Saturday, March 23, 2013

Three Simple FREE Things NIU Students Can Teach You About Paid Search

Our tag line says that NIU's College of Business is "Where the Classroom Meets the Business World."

As support of this concept, our students just completed a nine week module on paid search during which they planned, implemented, measured and reported the results of a Google AdWords campaign and also used Google Analytics.  The classroom met the business world as students worked with Ideosity, a consulting firm that targets developing websites, content management systems and online catalogs for manufacturers, and AllWorld Machinery, a supplier and manufacturer of replacement parts for manufacturers worldwide.  Other clients were our own Department of Marketing and Interactive Marketing program.  Thanks to our corporate clients that supported the projects and our program with their donations.  Here are three things that we learned that we hope can help you:

1)  Paid search helps your marketing even if you don't have a lot of money.  These clients were all small entities that had not had a lot of past experience with paid search.  I always recommend a paid search campaign to enhance and inform an organic search campaign, even for small firms.  You learn so much even from running the campaign a few weeks about which keywords are most appropriate and what drives firms to you web site.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to learn a lot (our students were on small budgets).  The students were able to help all their clients pinpoint what their customers were really looking for and where potential customers were located.  Just simple adjustments in geographic targeting were able to turn around campaigns from just a few clicks to hundreds within days.

2) Direct marketing calls to action do pay a large roll in paid search success.  In the first weeks of the campaign we tested our ads and keywords.  By the middle of the campaign, if the refinements we made weren't working (lots of traffic, few clicks), the students actively sought to optimize their ads by employing tested calls to action.  Just inserting the word FREE in one ad's call to action resulted in a 7% CTR. (See above).  Adding SAME DAY SHIPPING instead of Call Us Today improved an ad with 0 clicks to one with a 4.76% CTR.  So dig out those old direct marketing books and look on to help figure out what converts.

3) Paid search can tell you about your brand.  In most of our campaigns, unbranded keywords outperformed branded ones.  What better way to tell that you need to increase your brand awareness and improve your positioning?  The next step in our class project is to create plans to promote these brands on social media and engage current customers and prospects.

So there you have it, three simple ways to use Paid Search to improve your marketing efforts:  Do it to learn, use calls to action that convert and use the results to improve your brand image.

If you still don't feel confident doing this by yourself, keep following this blog for more tips.  More importantly, remember, we have forty graduates getting our Interactive Marketing certificate this May.

The students reported that they enjoyed the project, liked learning how to create campaigns and analyze them via metrics and recover quickly from their 'mishaps' along the way.  This kind of nimble thinking is just what companies tell me they are looking for in new graduates.

Hire our May grads by placing your job posting on  "Huskies Get Hired" or email me, Dr. Debra Zahay-Blatz, to join our job listserv:

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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