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Branding Campaigns, Should You?

By Mariah Ore | January 06, 2015

4 Big Reasons to Add a Branding Campaign to Your Search Engine Marketing Strategy. 

You hear it over and over again from PPC management companies: our goal is to keep you from wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

So when we set up a branding campaign using the Search Network -- that is, running your ads under your own company name -- it may seem like we are ignoring our own advice. Why would we want to make you pay for those clicks when you could get them anyway from your organic listing?

There are quite a few reasons why branding campaigns have proven to be a beneficial part of your overall search strategy -- not least of which is the fact that running ads could help you get clicks that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

So how does bidding on branded keywords improve the overall performance of your Search campaigns?? Let’s review.

1. The Benefits of Branded Keywords Outweigh the Costs

There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not PPC ads will “cannibalize” clicks from your organic traffic. Is this true? Maybe. It is true that sometimes people will click on an ad when they may have clicked on the organic link instead.

But in most situations -- and of course, every business and industry are different -- this cannibalization won’t cost you to lose anywhere close to the value that you gain by running the ads under those brand key terms.

Google did a study looking into this hypothesis. They wanted to find out how much of the traffic that was going to PPC ads under branded terms could be made up for with clicks obtained by only organic listings after the PPC ads were moved. As it turns out, 89% of the traffic brought in by PPC ads is incremental, or could not be replaced by the organic listings.

A similar test by Rimm Kaufman offered up different, but equally surprising results: 67% of the traffic on the ads targeting branded keywords was incremental. And another, from Search Engine Land, came up with 50%. Although the numbers vary, across the board, the results show a unique value in bidding on branded terms.

With branded terms, the keywords that you’re targeting are less competitive, so they cost less per click. If you’re paying cents on the dollar for a click you wouldn’t be getting otherwise, the equation becomes much more simple -- you’re really just paying for traffic, just like other paid ads. But you’re paying less than you would for other keywords. Who can say no to that?

2. Branding Can Help Improve Overall Historical Data

If someone is already looking for your company specifically when they type in a search term, they are much more likely to click on your ad when it pops up under your company name than they would if they are typing in a service and choosing between multiple different companies.

That’s why branding campaigns using the Search network tend to bring in much higher CTRs than product or service keywords. Most non-branded search campaigns will achieve a  CTR of around 2% or higher, but with a branding campaign, you can experience a CTR closer to the 10% range.

And what’s so awesome about getting good CTRs?  Better stats for your account as a whole.

CTR is one of the of most important factors for getting good quality scores. Quality scores are assigned at the keyword level, but good quality scores add up, helping to show Google that your ads are part of a relevant, well-established, and successful account.

3. You Control What Users Experience

If you rely on organic listings, you are relying on Google’s bots to find the most relevant landing page for the user. Often times, this is the page on the site that receives the most visitors, or the page that is the most general representation of what you offer. But if you also run branded terms, you can direct users to a landing page of your choosing that can offer them the best expierience.

According to Marc Bitanga of Hootsuite, conversion rates can be better with branded keywords simply because you have more control over the sales funnel.

His point is that because a homepage has a lot of functions to perform already, such providing users with access to many pages and giving a more general description of what services the company offers, it might not be the best landing page.

According to Bitanga, “your typical SEM landing page on the other hand isn't burdened with the same objectives as your homepage and likely has a significantly higher conversion rate.” Users tend to respond better to a landing page when it has more specific information about what they are looking for.

4. Claim More First Page Real Estate

Above the fold on Search Engines is prime real estate -- and it’s even better if you can show up under your brand name to reinforce your brand identity. When people do a search for you, what they see will give them a big indication of how established you are. Visibility is crucial, and having multiple links visible to potential users shows that you are serious about earning their business.

Something else to consider: competitors may be targeting your branded keywords as well. Even under your branded terms, you may have to compete for that visibility. It’s a common strategy to bid under a competitor’s brand name because it’s less expensive. If you can beat them out by being more visible or by offering a better deal, you may end up getting the business.

If you don’t run under your branded keywords, you may be losing business to savvy competitors who are profiting from your good name. It’s a relatively small expense for being able defend your real estate, and a huge opportunity to grab users that may end up elsewhere.

Just like any PPC strategy, it’s always best to try run tests to see what works best for your business. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us! We are always happy to help.

Mariah Ore

Though she’s not great at writing bios, Mariah can write case studies, articles, and even emails (wow!). When she's not working on Logical Position’s blog or marketing materials, you can find her salsa dancing, writing poetry, exploring Portland, and just hanging out with friends.
By Mariah Ore | January 06, 2015
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