So you have a budget. Keywords and ads are ready to go. Ready to launch? Not quite.

Or maybe you are planning a Display Network campaigns, finally determined all audiences and demographics to use.

Before you finalize your strategy, you should be aware of some targeting considerations that can make or break the success of any campaign.

Strategically speaking, SEM targeting settings fall into two categories:

  • Those that impact the user experience.
  • Those that influence budget.

Targeting settings that impact user experience are useful for adapting messaging and landing page experience.

You also have the opportunity to modify performance KPIs, if needed, for parts of your effort.

However, they primarily impact one’s media cost without offering much leverage for other planning considerations.

Regardless of what search engine you are working with – Google, Bing or even some less common country-specific engines – each one has provisions to address these areas.

User Experience Targeting Elements

Audiences, Geography targeting, Languages and Location settings are the four key settings to keep in mind which can have a big impact on a search engine marketing campaign success.

1. Audience Insights

You probably heard about audiences now available in campaigns. But are you regularly looking at those insights and using them to adjust your messaging and landing page strategy?

These audiences can:

  • Give you valuable information on behavioral elements of users who are and are not converting.
  • Validate any existing notions of who the users are.

Based on what you learn on their demographic profile and interests, consider customizing your campaigns with a paid search audience strategy.

Let’s also not forget your own first-party audiences.

Use RLSA campaigns to:

  • Remarket to past non-converting users.
  • Upsell to converters.

With cascading messaging and progressive offer strategies, you can create tailored experiences for each set of users – much like a salesperson would do offline with the knowledge of who the repeat users are.

And while you are at it, don’t forget to “trim the fat”. Make it habit to regularly review what audiences are not converting.

Aside from savings that will add up, this will further help the search algorithm to better target future searchers.

2. Geographic Targeting

From countries to as granular settings as designated market areas (DMAs) or postal codes, location targeting ensures that your ads run in the right geographical area. This is an excellent opportunity to customize messaging and landing pages for each location.

Even if the site is not for a location-centric business, which varies product offerings by geography (e.g., an online school with different courses for each state), it can be still beneficial to create separate campaigns for different geographies.

For example, a skincare site may well sell the same products to all online users. However, people in different geographies will likely buy sunscreen at different times of the year.

The tendency is to mirror targeting of other marketing efforts, but be wary that online trends often differ from offline patterns. Biggest areas of online demand may well differ from what one sees online.

For example, a bank may find that locations with many branches and high foot traffic actually do not drive as much online activity as expected precisely due to people going to physical branches.

Similarly, some commonly though of areas might not be the most efficient and should be excluded or targeted last.

Large urban areas (e.g., New York, London, Dubai) with their high user concentration are often very competitive, leading to a suboptimal return on investment.

Rather than pile in with other advertisers, consider prioritizing locations and creating specific campaigns for those other high ROI areas so you can double down there.

Lastly, while tools offer very granular targeting, think twice about using them. A CMO may say, “I want lots of control with separate campaigns for each DMA.”

This granularity considerably complicates campaign management with the extra time not always resulting in better performance.

Zip code, DMA and radius targeting are attractive for their precision but will quickly make your campaigns unwieldy if used at scale. […]

 

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