February 15, 2005
If you're running paid search ad campaigns, you've probably noticed your Overture results are different from Google. Why? The main difference, according to Overture Trainer Mary O'Brien, may come down to copywriting. Google ads demand a punchier tone and briefer wording than successful Overture ads. More details, plus O'Brien's bidding suggestions here.
If you've tried paid search on both Overture and Google, you've probably found that they are two very different beasts, with one far outperforming the other.
Mary O'Brien, currently a training consultant for Overture and former Overture Director for Training and Organizational Development, has found that advertisers tend to split right down the middle, with 50% getting a better return from Overture and 50% claiming Google offers a better return.
Turns out this difference may be partly due to whichever system the marketer started using first. If you started out with Google, Google tends to perform better for you, and vice versa.
Why? O'Brien, who's run a multitude of campaigns on both systems, says they are more different than marketers think. So simply transferring copy from one to the other doesn't work. Here's why, along with more Overture know-how.
Copywriting for Overture (Hint: more different from Google than you might think...)
Overture allows 40 characters for the title, 190 characters for the description. It's a bit more room than a Google ad, so you don't have to write copy that's quite so punchy. Unlike Google searchers, people who search on Overture tend to respond to fact-oriented, nonsalesy content, O'Brien says. They don't like overt calls to action such as "click here," or "buy now." Save those for the landing page, not the ad itself.
Instead, focus on your value proposition: "We have the largest selection of XYZ in an easy-to-follow format" or "Check out our site for free downloadable white papers on topics such as. ..."
Five more copywriting tips:
Tip #1. Repeat the keyword *in the beginning* of the title and the body
"If the keyword is the first thing you see in the title and the description, it has more impact than if it's the last thing you see," O'Brien says. Don't put it at the end of a sentence, or even in the middle. Use it right at the very start.
Tip #2. Include a credibility statement
For example: "Voted number one by the readers of Railway Magazine," "Voted in the Top 10 by JD Power and Associates;" "Serving people on the Web for 10 years."
Tip #3. Include price only if you're the low-price leader
One company O'Brien mentions sells extremely inexpensive business cards, so their ad reads: "Check out our large selection of business cards for $9.99."
Tip #4. ...or you're the high-price leader
Highest price leaders can use prices in ads to prequalify prospects before they click. So, you might say something such as: "If you're spending $10,000 a month on XYZ, then we can help," which will eliminate people who only spend, say, $1,000/month.
However, O'Brien warns, outside of highest and lowest prices, don't mention price in an ad. You just look mediocre and noncompetitive.
Tip #5. Write titles and descriptions that fit into categories
If you bid on hundreds or thousands of keywords, it can be difficult to write different titles and descriptions for all of them. Sometimes it makes more sense to group keywords into categories, then use bullets or phrases that apply to more than one word.
Bidding tactics and the importance of rank
"Some people say, "'I'll choose 15 or 20 keywords and bid till I get to number one,'" O'Brien says. "That strategy will get you broke." Number one is not always the best choice, particularly for the broader terms. Here's why:
If someone searches for "realtor" or "real estate," they're probably at the very beginning of the decision-making process. They don't know yet, for example, what city they want to move to, or what price range they're seeking, "so they're not likely to go to the first place and pick a realtor," says O'Brien. "They'll go to three or five or 10 before they choose. At first [place], you can get a lot of clickers but not a lot of buyers."
More bidding rank tips:
-- Being in first, second, or third rank (featured at the top of the screen) will always give you more traffic.
-- At fourth rank (the first listing on the right side of the page), advertisers tend to see a "little bump."
-- At eighth rank (the last listing), advertisers also tend to see a little bump.
On affiliates' activities
Many marketers encourage loads of affiliate search marketing activity so they can "own" more results on a typical search results page. O'Brien has "heard many different conversations" on this debate.
The bottom line is that, if you allow your affiliates to bid on all your keywords so that each ad eventually leads back to you, you run two risks:
Risk #1. Customer fatigue. If a customer is looking for variety -- to compare prices or brands -- and they only see you, they can get frustrated.
Risk #2. Mixed messages. If you don't police your affiliates' creative, O'Brien explains, a customer may see a variety of different messages that all lead to you. "It detracts from your credibility."
Click fraud -- How much should you worry?
O'Brien has heard some advertisers claim click fraud to be as high as 50%. "That's nonsense," she says. "It depends on the industry; some say they never get fraudulent clicks. Also, some advertisers don't track it."
In fact, she says, when she gives seminars she asks how many people have tracking solutions in place. Generally, she has found only about 30% are tracking fraud, let alone finding evidence of it.
Tracking ROI also works well, she says, particularly for small businesses that send their shopping cart through a third party, because it does a good job of following those purchases.
Once you're tracking, Overture will give you a refund if you go to them with a report that shows, for example, that typically you do $60 a month and you've suddenly jumped to $600 a month.
Local search marketing and Overture
Overture offers a local product for which advertisers can sign up separately. It combines a variety of technologies to figure out where the searcher is located, including registration info, explicit location information typed in by the user, IP address, etc.
An Overure spokesperson clarified for us, "We leave it up to our partners (like MSN for example) to decide what type of targeting they want to employ. To date, we do not have ANY Local Match implementations that use IP-targeting."
Overture's local search looks different than regular search ads: rather than simply listing a URL, it comes up as a "business information site," with the address and phone number of the business, a map to the place of business, hours, a phone number, and a link.
Both advertisers with an actual local presence and national companies with local distributors can take advantage of local search. However, national companies must feature info about their local distributor and not just feature national info, which would be what O'Brien terms a "horrible experience for the customer."
"People get frustrated. If they type in something for a local search, they want a local business."
While advertisers are claiming fabulous conversions from local search, they're not getting the clicks, says O'Brien -- which makes sense, because local search has yet to get the same amount of traffic as regular search.
The Yellow Pages sites online will begin to create more recognition in the mind of the consumer, which may help, says O'Brien.
International search marketing tips
O'Brien, originally from the UK, has some strong feelings on marketing to Europeans and particularly to the English. She says, (with her pleasant accent), "They tend to be turned off by American spelling. They seem to think, 'Okay, we invented the language so could you do it right, please?'"
Three final tips:
-- They're more skeptical of obvious American marketing messages, so give more credibility building and a lot more content. "Americans tend to be much more comfortable with that sort of immediate marketing push."
-- Create separate landing pages for the countries you're marketing to, in the language of the country.
-- European countries tend to respond more to people rather than products, so instead of featuring a photo of telephone, for example, feature a person talking on a telephone.
Useful link related to this article
Overture has roughly 20 regional training events planned for 2005, here's the schedule so far: http://www.regonline.com/21436