As a digital creative agency, we run a number of PPC accounts for our clients, with an array of budgets, goals and ambitions. We are often asked a very common question: Why are we bidding on our own brand terms?
This usually goes hand-in-hand with us being chosen as the client’s SEO partner too, as part of a wider data-driven digital marketing retainer. “Hang on, if you’re optimising us to rank organically, why are we still paying to be top?” – fair question, but there are a plethora of reasons your PPC agency will target brand terms – even Amazon bid on their own brand terms and they are an absolute behemoth, digitally speaking.
Here’s our Top 5 reasons to bid on brand:
1. King of the Castle: Dominate the SERP (search engine results page).
Two, or three, or four (or more…) links are better than one. In the same way that having multiple links in your email marketing campaigns can increase CTR (click-through rate), giving the user more opportunities to take action and click gives you a distinct advantage. This can be likened to the way in which McDonalds has 10+ branches along Oxford St in London. They want to capitalise and capture people ‘in the moment’ at the point of interest, to and ensure you’re never far away from a BigMac (or in the case of PPC, the “Click” through to content I want/need). In the case of multi-national brands, you may even be competing against .com .co.au .fr .es etc. In all of these circumstances, you’re guaranteeing prevalence over these sites (who may out-rank organically). Also, it’s been shown that appearing in both the organic and paid areas, you are demonstrating that you are the leader in your space – if you own the primary ATF ‘above the fold’ real estate, it usually signifies you’re a big player.
2. Preach to the converted: You can control your messaging.
Organic listings are obviously better (they’re FREE! Hence the aforementioned SEO conundrum) but they are often very generic and, to be frank, a bit boring – with minimal space for ‘selling’ and a lag between making optimisations and them being displayed in SERPs. Paid Ads give you the chance to put a more ‘attention grabbing’ message in front of searchers and make them want to actually visit your site for more specific reasons. Also, organic results often don’t always send searchers to the most relevant landing page. Paid ads and, more specifically, ad extensions can be used to send users to the highest converting landing pages. (e.g. products, services, special offers, customer service etc). Furthermore, you can test messaging and value propositions that you can’t specifically call out in your organic listing; you can test different verbiage to see what resonates the most with your audience, as well as being able to call out specific promotions or echo offline campaigns, highlighting what makes your offerings unique in comparison to competitor.
3. Own the Zone: Block competitors from invading your territory.
If your competitors are savvy, they’re already bidding on your branded terms. So, if someone does a search for your company, they’ll find your vanilla organic listings flanked (or even preceded) by a nice shiny ad singing the praises of your competitor. This may actually cause traffic that would have been headed to your site to be diverted right over to the welcoming landing pages of your competitor. Going back to the McDonalds analogy, this tactic stops the potential customers diving into Burger King or Pret-a-Manger before getting within sniffing distance of a Big Mac.
4. Cheap Thrills: Branded terms are cheap keywords that actually have search volume.
Not only are these keywords more cost effective, they also garner some of your highest click-through rates and ad Quality Scores – after all, the destination page for these ads should represent your brand if nothing else. You can also turn this to your advantage by being able to drive these cheaper clicks to the aforementioned higher-converting pages, or specific landing pages, where you effectively leverage your brand clicks to blinker customers into seeing only the messaging you want at this time. There’s a knock-on effect to the fact that brand-based searches are highly relevant. As they usually get both higher CTRs and Quality Scores, the account-wide average for a brand campaign also increases, saving more budget and improving ROI because Google rewards advertisers with high quality scores by reducing their CPC.
5. Lower the Stakes: Higher-quality leads nearer the point of conversion.
People who are searching for your branded terms already know of your brand. They will have heard about you from an industry peer, an event or show, researched you in the past or are existing customers. They know you have what they want and, chances are, they are further along in the buying cycle than the average user who’s searching more generic terms.
There are many additional reasons and, more importantly, studies and research to back this up. Google conducted a study called “Search Ads Pause Studies” which demonstrated that, the average “incremental ad clicks percentage” is 89%. This means that 89% of the traffic generated by paid search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused. So, running paid search ads increases the CTR for your listings (and this effect actually includes your organic listings), by as much as 89%. Of course, there are times and occasions where bidding on brand is not an integral element of a brand’s strategy, and this should always be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Overall, bidding on brand gives businesses cost-effective control and flexibility. The key consideration is that this should only form a component part of a wider PPC and data-driven digital marketing strategy, and should be leveraged alongside other strategic campaigns to deliver on the company’s targets and KPIs.
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