Paid Search. Search Engine Marketing. Pay Per Click. Google Ad Words. WHATEVER the heck you call it, getting customers to your site can be a nightmare.
Perhaps you and your team have tried it yourselves. Spent hours pouring over YouTube videos, studying Google AdWords instructions and staying tuned in to the latest algorithm changes. NOTHING.
Maybe you’ve even outsourced it – had someone else deal with it who promises you a ton of clicks – and been heavily disappointed at the lack of new client activity.
So, you and your staff – you’re no digital experts and don’t even have time to be. But it’s sincerely hard to know who to trust to manage this for you, because EVERYONE promises results. What you need to do is choose several vendors who do paid search, and INTERVIEW THEM. And, in that spirit, I’m going to give you my recommendation for the top 3 things you should ask every search vendor you interview:
Top 3 things you should ask every search vendor
Do you create custom content for my ads?
Unfortunately, many vendors just reuse content they’ve created for other clients in your vertical. It is critical that your ads be customized to reflect your brand’s differentiator. Typical campaigns should include at minimum of three (3) different sets of ads, and then A/B test them over time to see which performs the best. At periodic intervals, throw out the ad that performed the least, and create a new ad to run alongside the other two.
Does your company OWN your own ad optimization tool, or are you just using Google AdWords’ tools?
Google AdWords is very limited in what it will allow you to do. Utilizing an ad optimization tool allows much more customization, and the ability to really drill down into the exact types of clicks you want. For example, using negative keywords is an absolute must for narrowing down the type of click you want. If your business is selling small beach balls, then we would add “Giant Beach Balls” as a negative keyword phrase to avoid attracting a population who isn’t interested in your specific product.
What is your optimization strategy for my company?
Too many times, vendors will answer “to drive more traffic to your site”. However, more traffic by itself doesn’t result in sales activity. Any good vendor will work with you to determine actions you want that traffic to take – we call this “conversions”. Many people want the phone to ring as a result of their campaign. Others want people to sign up for more information. Still others want people to download a compelling eBook they’ve written. When we begin with a client, we help educate the client on all of the many different types of conversion points that exist, and help them develop a strategy to find multiple ways a client can engage with their website to move them along the sales funnel.
I am certain that if you drill down into these three questions with the vendors you interview, you will get an excellent result the next time you decide to dip your toe into the paid search waters again!
One final note: as an advertising/marketing purist, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of this fact: you can drive people to your site all day long, BUT if you don’t have a branding campaign going on, and good content there for people to read, they’ll bounce right off. You’ve wasted your search marketing money at that point.
Say there are multiple advertisers selling the same products with the same keywords, but YOURS is the business folks have never heard of. You’ve got to make sure you are running a parallel campaign to get your name recognized.
Likewise, if a potential customer lands on your site, but there’s no content there that’s frequently updated to educate them organically on your products and services, they will hop off fast. You want a site with frequently updated content (like, maybe in the form of a blog) that entices them to spend more time on your site, developing that important relationship.
I am very hopeful that this advice about what to ask your prospective paid search vendors arms you with the knowledge you need to confidently find the very best partner for you. At the end of the day, you don’t want just traffic – you want leads, you want relationships, you want SALES. And that is precisely what search engine marketing is great at doing!