How Not to Kill Your PPC Account With a PR Stunt
When my client Rent Like A Champion came to me with the news that they would be appearing on Shark Tank, I had two big gut reactions.
Big publicity events can do wonders for growing the lead funnel and enhancing your PPC efforts, but they can also cause major glitches in an otherwise immaculate account. While no brand should ever shy away from the limelight, not anticipating how this PR exposure will impact all facets of your business is not only dangerous, it’s an avoidable risk.
Here’s how to rock the limelight and ride the wave of stardom to PPC growth (instead of decay).
The Power of Branded Campaigns & How They Interact With Big PR Stunts
Branded campaigns are a vital part of any paid search account, as they allow for complete control of messaging when someone searches for your brand name. In normal circumstances, a branded campaign might have somewhere between 20-30% of an account’s spend and focus on the name of the brand, the values of the brand, and be targeted more broadly than the general service/product campaigns. They tend to have higher CTR’s and Quality Scores, so live apart from the “main” campaigns.
When a big publicity event hits there are two schools of thought on branded campaigns, and both have their pros and cons.
The 'Turn Up The Budget' School
Because branded campaigns allow you to control the message, if you can craft a landing page specific to the event, this campaign should get amped up. When the major publicity event happens, searches on your brand will spike into the thousands, likely including the name of the event in the search query. Do you want your audience going to the page that happens to have the highest organic rank, or one that you craft specifically with transaction in mind?
Depending on the level of the event you may want to craft ad groups specifically focused on the event (so long as these are the only ad groups running in your branded campaign). Landing pages are your biggest chance to milk the publicity, as you’ll be able to include badges, logos, and promotional copy that plays off the type of exposure you’re receiving.
The biggest reason to subscribe to this school of thought is if a brand’s social pages outrank their actual domain. An audience who just finished watching a brand on national-level media will expect that brand to show up when searched for, and the ad can be a way to get the top placement without the organic ranking.
The 'Turn Off The Branded Campaign' School
On the flip side, some publicity events are so huge, they’ll eat up all your budget, and leave you with data anomalies that will throw your metrics way out of whack. Events like Shark Tank or appearing on major talk shows will bring hordes of “curious visitors” who will click your well-crafted ad to investigate, but not convert until much later. While it’s absolutely fine (and recommended) to highlight the exposure post-event, leading up to the event and during the event, branded campaigns should be turned off to avoid wasted spend.
The biggest reason to subscribe to this school of thought is when there is no one else on your brand’s search result page, and the event carries over 10,000 unique monthly searches.
Regardless of what school you and your event falls into, be sure you have a retargeting pixel set up on the site. An absolute must for any major PR event is a remarketing campaign set up to remind people they saw you at XYZ, now they should come back.
Attribution for PR-Related Leads
One of the big reasons there’s two schools of thought instead of one “proven way” is that the verdict is still out on the best ways to attribute conversions that come from these events, and which would have happened anyway. Real-time analytics will be your best friend in tracking clicks and conversions, as well as annotating your analytics to note two weeks before, during, and two weeks after the big event. While there is no foolproof way to sort out the leads that would have happened regardless of the publicity, and the ones that are a direct result of it, this will at least ensure there’s a rough estimation of lead value, as well as ensuring CPA metrics for the account don’t get blown out of proportion.
Ad Copy & Keyword Modifications Before & After the PR Stunt
Regardless of whether you keep your branded campaign on, you will want to make plans for Call-Outs and Ad Copy after the event. Ad groups revolving around the event should include a call-out like “As Seen On XYZ” and ad copy might include, “You Saw Us On XYZ – Learn More!” Additionally, the retargeting campaign should include the event as one of the target interests.
If you will be bidding on the event name, make sure it’s in a separate campaign, and that all keywords are set to modified broad and exact match (so there’s no room for wasteful impressions, clicks, and spend). For example:
- +brand on +XYZ +event
- [brand on XYZ event]
- +brand +special +XYZ +event
- [brand special XYZ event]
Before the event, unless you subscribe to the “Turn Up Branded” school, you’ll want to make sure that keywords and landing pages focus more on the products and services you offer. The two-weeks-out window insures ad cycles won’t conflict and cause discrepancies in data.
Applying Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are arguably the most important part of planning for a big publicity event. You may wish to make a negative keyword list to apply to all campaigns save for the one that’s oriented around your event, or just apply them at the account level if you’re opting out of that strategy, but either way, they are a must. Obvious examples include the name of the event, as well as any personas associated with the event. Less obvious ones include c-level executives of the brand, and whoever was the spokesperson for the brand during the publicity event, and any “spin off” concepts.
If you only implement one thing from this list, get your negative keywords in order. They’re the most important part of any account, and will be the one thing that separates PR success from publicity overload in your business.
I hope this post helps you rock your brand’s stardom and that the PR does everything you hope it will!