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Rakuten Marketing Blog

Owning It: Control Your Brand in the SERPs and Rake in the Revenue

Posted on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 @ 11:03 AM by Sarah Gyson

In a perfect cyber world, when someone Googles your brand they see a page full of perfectly aligned messaging that translates into tremendous sales and long-term, repeat customers for your website. Unfortunately, for us marketers there are only so many levers we can pull to work toward this. We yield much of our control to engine algorithms and their ever changing “secret sauce” for ranking listings. There is, however, one channel that gives us back some power: paid search. Let’s walk through some of the ways we can use this space to send the right message and increase your site revenue.

 

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1. Be there by bidding on brand terms. It’s worth it.

Let’s get this question out of the way first: “We already show in the top SEO spot when I search our brand, why should we pay for the clicks?” I’ll start the defense of bidding on your brand terms with some numbers. 

In a recent case study done by Rakuten Marketing and a high-profile apparel retailer, we found that SEO listings will pick up the lost paid clicks when ads are not present, but will not account for all of the revenue that brand paid search ads drive. In the study, SEO clicks increased 16% during the period PPC brand ads were paused, surpassing the 8% of traffic lost from paid search. However, that SEO traffic did not convert well enough to make up for the revenue loss, increasing by 12% while PPC declined by 21%. Sure, you will be paying for these clicks, but typically brand terms return at such a high rate with a low CPC that they more than pay for themselves.

2. Master the message.

Where SEO is labor intensive and can take a long time to gain traction, PPC is a short cut. We are allowed to write exactly what we want (within limits) and almost instantly get our ad in front of an audience. Now that search engines are allowing for higher character limits and offering a variety of different extensions, PPC ads have become a playground for message testing. Having such tight control over ads and where a consumer lands on your site allows for quick learnings that can be carried over into other marketing channels, as well as see high gains for PPC alone.

PPC ads also allow you to keep up with seasonal messaging and promotional changes that will never make it into an SEO listing before it is time to change them out again.

3. Location, location, location.

Now that we’ve decided bidding on our brand terms and having control over our message is important (we have, right?), let’s talk about where ads should appear on the page. The very first spot allows for more features of your ads to show, so use it to crowd out listings and ads that aren’t controlled by your company. Sure, you might push down affiliates and resellers that are also advertising for your products, but don’t we want to speak for our brand before anyone else?

4. Speaking of Resellers and Affiliates…

If Affiliates and Resellers of your brand are also advertising in the PPC space on your brand terms, it’s important to keep a good working relationship with them to maintain the integrity of your messaging and control CPC inflation. 

Setting the rules of engagement for your affiliate partners can be pretty simple. Your program should allow you to define the terms in which they are allowed to advertise for your brand within paid search listings. Specify what they are and are not allowed to say in ads to make sure it aligns with your brand standards. This can, however, be difficult to police. If you’d rather maintain total control of how your brand is being messaged, you can choose to not allow them to bid on your brand terms at all or limit them to a specific subset of keywords. In order to keep the playing field level and avoid artificially increasing competition, a bid cap for entering auctions for your brand terms can also be set with affiliates.

Working with resellers to define these terms can be a little more of a grey area. Stores and sites that carry a brand can be a big part of overall revenue, so find that brands often tread lightly depending on the relationship between the companies. Where possible, keep an open dialog with your partners about their PPC efforts for your brand. If messaging and bidding are aligned properly, it should result in increased return for everyone and consistent messaging for your brand.

5. Text Ads & PLAs

With Product Listing Ads (PLAs) taking up more SERP space than ever, often above all other listings, it has become increasingly important to have a dedicated strategy and budget for Google & Bing Shopping. Unlike text ads, multiple PLAs are allowed to show at one time for one site. Now is your chance to get as many of your best products in front of searchers as possible. When they appear in conjunction with the beautiful brand text ad that shows in the top spot, magic can happen. In a recent study with Google we found that conversions can increase by as much as 260% when both appear in the space together as opposed to a text ad with the absence of a product listing ad.

With all of the noise out there, it is important to take as much control over your brand message as possible and draw the kind of attention that leads to sales for your site. Be sure to keep paid search in mind as a pivotal part of marketing strategy. Don’t rely on SEO and other advertisers to do the job for you - pull those levers and own the SERPs!

Talk to your dedicated account manager or contact us today to learn more!

Tags: paid search, PLA, google shopping, serp

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