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B2B Paid Search: Why You Need To Pay For Branded Terms


“Why should I pay for something that I’ll probably get for free anyways?” This is a common question marketers ask themselves about paying for their branded terms in paid search.  However, these terms are essential to an effective paid search strategy. Let’s take a look at why.

Why It’s Worth Paying For Brand Terms

Many marketers feel they shouldn’t have to pay for clicks that their brand will likely get through organic search. And while that argument seems reasonable, it doesn’t factor in the risk and benefits associated with not buying these terms.

Most companies have competitors bidding on their branded terms. As such, a competitor could very well steal prospective customers at the end of the purchase funnel. For most marketers, that risk far outweighs the low cost of bidding on branded terms.

Further still, branded terms provides marketers with the opportunity to better control the messaging searchers see. While the messaging in organic listings is determined by the engines, paid search provides advertisers with complete control of their messaging, which is especially effective for advertising promotions.

Lastly, bidding on branded terms provides marketers with the opportunity to test different messaging. Because it offers speed and flexibility, marketers can quickly obtain results, and apply the winning copy to other marketing channels.

Overall, branded terms are key assets that need to be carefully managed in concert with non-branded terms. In short, they require investment.

Seeing It In Action

For example, let’s take a look at what happened to a medical supplies company – we’ll call them Company XYZ. They only bid on non-branded terms; however, they had three competitors that often bid on their branded terms. They soon determined that their sans-branded terms strategy was adversely impacting their results. Of course, they found that out the hard way.

But other marketers can learn an important lesson from their bidding faux pas: think about the investment Company XYZ likely made to drive awareness of its brand through other channels. By failing to invest in branded terms, they let competitors reap the benefits in the search engines. But if they had increased their paid search budget by 10 percent to allow them to bid on branded keywords, their ROAS might have been in the double digits. And on top of that, their bidding on branded terms might have reduced their competitors’ quality scores and caused them to pay higher CPCs.

3 Tips For Managing B2B Brand Terms

Below are a few tips that every B2B search marketer should consider when managing branded terms. Following them will help you drive the best results from your branded campaigns.

Tip #1: Monitor your branded terms

A good first step to protecting your branded assets is to monitor your branded terms in the paid search auctions. Whether you do this manually or use an automated tool, look for competitors (besides resellers) who are using your company name in their copy and submit these violators to the search engines. In addition, monitor any affiliates that you have an agreement with to ensure that they are abiding by it (only bidding on certain terms, staying below your ads in positioning, etc.).

Tip #2:  Create a unique branded campaign

All branded keywords should live in a separate campaign from non-branded terms. Since engine budgets are set at the campaign level, one reason for having a separate branded campaign is to ensure that those keywords have their own budget to allow your ad to appear for every branded search query. Otherwise, if all of your keywords (both branded and non-branded) are in one campaign, and the daily budget runs out, then your ad won’t appear for every search query regardless of whether it’s branded or non-branded.

In addition, you also want to have a unique campaign for branded keywords to get the most benefit out of Google’s ad sitelinks.Because sitelinks are a campaign extension, it’s important to make sure the links are relevant to any ad in the campaign, and targeted branded and non-branded campaigns best allow for this.

Tip #3:  Create a coupon campaign

Bidding on coupon keywords might help you generate incremental revenue, especially if you have an e-commerce site. Over the past couple of years as the economy weakened, there was a corresponding increase in searches on “coupon” terms. And often these terms include the brand name plus “coupon”. To determine if this is the case for your brand, run a search query report and do a search for “coupon”. If you observe “coupon” searches, then you should create an ad group for these keywords even if you don’t offer coupons. The intent behind these searches is not only to literally find coupons, but also to find deals on your company’s products. As long as you have a page on your site that’s dedicated to deals or promotions, you can land these folks there

If you haven’t taken these tips into account in your paid search campaigns, now’s the perfect time to invest in or enhance your branded campaigns. After all, when prospects and customers search on your company’s name looking to spend their 2011 budgets, you want them to find their way to your website and not your competitors’.

Stock image used with permission of Shutterstock.com

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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