We get a lot of questions from our clients around how to maximize the investment in platforms that drive the best CPA, CPL, or other key KPIs and the optimal channel mix. It is understandable that when you find a platform that works, the first thought is to invest all of your ad dollars in that one top-performing channel. We try to preach channel diversification (within reason) to our clients. Thinking back to a few weeks ago when Facebook had a major outage, those that had all their advertising wrapped up in one channel suffered the most. Beyond not putting all your eggs in one basket, we see the best performance for our clients come from a well thought out cohesive paid media strategy.
What Is a Paid Media Strategy?
When our team refers to a paid media strategy, we typically mean our client’s entire paid media marketing mix. How paid social, paid search, and programmatic work together to fulfill separate parts of the marketing funnel. How specialists working within each channel collaborate to share insights and ensure that there is cohesive messaging. If your paid media channels are operating agnostically, there are likely audiences you are targeting too aggressively and others you are not reaching.
Paid Social Media Vs. PPC
Typically we think of paid search as a channel driven by user intent and paid social as a channel driven by user behavior and demographics. In reality, paid social media platforms and paid search platforms have features that can reach users in any part of the funnel. For example, Google Discovery ads are much higher in the funnel than Google search text ads. On Facebook, dynamic retargeting allows advertisers to reach users at the bottom of the funnel, showing them products that they’ve already viewed. That being said, to ensure that there is no significant overlap between channels, it’s best to treat each platform as a channel satisfying specific needs. This may mean that you aren’t using all of the platforms ‘best practices’, but you will follow the best practices needed for your specific marketing funnel. The major differences I see in the two channels are:
- Push vs. Pull – Paid social aims to push a product or benefit to a user, while paid search aims to appeal to users who are pulling specific information from search platforms.
- Creative capabilities – Social media is extremely visual, while paid search heavily relies on conveying specific value propositions in a few lines of text.
- Audience targeting – while paid search has powerful keyword and intent targeting capabilities, paid social audiences are strongest from a behavioral and demographic standpoint.
- Analytics – Because paid search and paid social typically influence different aspects of the funnel, attribution and performance analytics look different.
Benefits of Paid Social
There are many benefits to paid social. With the largest user base in the world, Facebook’s targeting and reach capabilities are unmatched. While paid social can be used as a lower-funnel marketing channel, we find the most efficiencies and opportunities in the upper funnel.
Benefits of PPC
The four distinct benefits of PPC we value are speed, precision, agility, and measurement. Combining a large user base and a high intent audience provides opportunities for high ROAS and growth.
Using Your Paid Social & PPC Together
There are many ways to use your paid social and paid search channels in a way that creates synergy. Here are a few of the most important ways to get the most out of using both simultaneously.
Cross-Channel Creative Insights
By far the most important, sharing creative insights across channels can open a door for testing and innovation. By understanding what people are searching across Google and Microsoft, paid social ads can be more relevant and engaging for your audience. Alternatively, by understanding how users respond to seeing brand content for the first time (both through clicks and comments), paid search copy can be tailored to engage new users better.
Paid Search Custom Audiences on Facebook Ads
Facebook has powerful lookalike audience capabilities, and the best way to create a top-performing lookalike is to have a strong seed audience. Audience segments can be built from specific search terms used to reach the site, and those segments can be both retargeted and used as a seed audience for a specific and powerful lookalike.
Keyword Lists for Twitter and Pinterest
Keyword research is typically completed for paid search and SEO purposes, but it can be repurposed for paid social campaigns as well. Our team regularly uses the keyword research already completed in both Pinterest and Twitter campaigns. Similar to Google, Pinterest is primarily a discovery platform. Users spend a significant portion of their time searching for specific content, and the Pinterest ad platform allows businesses to target those searches. Twitter also has keyword targeting capabilities based on terms and hashtags that users include in their tweets. In both of these instances, we directly import keyword lists to the platforms.
Attribution and Closed Loop Analytics
Attribution is by far the biggest question our clients have when evaluating the performance of a multi-channel strategy. If you don’t have a multi-touch attribution solution, there is always the risky strategy of turning off a channel (either nationally or regionally) to evaluate performance. This can take months to understand and can impact the bottom line. It’s important to ensure you have a solid understanding of how to report on assisted conversions, which attribution model is right for your business, or if you should implement a closed-loop analytics solution.
Example of PPC & Paid Social In Action
Our clients have seen significant success from a cohesive paid social and paid search strategy. In this example, our client wanted to grow their customer base by driving trial through paid social media. With low brand awareness and a high price point, users were not converting from paid social or paid search on the first touch. By focusing our social media campaigns on brand awareness and conversions in the upper funnel, we saw a 180% increase in PoP non-branded search revenue and a 41% increase in PoP SEM conversion rate within the first 12 months of implementing our strategy.
Tips For Optimizing PPC With Paid Social
A benefit to diversifying your marketing mix is one channel can learn from the other. That is especially true between PPC and Paid Social platforms. Here are a few to test.
1. Improve PPC Ad Copy by Monitoring Social Sentiment
Writing engaging PPC ad copy is crucial to the success of a campaign. When we create PPC ad copy for Google Ads, we get limited feedback. Raw numbers like CTR tell us which ad copy is resonating the best, but that can sometimes be misleading. Copy on paid social gets more direct feedback in the way of social sentiment. Monitor comments from users on social and look for opportunities to create more clarity and boost CTR for PPC.
2. Remarket to Paid Social Site Visitors
Display remarketing is very effective in many formats. Segmenting your audiences based on the content they view and their engagement with your site is a great way to improve its effectiveness even more. One of the major benefits of paid social is its upper-funnel new user acquisition capabilities. Combine that with your PPC remarketing by segmenting users based on the number of social touchpoints by tagging your ads based on the stage in the funnel. This is a great way to qualify your audience further and ensure you are investing appropriately to reach users who are engaging again and again.
3. Set Up RLSAs Using Paid Social Audiences
Similar to above, leveraging remarketing lists for search is a great way to improve spending efficiency and boost conversion. Use those same audiences as remarketing lists for search ads and ad bid modifiers. If a user has engaged with a paid social ad multiple times and is now actively searching branded or nonbranded queries that match your keywords, they are very highly qualified and worth a higher average CPC.
There are two things I hope you take from this post:
- Paid channel specialists shouldn’t work in a silo. There are so many benefits to collaboration and strategy sharing.
- Results of each paid channel also don’t happen in a silo. User behavior spans different platforms, and a culmination of those interactions contributes to the end result. If you look at paid media as a cohesive experience for a user, your performance results will reflect it.