Secure your share of 61 billion

Sep 01, 2008

Since Google AdWords was launched in 2002, the face of advertising has been changed almost beyond recognition, writes Robert Clay of DSP Solutions. Using AdWords, it’s possible to achieve things today that could hardly be imagined just ten years ago.

When Google was founded in 1997, the ‘big boys’ in internet search such as Yahoo, AltaVista and Inktomi were already well established. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had little idea at that time how their company would make money.

Unlike so many other players on the internet, they weren’t concerned with “spreading hype” about their product, or “locking users in” or “making their site sticky.” Instead their mission was to build a better mousetrap – in their case, a search engine that would give people exactly what they were searching for as rapidly as possible.

If you were searching for car rental in Birmingham, or Geneva, or Seattle, they wanted to give you the very best and most popular car rental websites on the very first page of results.

They developed an amazing mathematical formula for figuring out who visited websites and why, and used that information in their search engine. Their entire focus was on improving their web search technology… and word soon started spreading about the quality of Google’s search results, the lack of clutter on the page, and the speed with which relevant results were obtained.

It wasn’t long before long the world beat a path to Google’s door. By June 2000, Google had indexed more sites than any other search engine and from that point they never looked back.

Today, Google Search is the leading on-line destination in virtually every country in the world. According to leading internet market research company Comscore, some 61 billion searches are conducted worldwide each month, with each user conducting around 80 searches a month.

We increasingly see the effect of this when carrying out customer surveys for our clients. In industry after industry, Google Search is increasingly the first port of call when people search for a new product, service, supplier, job, home, car… or almost anything else. In some industries, we have discovered that up to 85 per cent of initial research is carried out through Google searches.

If you’re not geared up to benefit from this effect, you are probably losing out in a big way.

Since the introduction of Google AdWords in February 2002, Google itself (as well as millions of businesses who use this form of advertising) has benefited massively from the vast volumes of on-line traffic generated by its quality approach to internet search.

Quality has always been the driving force at Google. So when it started selling its Google AdWords ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising programme, it was extremely concerned that the advertisers who would benefit the most would be those who also put out the most relevant messages.

With that in mind, Google rewards you for being relevant and it establishes relevance by letting the people vote who are searching for your type of product or service. If people click on your ad, it’s relevant. If they don’t, it isn’t.

If too few people click on your ad, Google eventually disables it. The higher the percentage of people who click on your ad, the less you will pay for the position you want and the more traffic you will receive.

This creates a ‘Darwinian’ effect, a deliberate natural selection process that weeds out bad advertisers and rewards good ones.

The bottom line is that both your ads and the content of your website must be relevant to what searchers are looking for. To harness the power and the business volumes that Google is capable of delivering to you, you need to understand the issues that your prospects and clients want to solve, or what they most desire… then show them how and why you can solve those problems and/or give them the outcomes they are seeking.

So, when someone types in ‘Car rental in Birmingham’, you need to understand what they are really thinking. Figure that out, present it to them both in your Google AdWords ad and on the pages on which they will land on your website and you’ll beat your competitors by a country mile.

To develop the best possible AdWords ads, you need to test several alternative ways of putting your message across. I’ve come across instances where reversing two lines in a Google Ad – using exactly the same words but with the contents of the third line transposed to the second line and vice-versa – produced more than 20 times as much traffic for the same investment.

Unless you test the alternatives in this way, you’ll never discover what really motivates people to do business with you and how much potential you’re leaving on the table. Testing alternative approaches not only pushes your cost per click down, it simultaneously pushes your traffic up… AND you’ll be able to use the winning approaches you uncover to develop compelling offers, copy and high-performing headlines for any other media you may be using, from direct mail to print advertising and brochure.

As a case in point, we recently launched an e-mail marketing campaign for a client who had used the same medium with reasonable success a number of times before our involvement.

The campaign we developed produced very good results: although the percentage of people who opened the email was virtually the same as before, the number of hot leads produced by the campaign per 1,000 emails jumped by 560pc and at around 20pc of the previous cost.

The new message, which was based on research into what really mattered to our client’s prospects and clients, was obviously much stronger than anything they had used before and therefore was not worth tampering with.

To push response rates up further, it was therefore necessary to get more people to open the email in the first place. This entirely depends on whether or not the subject line compels more people to open the email.

To discover the most effective subject line simply becomes a matter of using Google AdWords to test between, say, ten and 20 different possibilities. Within a matter of days, it’s clear which headlines (or subject lines when applied to an email) are most appealing to users.

That established, you simply discard the lower-performing alternatives and focus on variations of the highest performing ads. Using the highest performing version in the subject line of the email should then drive up opening rates, which in turn should generate many more hot leads. The winning AdWords ads can also be used in dedicated AdWords campaigns to drive additional traffic to your website.
Best of all, once you test your messages via Google AdWords, then apply your findings to everything else you do, you should achieve a lot more response for the same investment in every other medium you use.

Getting responses is one thing. Converting that response into business is another. The better the copy on your website – meaning the better it demonstrates an understanding of the prospect or client’s issues and the better you manage to address those concerns and provide the proof that you can do so – the more highly Google will rank you, the more traffic will be converted into business and the more revenues you will generate without spending a penny more on leads.

Best of all, you can use Google AdWords as a way of testing all sorts of assumptions so that, instead of spending fortunes developing products, services and ideas that nobody wants, you’ll only ever have to invest a few hundred pounds – or in the worst case a few thousand — to discover what people really want.

Harnessing Google’s power by approaching your marketing in the quality manner that Google rewards, allows you to obtain solid marketing results more quickly and easily and at much lower cost than virtually any other alternative.
No wonder Google is such a phenomenal success.

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