Hitting A Wall With Paid Search? Break Through With Search Retargeting

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Synopsis — Search retargeting is an effective way to boost performance and return on investment when your paid search initiatives have reached a point where you find it tough to produce more growth from them. By focusing on matching your keyword list with appropriate banner advertising, search retargeting will get your message in front of searchers who have already shown interest in your product, providing you another chance to persuade them to purchase.

In her article, “Hitting A Wall With Paid Search? Break Through With Search Retargeting,” Elizabeth Brockey presents nine tips to help you make the most of search retargeting. If you have considered taking this approach, this article will help you plan for success with actionable tactics.

The complete article follows …

Hitting A Wall With Paid Search? Break Through With Search Retargeting

Paid search is a highly effective digital marketing channel. However, it has its limitations. In fact, many marketers have “maxed out” their paid search campaigns and are seeing diminishing returns. Frustrated, they are looking for other ways to grow performance and ROI. Fortunately, search retargeting can help them do exactly that.

Beyond Paid Search: Why Search Retargeting Makes Sense

For over a decade now, search marketers have been investing considerable time and resources in developing and refining keyword lists. They know exactly what terms convert traffic and how much they should be spending for each conversion. This knowledge translates into a valuable corporate asset, and one that should hardly be squandered when marketers hit a wall with paid search. Instead, marketers should further capitalize on their keyword expertise and investment by leveraging it in display advertising with search retargeting.

Search Retargeting: Understanding How It Works

Search retargeting targets users based on their search history, allowing marketers to reach more searchers, more often, and more effectively. Quite simply, it marries a keyword list with relevant banner ads to target consumers who have demonstrated intent in a particular offering. By showing impressions to visitors who have already searched on a keyword marketers are targeting, search retargeting or remarketing, boosts the efficacy of banners.

The Value: What Search Retargeting Can Do For You

Have you ever missed out on an opportunity and wished for a second chance? That’s exactly what search retargeting offers marketers — another shot at converting customers who initially searched for their brand or offering. By showing display banner ads to consumers as they visit myriad sites, search retargeting increases the chances that they will visit the advertiser’s site and/or convert. Therefore, it can help search marketers grow performance.

In addition, search retargeting can help marketers squeeze more efficiency out of campaigns. Because it operates on a real-time bidding basis, marketers only pay what the market demands at the time of the auction. This cost savings provides more funds to spend on future impressions and boosts ROI.

But beyond driving performance and improving efficiency, search retargeting also provides great reach and, in turn, better results than a standard display buy across one network or site. Marketers who operate without it are missing out on considerable opportunity to expose consumers to their offer, and on potential business and revenue growth.

Search retargeting also provides insights that marketers can leverage for other channels, including paid search. Doing so can breathe new life into a media plan. For example, the keyword level transparency in search retargeting enables marketers to see which keywords are working and which are not. In addition, search retargeting can also reveal other keywords searched on, thereby allowing the targeting of previously unknown categories.

Search Retargeting: 9 Tips To Make It Happen

To ensure your search retargeting campaign is the most effective it can be, follow these tips.

1.  Broaden Your Keyword List — Search retargeting is about delivering a message to consumers who have demonstrated an interest in your product. Your keyword list should not only include the words you use in paid search marketing, but also accessory terms for your product, your product as a solution, long-tail keywords, and different keyword phrases. Generally speaking, you will drive more volume with 2-3 word phrases. In addition to using phrases with action items or geographic terms, search your website for meta tags or other SEO optimization phrases to drive clicks.

2.  Target Your Competition — Marketers can derive considerable benefit from targeting the competition with search retargeting. However, this strategy may seem counterintuitive for many search marketers who intentionally avoid targeting competitor terms in order to prevent the competition’s ads from appearing in the search results. But search retargeting is different. Your display ad doesn’t appear next to a competitor’s term, list, or website. Instead, it will be shown to those researching a competitor’s product while visiting other sites on the web, allowing you to show your ad to someone who is interested in a purchase. You can highlight your benefits and educate the consumer on your offering, and reach someone who has checked out your competition.

3.  Include Long Tail and Top Funnel Keyword Terms — In most cases, search retargeting uses phrase match to target consumers, so it is important to add to your keywords to form long-tail keywords. Additionally, don’t forget to make your phrases plural. Oddly enough, a big CPA difference often exists in the performance of a phrase like “cheap hotel” versus “cheap hotels.” Finally, do not be afraid to add top funnel terms that may be expensive in paid search. Fortunately, search retargeting often lets you target those terms with very reasonable CPM and CPC pricing. Keep in mind that these terms drive quite a bit of traffic and can heavily influence conversions when shown with display.

4.  Set Clear and Targeted Goals — Be sure to outline your most important goal(s), whether they are CTR, CPC, or CPA. If measuring to a CPA goal, consider giving credit to “view through” conversions to account for the value of all the banners shown to users who subsequently convert. Setting clear goals allows your team to test a variety of strategies while maintaining performance. Understand that search retargeting will perform differently than other marketing efforts, so ensure that you gather enough data to make accurate decisions about what parameters to optimize. One common optimization strategy is adding and subtracting keywords from the search retargeting campaign, as well as adjusting bidding prices on individual keywords.

5.  Cast a Wide Net — Marketers need to realize that search retargeting is a different animal to paid search, and it requires a different mindset. When testing new display traffic, it is best to start with a broad target and optimize your way to your goal. For example, search retargeting can serve your display creative on websites that may not have content similar to your product. The searcher may not have converted on that particular search, but this only means you should continue to present your offer before your competition does. Start by testing all of the available traffic that makes sense. You will quickly be able to blacklist the sites or content that does not perform. In the end, you may be surprised by what works well.

6.  Prepare Your Budget — Adding search retargeting to your media plan is a revenue generating idea that can help grow your budget. However, it is important to be prepared to adequately fund your initial test. A good recommendation for an initial test budget depends on the goal of the campaign. For example, a test budget of $5,000 would be appropriate for search remarketing campaigns with a click-based (CTR or CPC) goal. For campaigns with a CPA goal, consider an initial budget of $10,000 to ensure enough delivery to gather data, optimize, and see the results of the optimizations. These recommended budgets can provide you with enough data to optimize, and help ensure a campaign that delivers significant ROI.

7.  Gather Granular Data — Granular data is the key to a successful search remarketing campaign. For example, the ability to see keyword-level performance data on a CTR, CPC, and CPA basis is integral to delivering the best performance at the lowest cost. Additionally, ensure you get domain level reporting so that you see exactly the impressions, clicks, conversions, and spend generated by each domain. In many cases, blacklisting individual domains will enable you to achieve better CPC and/or CPA performance. Do not spend money on sites that drive great clicks and no conversions.

8.  Test the Recency of the Search — When marketers first begin search retargeting, they tend to discount the timing element of the search action — how recent it was. Ask your demand-side platform what recency targeting features they have. Test your campaign with search recency of one day to one month. Starting broad should be your first step, but remember to review and analyze what search recency is generating best CPCs and/or CPAs. Feel free to experiment with targeting people who searched in the last day versus the last week versus the last month. The best-performing users are not always those who searched most recently.

9.  Test, Test, Test — Search retargeting is not new by any means, but it may be new to your brand or product. Be sure to cast a wide net with as many keyword phrases as possible. With granular reporting, you will be able to absorb quick lessons and implement those as changes to optimize your campaign. If your search retargeting demand-side platform offers additional types of targeting or optimization features, test those too. Different keywords perform differently on different creatives, so continue to test, learn, and improve. While search retargeting can be wonderfully effective, it performs differently than paid search or display.

Conclusion

Overall, search retargeting is a natural segue for search marketers who have hit a wall with their paid search campaigns. By leveraging their keyword expertise and experience to search retargeting, marketers can break through their performance barriers to drive growth and boost ROI.

About the Author

Elizabeth Brockey is the Director of Client Services for Simpli.fi, a search retargeting DSP based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has worked with online retailers and technology for the last six years. Elizabeth received her Bachelors degree from UT Dallas and is currently pursuing her Masters.

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