June 12, 2012, 2:05 PM

IRCE 2012 Report: It’s easy to fix search marketing missteps

An exclamation point in paid search ad copy lifts sales 7%, an expert says.

Lead Photo

Udayan Bose

A session in the search marketing workshop of Internet Retailer’s Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago this week offered some eye-opening statistics on the room for improvement in many retailers’ search marketing programs.

“Less than 2% of active keywords deliver 100% of conversions,” said Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of NetElixir Inc., a search marketing agency, drawing on a three-month study of data from an unnamed mid-sized retailer client. The retailer managed bidding for 223,686 keywords, but only 2,449—just over 1%—resulted in conversions. Bose advised retailers to carefully scrutinize their keyword lists and trim terms that don’t convert.

Online search marketers also can do better with harder scrutiny of their search ad copy, said session co-presenter Steve Cates, vice president of e-commerce at Galls.com, a retailer of gear and apparel for policemen and firefighters. “Say ‘no’ to bad creative,” Cates said, citing copy that’s irrelevant, non-customized, has no differentiating claims and lacks a call to action.

Galls.com keeps its own ad copy sharply focused by using a matrix that compares its search ad copy to that of competitors, point by point, on these attributes and others.

Only a surprisingly small 23% of marketers regularly test ad copy variations, according to data gathered by NetElixir. Yet its analysis of the performance of selected clients’ Google AdWords paid search programs since 2009 showed how much of a difference a regular review of search ads and even the smallest copy adjustments can make.

“Putting an exclamation point in your search ad copy increases conversion by an average of 7%,” Bose noted. The words ‘‘official site” increase conversion by 5% on average, and putting an expiration date on a promotion—such as “ends June 30”—lifts conversion  by an average 12%, Bose added.

According to the speakers, too many search engine marketers still lack an integrated multichannel marketing approach. “Visitor path is no longer restricted to one channel,” Bose said. With NetElixir’s data showing that post-recession web shoppers now visit an average of 1.5 channels, such as physical stores, web sites and print catalogs, after clicking on a paid search ad prior to making a purchase, and take about 12% longer from first click on a paid search ad to completing a purchase than before the recession, Bose underscored that a cross-channel search marketing strategy is now more important than ever.


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