Media Matters | Search Campaign Performance Tips

The 4A’s thanks Sargi Mann, Director of Search Marketing, Carat USA for providing this insight. Ms. Mann serves on the 4A’s Digital Marketing Committee, as well as that group’s Search Task Force. This bulletin is the first in a series of educational pieces to help 4A’s member agencies streamline their efforts.

Search Marketing: Are You Talking the Talk?
A paid search manager’s recent campaign for a multi-million dollar automotive brand did above and beyond what it was supposed to do. Thinking that this performance would clearly demonstrate the value of search to the company’s overall marketing effort, the monthly report was sent to the brand team. The search manager expected them to be impressed and that the results would prompt them to invite her to be part of the marketing strategy team. That didn’t happen.

The following is where the paid search manager went wrong, and how you can learn from her mistakes.

The Ugly Truth
For a long time search marketers have been lamenting that they’ve been left out of strategic efforts. But there is an ugly truth to this situation: Search marketers have brought the issue upon themselves.

The root cause of the problem is reporting. Like our above example, most search marketers report the performance of their campaigns with metrics. However, “metric-speak” can be meaningless to others in the organization. Sending management a report full of metrics that doesn’t explain in easily understood language and analysis is going to do nothing to help search get a seat at the table for strategy discussions.

Seizing the Opportunity
However, search marketers can turn the situation around. They just need to change the way they talk about their campaigns’ performance. Doing so requires a different approach to reporting. Below are the four tips to help you make the change:

1. Show intent not keywords: Because campaign data shows real-time feedback from hand raisers, you have an opportunity to demonstrate to your company how it can leverage learnings from campaign insights to help the brand save a lot of money. For instance, these insights can save the costs that would be incurred for focus groups or conducting major creative tests.

Since every click to an ad message reflects intent or a need, strive to frame your keyword report as consumer intent results. Revise your metrics to answer the following questions: What about the new brand was the key driver for users? What do they want to know more about? What messaging resonated the most with them? Did the creative strategy work? Was it effective?

2. Deliver purchase funnel roadmap: Because you have actual conversion metrics from your campaigns, you know what percentage of users is likely to convert to customers and in what time frame. Knowing that, modify the conversion data to reflect consumers in their shopping journey. Call out what percentage of users might be ready to make a purchase in a month or two, and separate those who expressed interest but might not be ready to buy. In addition, put a dollar value on the people who are likely to buy soon, outlining tangible revenue for the brand marketers.

3. Outline impact on competitive/category: Utilize various tools ranging from companies such as Google, comScore and Compete to outline what related categories users look for while on their shopping journey. Tying volume to each of these categories helps identify which related content is most relevant and helpful to users. Also, analyzing the recurring content areas that users naturally gravitate to, and auditing the quality of those sites, highlights low-hanging fruit opportunities versus a long-term roadmap for brand strategy. Such insights can help the brand and creative agencies identify the ideal content matrix for any or unbranded site.

4. Evaluate strategy: Based on the previous steps, look to develop a strategy outlining the areas where the brand has easy wins, moderate competition or major competitive roadblocks. Once established, weave it into the SEO and SEM approach detailing the effectiveness of bought, owned, and earned media working simultaneously to outline the most effective results for the brand. High-volume themes provide for a high-reach vehicle for the brand, and the low-volume theme provide quick SEO wins.

These tips will help you shape your report so it speaks to the themes that matter to the brand. Adapting your approach in this way will help you establish your expertise, demonstrate how search contributes to the overall marketing effort, and facilitate better partnerships with the brand marketers.