Ping Jen

Senior Program Manager, Bing Ads Planning
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Bing Ads and You: Synergizing Content Marketing and Search Engine Marketing

In the last post of this Bing Ads and You series, we discussed how a strong brand could lower the cost of search engine marketing and how to adopt content marketing to promote your brand.  Since then, I have read Anders Hjorth’s, “The Missing Link in Digital Marketing,” discussing the challenges to properly credit the efforts across Brand Marketing and Performance Marketing, Anders called out:

When you invest heavily in brand exposure it has an impact on the performance of your conversions. You KNOW it works but you can’t always SHOW it works.” 

Meanwhile, I have also received a couple of inquiries from Bing Ads blog readers on whether it’s necessary to have a strong brand before starting search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns.  While Brand Marketing’s ROI is harder to measure and a strong brand is not a pre-requirement to start SEM campaign, many left branding on the to-do list, but I would like to point out the newly available remarketing function enables marketers to execute content marketing and search engine marketing to targeted audiences simultaneously in order to deliver a 1-2-punch and conduct A/B testing to assess Brand Marketing’s ROI.

In this post, l would like to give you a quick overview of remarketing before illustrating how we leveraged it in the MaternaLIFT Project.

First, what is remarketing?  As most website visitors won’t purchase products on their first visit, remarketing enables merchants to follow up with those customers-to-be to influence their purchase decisions.

Second, how do you adopt remarketing?  Remarketing is audience-driven and you need to deploy an audience tag at your website/selected web page(s) to mark those you would like to follow up with. The audience tag is named differently across major marketing platforms: It’s called Universal Event Tracking (UET) at Bing Ads; the remarketing functionality will be available to everyone in Fall 2015. In Adwords, it’s called Remarketing and Custom Audience at Facebook.

How to create a Facebook Custom Audience

 bing ads content marketing search engine marketing

Note that meticulous selection of your marketing audience with an eye towards balancing its scale and relevance is the key to a successful remarketing campaign.  That said, please keep the following two scenarios in mind while defining your remarketing audience:

  • Tagging the whole website would help you reach the marketing platforms’ remarketing activation threshold while those visitors are still in shopping mode, but it prevents you from presenting a specific value proposition for an individual product listed on its own web page.
  • Tagging specific web page(s) would enable you to be more targeted in messaging and to better adjust bids based upon an individual product’s margin, but this audience group could take a longer time to meet the remarketing activation threshold and wouldn’t reach potential buyers in time.

 

For the MaternaLIFT Project, after studying its web site traffic volume, its potential customers’ purchase behavior and its website structure, we decided to apply remarketing to those who have been to MaternaLIFT’s product page without purchasing in the past 15 days and used Google Tag Manager (GTM) to deploy audience tags accordingly.  While deploying audience tags with GTM is relatively easy, it’s the tag firing and blocking rules you need to master to connect with the right audience.

How to use Google Tag Manager to deploy Bing Ads and Facebook’s audience tags

 bing ads content marketing search engine marketing

After designing and implementing the audience tags, we created a new campaign in the search engines and generated corresponding marketing content at Facebook to follow up with those targeted audience with...

  • A broader set of keywords to increase visibility.  Knowing ads will be shown to those have evaluated MaternaLIFT’s products, we were able to bid on general terms that we normally wouldn't be able to adopt due to their lower ROI, which increases the chance to engage with those about to purchase.
  • Higher bids to show ads in prominent positions. Remarketing also enables us to increase bids to show ads in a higher position where more clicks take place (accordingly to a study conducted by complete: 85% of clicks took place in the top of the page).
  • Messages focusing on unique features and brand value. Knowing ads will be shown to those in comparing offers, we crafted message to address their main criteria: is this what I need in terms of product price and brand value?  We highlighted those elements on SEM ads and created a post on Facebook to provide more details, then leveraged remarketing to connect search engine marketing and content marketing to deliver a consistent and complete message to drive sales.

 

How to leverage remarketing to coordinate your marketing efforts across search engines and social media

bing ads content marketing search engine marketing

Use remarketing to deliver a 1-2-punch from both search engines and social media to drive more sales.  You also can leverage it to conduct an A/B test to compare the result for doing performance marketing or brand marketing alone, which we plan to do with MaternaLIFT and will share the findings afterwards.

 

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Bing Ads and you: Building your brand through content

Every business has a name, but that name does not become a brand until consumers understand the unique offers behind that name and associate it with the promised products and services.  A brand takes time and resources to build, but it rewards handsomely after its establishment; having a brand will help generate more direct traffic to your website and give your search engine marketing campaign a leg up on these three fronts:

1.) Having a lower cost on high quality traffic

Set up correctly (i.e. backed by good landing page relevance and user experience), the brand term keywords generally have a higher Quality Score because when search users include your brand name in their search queries, search engines consider it a very strong intent to have information from your shop. This helps make your brand term keywords highly relevant, subsequently resulting in a lower cost per click (CPC).

2.) Making it cost-prohibitive for others to show ads on top of yours for your brand terms traffic

Search engines allow companies to bid on others’ brand terms as long as they are not mentioning others’ brand terms in the ads. However, search engines wil assign a lower Quality Score on those keywords due to their lack of high landing page relevancy.  Because of this, it could be cost-prohibitive for competitors to bid aggressively enough to overcome the Quality Score deficit that would show ads on top of the brand owners’.  

3.) Boosting the performance of non-brand keywords

Search engines factor the overall keywords’ performance within the same account when estimating the possibility of getting clicks for each individual keyword.  The brand term keywords’ higher performance in getting clicks will help generate additional credits for non-brand term keywords’ clickability, thereby lowering the overall campaign cost for your account.

So, how well is your brand doing?  Do people search for your brand?  When your brand term keywords generate ads, are they showing on the top of the page?  Is your direct traffic growing?  If “no” or “maybe” are your answers, you should spend more time getting potential customers to understand your unique offers and services, which will help lower your traffic acquisition cost and, hopefully, better convert visitors on your website. 

As consumers are getting numb to the usual sales calls and newly emerging online tools and platforms have introduced many creative ways to engage with potential customers, many are adopting Content Marketing to cultivate their targeted audience.  Before diving into this technique, let’s first highlight the definition of Content Marketing from the Content Marketing Institute (be sure to visit the "Social Media Marketing for Small Business" tag here on the blog for more on Content Marketing):

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

This technique can be applied to nurture your brand and sell your products.  For those who don’t yet have a strong brand, focusing on branding first will provide a more sustainable growth trajectory.  While working on MaternaLIFT’s case study we teamed up with content marketing expert Jessica Lee, owner of bizbuzzcontent, to leverage Content Marketing techniques that would help promote the MaternaLIFT brand. 

These are three steps we focused on:

1.  Create valuable, relevant and consistent content for targeted audience. While working with MaternaLIFT owners to consistently illustrate their value propositions/brand across website, ads and social media, Jessica reminded us that more is not necessary merrier when it comes to generating content; your audience could be overwhelmed by the amount of content and not get the intended message.

2.  Distribute quality content to engage with targeted audience. We first established a Facebook Page Likes campaign to identify potential buyers and establish a content distribution channel, then have the business owners publish posts to demonstrate their deeper knowledge in what causes pregnancy-related back/pelvic pain, and how their innovated design eases that pain.

 bing ads brand terms

3.  Drive conversions from targeted audience. Content Marketing is all about guiding potential buyers through their purchase journey with valuable, useful information. Jessica called out the fact that businesses should reference their potential customers’ purchase journey to design their website and arm each page with specific information to keep their visitors on track through that journey.  Once again, overwhelming content, especially pictures, could distract your visitors and have them stray.

bing ads brand terms

I hope you have a chance to apply some of these Content Marketing techniques to help polish your brand, enabling potential customers to embrace your business as a valuable resource in their own purchase journey.  

As you can see, every aspect of these tactics are anchored by understanding the target audience; this is the foundation of any successful marketing initiative. You can reference a previous post in this series to refresh how to identify your targeted audience.  In the next post, we will go over how to synergize your Content Marketing efforts and paid search campaigns to drive more conversions from targeted audience.

Happy Advertising!

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Bing Ads and you: How to plan a successful PPC campaign

In the last post in the Bing Ads and You series, we went over collecting audience insights to anchor your marketing plan. Today, we will again leverage MaternaLIFT’s case study to illustrate how to plan a successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. Bing Ads teamed up with Kelly Malm, Digital Marketing Strategist and owner of Digital Conflux to develop a campaign proposal for MaternaLIFT. 

The following insights summarize what we've learned from Kelly while crafting the plan.

1. The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is converting prospects into lifetime customers. Keep this top of mind then next time you create an SEM campaign proposal for your clients.  

To create a campaign proposal for MaternaLIFT, we studied the business’s web analytics data to assess our paid search channel’s contribution to its total visitor volume, estimate the additional paid search traffic generated by the campaign and what the long-term impact on other visitor channels may be as a result.

bing ads plan successful campaign

We also leveraged MaternaLIFT’s web analytics data to assess how visitors react to different landing pages and focused on those with the highest visitor engagement (lower bounce rate, higher pages/session and session duration) to craft our proposal.

bing ads plan successful campaign

2.  SEM is all about having a measurable outcome.  Don’t rush the process of carefully defining your goals and success metrics, a critical feature of a promising campaign proposal.

For MaternaLIFT, we took the following steps to create performance metrics:

1.       Identify web events contributing to MaternaLIFT’s business objectives and list conversion trackers we will deploy.

2.       Assign value to each type of conversions based upon MaternaLIFT’s input - different activities contribute different values to your business (e.g. scheduling an appointment has higher value than signing up for newsletter), assign proper value for each type of conversions enable business to properly measure return on ads spend.

3.       Specify the process to validate whether conversion trackers are work correctly to avoid looking a compass not pointing north   

 

3.  Study your client’s business structure to recommend the optimal campaign structure for that business in your proposal.  

Mirroring your SEM campaign structure with your client’s business structure will enable you to apply business information unique to that merchant into the SEM campaign, making it easier to coordinate online and offline marketing down the road. We leveraged the following charts to help MaternaLIFT’s understand a traditional SEM campaign structure and best practices before brainstorming on how we will reflect its business structure on its new SEM campaign.

bing ads plan successful campaign 

bing ads plan successful campaign

bing ads plan successful campaign

With your search engine marketing plan’s relatively short shelf life (given the accelerated pace of new products and a constantly changing marketplace dynamic), it’s more important than ever to regularly review and update that plan.

Through this project we've learned that there's a steep learning curve on how to grow a business and how to develop a campaign; this blog post series aims to help busy merchants like you learn more about the foundation of digital advertising.

Until next time,

Ping

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Bing Ads and You: Using Facebook Audience Insights to improve your CTR

When was the last time you even made eye contact with the salesperson at your favorite retail outlet, who could only manage to say “Hello,” as you walked briskly past? What if that salesperson already knew what you were looking for and could bring you right to it?  Would they have you at "Hello"? 

Having that audience intelligence before your customers even make eye contact with your ad on their screen is the first and most critical step to running a successful campaign.  As illustrated in the opening post of this Bing Ads and You series, knowing your customer better than the competition is the difference between a campaign that rocks and one that flops. 

Today, I will dive further into Audience, the cornerstone of our Marketing Development Cycle, leveraging MaternaLIFT’s case study to reveal techniques and best practices that will help have your customers engaged with the first, “Hello!”  

Key elements of the Marketing Development Cycle

bing ads marketing

While working with Kevin and Jessica at MaternaLIFT to identify their customers and develop a customer profile, we interviewed them to collect their customer engagement experiences. We used Campaign Planner within Bing Ads to study related customers' activities across the Yahoo Bing Network and we teamed up with social media expert, Dayna Moon, Sr. Director of Social Media at 3Q Digital to extract audience insights from MaternaLIFT’s Facebook account. 

Here is what this experience taught us, and how the campaign performed as a result:

1. Study customer activities with Bing Ads Campaign Planner

Bing Ads Campaign Planner helps you analyze potential customers’ activities on the Yahoo Bing Network and assess the competition in engaging with that audience. More importantly, Campaign Planner presents seasonal trends in a convenient daily/weekly/monthly/annual format to help you seize the moment and benchmark your campaign performance.

Using Bing Ads Campaign Planner to collect dynamic insightsbing ads campaign planner

2. Apply audience insights from Facebook to Bing Ads campaigns

In Facebook, you can collect audience insights from two activities:

1.) Facebook users interact with your Facebook page. By going through the Insights/People menu on your Facebook page, you can get general information, such as gender distribution, age range, prevalent locations and languages.

Audience insights from your Facebook page

bing ads facebook data

2.) Facebook users visited your website. Create a custom audience and select it from the Audience Insights menu.

How to collect audience insights on those visited your website/web page(s)

bing ads facebook data

Integrating the information from Campaign Planner and Facebook Audience Insights, you get a deeper view of your potential customers: not just who they are, but which ones are more likely to purchase your products during a certain season. 

For MaternaLIFT, a company selling an innovative maternity support product, Campaign Planner helps them confirm that there are relatively little seasonal changes for maternity products, but that some US states have a higher demand than others, and most related searches are conducted on a PC.

Likewise, Facebook’s audience insights helps them identify the age range of potential customers, confirm which city/state have the highest interest for their product and their purchasing behavior.  

MaternaLIFT tailored their Bing Ads campaign settings with the insights learned from both tools, and as a result, observed a 30% lift in CTR! 

Transferring Facebook audience insights into your Bing Ads campaign settings

bing ads facebook data

bing ads facebook data

Until Next Time

Remember: audience intelligence anchors a successful advertising campaign; having a deeper understanding of your customers helps you develop an actionable marketing plan that promotes your value proposition with highly relevant content.  In the next article for Bing Ads and You, we'll discuss how to develop such a marketing plan.

Meanwhile, feel free to drop me a note if you have a question on building audience insights that will make customers say, “You had me at hello!

Happy Advertising,

Ping Jen

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Bing Ads and You: Does your campaign need a lift?

As a part of Bing Ads customer outreach program, we have been assisting several greater Seattle based merchants adopt digital advertisement to grow their business and collect their feedback to improve Bing Ads.  MaternaLIFT, a company specializing in improving pregnant womens' comfort throughout their pregnancy, joined the program in November 2014 and has since experienced an increase in both sales and brand awareness. 

In this blog post series, we will share some tips and tricks based on what we learned from developing MaternaLIFT’s campaigns in an effort to give yours a lift as well.

About the customer

In 2009 Obstetric Physical Therapist, Kevin Hansen, P.T. and women’s fashion designer, Jessica St Marie founded a company to create a new generation of maternity support that would be both effective in helping pregnant women as well as comfortable to wear.  MaternaLIFT is the result of Kevin and Jessica’s three year design and refinement process. They have been successfully in selling MaternaLIFT in Kevin’s clinical office and joined the Bing Ads Customer Outreach Program to help grow MaternaLIFT sales through online marketing.

In their own words, here's what Kevin and Jessica had to say about their experience:

“The experience for us has been great, way beyond than we expected.  We were progressively impressed and surprised with the results, as the exposure to our product built-up and then turned into sales. The support and amount of information that this program has provided us has helped us understand better how to reach our market. We also have learned that with the advanced tools now available to the savvy online marketer, you can start out with a wide reach and then quickly narrow the focus of your marketing efforts into the channels that are providing you the most cost effective return.”

We started this project by teaming up with Kevin and Jessica to study their products and their business plan to make sure the four elements of digital advertising campaign -- audience, content, campaign and analytics -- were in place to meet the campaign goals (which we did in 2 months!).

Their audience

Identifying audience is the first step to creating any kind of advertising campaign.  Business owners should be able to vividly portray their main customers and put them in context, such as...

1)      Who they are (age, gender, demographic, needs).

2)      What their buying behaviors are.

3)      Why they choose your products instead of competitors’.

For MaternaLIFT, Kevin and Jessica were able to leverage their observation in Kevin’s clinical office to describe who their potential customers are, what motivates them to purchase MaternaLIFT and how they approach the purchase.

 

Content

After knowing the target audience, the next step is to distribute relevant content to keep engaging with these potential customers in order to keep your brand and products top of mind. Many industry researches prove that relevant content builds trust, which can then foster sales.

Content creation might sound challenging for many local business owners given how many other priorities they're juggling, but the direct engagement with your customers on a daily basis gives you an upper hand in generating unique and valuable content. There is simply no substitute for having deep knowledge and understanding of what your customers love about your products, as well as what they're not all that thrilled about (which you can use to make improvements).

For MaternaLIFT, Kevin and Jessica have established a user-friendly, content-driven website to guide their visitors through the information gathering phase of the purchase journey. They regularly publish highly relevant posts by wrapping their product around customer context along with simple graphics to help their audience understand the product.

Campaign

An effective campaign is all about leveraging your audience insights and unique value propositions to facilitate purchases for your target audience, with the goal of converting them into loyal customers through providing an exceptional user experience. In execution, keep these two consumer behaviors and their resulting implications in mind:

1.)      Most consumers use different devices to collect information from various channels to complete their purchases, multi-channel campaigns across various devices is a must have in the information era.

2.)      Established brands draw higher attention (i.e. higher CTR) and have an advantage (i.e. lower CPC) in search engine marketing campaigns (SEM); presenting unique offers to grow brand awareness is a must have.

For MaternaLIFT, we helped Kevin and Jessica convert their audience insights into their campaign’s targeting settings, transfer their marketing content into ad copies and leverage Bing Ads Campaign Planner to develop realistic budgets and goals.

Analytics

Digital advertising is all about measurable outcomes, such as...

  • Campaign performance  – the effectiveness of your campaigns in reaching your target audience. Key performance indicators (KPIs) include: impressions, clicks, click through rate (CTR), cost per clicks (CPC).
  • Business impact – how your audience reacts to your website content and offers. KPIs include: bounce rate, average page per visit, conversions, cost per acquisition.

For analytics, be sure to implement Bing Ads Universal Event Tracking (UET) in order to connect those two views, which can help you better optimize campaign settings and drive a higher return on investment (ROI).  For MaternaLIFT, we helped Kevin and Jessica adopt UET to understand the nature of their traffic in the context of how users were exploring their website  information, buying products, how they arrived at the website (e.g. which keywords brought them there) and their value to build ROI positive campaigns.     

As a business owner engaged in digital advertising, it is crucial that you optimize in terms of target audience, content, campaign and analytics simultaneously in order to get the most out bang for your buck. In the upcoming posts, we will go over techniques and best practices for improving each one of these aspects of campaign optimization.

If you're interested in learning more about the program that MaternaLIFT particpated in, feel free to send an email of inquiry to tradeplaces (at) Microsoft.com. If you're new to Bing Ads and need some help to get your new campaigns firing on all cylinders, you can take advantage of our free coaching services for new advertisers.

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Bing Ads and the Competitive Advantage

How does the Bing Ads product portfolio, combined with Bing’s search audience, enable you to gain a competitive advantage in search engine marketing? I would like to reference the ideas of Competitive Advantage from Michael Porter, a Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, to illustrate five Bings Ads campaign optimization features designed to enable you to create different offerings in comparison to your competitors, all at a lower cost.

Bing Ads’ Competitive Toolbox

Porter’s ideas are based on increasing competitive advantage through two fronts: 1) lower cost and 2) a unique product offering when compared to competitors. Porter notes that competitive advantage is created by using resources and capabilities to achieve either a lower cost structure or a differentiated product. To help connect the dots, below is a list of Bing Ads features that enable you to be more competitive on those two fronts.

When used together, this group of Bing Ads features create a competitive toolbox for you to acquire or maintain a competitive edge:

 

Start Strengthening Your Advantages Today!

A successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaign is all about generating ROI-positive conversions at a lower cost than your competitors to grow your business. We encourage you to adopt these features and resources in the Bing Ads competitive toolbox (implementation guide: Part I and Part II) to create and grow your competitive advantage in the search marketplace.

Trust in knowing that you can become more proactive in differentiating your campaigns and altering your bid strategy. Pairing this approach along with one-hour reporting, new targeting options, and the cost-per-click advantage of using Bing Ads, you can get an edge in achieving your campaign and business goals.

Ping Jen

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