Why do Google Search Ads work?

Google Search Ads take your brand to the interest and desire stage in the buying process-StratoServe

There is lots of material online that explains how Google Search Ads work. Yet we could not find much content that explains why Google Search Ads work. Hence this post.

Think of every time you search for something on Google. You are curious to find out more about something. To us this is the holy grail of marketing and sales because your mind has started on the customer journey. Other forms of push advertising (Display ads, Video Ads, TV Ads, Direct Mail, Billboards) keep trying to ignite your interest.

But when you search online, your interest is already ignited. That is why you are searching online!

The brilliance of the paid Google Search Ad model is that it is based on data from the free Google Searches that we do so many times a day. Here are some thoughts on why paid Google Search works so well for advertisers:

  1. Google Search Data: Google is searched about 5.6 Billion times a day according to Hubspot. The Google system knows what exactly you typed on your search bar. Beyond that, depending on your privacy settings, Google also factors in what exactly you were were looking for. For example, when we search for our popular post “Why are impressions free in Google AdWords” we find it near the top of the organic results but you might find it lower on the page because you might have a different search intent despite using the same words. If you have been searching for party supplies when you search for “glasses” Google can guess that you are not looking for eyeglasses. You should see results that speak to what you have in mind.This perpetual quest of individual search intent, is what gives Google a pretty good idea of what you,individually, are looking for.
  2. Google Organic Results driven by SEO or simply good content?: Some years ago Wikipedia used to be the first result for many queries. No one who writes for Wikipedia was trying to do SEO. They were just explaining stuff that they know a lot about. By simply providing the best answer to a searcher’s search intent Google leads the search engines. It takes years to get on the first page of Google (we know with 16 years experience in blogging!) and no amount of technical SEO can help. You have to be the best answer to the searcher’s query. Years is the key idea here because search ads can appear at the top of the organic results the same or next day!
  3. Google Search Ads appear on the same day: The search ads can appear on the same day even for a brand new website. Search Ads appear just like top organic results pages because Google feels that the search ads address the search intent of the searcher. The best Google search ads are those that give value to the searcher that’s comparable to the great value in top organic results. Here is where the big (huge!) data of Google kicks in. They already have the data to show the best organic results as soon as you type your query. The Google Search Ad platform is set up so that you can choose the queries you are looking for (keywords) and Google starts showing your ads (Impressions) for free. Free impressions seem great except that if people don’t click Google lowers the Quality Score of your keyword and your AdRank keeps going down. You find that search ads become very expensive to run. If there are competitors who are also advertising against those keywords , you ads may not run at all because your quality of ad and landing page is poor. You can’t compete in the ad auction.Because your competitors ads do a better job in addressing the searcher’s intent.If your ads do run , they might be at the bottom of the page. You can see how competing advertisers are doing in the Auction Insights report.

If you have a very clear idea about your target market. And the value your brand provides to the searcher. Then search marketing is an affordable way of reaching a buyer who is advanced in the customer journey. If you don’t have years to build SEO traffic and can can spend some money- Google search ads may be for your brand.

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Getting the word out: Google Display Ads vs. Facebook Ads

Social Self on Instagram/Facebook vs. Real Self on Google

At the early parts of the sales funnel you are trying to build awareness about your brand. Your target market needs to know that you exist. You need to get the word out.

Google Ads and Facebook Ads that are both great in getting the word out. For this post we stick to Google Display Ads and exclude Google Search Ads. For search ads work better for lower parts of the sales funnel. By the time someone searches for something (eg. ‘Cheap flights to Paris”) you can be sure that the person is now looking for a specific destination. When your search ad pops up that mentions “Cheap flights to Paris” it becomes very likely that the searcher clicks on the ad to check out what your landing page has to offer.

If a customer is already thinking about your product category, that’s huge progress in the customer’s journey. See our very popular post on Why Impressions are Free in Google Search Advertising.

For this post we are talking about awareness and how both Facebook and Google Display Ads are both cost-effective options, A good starting point is to think about your own persona on Facebook:

You are your “social self “on Facebook/Instagram:This is the mostly cheerful/upbeat persona that people project on social media including Facebook and Instagram. For eg. you are likely to post a picture of a great lunch and are less likely to post a picture of a lunch that disappointed. Similarly, if a friend liked a worthy cause or was “interested” in a particular Facebook event- you are might “like” the page or click that you are “interested” in that event. You signal some interest and are okay with your friends being made aware. But this is short of actually Googling it. Whatever you do on social media becomes data points for at least your social media persona.

You are your “real self” on Google:We tend to be our “real” self while searching on Google. We start our research on anything with Google. No question (search query) is “too stupid” for Google. We all learn before we talk to the professional. For example, medical doctors are tired of patients who have numerous questions based on Dr. Google. So much so that medical examination rooms have articles like Dr. Google will see you now posted on the notice board! The point is that if you had a question that you are afraid to ask a human being, now you can ask Google without fear of being judged!

The next issue to consider is the business model of both Facebook and Google from this post’s point of view of display advertising:

Facebook business model: Facebook’s mission is to connect people and give everyone a chance to share their feelings and opinions. The revenue comes in from what you do as your “social self.” Everything you do on the platform becomes a data point about what you like and dislike or do not care about. Advertisers can choose from a variety of dimensions (demographics,geography,interests,behaviors) to target display ads (these include page “boosts”). Research in marketing indicates that when ads are promoted through paid advertising from Company Facebook pages the “likes” do help the brand.

Google business model: Google on the other hand, is all about answering your questions. It needs to hunt out the best answer across the web-instantly. For display advertising Google has its own “AdSense” program and shares some revenue with over 2 million website owners for the ads that are displayed on their site. The key point to understand is that display ads are being seen after someone arrives on the content. A skilled display advertiser is able to show the ad on relevant websites by setting up campaigns appropriately from the large number of campaign settings and your goals. These include keywords in addition to demographics, geography, behavior etc. Some clients can get upset if they see an ad on a website that they think is irrelevant. For example, a machinery part on a religious blog. But hey! there are many manufacturers interested in religion. The machinery brand will be at the back of the customer’s mind and will become an evoked brand.

Internet Display ads are similar to TV ads: In a sense both Facebook and Google Display ads are like ads on TV. Except that a consumer with the most expensive TV channel package can get only a few hundred TV channels. On the other hand digital marketers get a selection from 2 million “channels” of Google AdSense partners. Just like TV shows each of the partners have their own audience who come due to their interest in the content. When they see your ad it stays in their mind. Some will click on your ad and you have a web visitor that can be so valuable. All this is completely trackable through the Google Analytics and AdWords platform. So you know which specific ad got you a visitor or a specific eCommerce sale. You can’t do that yourself for TV Ads !

Facebook has its 2.7 billion global users and each have friends. When skillfully done Facebook ads have the added benefit of social sharing. If you liked an ad, your friends might take a second look. Here too tracking through the Facebook Ad Manager is easy and your web visits and eCommerce transactions can be tracked on Google Analytics or other web analytics software as well. You can’t do that yourself for TV Ads!

However, TV Ads continue to be relevant today depending on your target audience and budget. It’s just that you can start Facebook and Google Display ads for $5 or $10 a day and start seeing results soon.

About StratoServe

Gentle messages when people may not care as much for the environment

About the visual in this post: This research used Google AdWords to test assertive vs. non-assertive messaging for pollution prevention in the Mediterranean sea. As we try to shake off COVID and try to go back to summer holidays the image depicts the Mediterranean sea. Don’t assume that your entire audience cares deeply and are ready for an assertive ask!

-StratoServe

Social Cause marketing is something that all nonprofits are trying to do.Companies with strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs similarly advertise for causes as do Governments. Generally, the marketing and advertising community takes a cue from commercial sales methods of “asking for a sale.” Thus you will see TV commercials and internet ads that exhort you to “Donate Now.”

About the visual in this post: This research used Google AdWords to test assertive vs. non-assertive messaging for pollution prevention in the Mediterranean sea. As we try to shake off COVID and try to go back to summer holidays the image depicts the Mediterranean sea. Don’t assume that your entire audience cares deeply and are ready for an assertive ask!

STRATOSERVE

A fascinating, paper “Go Green! Should Environmental Messages be So Assertive?” in the Journal of Marketing explains. The authors Ann Kronrod, Amir Grinstein, Luc Wathieu do a series of lab experiments followed by using Google Ads to test their hypothesis that it is probably better to be less assertive when promoting environmental causes.

Here are some examples of the experimental treatments reported in the paper (Pages 97-99) for the lab experiments to give our dear readers a sense of what was tested:

  • Assertive: “Reducing air pollution: everyone must use more public transportation!”
    • Nonassertive: “Reducing air pollution: everyone could use more public transportation”
  • Assertive: “While washing dishes, you must economize water/soap!”
    • Nonassertive: “While washing dishes, it’s worth economizing water/soap.”
  • Assertive: “You must recycle plastic containers.”
    • Nonassertive “It’s worth recycling plastic containers.”

With student subjects they found that the response was better with nonassertive messages.

Finally the authors conduct a Google Ad campaign (2010) a topic of keen interest to our dear readers. Here are the details (pages 99-100):

  • Assertive Google Ad Text: “You must save the Mediterranean. You must sign a petition to reduce water pollution in the Sea. To sign the petition click”
  • Nonassertive Google Ad Text: “You could save the Mediterranean. You may sign a petition to reduce water pollution in the Sea. To sign the petition click”

The researchers found that back in 2010 when search keywords in the AdGroup were “Mediterranean Sea,” “Mediterranean Sea pollution,”“sea condition” the assertive ad text generated more clicks. At the time of search the searcher was thinking about the sea and the assertive ad text seemed relevant. On the other hand the assertive text ad did not do well in the AdGroup that had more general keywords like “knitting machines,”
“news,” “television channel”. Interestingly, the less “sea” relevant keywords found favor with the nonassertive messaging.

The authors conclude that the when audience interest is mild it might be better to use nonassertive messaging.

The paper is highly cited (download and read the full paper by Kronrod,Grinstein, Wathieu , 2012) It raises a fundamental question in marketing – what should you tell each of your audiences? If your audience is really “into” your brand then a call to action (CTA) like “Buy Now”, “Donate Now” is a good strategy. The point is :

Consumers don’t think about your brand a lot

paraphrased quote from Stan Sthanunathan (UNILEVER, ) WEBINAR at YALE CENTER FOR CONSUMER INSIGHTS, Learning from Leaders Webinar, May 18, 2021

It is for this reason digital advertising platforms have a three stage advertising campaign set up process. These are awareness,consideration and purchase as discussed in a prior post.

The Kronrod,Grinstein and Wathieu (2012) paper is trying to explain that if the consumer is not currently thinking about your brand – then don’t keep asking her to buy! We believe that both clients and advertisers/marketers need to slow down and accept this reality. Doing so will give time for the customer to journey through the sales funnel.

About StratoServe.

Google results are not organized Alphabetically

Searching an encyclopedia takes time Google is fast-StratoServe

The holding company for Google is Alphabet (stock market symbol is GOOGL but company name is Alphabet inc.). We found it interesting that although the holding company is called “Alphabet inc.” Google’s entire purpose is not to organize alphabetically. Instead the goal is to show results that meet the searcher’s search intent. For more on how Google thinks see our updated post from 2017 on “Getting found on Google.”

If you think about it, everything in the paper world is organized alphabetically or numerically. Here are some examples:

  • Encyclopedias : All paper encyclopedias were organized alphabetically. So if you wanted to find out about Armenia you needed to find the volume that covered “A” and if you wanted to learn about Zambia, you needed to find the volume that contained “Z”.
  • Phone Books: All paper phone books or telephone directories were organized by last name, yes alphabetically.
  • Yellow Pages: The Yellow pages in paper form were organized – yes alphabetically and if you wanted to find Electricians, you needed to look under E and Plumbers were listed under P.
  • Class Rosters: In the teaching world class rosters are organized alphabetically by student last name. Despite most teachers in the US wanting to address the student by their first name. Perhaps the exception was the British high schools were you were known by your last name.
  • Libraries and the Dewey decimal system: Library catalogs follow the Dewey System and there are a set of numbers assigned to a subject. Thus 657 is CPA, Accounting, Bookkeeping, Financial Reports 658 is Starting a Business, Entrepreneurs, Financing, Management, Interviewing and 658.8 is Marketing, Sales, Franchising 659 is  Advertising, Fashion Modeling. See a nice list from the good folks at the Library of University of Central Florida.
  • Linnaean Taxonomy for life itself: Life itself is studied under a classification system called the Linnaean Taxonomy. Named after the 18th century Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus all forms of life are covered by some criteria. Scholars in these fields have academic journals,conferences and specializations within each of the fields.

So what did Google do differently?

As explained in our post on Getting found on Google, Google founders as PhD students realized that the academic world does ranking quite differently. A scholar can decide to study whatever, but needs to spell out the prior research in that specific area. Next, the scholar needs to establish that there is a gap in knowledge in existing research. Next, they need to establish that filling the gap in knowledge or literature makes a difference to the world. All these steps involve referring to influential past work in the specific area being studied. How have scholars determined the “influential” work in their fields for ages? Quite simply, by prior references called citations to prior work. Our dear readers, who are not academics , might find our 2010 post regarding Google Scholar revealing.

This scholarly thinking of ranking search results by relevance is behind the Google results in all products. Including Ads, the effort is to provide the best answer to whatever you are searching for.Thus, if the book is available full text and you are looking for one particular paragraph- that you paste in the search bar. You can find it almost instantly, frequently highlighted in yellow!

Advances in technology, machine learning and artificial intelligence is only making Google faster and more relevant.

We hope that our many business readers will encourage their digital marketers to make both content and advertising more specific and more relevant to the searchers intent. SEO and AdRanking (lower costs) will take care of itself.

About StratoServe.

Free tracking of digital clicks to your store

Five scenarios for the store owner-StratoServe

With COVID vaccines all US businesses are hopeful that the pandemic will soon be behind us. Empty stores will be full of customers again!

It turns out the the smallest business with a physical storefront can now track ads from click to in-store purchase. Yes there is some work involved but all the data and analytics is free- for the Google ecosystem. For our variety of dear readers we discuss 5 different scenarios that would apply to your situation as a store owner :

Scenario 1 : What if we don’t have a website? Many small businesses just don’t have a website although they might have a Facebook page. These include restaurants hard hit by the pandemic. For such businesses it’s good to get a free Google My Business account. Just fill in all the fields entirely. Ask your customers to write reviews. There is a verification process – but it works. You can also build your free first website.

Scenario 2 :We do have a website- but no digital advertising. With the global pandemic and high digital adoption you’ll be surprised at the number of visitors you have already. To understand your current web visitors make sure that you have Google Analytics installed. It’s also possible to look at what people searched before arriving at your website by installing Google Search Console. Both these products are free. We recommend going with Google Tag Manager as the platform for installing all types of computer code snippets on your website. This could include Facebook Pixel that you need to keep track of Facebook Advertising. Think of Google Tag Manager like a bucket that is outside your website so that nothing is disturbed as you try out various types of analytics possibilities. See Scenario 5 for continued ideas on how to track conversions when you have no paid advertising.

Scenario 3: We are redesigning our website. Do not junk your old website. Just because you are building a new one. Why? Because your search engine ranking gets lost. We have an earlier post (2012) on Why do organizations find it so hard to update websites. But in the last decade and through the pandemic website content management systems have become far more intuitive and user friendly. Sadly though, even the biggest organizations are not able keep old links intact. We believe that new people think that the old was useless despite the many links and traffic to that old content. If you have influence on this one thing, request rather plead with your organization to keep old content reachable. 301 redirects work pretty well or you can just retain the link addresses and replace with updated content for the purpose of that old page.

Scenario 4: We don’t have a customer list. You need to start having one. Because this is a requirement if you want to get the full benefit of the tracking of your digital clicks to website.Preferably you should have the name and contact details of all customers who have bought something from you. A great way to do this is to offer a loyalty card with special discounts as they check out. Keep in touch with customers when you have something of special value for them. Avoid blast emails or text messages because repeated and meaningless contact bothers people and you get unsubscribes. This is part of your direct mail or direct marketing strategy including email and text. This can be most valuable when you want to sell your business because it gives your business a book of customers. Today CRM systems (including SalesForce.com) are very affordable and worth getting started because they offer numerous benefits in digital marketing (we’ll cover in later posts, for now note that your direct digital customer relationships are best for increasing privacy concerns) . We limit our discussion in this post to the tracking question for local stores.

Scenario 5: We have a CRM system and ongoing Local Google Ads: In the scenarios above, we have not discussed Google Ads or any paid form of advertising like Facebook Ads. (there is other Google Ads content on this blog) . Extending Scenario 2 where you have no paid ads you can track valuable customer actions. This involves creating Goals in Google Analytics. In this situation, your store conversions whether from Google My Business (local) or SEO (free organic) can be tracked.

Let no SEO “wizard” tell you that SEO is “free”. It is not free, quick or assured. It takes years, huge investments in content creation. SEO is costly,long drawn and uncertain.

Dr. Roy @StratoServe

Whatever the source of your traffic (paid or free) the technique to track in-store purchases involves tracking store visits.

Store Visit Intro video from Google

We wish all physical store owners great success as we put the pandemic behind us.

About StratoServe.

AdTech Remarketing: Cookie Challenges Ahead

AdTech Remarketing-How cookies Work- StratoServe

The announcement by Google that 3rd party cookies will be gone in Chrome in 2022 has raised great concerns among advertisers. The AdTech community of hundreds of companies will also need to figure out their approach. Here is some background on this debate:

Do you recall those creepy ads that follow you around? These are remarketing ads in the Google system and also called retargeted ads in the AdTech world. Over 70 % of your first time web visitors will never return. These folks have moved down the buyer’s journey and are aware of your brand. If they were at more than one page or spent more than 5 seconds they are at the consideration stage. If you have an e-commerce website and new customers abandoned the cart- they were so close to conversion!

While those creepy ads freak out many consumers for privacy concerns, a more relaxed way of thinking about them is the persistent salesperson who follows you out of the store. When you enter the physical store and leave without buying something! Also consider, that if consumers want all content for free – how are publishers going to survive? Thus, digital display ads provide revenue for publishers and return to advertisers who spend.

Remarketing might be annoying- but it works for the advertiser and is cost effective. And this is what is about to change for Chrome that has over 63% of the browser market.

It’s timely to recap what all this cookie terminology in terms of basic marketing examples from the pre-Internet era:

  1. What are first party cookies ?: When you go to a website and read their content,browse products or buy products -the website (and business) starts a one to one direct relationship with you. Think of a Trade Show where you dropped your business card at a particular business booth. That gives the business a chance to follow up after the trade show. This is the strongest, best way of conducting business. This is is the cookies with milk option. So comforting and valuable for both business and privacy.As all Trade Show exhibitors (from pre-Covid) know, there are many people who come by your booth talk, collect the freebies but don’t leave their contact details. Do you wish you could follow up later? That’s what remarketing or retargeting helps you do for your website visitors.
  2. What are second party cookies? The problem is that you have a limited number of customers and you want to find more customers. Think of the trade show where the organizer frequently provides a list of attendees to exhibitors as a part of the exhibitors fee. You can follow up via direct mail and email by referring to the Trade Show connection. Since many of the trade show visitors may not have visited your booth, there is a chance that some non-visitors respond to your direct marketing efforts. Similarly if you are a Cruise line rolling out specials for after the pandemic, it would be helpful if you could repeat ads to folks on the travel pages of the online newspaper who had already visited your Cruise line deal page. The newspaper is a second party as there is a subset of the Cruise line web visitors. The second party has a larger pool of customers, some may be common to your customer base or be similar to your customers. They are the second larger cookie wrapped in the chocolate of their own customers. Your milk of customers is being connected to the chocate of customers of the second party. This has privacy issues but is acceptable just as we accept ads on TV targeted to us based on TV shows we watch.
  3. What are third party cookies? Third parties in the cookie world have no direct or indirect connection with the customer. They are neither trade shows who have a first party relationship with visitors nor online newspapers or TV shows who have a first party relationship with readers. Instead, they are like Direct Mail List providers who sell mailing lists for direct mail or email. The Direct Mail list providers compile the list from websites (B2B) , town home owner records, phone books etc. that are mostly public in nature. It is the third party who attaches a cookie to the browser and then tracks the person across the web. Think of the crumbling cookie that leaves a crumb on your chrome browser and then goes wherever your browser goes, recording all your behavior. This enables personal tracking and has privacy advocates riled up. Privacy advocates feel concerned that an entity who has no connection to the web visitor or the website- keeps tracking the visitor. Browsers like Firefox and Safari already do not allow 3rd party cookies. Chrome is following suit.

If you have a customer connection it is golden from both privacy and a marketing point of view. Thus, big companies are very interested in creating “Walled Gardens”. Walled gardens involve a signup into Apple, Facebook,Google,Instagram, LinkedIn or New York Times. Once you are signed in,you are walled in! You enter a first party customer relationship with that entity. Your behaviour data on these platforms become very valuable to advertisers.

In the pre-Internet era there were only so many (hundreds of) thousands of newspapers and TV channels. Today there are over a billion websites. The audience is fragmented or rather finds something interesting in the long tail. Reaching them while preserving privacy is a fine balancing act.

Developers from AdTech and elsewhere are being encouraged to participate in the Google initiatives of Turtledove. and FloC as part of their privacy sandbox.

Marketers will look eagerly to solutions that allay privacy concerns and allow respectful retargeting.

About StratoServe.

AIDA sales funnel and the buyer’s journey to purchase

AIDA Sales Funnel vs. Customer Journey -StratoServe

Businesses tend to wonder  about the effectiveness of their advertising spend in terms of what they actually sold that could be attributed to advertising.To understand how advertising works its useful to look at the hierarchy of effects AIDA sales funnel  credited to Advertising Hall of Fame member Elias St. Elmo Louis in 1898. No that was not a typo and check out the history of this kind of thinking called Hierarchy of Effects in the article by Barry (1987).

[Note: This post was originally published on April 22, 2014. We have many readers asking about the connection between the AIDA sales model and the Digital Customer Journey or Digital Buyers’ Journey. We are delighted to update the original post on March 5, 2021. Also, for simplicity we stop at conversion, but the real customer relationship starts after you have a customer. Loyal customers become advocates and generate referrals. We hope that this revised post will help all businesses come back after COVID as customers go through their AIDA process online.]

Initially the AIDA model was used to understand the sales process and train sales people both for both B2B and B2C sales. Long before digital marketing the idea was to “convince” the buyer through a face to face meeting and bring them through the sales funnel. For example, sales training included holding the pen pointed to the buyers side on a clipboard with the contract. To facilitate the customer’s signature on the dotted line! The customer was considered passive.

Later advertising folks started using the concept to understand how advertising works and why the buyer journey to purchase takes time as the buyer moves down the sales funnel and the four AIDA stages.

With the Internet and Social Media customers have changed and customers are no longer passive. They can do their own research with a few clicks. Hence, the customer or buyer journey is replacing the “push push AIDA model” with the “Customer Journey” where the customer is in control.

Digital marketing and analytics make it possible to track the customer through the customer journey. In the 2014 (April) Google Insights Research page the four stages were called Awareness, Consideration, Intent and Decision. The data in 2014 was collected from 36,000 Google Analytics accounts where the websites had e-commerce and were able to track e-commerce transactions.

In 2021, Google Ads Search Certification Study material list the Search funnel as Awareness,Consideration,Conversion while the Youtube marketing journey lists the stages as three stages as Awareness,Consideration, Action. Frankly, it’s easier for the advertising business (our clients) to visualize all prospects at either of the three stages of the buyer journey. For the digital journey of their customer, businesses need to ask themselves three questions:

  1. Is our customer aware of our brand? Do they know that we exist? [ Digital Marketing has ways of building brand awareness. It takes time.]
  2. Is our customer considering us in their evoked brand set? [ You can literally bypass the awareness stage if you have the budget. See an earlier post on evoked brand set.]
  3. Is our web visitor converting? Conversions could be signing up for a newsletter, an e-commerce transaction, a webinar signup etc. [ All businesses love this stage. It does need thinking through,discussion and small changes in your operations.]

Here is a brief overview of the older 4 Stage AIDA Sales model and the three stage digital customer journey :

  • Awareness ( same as Awareness in customer journey) is the early part of the funnel where the buyer must be made aware of what your brand offers. Unless you are a big brand like Coca Cola or IBM with along history, a lot of effort is needed to bring awareness to your target market. In digital marketing display ads and banners help to build awareness. Advertising your website on TV, is also very helpful.
  • Interest ( is part of consideration in customer journey) is the  enthusiasm you are able to generate in your buyer towards your offering. Here social media,paid search can help. It is that stage in retail stores that you are looking at some particular item with interest, and the salesperson comes by and says …”may I help you”?
  • Desire (is part of consideration in customer journey) is the stage of active consideration. At this stage the prospective customer has decided to buy the item. Here email marketing, paid search is helpful. Today customers tend to comparison shop online, just because it is so easy to do so. 
  • Action (is conversion in the buyer’s journey) happens when the customer actually buys from you. Action or Conversion includes actions that are valuable to you like newsletter sign-up, webinar signup, demo sign up for complex solutions.

Why is understanding the 4 Stage AIDA model and its link to the 3 Stage Digital buyer’s journey important?

Because it helps you understand that advertising is an investment and not a cost. The investment is in brand building and your brand equity helps across the AIDA funnel in the buyer’s journey to purchase. About StratoServe.

AdWords for Engineering Companies: start with B2B Buy-Task thinking

AdWords for Engineering Companies-StratoServe

Engineering companies are often unsure as to how digital marketing is relevant for them. Frequently, they rely on the sales-force  alone to clinch contracts. This can be challenging without digital marketing support. Engineering companies that are in B2B markets need to think in B2B Buy Task format as they structure their Google AdWords campaigns.

[ Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2016 and due to the great interest of our dear readers this post is updated on March 3, 2021. We have added an example from aerospace from high tech manufacturing. The earlier example food manufacturing remains. In 2021 though, modern food processing facilities tend to be comparable to aerospace in terms of automation, digitization. We hope that this post will inspire readers from manufacturing to redouble their marketing efforts as we come out of COVID 19. ]

B2B Buy task thinking starts with the fundamental question:

What task is our engineering product used for?

No matter what your engineering product , your  B2B customer can be segmented into one of the following three categories.

New Task BuyAerospace: With recent problems of aircraft parts flying off in mid-air aircraft makers and airlines might want to improve their ability to get very early warning of where a crack is developing. There are a bunch of technologies that can help locate a crack from the sound it makes when it starts. There are high-tech manufacturers who are able to identify material fatigue very early through acoustics,sensors. Imagine the time,money and trouble that airlines globally could save if they did not have to open the entire plane and check every nut and bolt. If you have a better solution to this problem using any other technology you can be sure that this new task is top of mind for all aerospace maintenance folks.

New Task – Food Industry: Assume you are a food industry stainless steel valve maker and you are trying to find “New Task” buyers. The new-task buy involves a B2B purchase for the first time for the buying organization. They did not have a food manufacturing business and are building a new factory.The buying organization have hired some experienced food industry folks who may or may not know about some innovative solutions you have developed. As pointed out in earlier posts this is the biggest opportunity for innovative marketers because your competition is not in place- to keep you out. Here your mantra for the Google AdWords campaign is “Learn more.” Once the buying organization decides to engage with you, you need to educate them and help come up with specifications because they have never done this work before.

Modified-Rebuy Aerospace: Continuing with the unpredictable fan blade (based on early media reports) example. If you are able to provide fan blades that either do not crack or will tell the maintenance folks that they are about to crack -when the plane is on the ground, you fit into the “modified rebuy” category. Here if your marketing claims are credible, you can expect a hearing from expert aerospace maintenance folks.

Modified-Rebuy Food Industry :Here the customer already is in the food business and is pretty much tired of say “leaky valves”. You have done your research and know exactly how your innovative new valve overcomes the leaky valve problem for food businesses. Your campaign mantra will be “Compare.” You have keywords like “leaky valves” and your Ad takes the searcher to your web landing page that describes how your product overcomes the leaky valve problem. (Disclaimer: The “leaky valve” is merely an example and we do not imply that valves leak in all  food factories).

Straight Rebuy Aerospace: Here the existing supplier is well entrenched and assume that this is not a part that breaks. Existing supplier relationships are very difficult to disrupt because everything is working. The price,quality,service are all working- the folks who do the work know each other at a friendly level. Here a new supplier needs to innovate and do something better to get their first shot. We believe that entrepreneurs and new entrants emerge because they are out to find a “better way”. And these new entrants take over all kinds of markets. So if you are an existing supplier with repeat business don’t be complacent on innovation– there is someone out there preparing to take your business!

Straight Rebuy Food Industry : The existing valve brand has no real “perceived” problem including no leaky valves. Also suppliers are well entrenched with long term relationships in place that are difficult to break. This is the hardest market to crack unless you have an innovative solution that has some major benefit and you can articulate that benefit as either a modified-rebuy or as a new task.Unless your value proposition for this B2B customer segment is crystal clear there is no benefit in trying to do online advertising, offline advertising or even sales calls. But let us suppose because of your innovations, you are able to provide longer lasting,non-leaking, lower cost, always in stock valves- then you have a value proposition. And that value proposition is more valuable than your competitors and you can re-position your engineering brand vs. other competitors.Your campaign mantra needs to be around “value and re-positioning.” When your salesperson makes a sales call and your customer has googled your category, you are seen and perceived as credible, going in.

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How much should I spend on Google AdWords ?

How much should I spend on Google AdWords? -StratoServe

How much should I spend on Google AdWords? is a question that we get asked very often. Earlier this blog provided a strategy answer.

[ Note: This post was originally published on October 28 , 2014. Due to the great interest of our dear readers and many changes in the digital landscape the post is updated on March 2, 2021]

Since we are happily at the vaccination stage of COVID-19 we can expect that life will return to normal in the not too distant future. However, we all realize that buyer behavior for both consumers(B2C) and businesses (B2B) has changed forever. With the huge adoption of online research and buying with COVID lockdowns and stores closed the public has become far more comfortable with online commerce.

As the new image with this post indicates, if you think of a physical store on main street – they always did offline advertising. These would include welcoming signage, ads in the local newspaper, sponsoring community events, working with the local chamber of commerce on opportunities, leaflets with special offers, a yellow pages listing etc.

All this offline advertising did help in getting customers aware of the store and consider it if they were walking down main street. Some would walk in and look at what was offered, talk to the owner and might come back even if they did not buy something on their first visit. However, the dilemma of Half the Money I spend on Advertising is Wasted continued with businesses large and small with offline advertising. You never knew exactly how many people came to your store directly after seeing your newspaper ad or mainstreet billboard.

Fast forward to life after Covid (hopefully 2021 and certainly 2022). All customers have become used to online environments and every store that could – have indeed strengthened their online presence.Meanwhile, Google has also been working in 2020 on the performance planner that allows advertisers who have had 100 conversions in the last seven days to use Google’s machine learning to estimate what spending will result in what level of conversion. Conversions could mean an e-commerce transaction or a sign up that is valuable to your business. Your past results are combined with global search behavior to predict future results at different levels of ad spend.

What if you have not been advertising through the pandemic ? And are just thinking of starting or restarting.

Here are some tips for new advertisers and those advertisers who are reviewing their spend on Google AdWords:

  1. The daily budget is all upto you: The daily budget can be set in Google AdWords very easily so there is no risk of over spending. You can decide to start at say $10/day that works out to $ 300 a month.
  2. What do I get for $10/day ? : Let us say you had a budget of $10 per day, you pay for keywords that people use to search for your business. The price of keywords is decided in an auction and depends a lot on the competition. If you are selling holiday gift items online, you can expect that the word “holiday” will become more expensive as Thanksgiving gets nearer. However, the more specific your holiday gift item, the easier it is to bid on keywords as there is less competition.
  3. A good idea is to start with smart bidding to take advantage of machine learning: Our earlier advise (in the 2014 post) was to do manual bidding and start at $2 per keyword. Now Google offers smart bidding that is based on machine learning. Once you fix your daily budget, it’s therefore a good idea in 2021 to go with smart bidding. If your ad account is well structured you can expect 5 visitors to your website. Getting 5 visitors to visit your brick store is very difficult spending only $10 a day.
  4. Are there exceptions  to five new visitors a day with $10/day budget ? Yes, and that occurs for highly competitive words. According to Elisa Gabbert at Wordstream many words cost more than $10 each. There is a way out of this budget crunch if you think marketing in totality as suggested in several of our adwords posts.
  5. You can measure which words result in conversions: It is fairly easy to measure which words lead to conversions, be it orders or sign ups or time on page. This is a big plus compared to traditional advertising. Once you know, you can change what you are doing.

The reason we like Google AdWords is because getting a visitor to your website builds your brand awareness at the very least. You do not pay for “views” of your ad and pay only for clicks on the ad based on the keyword that triggered the ad.

About StratoServe.

Segmenting,Targeting and Postioning vs.Google AdWords Account Stucture

Segmentation,Targeting, Positioning vs. Google Ads Account structure-StratoServe

Segmentation,Targeting and Positioning (STP)   in Marketing is one of those early marketing topics. Once you have figured out what your market offering (product) provides as “value” to your prospective customers- you need to start figuring out your market segmentation, targeting and positioning(STP). Here is a way to think about STP vs. the Google AdWords Account Structure:

[Note: This post was originally posted on May 7, 2015 and is updated on February 24, 2021 due to the great interest of our dear readers. An additional section on “Funny Competitors” is added to cheer up our readers as we come out of the pandemic!]

Segmentation,Targeting,Positioning (STP) faces the market of the business

In marketing,Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP)  is all about a market/customer facing perspective. The business is looking outward and wondering what segments of customers might buy their product. The segments can be defined by income,gender, occasion ( eg. mother’s day coming up on May 9, 2021),location,industry (for B2B products), etc. After market segmentation businesses need to decide a portion of the segment where all marketing energy will be focussed. These are called target markets.

Market Segments have the following characteristics and since Target Markets are within segments they must have these characteristics as well:

  • Must be identifiable– i.e. answer some questions like where located, what possible age,income gender etc. This is also known as “Buyer Persona” – or what does your buyer look like? We find that businesses remain diffuse and fuzzy on this. The main reason seems to be FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on a bigger market. But that is a disastrous approach. Our suggestion: narrowly focus and start somewhere.
  • Must be substantial– there needs to be some volume of sales expected. The initial target market must be capable of producing revenues and margins to keep the business profitable. Here the higher group (segment) must have a large market size. Why? because once you establish value and product market fit with the target market you have the option of scaling your business,raising investor funds etc.
  • Must be reachable online – you have reason to believe that at least some of your target market can be reached online. If anyone is not on the Internet then you can’t advertise via Google AdWords. This is less of an issue in 2021 as after Coronavirus you can expect more of your target market to to be online.

Positioning is about how your customer sees your product compared to other competition. It’s critical to understand positioning because today ( in 2021) you can be sure that a customer considering buying your product will do her due diligence or research. Just typing “competitors of Brand A” on Google will throw up a bunch of ads from Brand B, C, D… to Z and more. For positioning thinking Brand A needs to be very clear of how they are different and more valuable for the target market. [ Note: Dear readers, don’t let competitor ads scare you. Read the new “funny competitors” section later in this post on how to think about competitor brands advertising against your brand. We call this Digital Brand Piracy.]

Google AdWords Structure viz. Campaigns,AdGroups,Ads and Keywords face the business website

The purpose of Google AdWords advertising is to drive more visitors to your website and convert them into customers. Here is how to think about the Google AdWords Account structure in STP terms from the point of view of the customer (Customer Journey) as they come to your website. This is how the Google campaign structure maps to your STP:

  • Keywords trigger ads. Whatever your customer searches on Google triggers related ads.Choosing keywords that your target market might search is the trick here. The better your understanding of your target market the better keywords and key phrases you can choose. An easy way to gain insights about what your target market thinks is to simply go to forums/discussion boards. If you are marketing a product say to salons and spas simply search for “salons and spas owners forums” and you’ll be amazed at the number of keyword ideas you can get. The Keyword Planner tool on the Google Ads platform is also very useful.
  • Ads is what people see: People see ads and when it resonates with their search intent, they click on the ad. It is here that you must bring parts of your positioning into play. Say what’s special about you- that’s different from your competitor.Every Ad can have a landing page that takes the visitor to a particular web page on your website. In general it is good to have AdGroups that each have the same landing page particularly when you have hundreds of Ads running.
  • Landing Page: This is where the web visitor arrives at your website, after clicking on your ad. Your effort to meet customer expectations on the landing page is critical to advertising results.
  • AdGroups: AdGroups contain Ads around a particular theme and keywords. Keywords are common within an AdGroup. A good idea is not to duplicate keywords between different AdGroups as you would then be competing in the Google auction with yourself, by bidding for the same keywords in different AdGroups. AdGroups are trying to build your market positioning and engage and convert customers who believe in your positioning.
  • Campaigns: Campaigns correspond to target markets in STP and you can have all kinds of settings here like location ( like searches within 100 miles of New York City), daily budget etc. If you have display campaigns (banners) going on, you can do other settings like demographic,in-market etc.

The simple idea that STP is outward and market facing while the Google AdWords account  structure is inward focused that implements your STP – is a good start.

Funny Competitors: You will find that competitors bid on your Brand keywords and spend a lot trying to convince someone who typed your brand on the Google search bar to come and check out their website. Yes this is serious because if a customer typed your brand name it means that the customer was seriously thinking about your brand. However, the funny part is that in most such ads the competing brand is thinking like an aggressive salesperson (standing outside in the market and yelling “come to our store” ) and not like a thoughtful marketer in 2021. The customer will do more research for high value items. For low value items the customer might switch and it all depends on your value and positioning with respect to your competitor.

Another form of Digital Brand Piracy is that competitors emerge who are unrelated to your industry and who are just trying to make a buck. An example of this scam involves YouTube. A YouTuber looks for ads of products and knows which brands are advertising. Now in two minutes , with a cell phone the YouTuber puts out a thoughtless “review” with the brand name in the title and keywords of the so called “review” video. The next time someone searches for your Brand on YouTube this review pops up on the first page because the title matches your brand name! The YouTuber builds views on their YouTube Channel and makes some money on the back of your advertising dollar. There are variations of this scam and we guess it has much to do with how your Ad Campaigns are structured and managed.

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