Segmenting Your Way to Paid Search Success

5 minute read

Google Adwords offers advertisers a seemingly endless number of settings, features and other options that allow complete customization of your SEM campaigns. While it may be overwhelming at first to familiarize yourself with the multitude of options within Adwords, doing so can allow you to effectively optimize your campaigns to target potential consumers and subsequently help you dominate the competition among your most valuable segments. At Red Ventures, our strategy is often to go as granular as possible in our campaign structure, which allows for considerable flexibility to test ideas within different customer segments throughout the entire marketing funnel. While there are many ways to capitalize on the versatility offered by Adwords, I wanted to focus on a couple of the most significant.

Location Targeting

Adwords offers you numerous powerful ways to target your campaigns geographically, from an individual zip code, a city, a DMA region, a state, or entire countries. While there are certainly advertisers who benefit from limiting their paid search efforts to a single city or small region, most RV clients touch a wide geographic footprint. We have found that splitting out campaigns with a certain group of keywords into markets that make sense for your business/client can give you a powerful way to customize your campaigns geographically. For instance, it allows you to customize ad copy towards certain cities or states and boost performance by providing a personalized local touch to a national brand.  One effective example of this involves using the Neighborhoods category of structured snippets to display different areas of a city within our ad, boosting CTR with the increased personalization.

AdWords_Segment

Segmenting by geographic area can also allow you to identify certain cities or regions where your performance is stronger, which will allow you to bid accordingly, maximizing your ROI by allocating more of your dollars to high-performing geographic segments. Finally, targeting campaigns outside of the geographic areas you typically focus on could allow you to reach consumers who may not live in an area your business touches, but could be moving there or planning a visit. Additionally, it can help gauge interest for a new business location.  For example, we’ve expanded targeting outside of the continental US to broaden our footprint to international traffic and provide partners with data to help inform a new business launch.

Demographic Targeting (Display Network only)

Demographic targeting within the Google Display Network allows you to target specific age groups or genders that are known by Google. While this isn’t useful in all situations, this feature can allow even more optimization and customization for your campaigns. For instance, if you already know the customer segment that your product appeals to, you can bid differently on age or gender segments that you know are likely to perform better in terms of click-through-rate and conversion. For instance, we have found that the “unknown” gender demographic segment tends to perform worse overall for our partners. Alternatively, if you have a wide array of products that appeal to different demographic groups, creating ads that highlight certain products and serve them exclusively to the appropriate groups can be beneficial. Finally, if a particular group doesn’t perform profitably for your business, you can cut costs by not bidding on that group altogether.

Alternatively, if you aren’t sure what your target customer segment is or only have assumptions about it, demographics can allow you to test and prove out your assumptions. You can offer the same exact experience to all segments to see which ones perform the strongest. This allows you to perform follow-up tests based on your findings to optimize to different segments and drive performance. It can also give you interesting findings to apply to your business as a whole or to share with a client.  There are certainly no hard and fast rules when it comes to demographics within the Google Display Network, and advertisers are just at the beginning of realizing this feature’s true potential. However, it has already become clear that demographic data provides advertisers yet another tool to drive the efficiency of their campaigns now and into the future.

While these are just a few examples of features you can utilize to maximize the profitability and effectiveness of your campaigns, there are plenty of other ways to narrow your focus to increasingly granular customer segments and then fully optimize a customer’s experience to achieve greater relevancy and performance. As Google Adwords continues to advance and add new features, audience segmentation will drive the future of SEM. In the foreseeable future, it’s highly possible we’ll experience functionality where Adwords will be able to take a search query, pull in the searcher’s location, gender, age group, past search history, interests, etc., and intelligently decide between a wide array of ads based on what will drive the best experience for the consumer & performance for the advertiser.

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Red Ventures

Red Ventures is a portfolio of growing digital businesses that bring consumers and brands together through integrated e-commerce, strategic partnerships and proprietary brands across the Financial, Home, Health, Education and Digital Services. Headquartered just south of Charlotte, NC, Red Ventures has 3,000 employees in offices across the US, as well as London and Sao Paulo. For more information, visit www.redventures.com.

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