Adding Offline Data to Online Search

Search has always been a dynamic "keep up or die" industry, and it's about to take another jump that will change the industry forever. The use of offline data to support online search marketing strategy and tactics will be a "must do" for most savvy companies.

Let's look at just one example of how this might work. We'll take recent advancements at Google and Overture, specifically their new local ad placement capabilities, and combine them with a traditional demographic marketing technology. This will change the scope of a national search marketing campaign from a brick and mortar retailer into one using local targeting.

Let's begin by clearing our minds of the localized search positioning which suggests that local ad placement and local search in general is designed to replace Yellow Page advertising. Instead, let's look at these programs from a much broader perspective and think about how they can be utilized to allow for consumer segmentation within your SEM campaign.

For those not familiar with Google and Overture's local search programs, the concept is simple. In Google's case, you have the ability to purchase keyword phrases in your AdWords campaign based on the location of the person that is performing a search for the specified terms.



This means that you can buy paid keyword placement for a specific geographic area and that if Google can identify the originating location of the searcher and it is within the area specified, your text ad will appear.

Overture's program is a little different. It focuses more on the terminology utilized to search for a product or service and whether or not the search phrase contains a location specific term (Example: custom jeans Pittsburgh). The caveat? The bidder must have a physical location within the location term area.

To build and maximize your campaign to incorporate the data that you have offline into your online search placement on the Google and Overture engines is a three-step process:

Step 1 - Define Where Your Best Offline Customer Lives

Within your offline data, you have probably already defined who your best customers are. Now, in the online search arena, you want to get in front of a greater percentage of those people that fit the offline "best customer" profile.

For instance, a large national retailer has multiple store locations across the country and they want to drive more people to their stores from their Web site. They have loads of information on their customers that have been gathered via their CRM and point-of-sale system, indicating that their best customers are males between the ages of 25 and 34, married with children, and make more than $75,000 in yearly household income.

When these "best customers" shop at the retailer's stores, the margin realized on purchases is 25 percent greater than that of an average sale. By utilizing geographic information databases from firms like Claritas, Melissa Data, and Experian, you can determine which designated marketing areas (DMA) in the country have the highest population of consumers that fit your ideal "best customers" profile.

Step 2 - Determine Which Keywords to Use Just as you would do in any search marketing campaign, you need to determine what keywords searchers are using to find your site, and if possible, which ones lead to conversions by your targeted marketing group. Rank them by usage, and then choose the ones that both have a number of searches and would likely be combined with a location term.

Step 3 - Buy the Best Areas With the Best Keywords After you have determined the keywords and phrases that your "best customers" group uses, you can set up your PPC programs within Google and Overture utilizing the DMA geographic boundaries determined in the first step.

Google is location centered, so along with radius and latitude/longitude placement options, Google allows keyword bidding by specific designated marketing areas. Bid your best keywords on only the DMAs that fit your "best customers" profile.

Since Overture bases their local search on the combination of keywords and location designator, include the keyword phrase and DMA name in your bid entry. Again, you must have a physical location within the designated area.

This is only one simple example of how companies can begin to utilize offline data to create more sophisticated SEM campaigns. This could go much deeper via more pinpoint targeting by Zip Code and/or polygon selection on Google, to a breakdown of a DMA to smaller location names joined with keywords for Overture. Now imagine how productive your search campaign might be if you were to do this type of segmentation and ad placement on a continuous basis.

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