Search Engine Guide: Managing Search: Technology Tools and How to Use Them
Define a methodology: Set goals for your search marketing campaigns; define the metrics you will use to measure success against your goals; and diagram the tactical procedures that will influence the metrics you choose. Once you have a sense of the tactics involved, you can judge the effectiveness of technology. As you gain knowledge and observe market changes, your methodology will evolve. Continually re-evaluate how you use technology to achieve your goals.
Tracking and reporting: The metrics you track and the reports you generate should tell you two things: how you are doing and what you need to focus on to do better. The first type of report should show progress against the metrics you selected to measure success. It also should present the data in a way that stakeholders who do not understand search can appreciate what you are doing. Factor in variables such as lifetime value or offline sales if they are relevant to your campaign. The second type of report is purely tactical: What keywords, positions, ad creative, match types, etc., are driving results? Use this reporting daily as you tweak the performance of your campaign.
Bid management: Use a bid management tool to maintain an optimal rank for your keyword ads or to dynamically set rank based on the bid landscape. Test and refine bidding strategies based on time-of-day/day-of-week, friendly URLs, bid gaps, competitors' hostile tactics and other factors. Ideally, the tool you use will support various heuristic rules you develop as you learn your market.
Optimization: If you include the many variables that affect search performance, manually calculating optimal positions across many keywords and search channels is at best time consuming and at worst impossible. To optimize properly, you need to invest in some kind of technology. Most vendors have functionality that meets this need, but be mindful that your goals are being properly served. Optimization models tend to be focused on a limited set of constraints.
Titles and descriptions: Most commercial tools have limited capabilities in tracking and managing search listing copy. Don't be mislead: The text that appears in your search listings has a huge effect on ad performance. Include optimization of ad copy in your methodology, regardless of the level of support provided by a given tool.
Stay in control: A tool cannot manage search for you. Technology can make you more efficient and technology can provide quantitative insight, but knowledge and judgment are still the most important factors in a search marketing campaign.
Tip: PayPerClickAnalyst.com and MikesMarketingTools.com maintain lists and reviews of search engine marketing tool vendors.
For more articles from The Direct Marketer's Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing, visit www.dmnews.com/search .
A PDF of the guide is available at: http://www.dmnews.com/pdffiles/semguide.pdf