Prospects – Are they Researching or Are they Ready to Buy?

As any sales person will tell you there is a fairly predictable buying cycle customers go through when looking to make a purchase. This buying cycle starts with an initial enquiry and ends with the purchase. In marketing we can describe the stages of this buying cycle as: research and engagement; consideration and comparison and finally purchase.
When creating your google adwords campaigns you should consider the implications of this buying cycle:

1. Google Adwords Campaign Objectives

What is your google adwords campaign objective? Are you looking to influence the buying decision? If so you will want to reach customers in the early stages of the buying cycle. If on the otherhand, you are a retailer and looking for sales, you are generally looking to connect with prospects closer to the stage when they are ready to buy.

2. Google Adwords Keyword Research and Selection

When considering online search as part of the buying cycle it is the keywords used that represent the stage each prospect is at.
Customers at the beginning of the buying cycle will tend to use a small number of keywords – usually between 1 and 3 words. These terms are generic and represent the bulk of terms searched for.

There will always be more people at the mouth of the sales funnel than those making it all the way through. If you think of this in terms of a retail outlet, for every 20 people that walk in the door only 1 will make a purchase.
As far as google adwords are concerned these terms are not only generally used by ALL suppliers, these suppliers are also prepared to pay a premium price when they bid to use these terms. That is because they are easily discovered and represent a huge volume. The downside though is that these terms don’t usually convert all that well.
When your customers are in the later stages of the buying cycle they will use much more specific search terms. These may include the brand, make and model and maybe even a product number. These terms are known as the “long tail” keywords. They cost much less and convert much better. The only downside here is that it takes time to identify these long tail keywords in sufficent numbers to make a campaign worthwhile.

3. Google Adword Campaign Structure

In order to maximise your google campaign quality score and optimise your results. Separate your ad groups in to those using the basic 1 -3 keywords and those using long tail search terms. If your camapign is using a lot of keywords it may even be better for you to have completey separate campaigns.

4. Google Ad Copy

Use different styles of ads in order to attract custoemrs at the different stages of the buying cycle. In the early stages maybe you can offer a free report or a review for instance that may encourage people who, at this early stage, are just looking for information. For those later in the buying cycle your ad could include specifics should as price or a special offer.

5. Your Website Landing Pages

Your keywords, google ad copy and landing page should all reflect the same consistent message. Never simply send prospects to the home page on your website. The keywords should also be reflected in the meta data for that specific landing page. Not only do you need to be consistent here you also need all of the above to reflect the stage that the prospect is currently at.
So, for example, if you have a prospect that is in the early stages of the buying cycle, ie using the very basic 1-3 keyword search terms. Send them to a landing page that has all the information they need to help them towards making a decision to buy. If a prospect has used a long tailed search term that includes specifics, then make sure you send them to a landing page where they can buy.

6. Bid Strategy

Go back to stage 1 and look at the objective of your campaign. Use this to decide how much you will bid of each keyword search term. If you want to influence the buying decision early on, you may decide to pay more for the basic search terms. However, if you are looking for your campaign to turn visitors in to purchasers then bid more on the longer tail keywords.

7. Performance Analysis

Constantly review the keywords that work best for you. The more you test keywords, ad copy and landing pages the better the results you will get. However don’t be too quick to ditch keywords that don’t seem to convert too well. It may be that they are used as an “assist” word – some of which you may not yet be able to track. If your sales process is long, and your products high value. Simply review the ad group performance rather than down to keyword level.
So, make sure you take time out to review your current google adword campaigns. Using Google Adwords can be a highly effective way of gaining customers and revenue but it can be expensive when not set up and monitored correctly.