SEM Habits You Need to Break in 2016


It happens — you’re pressed for time and find yourself locked into a routine. Maybe you’re good with the status quo, or maybe you don’t have the time or resources for the innovation and analysis you know you need. When it comes to digital marketing, it can be easy for the even the most experienced online retailers to fall into a slump.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most common digital marketing habits we notice in the e-commerce space. But every bad habit has a silver lining: Below are some suggestions on how to turn them into positive practices that will help you boost your bottom line and be seen online.

1) Resting on your laurels

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. While it may seem that your paid search campaigns are doing fine without any routine maintenance, the scary truth is that you could be missing out on valuable revenue by not continually testing new ad copy and keyword combinations.

Simple A/B testing is an effective way to see if your messaging resonates with a group of untapped shoppers

2) Poor Landing Page Experience

The landing page is where you seal the deal in your Ad campaign . You can get everything else right in your AdWords campaigns, but if you’re not building solid landing pages, you’re not going to turn those clicks into conversions.

Sending all traffic to one landing page or, worse, your homepage is a terrible idea. You need a targeted, dedicated landing page that serves one purpose only: getting the visitor to complete the desired action, which should be closely tied to the keyword and ad that got them to your site in the first place.

3) Being a scrooge

Whether you sell weather-dictated apparel like swimsuits and winter coats, or you simply need to make room for next year’s inventory, seasonal sales are likely critical to your business’s success. If that’s the case, one of the worst things you can do is not implement a seasonal bid strategy into your paid search campaigns.

If you’re looking to promote products that have a limited shelf life throughout the year, make sure they’re seen when it matters most by temporarily increasing your keyword bid amounts for those products. Once the product’s season or holiday is over, consider drastically reducing the bid amount or, depending on the product, setting the bid to zero.

4) Ignoring the warning signs

One of the most common mistakes that retailers make is failing to bid on their own branded keywords. Some retailers consider it a waste of money to bid on branded terms that will already generate an organic listing. However, what they don’t realize is that bidding on branded keywords has several benefits, including:

5) Forgetting your name

One of the most common mistakes that retailers make is failing to bid on their own branded keywords. Some retailers consider it a waste of money to bid on branded terms that will already generate an organic listing. However, what they don’t realize is that bidding on branded keywords has several benefits, including:

    • Helping you own the search engine results page (SERP): Think of the SERP as premium shelf space. You’re more visible to customers when your brand occupies more space.

    • Giving you more control over messaging: While owning the top position of the organic listings is ideal, you don’t have the same control over the messaging as you do with paid ads. Paid ads allow you to customize content to the user based on the keywords entered into the query.

    • Out-positioning competitors bidding on your brand name: If you’re not willing to bid on your brand name, there’s still a good chance that one of your competitors is. When a shopper is actively seeking your company out, you can’t afford to potentially lose him/her to a competitor with a shiny ad at the top of the page.

    • Not breaking the bank: In most cases, your branded keywords will cost a fraction of what your product keywords will run. At the very least, you can’t afford not to test their performance for a month or two.

6) Living in the past

Times have changed. And as you’re probably aware, shoppers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to make online purchases.

Make sure that your users have a good mobile shopping experience. In order to reach mobile users you will need to create mobile targeted campaigns that include the following features:

    • Mobile targeted ads.

    • Mobile specific keywords.

    • Mobile ready landing page URLs.

    • Add mobile bid modifiers to target the top positions on mobile devices.

7) Giving up too soon

There’s nothing more frustrating for online retailers than having customers abandon full shopping carts in the moments before checkout. You’ve done so much work to get them to that point — there should be a way to get them back, right? Fortunately, there is. Google’s remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) allow paid search advertisers to adjust bid amounts, serve custom ad copy and incorporate unique keywords based on the activity of prior visitors to your website. So if somebody leaves your site without making a purchase, RLSAs can help you reconnect with them and, hopefully, entice them to complete their order.

8) Doing the bare minimum

Promoting products with Product Listing Ads (PLAs) via Google’s Shopping campaigns has become very popular among retailers recently. So much so that competition among some brands has really heated up on the search engine results page. Retailers are trying to do everything they can to have their PLAs stand out to customers.

Listed below are some simple steps that you can take so that your PLAs stand out from the competition. One of the most effective is to focus on the actual product image that will be used for each ad. To get started, consider doing the following:

    • Use only high-resolution images that fill most of an 800 x 800 pixel space.

    • Vary the product angles to differentiate your products from those of your competitors.

    • Avoid using images with embedded watermarks.

    • Don’t include multiple products within an image.

OK, I just pointed out some of the major problems that we’re seeing in small business AdWords accounts. But let’s end on a positive note. The good news is, since the bar is so low, it shouldn’t be that hard for you to improve! Armed with these insights into what areas in your PPC account need the most work, you can easily pull ahead of the pack. Doing just a little more than your competitors can put you way ahead in the game.

by Billy Waters