Bidding on generic terms (especially some shorter tail ones) can be an expensive exercise. It’s also a time-consuming exercise as you’ll need to stay on top of the bid and adcopy optimisation to make sure the balance between position, CPC and ROI is right.
It’s nevertheless a worthy exercise, for 3 main reaons:
– generics might not be the last click before a conversion, but they do contribute to conversions
– achieving high rankings on competitive generics through SEO can be tricky, and, if nothing else, takes time
– relevant generics allow users to relate your brand with those generics over time
This last point is particlarly interesting, especially when you think about a “typical” paid search strategy for retail, for example.
Typically, brands “go with the flow” and are reactive to seasonalities: there’s a big ramp up in spend towards Christmas, for example, when there’s a greater amount of users searching for specific products and ready to buy. Not a bad idea, especially if you’re one of the “we sell anything and everything” type of e-retailers.
What if you’re a bit more of a specialist though? Does it really pay back to compete with the “big guys” for relatively expensive, but relevant terms?
To an certain extent probably yes: if you specialise in a aspecific set of products, your margins are probably higher than those of the big guys competing mainly on price, and you can afford to spend a bit more on (search) advertising.
But there may be a different approach that could pay off even more and has some additional branding advantages. The approach takes a longer term view towards the value of generics, using generics for brand building within search, at times when they are less competitive and less expensive.
Take, for example, the term “silver earrings”. Bid on the term now, in August, and you’ll capture the eyes of the following types of users:
– users looking for presents (for themselves or others) for occasions other than Christmas
– savvy Christmas shoppers, stocking up on Christmas presents well before the “Christmas rush”
– users browsing around for ideas, far from ready to purchase yet.
Each of these are well worth targeting, not only for their immediate buying behaviour, but for “brand association” purposes. Each of these users could remember your site and brand when it comes to more “buying intensive” times. You will have had the opportunity to impress them at a time when things are quieter and there is more time for browsing and having a look around.
Furthermore, there will be an opportunity to regularly remarket these users, get them to visit the site again, and ultimately purchase at a later stage.
Through being a consistent presence in the search results, the brand will start automatically being associated to certain relevant terms. The same traffic can then be captured through far cheaper brand clicks at more competitive times of the year. With Google’s personalised search, users will also start being shown ads of brands they have clicked on before in higher positions, regardless of bids.
Users who know, are familiar and search for a brand are generally users who are already loyal to the brand or have the potential to be, so are usually worth more than the occasional user who buys only based on price or offers.
Thinking ahead and using generics to a greater extent ahead of the big buying rush may well be a great opportunity to beat the Christmas rush this year!