Want to Avoid a Million Dollar Mistake?

Recently, one of our clients asked us to see which dog breed was searched for more by women. The reason behind this request was that our client was working with a creative agency for a new service they were launching that would target the female population. They thought about adding a dog into the Marketing Material and wanted to see which dog breed was most popular for the female demographic before spending 1,000’s of dollars developing creatives. Dina, my colleague at SEER, used dog registration statistics from the American Kennel Club so that the data would not be skewed by searches revolving around “dog” events and then researched demographic information with the msn ad center plugin on the most popular breeds to see where a female skew lies. She was able to determine that women prefer small dogs, and chihuahuas, malteses, pugs, and shih tzus were the most popular. Dina also determined that the most popular large dog among women searchers was the golden retriever.

The above example is only a small example of how keyword research could be used to develop a branding strategy, but this exercise really got the SEER team thinking about how search behavior can provide invaluable insight in developing a marketing strategy and could potentially save a company $1,000’s if not millions of dollars on a marketing campaign that would have otherwise ended up as failure. posted the blog post: 5 Ways to Persuade Your Clients to Spend More PPC Dollars, which highlighted this concept of how SEM can help in the research and development phase of a marketing strategy.

The paragraph that really stood out to me in the above post is below:

“III: More Affordable Testing:
In most cases, search marketers promote landing page A/B testing and Ad/Creative testing and that is a good thing. However, there are many other ways to use PPC as a testing vehicle not only for the website, but for the entire company and its offline ad initiatives. Let’s explain…
For example, making the case to use paid search to determine which Ad Messaging works more effectively before the Ad campaign hits the airwaves and cable stations is a very valuable tactic. Over the years, many millions of Ad dollars were spent on messaging that did not entirely make a good impression on the companies. With PPC, it’s a cost effective “pre-campaign” strategy to test the market before spending $100,000’s of dollars on TV, Radio and Print.”

This concept is truly insightful. Think of how much time, effort and money a company might spend thinking and developing the perfect messaging to resonate with their audience. Think of the time, effort and money spent developing the creative. I have never worked in the offline advertising world, but I can only imagine the hours of back and forth bantering it takes to develop a concept that you “think” will work. Being able to A/B test different messaging in a PPC Ad or on the landing page, instead of just guessing what may work and spending millions developing this messaging is an invaluable way to use paid search. I know best practices in online advertising often fail and that all the experience in the world can not ensure you an ad or a landing page will win over another. I am sure this is the same in the offline world as well.

This idea of testing Ad messaging before it is launched can be taken one step further to product development. Again, I have never worked as a product developer, but I can only imagine the time, effort and money it takes determining the best price point, the best packaging or the best way to sell the new idea. These elements can all be tested in a landing page to see what motivates individuals to sign up for product updates before a single dollar has been spent actually creating the product. This can help your team assess if there is actual demand for your new concept before you waste money creating a product that no one will want.

Now, this idea is a great theory, but how can it be accomplished in reality. This comes down to truly integrating your online/offline marketing strategy. Many times, you may have different agencies handling the different elements of your marketing mix, which is actually extremely smart, as you want to have “the best” in all aspects and finding one agency that is the “best” in everything may be impossible. While finding one agency may be impossible, integrating your strategy is not. All it takes is cooperation between the different agencies and making sure the online team is involved in the process before any ideas are finalized. Your online team can then create a paid search campaign designed to test the different ideas.

Being able to gather statistically significant data on which concepts work better than others enable paid search to be so much more valuable than just the web visit, the CPA or the conversion. Using paid search in the testing phase or the research and development phase, as SEMGeek’s post highlights, could potentially save millions.