Rocket’s View On SEM

Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Google Ads, AdWords, Bing Ads – there are many digital marketing names out there, but they all refer to the same thing - paying a search engine for clicks.

SEM is the most common mode of internet advertising in the world, in which an advertiser pays a fee to a search engine each time a user clicks a text ad shown on a search engine result page (SERP) that then links to their website. No doubt you already knew that… So how does your business maximise its effort in the space and what should the best PPC Agencies be doing to drive results for your brand?

PPC advertising has become the most competitive digital channel to invest your marketing dollar. By the start of 2019, over $A133 billion dollars will be spent on search advertising globally, with Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords) accounting for more than 85% of this spend. This means that 20% of all advertising money in the world is spent on search!

The stakes can be very high in the search space. If small errors in campaigns are made, they can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue for a business. The flipside is, like other high-stakes activities, a great return on investment can be made when you have success.

Paid Search is without a doubt the best place to capture a potential customer who is in the market for a particular product or service right now. There is nowhere else brands can reach customers at scale, at the bottom of the sales funnel, who are exhibiting commercial intent to buy.

With these factors at play, it’s never been more critical than now to have the best strategic minds managing your paid search spend and strategy.

"Our head of PPC is an agency director and co-owner
of the company."

Who Will Be Working on Your SEM Campaigns

Just like with our approach to SEO, Rocket’s core priority is to have the best people possible working on our client’s SEM campaigns. As a fledgling industry in Australia, there is unfortunately a shortage of quality Sydney PPC techs for which an agency can build its business. It is also common in the industry to see technicians in the space move around jobs with the next best offer. At a recent Google event we attended, the speaker asked the room to raise their hand if they worked in PPC – about 50 hands went up. He then asked how many had been with their current employer for more than 12 months – about eight hands stayed up and everybody laughed!

At Rocket, we have seen these employment trends over the years. This is why a critical component to our ongoing success in the paid search space has centred around our agency structure.

Garry, our head of search, is one of the leading minds in PPC within Australia. With over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, a capable programmer and with degrees in both economics and mathematics, you don’t get a better DNA makeup for a Head PPC Tech. With Garry’s vast knowledge flowing into our awesome PPC team (some of which who have been with us for nearly ten years, contrary to the statement above about techs moving!) we have the foundations, longevity and internal capabilities to deliver award-winning search campaigns for our clients. And, as winners and finalists in multiple Google Premier Partner and AMY Awards, we can say that with conviction!

Paid Search is not just limited to the monolith that is Google either. Bing is garnering an ever-increasing share of the market in the US and Australia. At Rocket we are proud to say we were announced as the first ever official Bing Partner in Sydney and are also a Bing Select Partner Agency.

Related: 15 Minute Google Ads Audit

Factors That Make Your PPC Successful

As mentioned earlier, the paid search industry is probably the most competitive advertising sector in the world, certainly in digital marketing. So, it’s extremely important to have a strategic approach to how you invest your media dollar with the major search engines.

So how do good search engine marketing companies drive superior results for clients? At Rocket we break our PPC success factors down into three core components. Strategy, Technical Optimisation and Creative Optimisation.

Before we dive into those area, lets first dispel some of the myths around paid search.

  • Does it work? Yes, it does – that’s why all your competitors are doing it. They are not blindly dropping bad dollar after bad dollar because they can. Chances are they are getting a return and that’s why they are spending. CPCs get higher every year – not because Google wants them to (although they do). Google Ads is an auction-based system and your business competitors are effectively setting the prices for which they are prepared to buy a click. The system itself is self-verified to some extent. You can surmise its effectiveness via the participation rate within the competitive landscape.
  • I don’t need a PPC presence, I rank organically for everything! Firstly, congrats on the great SEO effort, however you still need a PPC presence. Rest assured that on generic terms your competition is likely bidding on all terms with commercial intent and probably on your brand terms as well. With the ever-increasing click-through-rates (CTRs) and trust for paid ads, they are collecting, even more, clicks percentages YoY. Not to mention the declining presence organic has on mobile and even on desktop. Between Ad spaces, local pack listings, featured snippets, instant answers and many other SERP features taking up more and more screen space, if you want your business front of mind you need to pay to play.
  • You always get a positive ROI – No you don’t. Woah, you just told me in point one that my competitors are making a return. True, however, a return does not necessarily mean a dollar-in, dollar-out positive ROI. If you are judging all your digital marketing channels on last-click attribution and assigning relevance/ROI based upon that, chances are you are not getting the full picture of how customers are interacting and possibly purchasing from you. Search may often be bottom of the funnel and drive last click conversions, but not always. So be wary of writing off the channel if you have a more complex path to purchase. Remember marketing traditionally has not been measured purely by dollar-in, dollar out metrics (think TV) but that does not mean you are not getting a return from it.
  • Does Google have a team of people in India clicking my ads so they bank revenue? No, they don’t – time to take off the tinfoil hat.

Related: 5 Google Ads Trends to Utilise in 2019!

How We'll Approach Your PPC Campaign

Like any marketing endeavour, it pays dividends to plan and strategise any campaign. It’s “marketing 101” really. It’s also important not to confuse strategy with tactics. Strategy is about the big picture and the outcomes you want to achieve.

For PPC strategy, the process we follow at Rocket will normally flow like this:

  • Identifying your target personas. What do they look like, how do they make decisions, how can they be influenced.
  • Research your competition. What are they doing in the space, what are they bidding on, what does their ad copy look like, what kind of marketing tech are they using, where are they sending traffic? There are many great tools available to digital marketers which help us conduct thorough competitive analysis and provide meaningful insights.
  • Formulating an account policy. What are we ultimately trying to achieve? Is PPC a growth driver, is it last click sales, how do we manage your brand presence and competitor bidding?
  • Devising an action plan. Paid Search is an iterative process and the steps to implementing best practices should be laid out at the commencement of a campaign.

Technical Optimisation

The technical component of a PPC campaign is probably how you think about the channel. It’s the tactical, day-to-day account optimisation performed by a tech to drive and improve performance. There are literally hundreds of possible tasks involved in the process, many of which change year to year as the SEM landscape evolves.

Technical Optimisation can include:

  • Comprehensive keyword research
  • Building out and configuring new campaigns
  • Managing Budgets
  • Developing and managing bid strategies. This can be a manual task or could be machine learning or data-driven based.
  • Negative Keywords
  • Rules & Scripts
  • Configuring campaign settings – scheduling time of day/week to bid, geo-targeting, device targeting, audience targeting. Implementing bid modifiers accordingly.
  • Setting up tracking codes, GTM configuration, conversion tracking etc.
  • RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads)
  • Running Experiments

This list can go on and on. There is no end to the possible work a tech can do for continual account optimisation. They are in effect only limited by hours in the day! Hence a focus on delivering on the stated strategic goals of the campaign and not blindly jumping into technical optimisation!

Related: 10 Google Ads Copy Hacks You Should Be Using

Creative Optimisation

The creative optimisation of PPC campaigns is normally an area where we see the smallest amount of effort from some techs and agencies , yet it often reaps the greatest reward. Many times, we see people just take a ‘set and forget’ approach to their creative requirements for search.

So, what comprises the creative component of a search campaign, or where can you have creative input into search? Well, you can get creative with your Ad copy, landing page design and copy, URL structures, call out extensions, site links and more.

By putting clear thought and strategy into your ad copy, ad features and landing pages and by making them persona driven and having some marketing nous behind them, you can dramatically increase CTRs, conversions and performance whilst driving down acquisition costs. It takes skill to craft beautiful messages into a limited character space and help your ads stand out from the crowd. However, if you spend the time getting it right and continually tweaking, you will likely get terrific gains. We often suggest critically analysing your business’s features and benefits and how they take your client to an improved emotional after-state as a good place to start when re-working your ads. The same methodology can be applied to your approach to landing page design and copy.

If your in-house team or agency can spend time getting the right mix of strategy, technical and creative optimisation correct on your search campaigns, chances are you will be on your way to success.

How Are Your Google & Bing Ads Performing?

If you need a Sydney based PPC management company to take your search campaigns to the next level, get in touch with the team at Rocket. We live and breathe search. We’ve been in the space since Google AdWords first came out as an advertising product. We have a close relationship with both Google and Bing and can help you navigate the blurry line between what the major Search Engines say is good for you and what is actually good for your business. Talk to us today!

Get a free Rocket SEM marketing
strategy audit including:

  • Tracking and analytics review
  • Platform and audience targeting analysis
  • Scheduling and budget recommendations
  • Messaging and creative recommendations
  • An analysis of which platforms will work for you