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Paid Search: Why Data Insights Matter

Cookie cutters are a great idea… for making cookies. But when it comes to marketing, a cookie cutter approach can do more damage than good. Unfortunately, many search marketers do exactly that when they treat their keywords, ad copy, landing pages and customers all the same.

Following a cookie cutter approach with paid search is risky. Your customers know what they want, but it’s your job to convince them that you have it and that you really want their business. Treating everyone the same may result in missed opportunities to connect with potential new customers or retain existing ones. Even worse, employing this approach could increase the likelihood that you could lose out to a competitor.

Instead, marketers need to leverage research tools and data insights as a means to customize their efforts. Fortunately, there are numerous solutions in the marketplace that you can use for this information, including free resources such as Google Insights and MSN AdLabs. Alternatively, comScore, Nielsen and Quantcast all have helpful offerings. In addition, you should also leverage your own internal information, such as focus groups, surveys and even your social media efforts.

Tapping into data insights can benefit your marketing initiatives in many ways. To start, knowing the how, why, and when behind your customers’ search behavior can have a big impact on your brand’s reach and awareness. For example, if you know who, when and how your customers are searching you have the chance to get in front of them earlier during their research phase using delivery vehicles like Google’s content network. By increasing your exposure to potential new customers, you’ll grow your brand’s awareness and increase recall when people begin to search.

Data insights can also help improve program metrics and results. Rather than throwing money at mediocre keywords and creative, data insights will allow you to structure your search marketing campaigns to focus on where you’ll get the biggest bang for your marketing buck. Such insights could also reveal that certain products or services are hot right now, and dictate a bigger push in that direction.

Data insights could also help reveal the specific factors that turn a searcher into a buyer. For instance, perhaps there are certain types of promotions or offerings that cause your customers to buy. Knowing this can save you valuable time on testing the types of promotional offers that work best, and also help you avoid wasting time on the ones that don’t work at all.

While data insights might reveal information that could have a profound impact on a campaign and really boost results, marketers must realize that tapping into them is not a one-time event—it needs to be an iterative process. For example, just because it might have helped you identify who your customer is and how they think today, there’s no guarantee that the same will hold true a year—or even six months—from now. In short, the learnings you derive from these insights will depend on regular evaluations. By reviewing the data on a regular basis, you could very well find that your “non-price-sensitive” customer is now a little more discriminating on where they spend their money, or that your products and services have started to gain popularity with a whole new audience. Knowing this information, as it happens, will allow you to shift along with your customers, and in the process, retain their attention and their business.

Case in point

Leveraging data insights can be very beneficial to merchants in the online flower industry. A quick query for “flower delivery” in one of the major search engines returns an extensive set of sponsored listings. However, little differentiates them. In fact, 75 percent of the page one ads in Google tout “same day delivery,” and half of the ads use “under $25 dollars” messaging, while the other half use either “starting at $19.99” or “$10 off.” Dig a little deeper and the landing pages of each of these advertisers are almost identical in look and feel.

Where is the customization? Where are the ads that speak to husbands in the doghouse, the friends wanting to show sympathy or say “get well soon,” or the daughter who just misses her mom? Granted, each of these searchers might use a more granular search query that helps identify their intent, but considering the search volume around these types of tier-one keywords, most likely they won’t. Rather than seeing who can shout “same day delivery” the loudest, wouldn’t it be better if advertisers knew who was really searching for “flower delivery” so they knew how to customize their ads and landing pages?

Making it happen

Here are three quick tips to help you leverage data insights to better customize your search efforts:

Check your own data. You can learn a lot just by looking into your own data set to figure out who your customer is. Can you spot any trends in what keywords generate the most conversions or even just clicks? For example do the “cheap” keywords or “quality” keywords perform best? This will give you a strong indication if your customer is budget conscious or more concerned with quality and luxury brands.

Use third party resource tools. Leveraging some of the tools mentioned above will help you understand the demographics of your audience or the search terms they use. They can also provide considerable customer centric data such as offline media consumption and how users spend their time online. In addition, such tools can also help you identify the demographic makeup of actual search queries (which sometimes can greatly vary from that of your website’s audience). Knowing this information can help you either shift your efforts to target your current audience better, or identify a new audience.

Crowdsource. Your social marketing programs are a great opportunity to figure out how your customers really behave. As you engage with them, make sure you listen to what they do and don’t like about your brand. Are there particular products or services they spend the most time talking about? If so, focus your efforts toward what they want more of and away from what they don’t care about.

In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, your opportunity to connect with potential customers can disappear in a blink of an eye. Treat them all the same, and you’ll be sure to lose them. Smart marketers will leverage data insights to find out who their customers really are and customize their efforts accordingly.

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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