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Consider broader changes in your customer data when adjusting your SEO/SEM tactics

Marketers across the board (ourselves included) are trying to understand how to adapt to the effects of COVID-19 on peoples’ lives, as well as businesses’ operations.

Thankfully, most consumers and organizations seem to be following the CDC’s guidelines for protection and prevention. These necessary, rather drastic changes in consumers’ everyday lives have naturally sparked lots of uncertainty, which is being reflected in the information people are searching for online.

In researching these trends for our internal marketing purposes, I came across several articles from thought-leaders in the space sharing some pretty valuable recommendations, some of which I mention below. But I also realized that very few addressed one of the most important components of SEO/SEM strategy — analyzing and adapting to higher-level shifts in companies’ customer bases.

Several publishers are closely monitoring global search trends and have made recommendations to help marketers quickly pivot to minimize potential adverse effects on traffic and conversions in the short term. Here are a few noteworthy trends I’ve seen:

  • Search traffic is surging up for essential products, health and wellness, and food and recipe websites — Search Enging Journal. Organic traffic is down for most other industries, including retail, real estate, and travel — Neil Patel.
  • There have not been any major shifts in cost-per-click (CPC) for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. However, lower conversion rates across most industries are driving up average cost-per-acquisition (CPA) — Neil Patel.
  • Competition will decrease, which could result in a PPC cost reduction. This presents an opportunity for marketers to gain search presence and improve long-term ROI on their SEM initiatives — Neil Patel.
  • Amazon is focusing almost entirely on fulfilling essential products, temporarily — Search Engine Journal.

This article from Search Engine Land shares a few SEM pivoting strategies, including adding certain keywords as phrase-match negatives to ward off unwanted traffic. Search Engine Land highlights a few ways you can respond to shifts in search traffic in this article.

Given that we’re built around understanding “people data”, I want to share an additional perspective on how companies can make intelligent SEO/SEM decisions in this rapidly evolving environment.

Analyze and act on big-picture changes

As consumers’ spending habits change, companies will see shifts in their customer base. There may be a reduction in purchasing frequency in one cohort, an increase in the average order value (AOV) of another, and so forth. The ability to quickly identify and act on these big-picture changes is just as important as adapting to changes in the more granular aspects of their marketing strategy.

How marketers can use higher-level customer insights to guide their SEO/SEM strategies

  • Identify distinct customer cohorts, uncover shared attributes amongst those cohorts, and monitor their purchasing behaviors to guide keyword strategies.
  • Compare regional cohorts across several dimensions (e.g. housing density/property type, shopping behaviors, purchasing tendencies, etc) to personalize landing pages.
  • Assess each cohort’s predicted lifetime value (LTV) to improve budget allocation.

Find markets worthy of further investment

Before allocating time and budget to create customized website content or adjust bidding strategies, marketers should have a solid understanding of which markets contain the greatest opportunities for growth and positive ROI. Some of the customer insights mentioned above become even more valuable when computing market size and penetration.

How marketers can use predictive analytics to compute market opportunities

  • Use a predictive model to determine the total number of likely buyers in a market (market size).
  • Determine what percentage of likely buyers are already customers (market penetration).
  • Compute the predicted average LTV of likely buyers, determine how much value was extracted from existing customers, and how much potential value remains in the market (opportunity index).

Enhance tactics with another data perspective

Earlier, I mentioned that we work with “people data” — what I mean by that is third-party consumer data. Used properly, it can be immensely powerful and necessary to generate the types of customer insights and geospatial predictions mentioned in the last two sections. At this point, I’ve illustrated some of the advantages this type of data can bring to SEO/SEM strategies, but it can also enhance more granular tactics.

How marketers can optimize bidding strategies and landing page conversions with a third-party data perspective

  • Customize landing pages and keyword lists using insights generated from the analysis of high-value regional cohorts.
  • Take a more granular approach to geospatial analytics to pinpoint specific zip codes with dense populations of predicted high-LTV consumers. Then, use bid modifiers to raise or lower bids on target keywords in those areas.

Read our post about third-party data in marketing for more use cases and important privacy considerations.