My 72 hours of SEM Heaven and Hell: How to Use PPC to Capitalize on Unexpected Offline PR

As Search Engine Marketers, we have to remember that we do not live in a bubble. Sometimes we get so focused on what is happening with our individual keywords, our bids and CPA that we forget there is an entire offline world of marketing and PR taking place.

A recent client experience showed me how powerfully the offline world can impact what is happening online and how important communication between the client and a PPC firm is for integrating online and offline marketing successfully.

Our client's industry was featured on Good Morning America recently. Upon being featured, our client called us first thing and asked how SEER could help capitalize on the interest.

Now our client was lucky as they had quality high ranks in the natural results when the news story broke. You or your client may not have this good fortune, which makes having a fast acting PPC firm even more essential to capitalize on unexpected PR buzz, which as the story below illustrates, can have incredible influence on people's search behavior.

Immediately, we saw a surge in online conversions and spend due to the buzz Good Morning America created. This buzz was not even generated by promoting our client, but actually just the industry our client operates in. Seeing this, we added Good Morning America ad text into our rotation to speak to the people who had just seen the segment.

The new interest began to quickly push us up to our daily budget cap by mid-morning on a campaign that previously had been 100% visible all day. To fully capitalize on this new interest, we bumped up our budget. We thought 50% would keep us live all day, but as the day went on 50% became 100%, which quickly became 200% and ultimately ended up being 650% to ensure complete visibility. Only by knowing this new buzz had taken place were we able to realize our full potential by ensuring 100% visibility as consumer demand skyrocketed.

Watch out for Sneaky Competitors.

We were so proud of ourselves! Our ads were the only ones that were capitalizing on the GMA story. However, this was not the case for long. Since this was a story about our client's industry, not just our client, by evening our competitor had copied our GMA ads.

Next time we may want to use a strategy promoted in this great post by NickyCakes. Basically, the idea would be to “Fake Out” your competition by finding out their physical address and setting up a campaign with “not so good ads” and low bids only in their area. This way they will not be able to see your stellar ad that you would prefer they did not copy. Brad Geddes, in his post about click fraud, explains another potential strategy. You may want to block out a competitor's IP address. Geddes warns to make sure you are blocking the correct IPs, and explains that some hosts have thousands of users sharing the same IP.

Besides ad text changes, which can easily be copied, and budget increases, what else can online marketers do to capitalize on offline promotion?

We began to bid on words discussed in the promotion. This allowed us to find new words that were less costly, but relevant because the search demand for these words was new. These new words proved successful at a much lower CPA than what our current campaign was averaging. We also bumped our positions on our current keywords, with the idea that the new demand would increase our conversion rate and thus, keep our CPA in check, which proved correct.

Look at the content network for ripe places get an Ad syndicated.

My colleague at SEER, Laura, wrote about this concept of getting the most out of the content network, which became very applicable in light of the PR. We negotiated with the different content networks to get our ad listed on the online syndication of the PR.

We got an ad shown on the story on GMA's site. If this is not possible, posting an ad to syndicate “Run of Site” may still be worth it.

You may have to look beyond Google, Yahoo or MSN to find the content network that has ad space on the relevant story. An easy way to tell is to look for the advertise link in the ad block and see which network is syndicating the ads. If you can accomplish this, you will be getting a very relevant ad in front of the audience who may have just seen a promotion on TV. Now, instead of potentially going to your competitor, your ad is in front of this reader for them to click on and convert on your site.

“Ah, we were done,” we thought. All the changes were made and our campaign kept sailing and converting for the next few days, but we were not quite done yet…

Interestingly, once GMA launched the story, we saw other networks shortly after follow suit with their own take on the story. NBC picked up the story, followed by the Today Show, and so the process of changing ads, adjusting budgets, increasing bids, finding relevant new keywords and finding content networks started all over again.

In summary, below are key insights we learned from this experience for successfully integrating offline and online marketing:

• Open communication with clients is essential • Know what is happening off line in your industry • Be prepared to increase your budget 10 fold if a major network provides PR for your actual client or even just their industry • Watch out for sneaky competitors • Look for new keyword opportunities that may have low competition • Look for new content network opportunities • Look out for other networks, which may follow suit • Act fast to capitalize on this buzz!

This buzz is still happening as I write this, so only time will tell when the effects of a promotion on a show like GMA will die down, but so far it has been an exciting ride - a little taste of PPC Heaven and Hell.

For a good 72 hours we had a combination of quadrupling conversions (Heaven), and sleepless nights as dropping everything to ensure no stone was left uncovered to capitalize on this once in lifetime Buzz was essential (Hell).

If our client did not communicate with us and give us the flexibility to increase budgets, change ads, look for new keywords and content opportunities, and if we in turn did not act quickly, we would not have been able to fully capitalize on this incredible PR.

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