Often businesses choose Search Advertising because it drives immediate traffic and generates leads more quickly, therefore Search has been taken as a go-to channel whenever businesses want a quick fix. However, the potential of Search to be a more integrated platform within a long-term strategy is often underestimated. This article elaborates how both lead generation and brand awareness can be achieved by an integrated search strategy.

Lead Generation

In online marketing, leads are those who express their interest, or issue an enquiry, and are willing to further the communication with you by giving out their personal information such as an email address or phone number. It’s one step closer towards the final sale in a marketing funnel. Google AdWords is renowned for its ability to capture user attention when they are searching on Google for things they need, making them highly relevant visitors to the business. In a paper by Bizible that analyzed more than 480,000 leads tracked by Salesforce, Search (organic and paid) accounted for 56 percent (last touch) and 41 percent (first touch) of the leads generated. The number was still as high as 37 percent when first and last touch combined.

Brand Awareness

While a lot of businesses focus on lead generation using AdWords, it’s worth noting that AdWords is also a strong platform for increasing brand awareness. The best part of it is that you can target certain keywords that are relevant to your business, having full control of which keywords to be associated with your brand. Your ads can be shown at the top positions on search result pages together with other brands in the same industry. Depending on different verticals, the impression volume could potentially be huge. Even if people don’t click on your ads, being on the top positions will still make a name for your brand.

A Balance Between Long-term and Short-term Goals

It’s all about the balance. Being one step closer to the end is definitely desirable in a profit-driven business world, however, building positive brand image and nurturing top-of-mind brand awareness will eventually pay off in the long term. Logically, the number of lead-ready users is always limited, so in order to constantly fill the pipeline, you need to firstly turn strangers into visitors, and strive to gradually push them towards being customers.

How to Master the Art of Balance

Setting Goals and Metrics

You need to know what you want to achieve at the very beginning as this will determine your overall campaign strategy and measurement metrics. As management guru Peter Drunker said, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”; only through clear measuring of each goal are we capable of finding solutions to improve the result.
So what could be the right metrics for measuring lead generation? Well, it could be the number of contact form submissions, whitepaper downloads, or calls from the ads to name a few examples. Depending on the goals, each business might have different criteria for qualifying a lead. For brand awareness, consider click-through-rate (CTR), pageviews, returning visitors, and bounce rate as your primary performance indicators.

Keywords

Campaigns with a goal of lead generation will be more specific on keyword selection and negative keyword exclusion, whereas campaigns aiming for brand awareness have a higher tolerance for broad keywords. For instance, if a not-for-profit organisation wants to increase the number of volunteer sign ups, the keywords should be as specific as “become volunteers”, “volunteer opportunities”, or “volunteer programs”, targeting people who are actively seeking opportunities to become a volunteer. On the other hand, this organisation can also target broader terms like “community services”, “not-for-profit organisation” to just spread their name.

Ad Copy

Ad copy is a great gateway for filtering visitors based on your goals. Telling your audiences exactly what they should be expecting once they click into the ad is the key. If your goal is to get people to book a demo of your software, mention that in your ad copy; e.g., “Book A Demo”, describe the product in more details, or add a promotion if you have one. These are all effective signals of letting your audiences know what’s expected from them, while filtering out people who are less likely to become leads and saving your budget to be spent more effectively elsewhere. Last but certainly not least, send them to the most relevant landing page where the expected actions can be taken.

Conversion Tracking

As all the metrics have been planned out in the goal setting process, all we need to do now is to implement tracking for each conversion touch point, be it tracking the contact form submission, or incoming phone calls. Most conversion tracking can be done through AdWords, and if you want to level up the game by tracking more activities (like button click or page scrolling), Google Tag Manager is really handy and powerful.

Lead Generation Campaigns

Although all campaign types can serve different goals depending on how you craft it, there are a few campaigns focusing more on lead generation:

  • Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA): showing your tailored text ads to people who already visited your website when they are searching for the keywords you target. As those audiences already know who you are, and at the same time are actively searching for relevant terms, chances are high they will become leads when exposed to you again.
  • Call-only Campaign: the sole purpose of this campaign is to get people to call you. It’s tailored for businesses like florists or pizza delivery who value phone calls more than clicks. You will have more control over your bid and ad copies, and can target people more precisely and promptly.
  • Mobile App Installs Campaign: a lot of businesses nowadays are app based, and AdWords is a great channel to promote their apps and encourage people to download them. Ads can be shown on Search, Display and YouTube Networks.

Optimisation to Fine Tune the Purpose

No matter how specific your campaigns are being set up, the ongoing performance can always have unexpected dynamics that require you to adjust on the go, in order to keep your goals on track. For example to increase leads generated:

  • Increase bids for keywords that generate more leads at a cheaper price
  • Pause keywords that don’t perform
  • A/B test ad copies to find out the best performing ones
  • Test different landing pages, and add new metrics if that can help you better understand the performance

For brand awareness, add more related keywords by exhausting your imagination. If you are selling cosmetics, try keywords for makeup techniques, or celebrity makeup styles, so that people will start to recognise you as a leader in your field.

Finding the balance

As we can see, in Search, brand awareness and lead generation don’t necessarily have to be contradicting each other, they are both serving the same ultimate goal: ROI. Lay a solid foundation for your brand by keeping it top-of-mind for potential customers and properly positioned so when the time is right, those audiences will move towards choosing you, because of the familiarity and trust you’ve nurtured along the way.

Which goal do you put more emphasis on in your Search campaigns: brand awareness or lead generation? Let us know in the comments!

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