Setting Up and Optimizing Search for High SKU Brands
One of the most common misperceptions about digital marketing is that it is less labor intensive to execute compared to offline marketing such as print, broadcast, etc. Some people think that because an ad is served online, it automatically takes less time to create and manage. Digital and automated are not synonymous, and the more targeted an advertiser’s program is, the greater the investment in setup and management.
The exciting news is that the challenges marketers face in building and managing sophisticated digital programs at scale have bred innovation. As I mentioned in my previous post, at Rise, we are particularly committed to solving the digital marketing challenges facing brands with high levels of complexity. In this post, I will specifically explore some of the roadblocks our high SKU eCommerce clients have encountered and overcome. Let’s look at how to tackle the high labor and time investments needed to build and manage a search marketing program that supports a high volume of relevant and targeted paid search ads.
Step One: Understand the Right Campaign Set-up
In order for search marketing to be effective, it is absolutely necessary to have text ads that are relevant and make sense based on the keyword that a user searched. It is also just as important that the ads drive to the most relevant landing page possible. Unfortunately, for many brands, it isn’t difficult to find examples where paid search ad copy does not align to the keyword searched. Simple searches for women’s products trigger ads for men’s products.
To understand why this happens, it is first important to remember how paid search accounts are structured. Collections of keywords are housed in ad groups. Ad copy and landing pages are assigned at the ad group level, meaning that any keyword within a specific ad group will trigger an ad with the same copy, driving to the same landing page. One of the biggest mistakes we see brands making when we audit accounts is having far too many keywords in one ad group. By creating more ad groups with smaller subsets of similar keywords, advertisers can consistently improve ROI via lower CPCs from better quality scores, and higher conversion rates from more relevant ad experiences.
Now, consider how exponentially challenging it becomes to build a structure with a high volume of specific ad groups that supports thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of products. It is impossible to scale these best practices manually, and this is where technology becomes essential.
Step Two: Invest in Your Product Feed
Brands that are successfully building and managing search campaigns at scale with relevant ad experiences are leveraging technology. For large catalog eCommerce companies, this starts with having an optimized product feed. For a number of reasons, we find that many companies do not invest the time and resources that they should in order to improve their feeds. (These reasons include the reliance and availability on IT resources, incomplete image or description content to populate the feed, inventory accuracy, and more.)
When feeds have correct information—from basic data such as inventory volume and product names to product descriptions, colors, sizes, and other identifiers—they can be used to automate the creation of text ads, influence bid rules, specify the correct landing page and more. Relying on manual ad creation simply won’t cut it. The need for this level of automation increases significantly for brands that frequently add or remove products from their catalog or have major seasonal changes to the types of items sold.
Step Three: Have the Right Keyword Coverage
At Rise, we love broad match modified keywords for learning and gathering data about how customers are searching for our clients’ products. What many advertisers often forget, though, is that using broad match modified keywords means that search engines are showing your ads across as a massive list of different search terms—not just the words in the broad match keyword. A brand running a thousand broad match keywords could be showing ads for ten thousand search terms.
It is impossible to review the performance of all these different search terms manually. This means that customers may be searching for certain products in a specific way that advertisers are completely unaware of because it is impossible to analyze the search term report data across all keywords in an account. To run search at scale effectively in this environment, brands must use technology and automation to complete these analyses. At Rise, we are supporting our high SKU eCommerce clients with proprietary technology that automatically reviews search term reports and adds new keywords based on custom performance thresholds unique to our clients’ goals. This allows brands to have better keyword coverage across an entire product catalog that reflects the way customers are actually searching for and purchasing products.
Truly, the proliferation of work and labor required to effectively manage complex accounts spans all areas of search management. In my next post, I will explore how brands should think about budgeting across large SKU catalogs. Is it better to focus budget on a subset of products? Or, should brands strive for some coverage across all products?
If you’d like to learn more about how Rise can help your brand use technology to scale, contact us today.