Leveraging Social Advertising and Paid Search

164653172 (1)Social advertising and paid search are both powerful digital marketing tools that can be leveraged to increase traffic as well as E-commerce sales. Individually, each advertising platform has its own merits, but how can marketers integrate their digital marketing initiatives to make all the elements work better together to achieve greater overall sales success?

Paid search and social advertising can be utilized to promote awareness and visibility of a brand or product. Although the average click-through rate is lower for social ads than paid search, social advertising allows you to promote original organic content in a way that is not possible with paid search.

Where there’s push, there’s pull

Pull marketing typically applies to situations in which users have stated a need, and push marketing applies when a need has not been specified. In a digital space, the lines between push and pull strategies are becoming increasingly blurred. Because of the advanced targeting options on social media, most notably on Facebook, the line between push and pull is hard to define. While paid search targeting is determined by keywords, social advertising allows for targeting by location, age, gender, marital status, and more. Although the ad is still being pushed to the user, this allows for some pull because businesses can craft and push messaging toward prequalified target audiences. Social advertising isn’t a “pure push” tactic because users are targeted based on specified interests; nor is it a “pure pull” tactic, because users are not actively seeking information.

Social advertising allows marketers to utilize the rich behavioral data available on Facebook and other social media platforms to reach a specific audience. Although still lower than the average paid search click-through rate, which recently hit an all-time high, Facebook has seen an impressive 148% increase in click-through rates year-over-year. This can be attributed to improved audience-targeting capabilities.

Your objective matters

Facebook ad click-through rates averaged 0.36% globally during the second quarter of 2014. With paid search, one can expect a click-through rate of about 2%; with a well-executed strategy, that rate could increase.

Social ads tend to perform better than paid search in terms of building awareness and hitting reach/frequency targets, but if easily-measured ROI is your only goal, paid search may be the better option.

A paid search campaign can capture impressions, but social advertising can help fill the gaps of your marketing campaign. With social advertising, you can reach consumers who may or may not be actively engaging with your brand or even considering your brand. In the 2013 State of Search Report, 55% of respondents expected social media spending to increase in 2014. Research shows while spending on both paid search and social advertising campaigns has increased year over year, growth in social advertising spending has been significantly higher: paid search spending saw an increase of 19%, versus an 81% increase in social advertising spending.

Synergy between search and social

Social advertising can also be used in tandem with paid search to create synergy of message across multiple channels. Using targeting to reinforce the tactics employed via other digital marketing vehicles can create a powerful and effective campaign.

Here are a few ways you can use social advertising and paid search in tandem:

  • Research the behavior of your target audiences. You may find that a specific demographic searches for certain keywords more than others. To create synergy between paid search and social ads, use social ads to target that demographic. This creates a cohesive campaign that targets the correct demographics in paid search and social ads.
  • Ad content can be repurposed between the two, allowing consumers to make a connection between them. Integrating ad messaging with targeting could help boost brand recall and perhaps even sales.
  • Analyze conversations that take place around social media campaigns and then use those discoveries to find new keywords for paid search campaigns.

Paid search and social advertising are two very effective digital marketing tactics, and both can be implemented as components of an integrated, holistic campaign. It is important to understand the expectations and potential results of each and know how you’re going to measure success against each one. Once an overarching strategy is defined, you can make better use of unique social advertising features to reinforce what you’re doing via paid search and other vehicles and then leverage each to drive conversion as you define it.

How do you incorporate social advertising in your digital marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments.

How Your PPC Program Can Help You Retain Customers

Remarketing campaigns can help you gain an extra edge from your PPC efforts. Don’t overlook customer retention in your overall marketing mix.

In our post, PPC and the Marketing Lifecycle, we discussed the role paid search plays in each phase of the marketing cycle from the discovery phase through conversion. But once you’ve acquired a customer, is there a role for paid search in customer retention?

After all, existing customers are extremely valuable. According to a recent study of small businesses by Manta and BIA/Kelsey, a repeat customer spends 67 percent more than a new customer.

Although retargeting campaigns are commonly used to acquire new customers, remarketing is also an effective way for digital marketers to increase customer retention and engagement. This type of campaign can be used to build awareness, strengthen customer loyalty, and create opportunities for upgrading customers to new products and services. With a bit of creativity, you can use a retargeting campaign to stay in front of customers and keep them coming back to your website.

Remarketing campaigns are similar to other forms of retention marketing, such as email, in which marketers use information they already know about their customers. This includes who they are, when and what they last purchased, and what the last interaction was, to retarget with relevant content or offers.

Using this information, you can retarget customers with advertising that promotes your thought-leadership, offers discounts for repeat or new purchases, or keeps your business top of mind during long sales cycles.

Here are four creative ideas for developing a remarketing campaign to help increase retention rates:

The long sales cycle. For large products and services with a long sales cycle, staying top of mind is critical. Your expertise is a valuable asset that can help your clients evaluate problems and identify opportunities. But if they haven’t visited your blog or aren’t on the mailing list for your newsletter, they may not be aware of your recent thought-leadership content additions. By retargeting these customers with advertising that promotes the blog or newsletter, you reinforce your value proposition with ongoing impressions/visibility regardless of whether they click-through to the content itself.

Special offers. Customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while can be enticed back to your website with discounts and coupons served exclusively to them via remarketing. For example, footwear retailers can retarget previous buyers by advertising a new line of summer shoes and offering 10% off the next purchase, as a way to thank them for being a customer.

Upgrade and cross-sell. Businesses that launch new product or service lines can build awareness among existing customers by retargeting anyone who has visited the website but hasn’t yet seen new pages promoting additional offerings. For example, a heating and plumbing service provider that has added bathroom remodeling services could use a remarketing campaign to promote the new pages/services to existing clients.

Loyalty Programs. Reward and VIP programs can turn your customers into sales people. By encouraging customers to purchase more or refer friends for discounts or points, businesses can give customers a reason to be loyal. For example, digital marketers can retarget any customers that have not submitted a referral with an offer to join the loyalty program.

The key concept here is that existing customers have already raised their hands and indicated an interest in your products and services. Because they already have an affinity for your brand, they’re easier to upsell and cross-sell and they’re more likely to refer a friend or family member, according to the survey by Manta and BIA/Kelsey. A retargeting campaign will ensure you’re top of mind when the time comes to buy or give a reference.



Google Not Provided: Privacy Issue or Just a Ploy to Get More AdWords Sales?

GoogleNotProvided Just last week, numerous SEO blogs and news outlets reported that Google is soon going to start encrypting all search activity both for users who
are signed in as well as those who are not. The only exception will be clicks on ads, which Google will not encrypt. As you can image, this has many marketers up in arms and others simply scratching their heads wondering what comes next. Are there going to be any benefits for marketers, or is this the end of keyword data as we know it?

The Quick Basics: What Does Google “Not Provided” Mean? Hubspot reminded us that the discussion of encryption actually started back in October 2011 when Google announced that any users who are logged in to a Google product (Google+, Gmail, YouTube, etc.) would have encrypted search results. Essentially, a marketer would not be allowed to see the keywords someone used before visiting his/her company’s website, so knowing which keywords to optimize for was a struggle. As any good marketer knows, keyword insights open the door not only for optimizing an actual webpage but also for improving content marketing, retargeting, identifying audience, and much more.

The Real Reason Why: Is Google Doing this to Enhance Their AdWords Sales? Google is claiming it is for extra protection for searchers—a completely valid reason that makes sense. However, many in the field are a bit skeptical. Marketing Land feels that Google might be attempting to block NSA spying activity, while Search Engine Watch threw out the idea that Google might soon release a new “premium” version of Google Analytics where users would pay a monthly fee in order to get access to full keyword data. A more popular opinion is that it could be to drive more people to use Google AdWords. Since ad clicks are not part of this new announcement, how can we not jump to that conclusion? Many are telling small businesses to use AdWords in order to gather this organic data. Consider some quotes from around the web:

QuickSprout: “Even if Google goes with ‘not provided’ for all your data, you can still uncover new keyword opportunities by using keyword research tools or spending money on AdWords.”

Search Engine Watch: “At this time advertisers still get full keyword referral data from Google, while there is speculation this could change sometime in the future, there is also the necessity for advertisers to be able to determine conversions from the traffic they are paying for.”

Search Engine Roundtable: Coming from a Webmaster World thread, “Go fully broad match on every single keyword and pay AdWords for your data.”

Moz: “Optionally, we can use AdWords to bid on branded terms and phrases. When we do that, you might want to have a relatively broad match on your branded terms and phrases so that you can see keyword volume that is branded from impression data.”

You certainly can’t blame anyone for giving users this advice because it is good advice. In fact, we’d give that advice ourselves. In short, Google’s plan has worked perfectly. It’s clear that AdWords is going to benefit and privacy was just a secondary thought in Google’s mind that happened to work perfectly when informing the public. Nevertheless, for now all we can really do is believe Google and move on to the next part of any announcement—create a new strategy that works.

Your Reaction: What to Do With Google Not Provided The first thing to understand is that the new change isn’t going anywhere so it’s time to react, whether you agree with Google’s decision or not. Fortunately, there are ways to cope without falling into their trap and spending a lot more money on AdWords; there are still things that you can measure using search data that isn’t necessarily keyword data. Consider some of your options below:

- Other search engines. The keyword trends you will find with search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are very similar to those you would find on Google. These engines have not encrypted their keyword data, so put your focus here and on the keywords that work.

- Traffic from organic. You might not be able to see the exact keywords people are using to find your website but that doesn’t mean you can’t see your overall organic traffic just like you’ve done in the past. It might take a bit more work, but figure out what you’re doing in the way of keywords and how your traffic is performing and then find correlations.

- Use filters and track landing pages. You might not be able to see the exact keyword someone used, but if you can set up a filter on all of the ‘not provided’ traffic and see which landing page those people landed on, you can get an idea of what it was they were searching for when they came to your website.

- Google Webmaster Tools. You can view your top pages and top search queries in GWT where you get clicks. Although you can’t see anything past 90 days, it’s still something that can help you keep track of your progress.

- Google Trends. This will help you see quickly if you are improving or you need to ramp up your efforts.

In the end, this Google update is just something else that will force marketers to adapt, but it isn’t going to take away your job or ruin your chances in the results pages (after all, everyone is in the same boat). Many see this as a positive move for the industry because it will force websites to create great content and put a focus on things that will really produce a great website. As a user, you’re going to be a little bit safer. Do you think this change was for privacy reasons, or do you think Google was more interested in lining their pockets with some increased AdWords sales? What are you going to do in response? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.


Photo Credit: lumicall.org

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO agency HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SEMPO.