Better Marketing by Avoiding SEM Mistakes

by Aaron Goldman

Aaron GoldmanNow that Indie filmmakers have to repurpose themselves as marketers and distributors, we’re forever trying to bridge the digital divide between PRODUCT and SALES. Unless your film happens to show up near the top of search engine results, it may be lost in the hubbub of this film bazaar.

Getting the most out of search engine marketing is no small task. But like all film technobabble (try explaining “circle of confusion” or “crossing the 180” to your mother), these new skills can be mastered. And put to work.

One of the masters is Aaron Goldman. He (quite literally) wrote the book on it (“Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From Google”) and recently summed up some of his insights in a two part article for MediaPost’s “Search Insider”.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/Articles.showArticle&art_aid=155639

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/Articles.showArticle&art_aid=157290

With his permission, I’ve combined both of those articles below. The information is seriously worth reading and the leads are definitely worth following.


People just starting out in SEM often ask for advice. Here’s my Do-Not-Do list…

1. Be afraid to ask for help. More than many other group of industry professionals I’ve ever come across, search marketers take pride in their independence and ingenuity. They love to figure things out… for themselves. But they also love to share what they know. This column is living proof. When I put the call out to my fellow search geeks via three social networks, I got almost 30 responses — 19 on Facebook, 7 on Twitter, and three on Google+.

2. Not properly structuring your campaigns. Mr. Bill Leake weighed in with no less than six best practices,  including this beginner basic: Get your structure wrong and your campaign will surely self-destruct. (It will self-destruct — and don’t use bad puns, Shirley!)

3. Set it and forget it. Daanish Chishti reminds us not to neglect “ongoing campaign management” such as “bids, negatives, ad copy refreshes, etc.” And don’t forget to QA all your launches and changes after submitting them. Ron Popeil would not make a good search marketer.

4. Make changes that mess up your quality score. Another hot Leake latte. When you’ve got a good QS grandfathered in, don’t look a Trojan horse in the eye. And pick up “Quality Score in High Resolution” by Craig Danuloff (H/T to Chris Knoch) for a deeper look at QS.

5. Get lazy with ad copy. As Olivia McKinsey observes, “newbies tend to write bad creative.” Indeed, there’s an art to writing Search Haiku.

by Aaron Goldman

Indie filmmakers now have to re-purpose themselves as marketers and distributors, forever bridging the digital divide between PRODUCT and SALES. Unless your film happens to bob to the top of search engine results, it may drop out of reach, lost in the hubbub of this ever-present film bazaar.

Getting the most out of search engine marketing is no small task. But like all the technobabble that filmmakers need (and use) to survive (try to explain “circle of confusion” or “crossing the 180” to your mother), there’s no reason this new skill can’t be mastered. And put to work.

One of the masters is Aaron Goldman. He (quite literally) wrote the book on it (“Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From Google”) and recently summed up some of his insights in a two part article for MediaPost’s “Search Insider”.

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/Articles.showArticle&art_aid=155639

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/Articles.showArticle&art_aid=157290

With his permission, I’ve combined both of those articles below. The information is seriously worth reading and the leads are definitely worth following.


People just starting out in SEM often ask for advice. Here’s part one of my Do-Not-Do list…

1. Be afraid to ask for help. More than many other group of industry professionals I’ve ever come across, search marketers take pride in their independence and ingenuity. They love to figure things out… for themselves. But they also love to share what they know. This column is living proof. When I put the call out to my fellow search geeks via three social networks, I got almost 30 responses — 19 on Facebook, 7 on Twitter, and three on Google+.

2. Not properly structuring your campaigns. Mr. Bill Leake weighed in with no less than six best practices,  including this beginner basic: Get your structure wrong and your campaign will surely self-destruct. (It will self-destruct — and don’t use bad puns, Shirley!)

3. Set it and forget it. Daanish Chishti reminds us not to neglect “ongoing campaign management” such as “bids, negatives, ad copy refreshes, etc.” And don’t forget to QA all your launches and changes after submitting them. Ron Popeil would not make a good search marketer.

4. Make changes that mess up your quality score. Another hot Leake latte. When you’ve got a good QS grandfathered in, don’t look a Trojan horse in the eye. And pick up “Quality Score in High Resolution” by Craig Danuloff (H/T to Chris Knoch) for a deeper look at QS.

5. Get lazy with ad copy. As Olivia McKinsey observes, “newbies tend to write bad creative.” Indeed, there’s an art to writing Search Haiku.

6. Get lazy with ad copy testing. The first rule of testing is that there’s no winner. There’s always another variable you can test to eke out incremental improvement. Tip of the hat again to Prof. Leake. (Big ups if you guessed the first rule of testing was you don’t talk about testing.)

7. Sending traffic to broken or irrelevant landing pages. Beware the Leake-y bucket! You can get the best position with the best copy — but if your landing page is lacking, you’re loot’s in the loo.

8. Manually managing campaigns. Not using tools to automate processes like keyword development, bid management, ad testing, cross-channel optimization, inventory synchronization, and URL monitoring is a sinny-sin-sin. (Disclosure: this one I came up with all on my own, but I do work for a company that provides such technology automation tools.)

9. Setting strategies by keyword classification type. Another Leake-ism railing on those who don’t set up campaigns based on inherent taxonomy within the context of the brand or product (for example, shirts, shoes, pants) but rather by type of keyword (for example, brand, high volume, tail). SEM campaign management platforms allow you to associate these kinds of dimensions with keywords without having to structure ad groups accordingly, and some even render them moot via true keyword portfolio optimization. Avoid the MacGyver duct tape and move to the head of the class.

10.    Not understanding the fundaments of the auction model. Top bidder does not get top spot. Sorry, Charlie. You’re not #Winning on max CPC alone. @WilliamAlvarez, over and out.

11.    Putting all keywords on broad match. Oy vey! It pained me that Reva Minkoff even had to say this, but clearly some of the fresh meat out there is serving campaigns raw.

12.    Not adding negative keywords. Double vey! Alison Tesnar plays the role of Captain Obvious — but I know we’ve all made this mistake at least once, and someone took a screenshot of our ad showing up on “ridiculous (if not inappropriate) queries” to prove it. And @DanPerry makes it a clean triple play… I mean vey.

13.    Thinking there’s no need to bid on brand terms. But I’m already in the top spot for organic?! Doesn’t matter. See? You’re welcome. Sincerely, Kris McDermott.

14.    Mis-typing max CPC bids. Speaking from experience, are ya @maffyu?

15.    Using one landing page for several ad groups. Charles Lewis, the SEO Rapper (of kicking my butt at SIS fame) chimed in with this one. Hear my advice, you know it is sage, don’t be runnin’ ad groups with the same landing page! (Note: rhyme was mine, not Chuck’s, hence aforementioned butt-kicking.)

16.    Focusing on the wrong metrics. Leake’s last is a lasting lick. You have to measure what matters to your business, not just what can be measured. Key performance indicators (KPIs) fuel everything from bid management to attribution, and getting the wrong inputs is sure to generate wrong outputs.

17.    Not aligning agency and advertiser goals. Michele Markham, who’s been making it happen in the agency world since… well, she wouldn’t want me to say, knows the importance of making sure the metrics and KPIs you’re managing as an agency are defined the same way by your client. Not all leads are created equal!

18.    Setting improper goals. OK, so you’ve picked the right metrics and aligned your goals. Now make sure the actual number you’re going for makes sense. Sure, CPA may make be the right KPI for your biz, but is $20 really the proper target? As Knoch notes, “We only hit what we aim at, and if your aim is off then your entire effort is.”

19.    Chase competitors who have a lot more money. Tony Bombacino, the godfather of digital direct marketing, warns the young-uns to avoid the temptation to throw good money after bad, especially when the bad guys have more of it. Instead, he says, come up with PPC and SEO goals to “creatively compete/win.”

20.    Doing coke in a photo booth at an AOL party. Um, need I say more?

21.     Spend 80% of your budget on places “other” than Google. Erik Engman, the man with the best goatee in the biz, humors us with this 80/20 rule. I don’t think even the freshest meat are making this error — but, just in case anyone out there thinks it might be a good strategy to avoid the Big G, think again.

22.     Ignore Bing and Yahoo. Despite its market share, Google ain’t the only game in town. There are many brands/campaigns that perform very well through adCenter — sometimes, even better than on Google.

23.    Ignore Ask and AOL. Ditto here. The tier-2 engines can work hard for you and, if you don’t give them a look, you’re hardly working.

24.     Ignore other PPC channels. There’s no SE in PPC. And there are plenty of good sources of pay-per-click traffic beyond search engines.

25.     Not applying insights to other channels. SEM can be a fantastic way to learn more about your business, your customers, their needs, and your value prop. Here are 10 ways to use search data beyond SEM.

26.     Let someone else claim ownership of social network ads. Sure, you’ll need different metrics to evaluate Facebook ads, but the same rigor of campaign setup and optimization (as well as third-party tech platforms) can and must be applied to both search and social. Don’t let anyone tell you that social network advertising should be managed by the “display” team. No-one puts Baby in an SEM corner!

27.     Manage SEO separately from PPC. Would you ever let two different people pick out your shirt and your pants without one coordinating with the other? No way, Jose. (Although my daughter might be better off!) So, if you let two different people manage your SEO and PPC without working together, don’t complain when your SERP is a total clash.

28.     Creating dummy social media accounts to generate link popularity. Not surprisingly, Jenn Mathews, aka SEO Goddess, pointed out a number of SEO mistakes made by freshies. Hey, kids, creating dummy profiles just makes you a dummy. K, thx, bye.

29.     Not implementing Meta Tags. Seems like SEO 101 here  — but Jenn wisely reminds us that, even though these are no longer the most important ranking factor, they’re still an important signal. Bottom line, ya betta meta!

30.  Get paralyzed by data. The beauty of SEM is that everything’s trackable. It’s a sin not to use all the data at your fingertips. A wise man once said, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.” But an even wiser man once said, “Analytics is not a tool, it’s a discipline.”

31.  Assume you know who your competitors are. @Aaron Friedman reminds us that your competition is broader than you think. Your SEM competitors are anyone that may appear on the SERP for keywords relevant to your brand/product. Don’t just focus on your traditional competitors and make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”

32.  Take things at face value. This one comes via +Melanie Mitchell. “It is important to know who is a reliable source in the industry (there are many) and to understand the bigger implication of what [you] are doing rather than just focus on a specific task. That way you can prioritize to tackle the things that will have the biggest impact.” Of course she’d never say it, so I will: Melanie is one of the reliable ones. Definitely a face to follow.

33.  Spend time on anything but the keywords that make you the most money first. Let @cohlhoff tell you how to prioritize. First and foremost, focus on the keywords that drive top revenue, impressions, and clicks. “Everything else comes 2nd.” @DavidBLevy agrees.

34.    Don’t overlook the long tail. Even though you can have the most immediate impact by patting the head, sometimes the tail can wag the dog, per @AaronFriedman.

35.    Not going through the AdWords learning program. Knoch, Knoch. Who’s there? AdWords exam. AdWords exam who? If you have to ask, you’re fired.

36.    Thinking Google certification is all you need. Congrats! You passed. Now let’s see how you do in the “real world.”

37.    Don’t read the trades. Make sure to carve out 30 minutes every day to read articles like this one. Being too busy is no excuse. We’re all busy. Especially those of us who write these things.

38.    Attend only one search conference. I know it’s hard to find time (and budget!) to go to SEM shows, but there’s no one show that fits all.  Get your SES or SMX on to dive deep into tactics, but come up for air (one mile above sea level!) with SIS to dive deep into conversation.

39.    Toil away on social media. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you’re just doing “research” on YouTube advertising — but does it really take you two hours of Lollapalooza Live to figure out how out how Promoted Videos work?

40.    Not leveraging free tools. There are too many to name, so I won’t try. C’mon newbie, be resourceful. I can’t spoon-feed you everything!


Aaron Goldman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Kenshoo, and
author of the book “Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google.

 

Follow him on Twitter @aarongoldman.

Aaron Goldman is a ten-year+ digital marketing veteran and CMO at Kenshoo,
a leading global provider of search marketing, social media and online advertising technology
for advertisers, agencies, and local marketing providers.

Aaron is the author of “Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned From Google
and more information is at GoogleyLessons.com.

 

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