How to use paid search advertising to grow and scale your business using intelligent management


The paid search landscape has been growing rapidly over the past few years and showing no signs of stopping. The way in which digital advertisers can reach potential customers has evolved unrecognisably from where the marketplace was five years ago and the intelligence in which advertising spend is measured has been refined exceptionally well; the tools available to advertisers means you are left in no doubt as to what marketing channels are working to drive sales or leads for your business at the lowest possible cost.

A few years ago, the paid search landscape was focused predominantly on Google text links where advertisers could set up an AdWords account, pick a few keywords to appear for and start bidding with simple text ads. Now we are in the position where text ads are just one of a multitude of ways in which you can reach a potential customer. The offering from Google, Bing, Facebook and display network providers is so vast that it’s a job in itself to keep up with the most effective way to meet adverting goals. This is where intelligent spend management comes in, setting good agencies apart to achieve the highest return on investment for their clients.

Advertising methods, explained and uses in the sales funnel

  1. Google & Bing search ads

Still the most common form of digital paid advertising, simple text ads were the pioneering method of effective digital advertising. Paid directory listings and banner ads still hold their place online but this was the first way that businesses could deliver the right sales messaging, at the right time, to the audience that was searching for their products or services. This form of advertising is perfect for all stages in the sales funnel, your messaging simply depends on the key-phrase you are bidding on.

  1. Google shopping ads

This is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising we are seeing for eCommerce websites. The ability to submit all of your available products to Google via a feed with an image, the price and comparability to competitors means that you a pre-qualifying interest before users click through to your site, meaning you are already saving on spend from the users that wouldn’t be interested in purchasing your product. For eCommerce websites in 2017 and early 2018, this is one of the highest returning methods of advertising

  1. Remarketing / Display ads

The display market holds multiple uses. Reaching out to customers that have left your site, creating a brand impression and delivering targeted messaging to audiences, this is the form of advertising which is likely to be on the lower end of direct return, however measurability in your analytics platform is key. Are users more likely to purchase after seeing targeted messaging? If you’re paying 20p for a visitor to your website, is it worth paying an extra 15% to get them to return to the site via remarketing? These are all questions that can be answered and thoroughly important to understand when running a digital campaign.

  1. Facebook advertising

Advertising giant WPP announced in their third quarter trading update in 2017 that Facebook was moving into second behind Google as their highest billing channel and it is not hard to see why. Facebook hold possibly the deepest and most granular information on their user base than any other advertising provider and the success of their business is linked to keeping their massive user base on their site as long as possible. It is interesting to read scientific studies that confirm Facebook makes us feel unhappy and also news that Facebook split-test the tone of posts to see how it links to user’s moods. This will be the slickest advertising engine in the next 5 years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see advertisers hold the ability to target based on mood, weather, political events and overlay with standard behavioural and demographic targeting.

Is it rainy outside on a Saturday evening and you’ve just gone on Facebook to post about what you’ve just seen on the X Factor? You might just see Just Eat and Hungry House battle it out to reach the top of your feed while Deliveroo targets postcodes it can reach with users that like certain types of food. Why show an advert for a meat feast pizza to a vegan when you can show them a falafel bar that’s opened up down the road because they know you support local businesses and you have disposable income to spend. Similarly, are you looking to reach high net worth individuals to invest in your fund? The cost per click for those keywords may be exceptionally high on AdWords so you could target London based, high net worth individuals that are interested in finance, investing and follow pages such as “the motley fool” and “shareprophets”.

Intelligently managing advertising spend to reach business goals

At affinity the core mantra when running any paid search campaign is to ask very simple questions:

  • What does the business want to achieve?
  • What does a profitable campaign look like?
  • What does the budget allow us to do in terms of focusing on the sales funnel, are we looking for direct sales or is there scope to pre-target new customers earlier in the sales journey?

The simple structure of working with the business to set key objectives gives you the solid foundation to get very clever with how you advertise online.

If they are focused solely on growing sales for their business then the process may look similar to this:

  • Audit their current advertising and find where the strengths and weaknesses are
  • Utilise analytics tools to profile the “ideal customer”
  • Look at the organic presence of the site*

*Organic search – this is so important to balance. Working on a site on all disciplines means finding the right balance between spending money on a term that a business is already visible for in the organic search listings. A business could save a great deal of advertising money by stopping their bidding on a competitive term they already rank well for. Conversely, if the organic search terms are being pushed further down the listings due to the competitive nature of the search term, could the business increase visibility by also bidding on that term to appear in the search or shopping ads?

  • Look at the ROI of search, display and shopping ads – plan the annual budget based on peaks and troughs throughout the year and what channel delivers the best return.
  • What time of day are your ads showing? Why spend money advertising to users browsing on their mobile throughout their lunch break if they have no intent to purchase? Alternatively, do users often browse at certain times and return in the evening to purchase, it may be key times to increase your visibility.

There are an unlimited number of ways you can optimise your advertising spend to refine the process and grow revenues, which is becoming ever important as digital advertising gets more competitive. For all the words you can write and work you can do to intelligently run advertising campaigns, the cost per visitor will inevitably rise as more players enter the market and promote their business.

This puts more onus on the individual or team running the account to understand the objectives, the customer and the marketplace to present the advert at the right place and the right time. We would rather send less visitors to a website and convert higher than drive traffic that shows no interest in purchasing. Impressions and visits should seldom matter in an advertising campaign, conversion rate and sales/lead generation should always, always take precedence.

Grow your business

Whether you are a fledgling business or mature national enterprise servicing thousands of customers, there is always opportunities available to reach new customers. It may be that X percentage of users that read your online catalogue go on to purchase a product, or X number of visitors visit the menu page on your website book a table – whatever the goal, whatever the business intelligent advertising management will effectively grow your business.


Written by Matthew Howman, Head of Paid Search 

How to use paid search advertising to grow and scale your business using intelligent management

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