Search Engine Marketing: Seek And Ye Shall Find

Search Engine Marketing: Seek And Ye Shall Find

D’Vaughn Bell, search director at paid search specialist agency Marqui Management, offers advice on how to optimize search engine traffic to make the most of cost per acquisition.

Boosting search engine traffic is a non-intrusive method of online marketing. Search is unique in tapping into a user at the exact moment they are seeking a solution, so traffic originates from a voluntary, or ‘opt-in,’ audience.

The tangible nature of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing also provides the marketer with an opportunity to generate acquisitions (sales, leads, inquiries) in volume, at a fixed cost per acquisition (CPA). This ensures the campaign can be self-financing and more scalable.

Search marketing is one of the fastest-growing media, with advertiser spend rising 29 percent year-on-year in the first six months of 2008 (source: E-consultancy).

To achieve a fixed CPA with a high volume of acquisitions, it is imperative to have a deep understanding of campaign metrics – how they interrelate and how they can be positively manipulated to boost efficiency.

Value Judgment

Any business running a search campaign must think carefully about CPA and establish the value of leads, users, and direct sales. Without a clear CPA, campaign metrics such as cost per click (CPC) are meaningless. If you don’t know what an individual is worth to your business, how can you work out what you should be paying an agency every time a searcher clicks on your URL? By knowing the value, clients can set their agency a clear CPA fee for closing the deal.

Keywords Are Key

With the rise of social networks, links that appear on natural search rankings can be subjective and unreliable. Conversely, because of the rigorous metrics and ranking systems involved, paid-for links must work hard to be reliable enough to reach the top.

Keyword development tools on their own are not enough; businesses need to know how their target audiences are likely to search, and this is where an agency can add value. The agency should help create a comprehensive list of terms associated with your brand, including negative words and phrases, and revisit them constantly with insight tools to remove poorly performing words or add new ones.

Laying The Foundations

The building blocks of an effective campaign can be broadly constructed under five main headings:

  1. Campaign structure. Technology platforms can take care of technical necessities such as ad group naming conventions and set the overall structure for your search initiative.
  2. Ad copywriting. Seed your keywords within the copy, along with a call-to-action.
  3. Campaign site development. Create specific campaign landing pages to influence the success of a drive.
  4. Destination URL allocation. Ensure you offer links to the most relevant part of your site.
  5. Launch bid strategy. Determine initial value for the brand and generic keywords, and monitor them to promote the ones that perform best.

Best Impressions: Affecting The Metrics

There are many campaign elements you need to monitor to manage the campaign within the agreed CPA, whilst maximizing the volume of acquisitions. For example, Marqui Management has developed the Metrics Tree (pictured) to help clients understand how campaigns are run. Know how elements such as keywords in ad copy, landing page destinations and keyword bidding strategies affect each other, and then it is possible to manipulate page impression levels, average costs per click, click-through rates and ultimately optimize conversion.

Agencies that first used CPA models almost a decade ago have honed this option for clients and developed sophisticated techniques to understand the sales funnel, discovering what works and what doesn’t.

All business marketers are coming under increasing pressure from their boardrooms to prove the communication channels they choose to offer the best possible return on investment. There is more to how much a click should cost and what value it brings than initially meets the eye.

Knowing how to set the correct CPA is the foundation for running successful search campaigns, which will ultimately deliver customers and boost your business’s bottom line.

Posted by on January 4, 2009