Paid search, or pay-per-click (PPC), campaigns are an important part of the mix of advertising channels available to asset managers. While we have recently seen an increased interest in paid search among our clients, we noticed there is sometimes still some confusion around this form of advertising. So how does search work exactly, how does it differ from other types of advertising, and how might it benefit you?
Paid search works with keywords, which match the query someone enters into the Google search bar. It is based on an auction model where you pay each time someone clicks on your ad, so we enter a bid for every individual keyword. For each keyword we have specific and relevant ad text, so when a keyword matches the search query, our ad will appear in the search results. When someone clicks on our ad, we pay the search engine a cost per click (CPC) based on the amount we bid on the individual keyword and other Google factors.
The amount you have to pay to appear in a certain position in the auction depends on a combination of factors, particularly the quality score. There are several elements that make up the quality score: the relevancy of the keywords used, ad relevance, landing page quality and the click-through rate (CTR).
It is possible to bid lower than another marketer but appear above them due to having a better quality score. It is therefore imperative to have relevant keywords, relevant ads and a high-quality landing page to better the chances of a high quality score.
Before setting up a paid search campaign, you need to establish what you want the campaign to achieve, keeping in mind the different nature of search campaigns compared to other advertising campaigns.
Paid search is a small piece of the marketing puzzle, best done in conjunction with advertising through other channels. While other types of advertising allow you to segment for the right audience (e.g. you can have your banner appear on certain websites to target institutional investors only), with paid search it is not as easy to segment for a specific audience. More to the point, while for display advertising you find your audience, with paid search your audience will have to find you. This means that, depending on what you want to accomplish, certain keywords and certain campaigns might not be suitable.
Although segmentation works differently in search, it is still possible to carry out demographic targeting, geographic targeting and time targeting, as well as the targeting of recurring visitors or those who have viewed certain pages, so it is not only limited to your keywords.
We recommend improving brand awareness through display and social activity, and then do a search campaign once people are searching for you. Once interest and awareness have been built, a paid search campaign is a great way to capture and measure the increase in demand following other media initiatives.
Picking the right keywords for your search campaign is essential – choosing a keyword that is too broad will result in high bounce rates as it will also draw in people who are not looking for the products or services you offer, while a keyword that is barely searched for will generate very little traffic.
When doing a paid search campaign for a floating rate product, for example, the keywords used should be pretty niche. A keyword such as 'bank loans' might also seem relevant, but that keyword could also be typed into a search engine by people searching for an auto loan, student loan or any other type of personal loan. With no filter for audience and only the use of keywords to ensure you target the right audience, it is imperative to use more exact keywords.
We have noticed that our clients like bidding on their brand terms, which we would recommend, especially for bigger firms. If you are a large asset management firm, and someone googles you, they get your SEO results. These are free, so you may wonder why you would pay for your branded keyword if you are going to appear already anyway? But if big asset managers do not bid on their brand terms, a competitor may take advantage of their terms, appear just above their SEO results and steal away some of their organic traffic.
Apart from selecting the right keywords, having search-optimised ad copy is vital in order to run a successful search campaign. Paid search works with an auction process, so if you are bidding on the keyword 'REIT fund', there will be a lot of other people also bidding on that word. Unlike display ads, where there is a myriad of combinations of where your ad can be shown, search only has one prime spot where you want to show, which is on the first page. And only one of the people bidding for the keyword 'REIT fund' can have that spot at the very top.
There are certain things Google looks for to determine who gets that top spot. Its algorithm checks if the keyword appears in the copy of the ad that triggers it. Having the keyword used in the headline and description for example will likely give your ad copy a higher relevancy score. If your advertisement isn't optimised for search, your ad would receive a lower quality score in the auction process and you will have to pay more for the same spot as someone who had a perfect ad copy that says bank loan in the headline, in the description and on the landing page. Google will therefore determine that their ad is more relevant than yours, so theirs will show more often and rank above yours.
Google uses quality scores to determine how well the ad copy matches the keywords, scoring keywords from 1 to 10, with higher scores being cheaper on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.
We recently reduced a client's CPC from around $4.50 to $2.41 by managing and optimising for the quality score. One of the first things we did to this account was to look at all the keywords with a quality score of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and all those keywords' ad copies. This is very important, because the higher your CPC is, the less clicks you will be able to bring in for your set budget. So by optimising for the quality score, you're able to afford more clicks and traffic. Combined with optimising the ad copy by making it very relevant and well-written, you'll have a lower CPC so you can afford more clicks, while at the same time people are clicking on your ad more, so traffic will be higher.
So before setting up a paid search campaign, ensure you are clear about what you hope to accomplish, have an idea about the keywords you would like to use, and make sure your ad copy is optimised for search.
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