization, bid management, keyword research, and reporting. These alone — not to mention analysis and other formalities — can take up a good chunk of your time.

Of course, it’s crucial to put plenty of time and effort into your campaigns for optimized ads. But leveraging a few shortcuts that exist within the platform allows you to work smarter, not harder, to get the results you want to achieve. 

Here are some Google Ads shortcuts that’ll save you time without sacrificing quality. 

google shortcuts

Usually, accounts are managed by multiple people over their lifespans, particularly for accounts that have been around for years. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Delete keyword clutter

Keywords have always been an integral part of digital marketing. The strategy a few years ago was to come up for every keyword term and all their variations. Google’s Phrase and Exact policies at the time made aspects like plurals and misspellings necessary.

Since then, Google’s Phrase and Exact policies have changed. Nowadays, such variations in keyword phrases are achieved by matching close variants. This means that you no longer need thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of keywords to stay ahead of the competition. Google recommends doing away with these variations under the “Opportunities” section of your account. 

Keep up with the changes by removing duplicate keywords. Luckily, you don’t have to search for every keyword term. Simply use Google Ads Editor to define duplicate keywords and identify them in seconds. You’ll find this feature under the “Tools” category, and you have many options when it comes to how you define duplicate keywords.  

2. Customize your ads

In a way, repetition is necessary for successful marketing (see: the effectiveness of remarketing). The idea is to keep your brand and products in the spotlight perpetually so they stay top of mind with your target audience. 

Some types of ads require systemic repetition. For example, running a timed promotion with a limited number of days to go may require you to update your ads every day until the promotion runs out. While this is necessary, it’s also a bit of a time-waster.

Google’s Ad Customizer will save you effort and update your ads in real-time with impressive precision and quality. This feature requires you to specify standard attributes about your campaign, including factors such as:

  • Start and end dates
  • Target demographics
  • Schedules
  • And more

The Customizer will then use a refined code to implement these parameters at the set times.

3. Use notations

Maybe you have one single person who handles anything and everything pertaining to your Google Ads account. But, usually, organizations’ accounts are managed by multiple people over their lifespans, particularly for accounts that have been around for years.  

Depending on how experienced and organized your team (or the agency you’ve tasked to handle your ads) is, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page. This is especially true when you factor in employee turnover. Many account managers who have been in this situation often find themselves wishing for guidance from past account managers. Fortunately, this is possible using notation.

Google recommends you make notes as you manage your ad campaigns. This will help keep your ads organized, since you can visit your notes and track activity. It also makes it easier for account managers who come after to catch up and tailor their marketing campaigns to fit in with past parameters for continuity, including streamlining metrics and performance analysis.

You can add notes via the “Campaign” and “Ad Group View” tabs. Look for the link to performance metrics and click on the option to “Add Note.” Your notes will be stored and can be easily accessible on the reports by account managers who come after you.

hidden shortcut

Take some time to explore the features available to your marketing account and exploit ways of leveraging them. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Test faster using creative Ad Variation

Testing and streamlining ad creation is necessary for every marketing campaign’s organization and success. But doing it manually can be time-consuming. The quicker, easier, and more efficient way? Using Google’s Ad Variation feature.

The Ad Variation feature enables you to automatically streamline ad creation and test the subsequent ads based on your precise parameters. For example, you can split the percentage of your target audience whichever way you choose (this is not an option using Google’s auto-optimization). 

All you have to do is set and specify your desired parameters and fill in the details, including the type of ads you’re making and which campaigns they affect. The Ads Variation feature is available under the “Drafts & Experiments” section. Hover over this section until the “+” sign appears, and click on it to access this feature.

5. Take advantage of the right tools and automation

Google is consistently improving its marketing and advertising features. A huge chunk of these efforts involve automation and making the work easier using specialized tools. For example, Google’s updated scripts can automate the time-consuming task of reporting.

While automation can make life easier, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t automate everything in your campaigns. After all, robots can’t compete with the expertise and experience of a human.

As far as Google Ads shortcuts go, take some time to explore the automated features available to your marketing account and the different ways of leveraging them. And if it all feels overwhelming? Consider consulting a professional for guidance.

The takeaway

It’s wise to keep up with Google’s updates, as they often include upgrades to its features that make the platform quicker and more efficient. 

Many marketers waste precious hours working on the technical aspects of their marketing campaigns. But with Google Ads shortcuts, you can explore easier and quicker ways to work on the technicalities and put your time to better use elsewhere.

Need more help with your Google Ads campaign? That’s what we’re here for.

 

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 Sam Yadegar on Aug 7 , 2020

Maximize your online reach with Bing and capture traffic you might miss with Google.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits of advertising on both Google and Microsoft’s Bing
  • How the Microsoft Ads platform compares to Google Ads
  • How to create top-quality ads for Bing
  • The importance of checking your Quality Score

Many businesses raise an eyebrow when first introduced to the idea of using Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) to attract new customers. But you might be surprised to learn that all that the Bing search engine has to offer. 

A recent ComScore report from 2019 found that 126 million unique users were behind around 6 billion Bing searches in March of that year alone. If you want to capture the millions of users out there who use Bing, it’s necessary to explore Microsoft Advertising in addition to Google Ads.

Bing homepage

To make your job easier, Bing Ads allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. (Image via Bing)

Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

Of course, there are plenty of similarities to be found between Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, which show up on the Bing search engine. They’re both used to push highly relevant ads to users, with the goal of using targeted marketing to help attract more high-quality leads who are more likely to make a purchase. However, there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.

One notable difference is that, while Google Ads has a balanced network of both PPC  (or paid search) and display ads, Bing has a much more limited display ad network that’s relegated to Microsoft-owned products including Windows operating systems, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Xbox.

You may also find that each platform uses different language to describe their functions and metrics. For example, Google tends to use cost per acquisition (CPA) along with the cost of conversion, while Microsoft Ads only uses the term CPA. 

Using both platforms can provide a noticeable boost to your marketing campaigns. However, it’s important to know how to use Microsoft Ads properly if you want to make the most of it and effectively supplement your Google Ads campaign. Below, we’ve laid out some best practices to help you create winning ads that attract the ideal customer on Bing. 

1. Make sure all high-performing Google Ads campaigns are imported to Microsoft Ads

To make your job easier, Microsoft Advertising allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. Simply use the import feature to bring your campaigns over to Microsoft’s ad platform. 

While you can test your most successful Google Ads campaigns using Bing, keep in mind that things may look and work a little differently when creating your ads on Microsoft. Knowing the subtle differences when importing can help you transition from one platform to the other and use both to your advantage.

Bing SERP

A smaller budget could take you much farther on Bing than it would with Google. (Image via Bing)

2. Create high-quality copy and images for your ads

You should always optimize your ads for people, not search engines. Keywords are important, but you’re ultimately creating ads to appeal directly to your target audience. With this goal in mind, try to:

  • Use on-brand colors that attract attention
  • Highlight a certain element of your product, service, or brand in your images
  • Create ads using high-quality images without degradation or pixelation
  • Use images of people without accompanying text or logos
  • Keep your ads clean and simple without overwhelming the user
  • Avoid long ad headlines and stick to concise, easy-to-read phrases

3. Start broad and specify your audience based on the results

To pinpoint the ideal audience, it’s a good idea to begin with a broad ad campaign that targets as many users as possible without going over your available budget. From there, you can begin to narrow down your audience based on the demographics and other traits of users that are likely to click on your ads. 

In the process, you can create more valuable ads that target the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service offerings.

4. Make the most of your budget

Even if you’ve maxed out your Google Ads budget, you can still tailor your budget to help you perform well on Bing. Thanks largely to the lighter competition you’ll find on Bing, you could discover that a smaller budget takes you much farther on the platform than it would with Google.

You’re also likely to find less expensive CPAs with Microsoft Ads while targeting potentially millions of daily search engine users.

5. Know your target audience on Bing

You might find that your Bing audience is different from your Google audience. If so, you should tailor your campaign audiences accordingly. Bing’s demographic tends to include older users who aren’t as quick to go to Google if Bing is their default search engine. 

While you may think this means your audience is potentially less tech savvy, know that many of these users have accumulated more wealth and are willing to spend more money online than their younger counterparts. The fact that your audience on Bing is likely different from your Google audience only further emphasizes the importance of using both.

Microsoft Advertising

Using a combination of Bing Ads and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. (Image via Microsoft Advertising)

6. Make use of the UET tag

Microsoft Ads enables you to set up customized event and conversion actions using Universal Event Tracking (UET). With the help of this tool, you can create custom audiences as people perform certain actions. 

For example, you might create an audience that spends a certain amount of time on landing pages or visits only a few other pages before leaving your website after clicking on an ad. With a better understanding of user behavior through UET tags, you can cater campaigns to specific individuals to improve your campaigns’ overall performance.

7. Keep an eye on your Quality Score

One key component of a successful Bing campaign is page or domain authority, which will help gauge the authoritativeness and popularity of a website. You can use Bing’s Quality Score metric to determine how much influence your website has on the search engine, which can help you determine your ads’ competitiveness. 

The Quality Score ranges from 1 to 10, with the best score being 10. If you notice that your Quality Score is suffering, try to adjust your ads by:

  • Conducting more keyword research
  • Ensuring your published content is always high-quality
  • Optimizing your landing pages
  • Checking your ad group targeting

The takeaway

Using a combination of Microsoft Ads and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. 

Using these best practices, taking the time to develop high-quality ad campaigns, and understanding your target audience on Bing can help you craft ads that are highly effective, no matter the search engine. 

Want to get the most from your PPC campaigns with Bing and other opportunities? Connect with us today.

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 Sam Yadegar on Jul 21 , 2020

How Google is helping nonprofits spread the word about their cause

Here, you’ll find:

  • How paid search marketing helps nonprofits
  • How Google Ad Grants works
  • Effective strategies for managing your campaigns
  • Expert PPC tools and tips to help you along the way

Nonprofit organizations make the world go round. These groups spend time, resources and money to further important causes and help those in need. But the most successful nonprofits know it’s equally important to invest in marketing to spread the word about their own organization to increase awareness and grow their donor base. 

When it comes to marketing, paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) is one of the most effective tactics used today. By following paid search best practices, having strong SEO, and leveraging an ad tool called Google Ad Grants, nonprofits can position their campaigns for maximum conversion. 

How paid search marketing benefits nonprofits

Many nonprofits limit their digital marketing strategy to just maintaining their website. Some also post organically on social media and send out regular newsletters. And sure, these tactics can be effective for engaging donors, showcasing your mission and cause, and running your campaigns. But without more of a digital presence, it’s difficult to expand your organization beyond those who already know about you. 

That’s where paid search comes in. These campaigns can do wonders to increase your donor base and spread your vision to a wider audience. Nonprofit paid search is the digital marketing tool that can take your organization to the next level. 

hawksem blog: nonprofit paid search

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. (Image via Unsplash)

Making nonprofit paid search more affordable

We get it: Nonprofits have to be especially mindful when it comes to the cost of paid search ads. Luckily, a tool called Google Ad Grants can help. 

This tool allows eligible nonprofit organizations to spend $10,000 per month to advertise on Google’s search engine at no cost to the organization. Yes, you read that right: Google could give you a free $10,000 to spend on Google ads each month!

How it works

When Google approves your nonprofit, your nonprofit’s Google Ads account is allowed to spend up to $10,000 per month. The maximum cost per click (CPC) is set at $2. 

Once you hit your $10,000 advertisement limit, your ads automatically stop until the end of the month. The ads automatically continue to run again when the next cycle begins. This way, there’s no need to worry about going over your monthly cap and spending extra budget.

How to qualify for Google Ad Grants

Google’s acceptance for nonprofits depends on meeting the following criteria:

  • Must be a valid 501(c) nonprofit
  • Needs to have a functional website with enough quality content that clearly illustrates the nonprofit’s mission and purpose
  • Must be headquartered in the U.S. or anyone of Google’s eligible countries

The biggest hurdle to being awarded a Google Grant is the application process. It includes a writing section where you must specify how you will use the grant, the ads you intend to create, and why your nonprofit deserves the grant money.

The application process is no easy feat — it can take four to six hours to complete. And, of course, not all applications will be accepted. If rejected, you may have to wait months before you’re eligible to reapply.

Maintaining your Google Grant

If your application is accepted, you must maintain the following criteria to keep it:

  • Link your ads to only one website
  • Avoid linking pages where the majority of hyperlinks are to other websites
  • Must log in at least once per month
  • Must update ads at least once every 90 days
  • Only promote events, products, or services where 100% of the proceeds are going directly towards your cause
hawksem: nonprofit paid search blog

What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause. (Image via Unsplash)

How Google Ad Grants can boost your paid search efforts

A large network user base

Google currently holds nearly 92% of the internet search engine market share worldwide. This makes it the most influential marketing and advertising platform on the planet. Google’s incredibly large user network base can spread your cause quickly, leading to up to 5,000 new monthly visitors to your website for free.

The ability to connect you with your target audience

With all those monthly users and activity, Google also has an incredibly diverse audience. What makes Google Ad Grants particularly useful is its ability to set locations, keywords, and demographics to help you reach the exact audience that resonates most with your cause.

An increase in your online visibility

If your nonprofit is relatively new or not ranking from keywords relevant to your cause, Google Ad Grants helps your organization get closer to the top of keyword search results. Being placed at the top of Google search results increases organic traffic and awareness for your cause. 

Even if your nonprofit is already ranking well in search queries, Google search ads allow you to show up multiple times on a page, which maximizes the chance a casual visitor clicks to your website.

How to manage your Google Grant

Although it’s possible to manage your Google Grant on your own, it requires a decent amount of time and dedication to have a noticeable impact on your nonprofit.

Once approved, it’s up to you or your team to take time crafting compelling and optimized content targeted to your specific audience and demographic. Likewise, Google Ad Grants holds high standards for its advertisement content. For example, all nonprofits must have a clickthrough rate of at least 1% to continue qualifying for the grant.

The takeaway

There’s no doubt that Google Ad Grants is an incredible nonprofit paid search platform. While the barrier to entry isn’t exactly low, the potential payoff means it could be worth exploring if your nonprofit meets the criteria and has the resources to maintain strong paid search campaigns.

Need more help with your nonprofit’s paid search strategies? Let’s talk. 

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 Sam Yadegar on Jul 15 , 2020

When it comes to measuring the success of your pay-per-click (PPC) program, here are the top metrics to monitor. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Ways to determine your specific PPC goals
  • How your goals relate to your KPIs
  • How to evaluate your business’s definition of success
  • Common PPC KPIs used to measure campaign effectiveness

Are you measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing campaigns? If you’re not sure how your marketing campaigns are really performing, or if you’re struggling to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, it may be time to revisit your KPIs.

KPIs, or key performance indicators, give your business an effective, measurable way to track how your campaigns are performing. In the case of a PPC campaign, you want to be sure that you’re seeing a reasonable return on your overall investment. 

By establishing your PPC KPIs, you can create goals in Google Analytics that connect with your Google Ads. This way, you’ll have visibility into campaign performance and can begin sourcing accurate data right from the start. If you haven’t yet determined what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign, here are some factors to consider.

hawksem blog: PPC KPIs

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing successes as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. (Image via Unsplash)

What are you trying to accomplish with your PPC campaign?

Typically, the goal of a PPC campaign is to raise awareness of your brand and to encourage customers to click through the ad to your website over your competitors’. Your PPC campaign may focus on a specific stage of the buyer’s journey or encompass specific keywords that are related to your product or service. 

When determining what KPIs to track, make sure you’ve clearly defined what you’re trying to accomplish with the campaign. For example, if you’re creating a top-of-funnel campaign intended to raise brand awareness or spread information about a new product or solution, you may want to focus on direct clicks more than conversions. 

What does “success” look like for your business?

Every industry — and every brand within those industries — has a different measure of success. A brand that has a significant marketing budget, for example, may have higher goals and be willing to spend more on a campaign. 

If you sell high-dollar products or services or see a significant customer lifetime value (CLV), you may be able to spend more to acquire a single customer than if you’re a small business with relatively low-price items or a lower CLV.

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing successes as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. 

Ideally, you want to boost ROI through new sales. But if your goals are more focused on raising brand awareness or bringing customers to your website, you may not see that kind of return in the early stages of your campaign. 

Common KPIs to help track PPC campaign success

Taking a look at common PPC KPIs used to measure the success of campaigns can give you a better idea of what you need to focus on when evaluating your campaign. You may want to consider:

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

Clickthrough rate, or CTR, measures how many people clicked on your ad after seeing it. You can assess clickthrough rate by taking the total number of impressions (the number of times the ad was seen) and dividing it by the number of clicks it received. 

For a view to qualify as an impression, the consumer doesn’t actually have to take any action or interact with the ad. However, the clickthrough rate can give you a better idea about what percentage of people you can expect to click through an ad based on the number of times it’s been seen. 

Cost per click

The cost per click determines how much it costs you when someone clicks on your ad. In the competitive digital ad space, particularly when it comes to specific, high-volume keywords, you may pay more per click than you would in the case of lower-frequency keywords. 

However, those higher costs may be well worth it when you end up with a better overall return on your investment for critical keywords than you do for low-volume keywords. 

hawksem: PPC KPI blog

Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. (Image via Unsplash)

Cost per conversion

As customers click through your ad, some of them will explore your site, join your mailing list, or even make a purchase. How much does it cost to convert customers through those ads? 

Your cost per conversion will naturally be higher than your cost-per-click rate. Not every customer who clicks through your ad will choose to convert, whether that means joining your list or making a purchase from your business. 

Notice that your cost per conversion is higher on a specific type of campaign, or based on specific keywords? You may want to consider revisiting those keywords or the elements of your campaign. This way, you can potentially create a more effective campaign that has a higher return on your investment. 

Conversion rate

Not only do you want to know the cost per conversion, but it’s also important to know how many prospects actually convert. If you notice your conversion rate decreasing — that is, that people are clicking through the ad, but not choosing to make a purchase from your business or to sign up for your mailing list — you may want to consider why. 

Is your campaign focusing on the wrong keywords? Does your landing page fail to deliver the information customers need, or not provide them with an effective call to action? Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. 

Pro tip: Quality score is another KPI worth looking into. While this score is determined by Google, it’s based on factors like your expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. A higher quality score means you could rank higher while spending less. 

The takeaway

The last thing you want is to pour money into a PPC program without a clear goal in mind. Having key performance indicators helps you measure success and better pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your campaigns.

By knowing what PPC KPIs are most important to your brand, you can build a solid plan to help ensure your goals are met.

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 Sam Yadegar on Jul 8 , 2020

Real estate companies with the right paid search strategies can see a higher ROI, growing client base, and more wins over the competition.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why paid search marketing is key for real estate companies
  • How to take advantage of retargeting
  • Ways to leverage location-based ads
  • Tips for effective paid search ads

Before the pandemic hit, home sales were reportedly at their highest in more than a decade. Sadly, the virus has caused many buyers to feel less confident about purchasing a home, and sellers less likely to put their homes on the market.

But there’s good news. Overall, experts are calling this a temporary dip and predict that the housing marketing will make a “V-shaped recovery.” 

Perhaps now more than ever, real estate companies should be taking advantage of all the resources at their disposal, particularly when it comes to marketing efforts. While search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of any marketing strategy, only a limited number of companies end up on the first page of Google. That’s where paid search marketing comes in.

Making paid search a part of your digital marketing program can be hugely beneficial to your company, especially right now. Let’s break down why. 

hawksem: real estate paid search blog

One of the most important elements of paid search marketing for real estate companies is retargeting (also called remarketing). (Image via Unsplash)

Why real estate paid search marketing makes sense

When it comes to digital marketing, many companies start with SEO. That entails things like a speedy, well-designed website, quality content marketing, and an updated Google My Business page. 

Optimizing your marketing efforts to get high spots on the search engine results page (SERP) is great. However, when you work with an extremely specific, localized product like real estate services, you need to throw something else into the mix to truly stand out from competitors.

Paid search marketing gives you the opportunity to focus on your local target audience. It also allows you to differentiate between renters and buyers, potential homeowners and current homeowners, and much more.

In short, this approach allows you to place your ad in front of potential clients, even if they submit search queries using key phrases similar to unqualified searchers.

Other benefits of paid search marketing for real estate companies include:

  • Quick lead generation results
  • The ability to do clear budget planning
  • Access to detailed analytics
  • Enhanced brand awareness

Pro tip: Google recently announced an update to their ads policy which will “prohibit impacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.” This goes along with Google’s existing policies barring personalization based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.

1. Take advantage of retargeting

One of the most important elements of paid search marketing for real estate companies is retargeting (also called remarketing). This strategy uses targeted ads to tastefully follow those who have visited your site or interacted with your brand in the past. 

People in the market for real estate do a lot of research. They can wander from one website to another, searching for deals, browsing options, or window shopping to compare prices. These people could visit your website but easily end up working with another company.

To avoid this pitfall, Google Ads offers a remarketing option. As potential clients leave your website, your ads pop-up elsewhere across the web. These ads serve as a gentle reminder about your company and keep you top of mind.   

2. Capitalize on branded searchers

The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) searchers are your highest-potential clients. These are the people who are serious about purchasing a property. However, many real estate agencies avoid taking full advantage of branded keywords for the fear of not getting enough ROI.

Branded search terms are for those people who have heard something about a real estate agency in your area and tend to add a brand name to the general key phrases.  

If you aren’t using branded keywords, your competitors could be taking advantage of them and luring away your hot leads. If you’re just starting out and haven’t raised much brand awareness yet, you could pivot and use this strategy to redirect the competition’s audience to your doorstep.

To make sure that all your qualified prospects stay yours, you should be taking full advantage of the branded keywords. Don’t leave them out for the competition to grab.

3. Explore geo-targeting

A real estate business is generally local, though of course there are national brands with local branches. Either way, when it comes to real estate purchases, location is everything. 

After all, people searching for real estate options almost always know exactly where they want to buy, sell, or rent a property. That’s why geo-targeting is one of biggest benefits when it comes to paid search for real estate companies.

Google Ads lets you adjust your ads to appear to clients in certain locations or a set of locations. Not only does this feature allow you to narrow down the search options, it can also help cut your PPC costs.

Pro tip: Google Ads geo-targeting also allows you to set up negative locations. This feature can be especially key for real estate marketing. It allows you to exclude locations you don’t need from your PPC campaign, like a same-named city in a different state.

hawksem blog: real estate paid search

Besides being more targeted and actionable, landing pages should provide a seamless user experience and gently guide the visitor down the marketing funnel. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Create optimized, dedicated landing pages

The success of your paid search marketing campaign heavily depends on the value you offer on the landing pages. As users click the ad, they should arrive at a high-quality page that answers their questions, feels tailored to them, and has a clear call to action (CTA) to lead them to that next step.

Pointing the traffic to a generic web page (like your homepage) increases the bounce rate and raises the cost per click. Besides being more targeted and actionable, landing pages should provide a seamless user experience and gently guide the visitor down the marketing funnel.

The best PPC landing pages for real estate businesses should contain:

  • Eye-catching, well-written copy
  • Strong contextual media
  • A single, strong CTA
  • Clear features and benefits of the offer from your ad
  • Testimonials or other proof points to support your claims

Pro tip: Google Ads rewards campaigns with high-quality landing pages by boosting the quality score and lowering the cost per click (CPC).

5. Run consistent A/B tests

A single element in your paid search ad — whether it’s the image, headline, or anything in between — can affect its success. That’s why A/B testing is crucial to figuring out how to best optimize your ads. 

You may consider adjusting headlines, images, text, layout, and other factors to see how it affects the ad’s performance. Then you can channel your budget toward the higher-performing ads.

Avoid split testing completely different ads — the tweaks should be minor. Otherwise, you won’t be able to figure out what exactly makes one ad better than the other.

6. Study the competition

As long as you don’t plan to copy your competitors exactly (which may work in the short term but isn’t a good look for your business), it’s wise to keep an eye on the tactics and tools they’re using in their paid search.

Check out what works for your competition, and see how you can potentially leverage their strategies for your own gain. 

Type your target key phrase into Google search and see which ads come up. From there, you can use tools like SpyFu, SERPstat, and Keyword Gap to see which keywords your competitors are aiming for. You can also check out their landing pages and see how they stack up against your own. 

The takeaway

There’s no reason for real estate companies to not take full advantage of paid search marketing. It generates fast results, allows for clear budget planning, offers a variety of ways to target a specific audience, and more.

For the real estate business, paid search ads aren’t just a nice addition. They can become the driving force behind your digital marketing program and bring you serious ROI. 

Want to learn more about paid search marketing tactics for real estate agencies? Let’s talk.  

 

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 Jun 5 , 2020

From creating your account to optimizing and testing, these expert tips will ensure your e-commerce PPC ads are set up to stand out. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to create a proper PPC ad foundation
  • Tips for keeping campaigns organized
  • Ways to optimize your e-commerce PPC ads
  • What to test when it comes to your campaigns

People are buying almost everything online these days. Whether you’ve been doing e-commerce for years or have recently switched to a digital platform amid the pandemic, it’s always good to know what elements make up a successful search engine marketing (SEM) ad.

Let’s break down the must-haves when it comes to creating paid search ads for your e-commerce brand.

hawksem article: e-commerce ppc

How you get your products into Google Merchant Center to create the feed mostly depends on how many products you have. (Image via Rawpixel)

1. Set a good foundation 

It should come as no surprise that proper setup is key to creating successful e-commerce PPC ads. But that doesn’t mean that plenty of companies, whether they realize it or not, don’t have their accounts set up properly — which can lead to improper tracking and unnecessary steps. So, how do you ensure you’re starting off on the right foot?

To begin, you need to create a free Google Merchant Center (GMC) account. It’s best to use the same email you also use for programs like Google Ads and Google Analytics. That way, your accounts will all be linked together. From there, you can link your Google Ads account to GMC. It’s also a good idea to install “Ecommerce tracking” in your Google Analytics account for even more insight into performance metrics.

2. Stay on top of your product feed

How you get your products into GMC to create the feed mostly depends on how many products you have. If you have a large amount, you can integrate your e-commerce platform with the merchant center. If you have fewer products, you can integrate manually via a Google spreadsheet or even add products one by one. 

Making sure your product feed is updated is just as crucial as proper setup. After all, the last thing you want is to have someone click on your ad and see that the item is out of stock or priced higher than advertised.

Once you input products, they’ll remain active for 30 days. After that, those products will expire if you don’t update their info. You can update your products either by reprocessing your feed or setting up automatic processing on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often your product inventory changes.

3. Get granular

Why is getting granular so important? Because the more specific a product search is, the higher the purchase intent, most likely. Therefore, the more you segment out your products, the more targeted your PPC ads will be. 

If you have a small number of products, each product can be in its own product group. Otherwise, you can split your campaign into ad groups, and then split those into product groups from there. 

You can also divide in other ways, like by devices. Simply put a -100% bid adjustment to separate desktop and mobile. For your desktop campaign, you’d put in a -100% bid adjustment on mobile to show only on desktop, and vice versa. You can also separate out traffic based on how specific the search is. You can do this by setting up campaign priorities and then using negative keywords to separate those searches.

hawksem: e-commerce PPC blog

Including prices in your ads can be a highly effective way to get more clicks than your competition. (Image via Rawpixel)

4. Remember to optimize

Without optimizing, your PPC campaign can only go so far. Optimizing will help you better manage your budget by putting more spend where you’re seeing more success. Many e-commerce companies optimize their bids by starting low, then adjusting accordingly. The more data you gather, the more informed your decisions will be.

Other ways to optimize include:

  • Experiment with different ad types (like product listing ads vs. text ads)
  • Leverage ad extensions to give ads more context
  • Add pricing to ads for a competitive edge
  • Test different campaign structures and categories

5. Consider including prices in ads

Speaking of pricing, including prices in your ads can be a highly effective way to get more clicks than your competition. Not only is this another way to qualify your traffic to ensure you get the right clicks, but it doesn’t take up a ton of valuable ad real estate.

As HubSpot explains, “This saves your ad spend for those qualified leads who saw your prices, know what to expect, might not be scared away by price, and are much more likely to convert into a sale.” 

Even if they don’t end up buying your product or service, you’ll have a higher chance of snagging them through remarketing, since they already know what your pricing looks like.

6. Test your ads — consistently

If you’ve read our past articles, we might sound like a broken record when we talk about the benefits of testing. But it can’t be denied that, if you want high-performing e-commerce PPC ads, testing repeatedly is an important step.

With e-commerce ads, you can A/B test elements like your imagery, verbiage, call to action (CTA), and more. After all, what works on your paid social media campaign might be a flop when it comes to SEM. See how a flat-lay image of an item on a white background performs against an image of a real-life scenario. 

Pro tip: The best testing comes with an open mind. You may think you know what your target audience wants, but the results could end up surprising you.

7. Leverage remarketing

Ah, yes, remarketing — otherwise known as “those ads that follow you around the internet,” as your friends or family may describe them. But the fact remains that remarketing works, particularly for cart abandoners.

While remarketing (also called retargeting) can be effective in various industries, it’s particularly useful for e-commerce. It can help you land more recurring sales, increase your campaign’s clickthrough rate (CTR), boost your ROI, and more. 

As we’ve mentioned before, setting up e-commerce remarketing often requires adding certain code to your site and making sure your GMC account is set up and running properly.

hawksem: e-commerce ppc ads

Amazon operates like a search engine in many ways, with ad types and structures similar to traditional paid search campaigns. (Image via Rawpixel)

8. Think outside of Google

It makes sense that, when you think of e-commerce PPC, you automatically think of Google. And while it’s holding strong in its place as the top global search engine, it’s not the only one worth looking into.

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has a user base that searches nearly 6 billion times a month total. Its own ad platform, Microsoft Ads, encompasses advertising on Bing as well as Yahoo and AOL.

Depending on your e-commerce product, you could see less competition on Bing that you’d see on Google, and a potentially cheaper cost per click (CPC). Not only that, but Microsoft Ads has a simple process for exporting existing Google Ads campaigns into its own platform, making it easy for you to leverage both. 

Pro tip: Think Amazon Advertising isn’t related to PPC? Think again. Amazon operates like a search engine in many ways, with ad types and structures similar to traditional paid search campaigns. 

The takeaway

Whether your e-commerce business has tons of competition or not, you’ve still got to work to make your PPC ads stand out.

Use the tips above when creating, optimizing, and testing your paid search campaigns to keep your digital marketing strategy going strong. 

Looking for more help with your e-commerce ads? You’ve come to the right place.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 3 , 2020

Companies all over the world have to adjust to the new reality — which could mean rethinking current search engine marketing (SEM) strategies.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How SEM has changed in 2020
  • Ideas for adjusting your campaign
  • New industry trends and developments
  • Common campaign mistakes to avoid

The good news: with so much uncertainty about the future right now, search engine marketing is still worth leveraging. By making just a few tweaks, you can set up your SEM campaigns to succeed, no matter if the business climate is rocky or smooth sailing.

Changes to consider

Before adjusting your SEM strategy, you need to pinpoint what has changed about your target audience’s psychology and behavior, if anything.

  • Lower purchasing power – many consumers are experiencing a decrease in income and a shift in priorities, so purchasing power is dropping
  • Higher learning potential – with more time available, people are doing more research online, looking for educational materials, taking courses, and watching webinars
  • Demand for better digital interaction – consumers are spending more time at home and demand more convenience from remote service providers
  • Change of focus – consumers are shifting their focus to products of prime necessity
  • Remote operation – the majority of companies are moving their business online, increasing digital sales, and providing remote support
  • Lower costs – due to the decrease in demand, the cost per click (CPC) for paid search ads has dropped
hawksem: sem campaigns 2020 article

Be it your next blog article or an Instagram ad, you need to remove the filler. (Image via Unsplash)

What hasn’t changed is the need to promote your products and services. Experts say it’s OK to market your business during these times, as long as you lead with empathy, transparency, and with your customers’ current needs in mind. 

Since search engine marketing is an ongoing process, stopping it today may mean starting from scratch tomorrow. Adapting your promotional tactics to the new pain points and needs of the target audience is the key to your company’s success for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

1. Focus on content clarity

Be it your next blog article or an Instagram ad, you need to remove the filler. In 2020, consumers are spending more time online, which often means being bombarded by a ton of information. Because of this, they’re becoming more and more experienced in telling valuable information apart from thinly-veiled sales content.  

Google is also adjusting its algorithms to the new reality (as of its May 2020 core update) trying to focus on clarity. Here are some ways you can keep in the search engine’s good graces:

  • Focus on the readability of your content
  • Keep anything related to traveling or large gatherings out of your content
  • Don’t make any promises or wild predictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Focus on what you offer and how you follow through for your customers
  • Adjust your CTAs according to the latest developments (i.e. “visit our store” and “let’s meet” are rarely relevant these days)

2. Reevaluate your SEM campaign budget

Since the demand for products has shifted more towards essential goods in 2020, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your PPC campaign budget. With the average CPC dropping by 50% across the board, it’s an excellent time to redirect the budget to top performing SEM campaigns.

A good plan of action: Single out the highest performing ads and keywords, then channel more of your PPC budget to support them. To pace your campaign spend better, you may consider such settings as lifetime spend or monthly spend limits instead of daily budgets.

3. Beef up your educational content

As far as content types go, you can’t get much better than articles and other materials that aim to educate your audience. People love this kind of content because it provides a service and (ideally) helps them solve a problem or glean new information without having to make a purchase. 

With millions of people pivoting how they do their jobs (if they were lucky enough to keep them), the need for educational content is on the rise. In fact, consumers are 131% more likely to buy a product after reading educational content, according to a recent study.

The time and money you invest in the educational content right now can bring impressive results in the future.

4. Capitalize on your knowledge base

Is your knowledge base sitting idle, aimed solely at customer support? The year 2020 is an excellent time to take full advantage of it for SEO

Here are some ideas for how to capitalize on this resource:

  • Turn your FAQ documentation into separate educational blogs
  • Link to your knowledge base to improve your internal linking efforts (link to it in “ticket received/closed” responses as well)
  • Study your customers’ behavioral patterns by checking which information they access most frequently, then create content based on those findings
  • Use the knowledge base to establish yourself as an authority in your industry

Put your knowledge base content in a nice wrapper (like a readable structure with entertainment elements and personalized touches). Then, use it on your website, social media, and for guest posting.

hawksem: sem campaign article 2020

Right now, many people are rethinking their values, habits, and where they invest their time. (Image via Rawpixel)

5. Improve security

A crisis can create fertile ground for all kinds of fraudulent activity. Criminals across the globe create malware, use names of famous brands to offer fake discounts while phishing for sensitive information, and more. 

To date, almost 200,000 coronavirus-related cyber-attacks occur every week. Protect your information (and that of your customer’s) with tactics like:

  • Monitoring your log files for crawl errors to reveal if spambots are trying to access your website
  • Implementing Single Sign-On (SSO) technology for user authentication
  • Checking to see if the website is secured with SSL
  • Reviewing all your SEO add-ons and plugins for security, stability, and updates

6. Inspire your customers

Right now, many people are rethinking their values, habits, and where they invest their time. This is an excellent opportunity to inspire them to try something new. Create inspirational content for your website and PPC ad campaigns as a creative way to highlight products you may have had a hard time promoting in the past.

For example, you can take full advantage of an Instagram paid ads campaign to show how you can improve your customers’ lives during these trying times. Such an approach can turn into an efficient SEM campaign after the pandemic subsides as well.

7. Discover more paid social platforms

It’s likely that your target audience is spending more time online. Meanwhile, advertising costs are dropping. It’s the perfect environment for exploring new paid social platforms

These ad types are often on the more affordable side when it comes to digital ads. Social media ads also seamlessly fit into feeds in a way that lets you meet your prospects where they already are. 

If you’ve been advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s time to look at Instagram and Pinterest and vice versa. You can direct your attention to YouTube in-video ad placement as well.

The takeaway

The companies that survive through hardships aren’t the ones who say “we’re not going to change how we do things.” Rather, they work to think outside of the box, adapt to changing dynamics, and pivot their strategies in creative ways. 

This is the motto for a high-quality 2020 SEM campaign. By rethinking your audience’s needs and adjusting to the new demands, you can set your brand up to survive any crisis — and gain valuable experience to capitalize on in 2021 and beyond.

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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