The KPI Search Marketers Actually Need to Monitor | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

The KPI Search Marketers Actually Need to Monitor


Brand search should already be one of your highest converting channels. But what if you're leaving money on the table? If you don't have the capability to easily do hundreds of multivariate A/B tests on your search campaign a year, there's no way you're converting as much as you can.

We know that the modern purchase journey is nonlinear, so while some brand searchers are already at the purchase point, others are still in the consideration phase which means you still need to work at winning them over. To know if you are doing this effectively, CMOs can gain the most insight paying close attention to sales per 1,000 impressions. There is a ceiling to your brand's impressions, which you are likely already hitting. So, getting the most conversions for those impressions is where you need to focus.

With the north star KPI being sales per 1,000 impressions, search marketers can employ the following tactics to fully optimize their search ecosystem.

Test your SEM team. Challenge your business's existing structure. Often businesses have long-standing relationships with their search agency or in-house marketing team, but to ensure their campaigns are running at peak performance, run a head-to-head test with another agency. You'd be surprised how a different structure or fresh optimization ideas can yield significantly different results.

Measure with third-party. The last thing you want is for internal biases and emotions to put blinders on your data analysis. Leveraging a third-party removes the emotional influence on what's working, what's not, and how to strengthen campaigns. Provable, actionable insights that bypass any internal politics support the most effective conversion strategies. This is also a strong offering when testing new agencies and you want to set up a head-to-head test against an incumbent agency or competing search firms.

Always experiment. This comes in many forms: keywords, campaign structure, bidding strategies, ad creative, and landing page copy. You can't "set it and forget it" or you will be missing out on potential customers.

Optimize your real estate. Adding a second branded position to your company's SEM strategy unlocks incremental revenue by diversifying and personalizing ad experiences for new and prospective customers alike. Having different ads in the market that promote separate products, services, and solutions captures customers at all stages of the purchase funnel. These different experiences, URLs, and calls to action that are tailored to different target audiences collectively convert customers at scale.

Defend your brand. "Conquesting" is always a reality for big brands because competitors want to feed off of your brand's equity. Adding a second paid branded position into your Search Engine Results Pages will push those conquesting to the bottom of the page. Conquesters typically can't compete with the cost per clicks (CPCs) that the branded campaigns pay due to higher quality scores.

Personalize the experience. Meet the customer where they are, whether by phone, SMS, chat, or email. Remember: contextualization advertising experiences create conversions! So, use technology that allows you to fully personalize all these touch points by using behavior triggers.

Work with non-brand or comparison keywords. Consumers are doing more research than ever before on the products and services they buy. They're spending more time making purchase decisions, even influencing search word trends with an increase in "cheapest" and "best" searches. In a recent test by my company, we compared showing ads on non-brand search terms with a comparison site vs directly to a brand site for a home services client. We saw an 80 percent higher CTR and a 62 percent lower CPC. With comparison sites, the consumer gets what they're looking for, and it's cheaper and easier for the brand to convert customers.

Don't make the mistake of getting stuck on mid-funnel KPIs when experimenting, ensure you are looking at the impact to the full funnel with sale per impression in addition to cost per acquisition (CPA) impact. To optimize customer experience, attribution, and consumer engagement that ultimately drive incremental sales, search marketers need to let data drive their decisions. CMOs need to study the conversions per 1,000 impressions to fine-tune their SEM strategy and maximize customer acquisition.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Luanne Marek is senior vice president, media of Centerfield, a premier outcome-based marketing service for digital customer acquisition. Connect with her via LinkedIn.