Anyone who’s run a marketing campaign within a larger organization knows that it can sometimes be a bigger challenge to justify your budget decisions to the higher-ups than to make those decisions in the first place.
Even with paid search advertising, where the average ROI can vastly exceed that of other channels, it’s tempting to try to reduce budget wherever possible. And it’s true that great PPC management is all about finding the best-converting terms and trimming the fat when you can – but you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
One of the places we see this happening most often is on branded terms. It definitely seems counterintuitive – if someone’s already searching your brand name, why pay for an ad to bring them to your site? In theory, they should be able to find you through other channels, like organic search or direct.
As it turns out, though, there are more than a few good reasons to bid on your own brand name.
Here are our favorites:
First and foremost, including branded keywords contributes to a higher quality score, which in turn improves the overall account performance and lowers your average cost-per-click (CPC). Remember, higher quality scores = lower costs per click. And while not explicitly stated by Google, many paid search professionals believe that there is an account-wide quality score which affects performance and costs.
When a person searches for your brand online, your homepage is typically the first page they’ll see. But home pages are notoriously bad for maximizing conversions compared to custom landing pages, and letting users come to your site through organic or direct limits your options. Bidding on your brand name allows you to direct new visitors to the site wherever you choose, giving you as much control as possible over the conversion process. Furthermore, landing pages allow you to test headings, calls-to-action (CTA’s) and images against your branded terms to see what works best.
Testing new ad copy.
Running ads for branded keywords lets you test new headlines and observe how they resonate with your consumers, compared against your current messaging. A little A/B testing with your headlines can quickly reveal what’s holding your ads back, and it can make all the difference for your average clickthrough rate (CTR).
Improve trust and quality visitors.
Several studies have indicated paid search ads on branded terms provide an incremental lift in site visitors, even beyond the traffic you would normally expect from organic search. That disproves the common misconception that paid ads “cannibalize” clicks from organic results. See Google’s blog post here: http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2012/03/impact-of-organic-ranking-on-ad-click.html and this one here: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2011/08/studies-show-search-ads-drive-89.html
Alerting customers to new deals, promotions and social profiles.
Branded terms can be used to cross-sell through your ad copy or landing page, something that can’t be done with organic results. Remember, using AdWords means you get to control what your users see, not Google! You can also use extensions like extended sitelinks to show images and social media CTA’s, broadly diversifying the effect of your ads.
Claiming your advertising space.
The chances are pretty good that if you’re not bidding on your branded terms, your competitors are. Google has some restrictions that prevent this – and they can’t use your brand name in their ad – but there are workarounds, and advertisers will frequently target competitor brand terms because it’s an easy way to siphon off your traffic. Don’t let them! The more ads you use for your branded terms, the harder it’ll be for them to keep up, since you’ll always be able to beat them at the Quality Score and CPC game for your own keywords.
Location, location, location.
The extent to which paid search ads give you control over the SERPs and your real estate thereupon cannot be overstated. Don’t like how your organic listing looks? Not ranking in the top three? Losing clicks to your competitors’ sitelinks? That’s okay – a great PPC ad [link to an image would be great, or somethin similar] can make those things completely forgettable to your average user. Entice them with your full-width title! Wow them with your sweet ad extensions and social plugins! Dominate the top half of the page with your sleek copy! Remember, Google users overwhelmingly prefer results on the first page, and especially the first few links on the first page. If you control that spot with authority, they will respond in your favor.
Convert top-quality visitors.
Unless your branded keywords are highly generic, there’s a pretty good chance that people searching with them are already interested in your business. Make it easy for them! Putting your ad at the top of the page reduces the friction between your site and visitors who want to convert. This alone is well worth the pennies you’ll pay for a branded click.
I dare you to search the brand name of the top few competitors in your industry and find me a business that doesn’t control both the paid search space and a top spot in organic search. It just doesn’t happen. The biggest brands (the ones with the badass marketing teams) know the importance of controlling both places. Every leading national brand does it, and your customers know that – which is why you’ll look that much more credible if you display two great results for your own search terms.
In the end, it’s up to you whether or not you bid on your branded terms. But from someone who works with AdWords day in and day out, I can tell you one thing: If you’re not bidding on branded terms, you’re most likely losing money because of it.
So what do you think? Do you bid on branded terms for your organization? Or do you avoid bidding on branded terms and see it as a complete waste of resources? Let us know in the comments below!