Tag Archives: PPC

Building Materials Industry 2017 Search Engine Benchmarks

3 Jan

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CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

The 2017 International Builders’ Show (IBS) is upon us. As we prepare our agendas and get excited to see what is new and noteworthy in the industry this year, our digital marketing team has taken a look at the state of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for the industry and select segments. Knowing that XX number of B2B buying decisions start with a search engine and that new technology and competition continues to make the building materials channel more important to move products through than ever, we need to harness search engine traffic to build leads and sales.

Overall, in the building materials industry in 2016 we saw a slight decrease in direct traffic by visitors keying in the domain name and going straight to the website as well as a decrease in visitors who came from referral sites and links; however, we saw a major increase in traffic from social media sources, a slight increase in organic search traffic, and a steady rate of paid search traffic.

The number one source by far is organic search engine traffic. This highlights the importance of basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you want to be found by users already aware of your brand. It’s even more important that you go beyond the basics in order to be competitive for the most important generic terms.

The second and third biggest sources are both paid sources through the search engines and display ads. Combined, they make a big impact and are big drivers of traffic—right behind the “free” organic traffic.

Social media is a growth area and while it hasn’t been adopted as fast in building materials and further up the channel (compared to other consumer-focused industries), it is growing rapidly and poised for further expansion as manufacturers, distributors, and dealers find ways to help support selling products down the channel.

 

Building Materials & Supplies industry vertical under Construction & Maintenance from Google Analytics

2016 2015
Direct Traffic 13.2k 12.7k
Organic Search Traffic 46.1k 47.9k
Paid Search Traffic 25.2k 25.2k
Traffic from Social Media 4.2k 2.8k
Referral Traffic 8.8k 9.7k
Traffic from Email Marketing 3.9k 3.3k
Display Advertising Traffic 13.2k 11.2k

 

In addition to looking at stats by traffic source, we researched website engagement metrics. One encouraging discovery is that the growth in traffic is accompanied by quality content. A major increase in new visitors is coupled with double-digit percentage increases in pages per session and the average session duration. Not only is site traffic increasing in the industry, but audiences are staying on pages longer and viewing more content. This is a great trend to measure your 2017 efforts against.

While we’re not surprised by the benchmark data in 2016, there are encouraging signs. B2B companies, especially in the building materials industry, will be poised for more success if they push further into growth areas like social and continue competitive positioning in both organic and paid search. Be mindful of  competitive pressure from new entrants as well as many changes in the Google organic and paid search algorithms that have an impact on positioning and performance.

Do you know where you stand in comparison to these benchmarks? We’d love to hear about your 2016 performance and if you’re seeing the same trends we are.

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Recap: KC Search Marketing Conference

8 Nov

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Guest Contributor,
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Marketing

I was recently part of the second annual Kansas City Search Marketing Conference at the Sprint Accelerator. The event was presented by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) Cities program and Bing.

The conference theme was “Better.” There were 12 speakers from across the region, and four sessions that all tied to the theme of doing search marketing better. I was on the organizing committee — after leading last year’s event — and moderated the first session, “Better Ideas, Better Strategies.”

The session was a reminder that it’s no longer possible to do search marketing in a silo. We must have content for organic and paid search. It’s also critical to stay on top of Google’s changes, especially with the staggering number of shifts the company made in 2016.

Matt Lacuesta was part of the panel I moderated, and something he said struck me: “PR people are the OG of link builders.” He shared how all content contributes to SEO, and that it’s important to understand and harness it. Some content examples Matt shared:

  • Collateral and messaging that resonates with prospects
  • A list of common sales objections
  • Customer service pain points
  • Events, sponsorships and community involvement
  • Industry relationships

Craig Paddock is a regular speaker at national search conferences. His presentation was full of insights on understanding performance data and using it to make decisions.

One stat he shared caught my attention: Wordstream is seeing an unbelievable 50 percent click-through rate on the AdWords “click to message” extension, which will soon roll out.

A compelling aspect of his presentation was how data sample sizes factor into decision making. Craig showed data from coin tosses. When comparing the frequency of heads in 20 coin flips, there was a decent range of results. But when expanded to 400 coin flips, the numbers normalized and the data was much more consistent. The example was a strong reminder to ensure we’re not making decisions on too few impressions, clicks and conversions in AdWords. This is especially true when comparing one ad group to another.

Tylor Hermanson presented keyword research for SEO targeting. He believes the Moz Opportunity Score is important because it goes beyond the keyword and monthly search volume. The Moz score considers the opportunity you have to get traffic based on the layout of the search results for that term.

It’s common to do keyword research in a vacuum and not consider the perceived intent of the search engine or the results page beyond the 10 blue organic links.

Including maps, answer boxes, shopping ads, news articles and other content can push down organic listings and hinder opportunities to spark traffic. Users may not see the link, even if it ranks well, if it’s pushed down the page.

In the week leading up to the conference, there were several big updates from Google and Bing. These were good reminders that the pace of search marketing isn’t going to slow any time soon, and the industry as a whole — despite breaking out of silos — isn’t going away.

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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: What are they and why do they matter?

10 Aug

Google Advertising Program webpage on the browser

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

This year has been a big one with Google updates and news across all platforms and products. Google AdWords has not been immune to large scale changes that have an impact on how advertisers manage accounts and campaigns. Earlier in the year Google removed all ads from the right side of the Google search results page. This update means that text ads are now only showing at the top and bottom of the page and while there was a lot of debate about what this would do to advertiser costs to remain in front of the targeted audience, it was accepted as an evolution toward a mobile-first mentality for Google and advertisers alike.

 Compare the Two…

First Image
Google’s New Expanded Text Ads
Second image
Google’s Legacy Ads

What are expanded text ads?

A natural evolution toward the mobile-first mentality was launched in late July and is rolling out to all accounts in the form of “expanded text ads.” This update by Google is available for advertisers to use when creating new ads featuring a new format and level of flexibility in ad creation and has a handy preview as you’re composing your ad for seeing how it might render on mobile and desktop. This update removes the need to check the mobile device box on text ads and for more detailed break-outs of campaigns by focus on mobile versus desktop.

Why should I care?

I have boiled this down to the pros and cons for the new format. Regardless of how you feel about the format, it is something that must happen and we recommend getting on board as soon as possible so you can get any possible advantage during the transition period in having more real estate on your search engine results page.

Pros:

  • The ad creation process will be easier going forward
  • You gain more flexibility with how the ad text lines are formatted (one line and continuous statement versus two) and it is expanded to 80 characters
  • You can have multiple headlines (30 characters each)
  • The display URL allows for multiple directory layers (backslashes) providing the opportunity to work more keywords into the display URL
  • All ad extensions are still in play allowing for even more real estate for your ads

Cons:

  • If you have a lot of ads in your account, or if you manage multiple accounts, you’re going to have to invest time in creating new expanded text ads. There is not a way to have your ads automatically convert in format and you will have to go through them in detail.
  • You won’t be able to update legacy text ads after the October 26, 2016 deadline. While your ads will continue to run, they will be frozen in time.

The Data

ERM started building expanded text ads when our accounts became eligible and started A/B testing against the legacy format. We’re monitoring the tests and will follow up with another blog post in the next 1-2 weeks with the results of our testing and more information about how expanded text ads are performing across the board. Stay tuned!

More info from Google on expanded text ads and the transition: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7056544

Help on setting them up on your own: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167115?hl=en

To read more, check out this article: http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-quirks-testing-results-255093

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When to Use PPC Advertising

4 Aug

PPC,pay per click written on blackboard

When so many obstensibly free options are available to promote your brand, it can feel like Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is a waste of money. However, there are a few things you can accomplish with a PPC campaign that would take months to accomplish with blogging, social media posting, and other earned media. Not sure if PPC is right for your goals? These are a few times when PPC is the right pick:

When You Want to Build Traffic Quickly

Organic traffic is highly sustainable once you build the content to get people to your site, but it can take awhile for your work to show results. PPC allows you to put your site in front of a lot of people all at once, giving your brand a giant traffic boost.

When You Want to Focus on Specific Geographic Areas

Trying to build traction in a new city? Geotargeted ads can allow you to use your PPC budget to hit exactly the audience that you want. Choose by city name or get even more granular by targeting zip code by zip code. You can also save money by incorporating negative qualifications, such as eliminating from your ad campaign any areas where you do not do business.

When You Have a New Product or Division to Promote

One of the benefits of PPC is that it allows you to build momentum quickly. If you want to give a new product a jump start, a PPC campaign that focuses exclusively on what’s new can give you a big boost. Create specific landing pages for this campaign so that you get maximum mileage out of your efforts.

When You Need to Show Measurable Results Fast

It can take a while for an organic campaign to show measurable results and even then, there will always be a need to continue content generation. PPC marketing, particularly on search engines, gives you results that are detailed enough that you’ll know which part of an ad is working and what kinds of users are responding. If you want data quick, a PPC campaign is the way to go.

PPC is part of a robust and healthy digital marketing strategy. By deciding on specific goals and using PPC for the right reasons at the right time, you can make the most of your marketing dollars.

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Lead Attribution & the Customer Journey (Part 1)

2 May

Use the Data Available to You to See the Whole Picture

Lead Generation

CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

Lead attribution and the customer journey. Yes, these are two of the most commonly used buzzwords in digital marketing right now. This is not a lazy blog post to latch onto what others are saying and to give you a fluffy, rosy version of how you should be considering both the customer journey and lead attribution to make your digital marketing drive results 10x over what you got last year. This blog is to make sure we’re all on the same page and using the data available to us to help make these topics attainable and realistic before we get too “pie in the sky” with our conceptual thinking.

But first, we must answer this question: what is lead attribution? Lead attribution is the practice of giving credit to the source who provided the lead. For example, if you are running a PPC campaign in Google AdWords and that person comes to a landing page on our site and completes the form, then they are a conversion—consequently, that lead gets attributed to PPC via AdWords.

This example sounds like typical and solid tracking; however, it could also be short-sighted when we’re talking about “last-click attribution.” By counting this lead as a lead specifically for AdWords PPC, we’re potentially not considering the other potential ways the user might have found us—and the other ways they interacted with our content before coming back. In this case, PPC is getting the credit.

The customer journey can be defined as the process a user takes to go from their initial step in researching, all the way to the point of conversion. If we’re using the Google AdWords PPC landing page form completion example noted above, then we’re also talking about how that same individual (yes, they’re a person, despite all of our “persona talk” about site visitors and users) ultimately decides to fill out a form, which is recorded as a conversion.

The challenge in all of this is that we don’t often work to connect the dots to attribute a lead to all the channels that had a role in the conversion— not just the one that received the last click. It can be tricky as it often isn’t linear or very trackable; however, that doesn’t let us off the hook. We have some data at our fingertips that helps us start the process of working toward building a system. If you have Google Analytics, then you have a tool that has two reports you should start looking at as your first step.

The first report in Google Analytics to get familiar with is the Multi-Channel Funnels Overview under the Conversions section. If you have conversion goals set up in your account, then you’ll have data in this report by default.

You can use the checkboxes to update the Venn diagram to mix and match, so you can understand how the different channels were involved in user journeys that ultimately led to a conversion. You can also see how many total assisted conversions there were.

The second report to take a look at is the Assisted Conversions report (also under the Conversions section in Google Analytics).

There’s a lot more you can do in this report. At a basic level, it shows a breakdown of assisted conversions, which are channels that were part of a user journey but didn’t get the last click or direct conversion at the end of the journey. If you have values set for your conversion goals or have eCommerce tracking on in Google Analytics then you also can see dollar values for each channel, which can be incredibly helpful in measuring the cost of your efforts against revenue generated. You can customize the data in this report by changing the number of days in the window prior to conversion as well as look at the value of first interaction versus last click.

Bonus: If you want to take another step and get into more advanced territory, take a look at the Attribution Model Comparison report in Google Analytics. There are some fun ways to compare models and see how the data and your perspective on conversions might change. We’ll get into this and go deeper with the next post in this series.

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