Renu is Director of Digital Media at Vovia and is responsible for the complete execution of digital campaigns, which includes strategy, planning, execution, and optimization. When she is not working on the plans you can find her exploring the city and watching Bollywood movies.

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7 SEM Insights & Take-Aways From SMX Advanced 2017

I recently attended the SMX Advanced Conference, one of the industry’s best, designed exclusively for experienced search marketers. The sessions and speakers were fantastic, and it was also great for networking. I was lucky enough to create a few valuable and lasting connections with other attendees, speakers, and exhibitors, and I learned a ton from the ultra talented people at this conference. Today I’m going to share a few of the top take-aways from the speakers and sessions that I attended.

7 SEM Insights from SMX Advanced 2017
Here are 7 key SEM takeaways from the conference:

1. Leverage Paid Search and Social to Reach Today’s Customer

Although the conference was more geared for search marketers, social is becoming a part of the overall search strategy for the modern consumer. In the current competitive market, running Search or Social in isolation is not enough to drive the best result for businesses. Instead, multi-channel marketing forms the base of a successful campaign.

Where Search helps in understanding on-site behavior, search interest, relevant keywords, location, and device performance, Social helps in understanding types of engagements, context of engagements, conversation trends regarding the product/service, and interactions. By combining these two platforms, advertisers can reach their target audience more effectively and drive better results. A couple of neat ways to integrate Search and Social include:

  • Create a remarketing list of users who have clicked your social ads defined by a URL parameter in Google Analytics and use that list for the Search campaigns.
  • The AdWords “IF” function allows you to develop a funnel to create sequential messaging for social audiences

So what do you do? Integrate your online campaigns with multiple platforms and cross tabulate your learnings from each platform to elevate the other.

2. Unleash Google Machine Learning with Attribution

With any multi-channel marketing strategy, users often click on multiple ads before they convert; however, advertisers have historically credited only the last click. Attribution modeling enables advertisers to reallocate conversion credit using alternate models.

Before getting started, a business needs to understand how important it is for their business to go beyond last click attribution. The Google Analytics ‘Time lag’ report and ‘Path length’ report are a good starting point and can help you understanding how your customers research products and how long it takes them to actually convert on your website. These reporting functions aren’t new, but they are powerful in helping to understand the consumer’s path to purchase

So what do you do? Take advantage of Google’s Data Driven Attribution model, which uses account data to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on conversions. It also works across devices, and will be able to attribute conversions that began on one device but converted on another.

3. Develop a Negative Audience Strategy

Most businesses are after a specific target audience, that’s marketing 101; but what most don’t think about is who they don’t want to target. This ‘negative audience strategy’ will not only help in excluding the unwanted targets, but also helps in using the budget more efficiently. Some of the ways to gain insights on your unwanted audience include:

  • Match up and exclude your ‘converted leads’ list on your lead gen campaigns or within your CRM
  • Tap into Google Analytics (GA) metrics to find the poor engagers by looking at average time on site, careers page visits, etc.
  • Use Social, AdWords, and GA demographics and interest data to help determine audience exclusions

So what do you do? Spend some time determining who you do not want to target, and add those negative audiences into your campaigns. This will help you become more efficient with your audience bidding and optimization.

4. Speak to Your Audience in Their Own Words

It is just as important to find the right target audiences as it is to communicate with those audiences with the right messaging at the right time. Speak to them in their own words! A homogeneous message will not work for everyone, because different audience sets and segments are motivated by different things. What works for men might not work for women, and men that are 50 are probably looking for something very different than men who are 20. Your ad copy should be created considering each different set of audiences that you want to target, and should strive to speak to them in their own words, with messaging that matters to them.

So what do you do? This one is kind of self explanatory, but when you provide messaging that resonates with your specific audience segments, they are much more likely to engage and convert

5. Use SEM Analytics to Give Your Educated Guesses an Advanced Degree

Data is of no use if it’s not actionable. To make better decisions from a messy, complex data set, you will need to generate reports that demonstrate your findings with crystal clarity. As data can be incredibly complex for multi-faceted campaigns, this is not easy. You’ll need to employ the right tools to help you work around data imperfections, blind spots, and ambiguities, and then use your savvy to decide what’s important and relevant. Some of the top tools mentioned at the conference were: Google Studio, Tableau, Google Big Query, Amazon Redshift.

So what do you do? We all have to make assumptions from time to time, but the more data you have backing your assumption, the more likely it is to be accurate or at least close to the mark.

6. Multiple Factors Affect Shopping Ad Performance

Google shopping, Google’s comparison shopping engine, is a fantastic platform for retailers. Andreas Reiffen from Crealytics presented some keenly observed Google Shopping data including:

  • Granular account structure with products split into different product groups typically improve campaign performance. This means it’s worth the effort to structure your Shopping campaigns into product categories at the very least.
  • Impressions and clicks in Google shopping are highly sensitive to price changes. This means that products with the best price (as compared to the competition) will generate much more traffic and impressions than the more expensive counterparts.
  • Product price and seller ratings affect the ad position more than bid. To the shock and amazement of the Search Marketers in the room, campaign bidding is only the third most important factor in the Shopping results.

So what do you do? Build a strong structure and coordinate your shopping campaigns with your client’s internal team. Stay ahead of upcoming price drops and promotions and capitalize by up-bidding those products. 

7. Optimize Websites for Better User Experience

Though not a new concept, this is becoming ever more important in the face of a mobile-first world, and increasing levels of competition. To stay ahead of the game and to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns, focus on the long-term goal and align your website objectives with business KPIs and work towards building up a great user experience. Ask yourself what you want visitors to think from the minute they land on your website, to the minute they complete the purchase or engagement. Understand every touch point and its impact on customers, and you can begin to optimize that experience to give them exactly what they need to take the next step. Testing different variables on the website, such as element level testing, page level testing, and visitor flow testing provides answers to these questions, and will help you improve the consistency between expectation and execution.

So what do you do? Focus on the user and remember that they are people, not just metrics. When you satisfy the human with your website experience, you will inevitably drive better results with your campaigns.

Overall, it was a great experience to be part of this incredibly insightful conference, not to mention I got to explore the beautiful city of Seattle! Did you attend SMX this year? Let’s hear about your experience below!