I started in the search industry approximately seven years ago. Since then, much has changed in the space and how search marketers manage their day-to-day activities. In the beginning, it was all about manually calculated bids, generating keywords out of thin air and reacting to wasted ad spend after the fact. I’m confident most search marketers have their experiences and stories to share. This Thursday is Thanksgiving. A time of the year to give thanks for everything we’re grateful for in our lives. In the spirit of this holiday, I’d like to share a list of paid search innovations that I’m not only thankful for, but that have helped shape the search industry over the last seven years.
No More Awkward Conversations
We've all had that awkward conversation during Thanksgiving with that friend of a friend or distant relative we don’t see very often. What’s there to talk about? Rather than conversing about the weather, we’d be a lot more engaged had we’d known their interests or hobbies. Fortunately for search marketers, we no longer need to have generic conversations with our target audience. Over the years, it’s become easier and easier to find who they are and where they’re located. Device targeting lets us reach desktop users in the morning and afternoon, and mobile users in the evening. Geo-targeting gives us the precision to reach customers within a single zip code. Day-parting allows us to spend efficiently, delivering ads during the hours of highest ad engagement. And finally, interest and category targeting provides the flexibility to only reach customers that might be interested in my products or services. Whether you use one or all of the targeting features above, it’s safe to say that search marketers have the necessary tools to avoid awkward conversations with our customers.
Appreciate the Underrated Side Dish
One of the great features I've taken for granted recently, is the visibility I get into the elements that affect my keyword Quality Scores. Once upon a time, search marketers had no clue as to which keywords Google considered poor quality and high quality. Using some common sense, you could make an educated guess, but that’s all changed in recent years. Now that we get to see how our expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience stacks up against the average, all of the guesswork is taken out of the equation. Though it’s now taken for granted, this level of visibility is invaluable to search marketers, allowing us to focus and prioritize our time and understand which changes will have the biggest impact.
If Only Making a Turkey Was This Easy
Gone are the days where you have to export your entire keyword list and metrics into an excel spreadsheet and calculate break-even points and profit margins. This was more common than I originally thought after talking to several industry colleagues. As the concept and importance of search was growing and gaining momentum within most companies, very few were investing in technology, tools and agencies. Today, most mature paid search programs rely very little, if at all, on manual bid calculation. Enterprise software solutions, like Marin Software, offer the automation of a bidding algorithm with the flexibility of bid rules to help search marketers achieve their business goals. Some agencies, not leveraging 3rd party software, have built homegrown tools as well. These types of solutions have taken most of the error prone mathematics out of bidding, and in turn have allowed search marketers to focus on new opportunities, like creative testing and keyword expansion, to grow their paid search program.
Hope You Saved Room for Dessert
After the turkey and mashed potatoes, there will always be dessert. Just like after all the campaign managing and optimization, there will always be reporting. Even as the search industry has evolved over the years, the need for reporting has remained a constant. One of the most significant improvements in the life of a search marketer has been the introduction of time saving reporting tools. We can now pull reports by any metric on any account level and customize reports to satisfy any requirement. Scheduling and delivering reports has never been easier and the ability to set alerts has provided unprecedented visibility into daily account performance. Of course it’s a stretch to compare anything, let alone reporting, to Thanksgiving dessert. But with all of these innovations in reporting, marketers can now test more creative and expand more keywords, and still have enough time left over to grab a slice of pumpkin pie.
It’s a great time to be a search marketer. The space is continuously evolving and so have the tools and solutions we use. We should all take time to appreciate and give thanks to being part of one of the fastest growing industries. But most importantly, we should take time to give thanks to those innovations and people that continue to make a difference.