Researching Or Ready To Buy 7 Ways The Buying Cycle Impacts Adwords

Researching Or Ready To Buy 7 Ways The Buying Cycle Impacts Adwords Advertisers

As any salesman will tell you, buyers typically move through stages of​ a​ predictable cycle when they make a​ purchase.

That cycle starts with an​ initial enquiry and​ ends with the​ placement of​ an​ order.

In marketing terminology, those stages are described as​ the​ research and​ engagement stage, the​ consideration and​ comparison stage, and​ finally the​ purchase stage.

The buying cycle has several important implications for​ anyone conducting pay per click (PPC) search marketing campaigns:

1. Campaign Objectives

Your campaign objective will influence which stage of​ the​ cycle you need to​ target.

A manufacturer who distributes nationally via resellers should be interested in​ reaching consumers early in​ the​ buying cycle. the​ same goes for​ a​ B2B marketer seeking to​ influence business buyers reseaching all the​ available options.

A retailer on the​ other hand will usually prefer to​ connect with consumers later, when they are ready to​ buy.

2. Keyword Research and​ Selection

In the​ context of​ online search, the​ buying cycle manifests itself as​ the​ keywords people use.

Those at​ the​ beginning of​ the​ cycle tend to​ use a​ small number of​ general keywords and​ phrases, which are typically only 1 to​ 3 words in​ length and​ desrcibe the​ niche in​ generic terms.

These often form the​ bulk of​ the​ most popular searches in​ any given niche through sheer volume and​ attrition. That's because there will always be more people populating the​ mouth of​ the​ sales funnel than there are make it​ all the​ way to​ the​ end of​ the​ cycle.

An offline analogy would be the​ average retail clothing store. There may be 10 or​ 20 people enter a​ store for​ every 1 that buys.

And therein lies one of​ the​ great ironies of​ keyword buys . . . advertisers bid up the​ cost of​ these general words and​ phrases because they're easily discovered and​ individually represent the​ most volume, but they usually don't convert so well.

Search users later in​ the​ cycle tend to​ use more specific terms and​ phrases. That means the​ query might include a​ brand name, a​ model, even an​ SKU product number.

These are the​ keywords that constitute the​ bulk of​ the​ now legendary 'long tail' of​ marketing (and search).

These terms often cost less and​ convert better. However they cost less for​ a​ reason . . . they take time and​ effort to​ find and​ aggregate in​ sufficient numbers to​ make the​ volume worthwhile.

3. Campaign Structure

You should separate early and​ late cycle keywords in​ your Ad Groups for​ Quality Score optimization and​ reporting reasons. Depending on the​ size of​ your campaign (read number of​ keywords), it​ may even make sense to​ have completely separate campaigns.

4. Ad Copy

Search marketers should be deliberate in​ targeting different stages of​ the​ buying cycle with PPC ad copy.

Ads that offer a​ free report, a​ review, or​ specifications will attract people who are in​ the​ early stages of​ the​ buying cycle, looking for​ information. Ad copy that mentions price, free shipping, or​ a​ special offer will attract those further along in​ the​ cycle.

5. Landing Pages

Your keywords, ad copy and​ landing pages should all reflect the​ same consistent message . . . and​ that message must be in​ sync not only with the​ subject of​ the​ query but also with the​ user’s current position in​ the​ buying cycle.

A user in​ the​ research stage of​ the​ cycle should land on an​ information page, while someone who specifies a​ product model as​ the​ keyword should be delivered to​ a​ page where they can actually buy that product.

So don't just send them to​ your home page.

A 2004 report from Atlas OnePoint found the​ average conversion rate for​ lead generation sites that used the​ home page as​ a​ PPC destination was just 6.3%.

The same Atlas study found that landing pages that match the​ theme of​ the​ keyword have a​ 9.3% conversion rate, and​ pages that match the​ keyword specifically have an​ 11.8% conversion rate.

That's 47% and​ 87% more conversions, respectively!

6. Bid Strategy

Depending on your campaign objective, you may decide to​ use 'stage of​ cycle' as​ a​ reference point in​ developing a​ bidding strategy. for​ example, a​ retailer may decide to​ bid lower on less targeted, early cycle keywords and​ higher on more targeted, later cycle keywords.

7. Performance Analysis

You'll often see advice from commentators that you should analyse your PPC results down to​ the​ keyword level. "Keep the​ keywords that convert and​ ditch those that don't. You'll save yourself a​ fortune" goes the​ mantra.

And there’s no doubt about it​ . . . there's always savings to​ be made by deleting keywords that never convert, especially very general and​ irrelevant ones.

But the​ buying cycle provides at​ least three reasons why you might not want be too literal in​ your interpretation of​ that advice:

- First, analysis at​ the​ keyword level won't be appropriate for​ some business models.

For example, B2B vendors selling high value products with a​ long sales cycle often only have a​ few conversions during the​ average month, so analysis at​ the​ keyword level would be overkill.

Analysis at​ the​ AdGroup and​ campaign levels is​ usually more meaningful in​ those cases.

- Until recently, the​ lack of​ click trail reporting meant that many valuable 'assist' keywords - those keywords which introduce users to​ your brand but don’t get any credit for​ subsequent conversions - were deleted unnecessarily.

A 2018 SearchIgnite survey found that 37% of​ purchase transactions were completed with at​ least one 'assist' click . . . and​ these multi-click conversions accounted for​ two-thirds of​ all clicks measured in​ the​ study.

One of​ the​ strengths of​ Yahoo's new pay-per-click system is​ that it​ can correlate and​ report this type of​ data. Sadly, this is​ not yet a​ feature of​ Google AdWords.

- Early cycle 'assist' keywords may also play a​ significant role in​ the​ well documented web-to-store conversion trend. Consumers evidently often prefer to​ research products online, then go offline to​ complete any subsequent purchase at​ a​ local store.

A 2018 benchmark survey the​ Dieringer Research Group estimated that 83 million people a​ year do that in​ the​ U.S. alone.

So there you have it​ . . . seven ways the​ buying cycle impacts Google AdWords marketers.

Happy advertising!

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