Take The PPC Challenge: Replace Your CMO's Decoder Ring With Plain English

You wouldn't dream of creating a website with unclear menu options; navigation needs to be descriptive enough to ensure links deliver visitors to relevant pages. Why not extend this logic holistically to SEM and create obviously categorized campaigns that trigger better, more relevant merchandising insights? Don’t settle for a structure as dystopian as "THX 1138"; if that title reminds you of some of your naming conventions, then it’s time for a reeducation.

Humans’ natural cognitive processes tend to group things together -- check out the documented findings of Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory. We love to categorize: budgets, food, friends (Facebook vs. real-life), kids (yours vs. everyone else’s), Skittles by color (I never go on stage without them), moustaches and more.



Yet ad group structures rarely shed light on what’s inside. You should really provide a report that contains nouns to enable some at-a-glance observations that can fuel smart marketing in other channels too. SEM may be working for SEM, but the rest of the company just wants to know if they should stock more Furbys (trick question: The answer is always “yes,” the real question is “how many more?”).

As recently as 2009, social scientist Malcolm Gladwell espoused that we filter, rank and judge all the time, potentially to the exclusion of interesting findings. This may be so, but the majority of SEM reports tell us as much about merchandising as the people of Panem know about District 13. The solution is to smartly categorize keywords, giving your company the freedom to recognize value in what people search for and tell an attention-grabbing story. "We need to sell more bows and arrows,” for example, offers much more insight than “We need this ad group to perform better.”

Some search marketers focus too much on finding high volume traffic to the exclusion of understanding the context of their keywords. This causes mistakes as data becomes white noise that identifies performance and not trends. Let categorization be your prism.

It is critical to abstract and make sense of keywords so when advertisers look across categories, for example, they can answer a simple question like “Are people more interested in Mockingjay pins than they used to be?” Ask yourself if you have the proper structure and naming conventions to simply articulate trends and decide what products should be displayed on the home page tomorrow.

Taking a categorical approach, ad copy can be more targeted. If you’re having a zinnia sale, it’s best not to have their natural archenemies, violets, in the same ad group. With each flower type broken out separately, you can drive prospects to the right product for a better landing page experience. Well-categorized campaigns are especially critical with tight budgets so that you can easily pause one based on conversion activity.

Embrace the Dauntless faction!  If you’re still running an ad group called,“Black Friday,” from last year, it’s probably still performing.  Now you’re afraid to pause it or remove keywords, even though results are tied to the iPhone 4, Xbox 360 or PS3 keywords contained in it. (Or even worse, you’ve been paying for months for traffic about Rebecca Black.)

Examine the concepts within “Black Friday” that are worth expanding and create new, more granularly categorized campaigns. Equipped with plain English, you can enable the C-level to make decisions on floor space and featured listings while feeding insights to peers managing other digital channels. Learn from the whole of Q4 to happily enter the new year with a name, not a number.

A categorical advantage is an absolute advantage.  Why fight it?


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