In my last post, I defined six ways why keyword selection is so important to the success of pay-per-click marketing. Today, I will finish with explaining the final three “ways” including:
- Setting performance tracking requirements
- Establishing competitive parity
- Generating early buying stage exposures (branding)
Depending on how you select your keywords (e.g. broad versus exact match), your performance tracking process may require adjustments. If you choose an exact match then tracking is straight-forward; however, using broad match complicates the process. It makes it more difficult to quickly determine which actual keyword generated an action due to the expanded associations. Tracking “broad-match” keyword performance requires a combination of analyzing web logs, analytics and conversion tracking. Always pay close attention to broad match performance and if top performing keywords are identified, break them out of the broad match for better tracking.
At times, you may prefer not to bid on a certain keyword yet are forced to due to competitive parity. If a primary keyword attracts a great number of information gathers (early stage of a person’s buying process) and all of your competitors are present then you must also expose your products or services. Why? If your product or service is not among the possible alternatives (defined by the buyer’s search) and added to their list of buying alternatives, you may be overlooked during the purchasing decision. In essence, a customer can’t buy, if they don’t know you exist.
The final item follows through on the concept expressed above but form a different angle. People work through a “non-linear” buying process. In general, the process starts with acknowledging a need then moves to gathering information about how that need can be satisfied. If alternatives are found then the process moves into evaluation of alternatives, a purchasing decision (how do I buy from X) and finally a purchase. The process also continues even after the purchase.
For paid search purposes, the buying process outlines a time line to map keyword selection. In my last post I used an example from one of my franchise clients. In the earlier information gathering stage, general keywords like “franchise opportunity” and “home-based business” favorably target people seeking a lay of the franchise market. More specific keywords like “senior care franchise” or “find senior care franchise” works well to target evaluators who understand what market they want but aren’t yet familiar with the main players in that market. Keywords using the brand name or ones with the actions like “buy x franchise” work effectively for later stage searches. Although, this isn’t the best example since most franchise purchasing decisions take 30 to 60 days (or more) and are not impulsive buys. However, in a consumer market, “buy apple ipod” or “purchase Toshiba laptop,” or “free shipping keurig k—cup coffee” are realistic keywords to bid on for late stage purchasing decisions.
Overall, keyword selection plays a more crucial role in the performance of pay-per-click marketing than many businesses may fully appreciate. Think through your keyword selection process carefully if you want to achieve greater performance.