SEM is about producing compelling advertising that makes an online consumer click on the link within the advert. The more relevant an advert is to the search terms used, the more likely this is to elicit a clickthrough.

If a merchant can successfully match a product and the price, availability and delivery terms are reasonable then this will result in a sale.

A general rule of thumb is that Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns will deliver around £1 of revenue per click through to the website across all products within paid search. 

Where product data feeds fit in to search

If a consumer uses product keywords in their search query, search marketers can then use product data feeds to deliver a dynamic solution and decide on the bid terms to ensure that the dynamic advert is placed accordingly.

There are, therefore, efficiencies for both consumers and advertisers through using product feeds. The advent of Google Instant means that a consumer can literally refine their keyword search as paid adverts appear, and obviously the most relevant adverts will attract the most clickthroughs.

The benefit of this approach is that it takes the online consumer directly to the relevant product page. This ensures a search to basket process with as few steps as possible, increasing the chances of the customer successfully completing the transaction.

Merchants interested in optimising their paid search should work closely with their search partners on the way their data feeds are built. The best data feeds will be able to include numerous relevant keywords for each product, helping to enhance the search results, and cut out ‘wasted’ clickthroughs, as well as ensuring that keyword expansion includes the most relevant terms possible.

Furthermore, they can ensure that meta-descriptions of the products match the search terms a consumer uses and that the consumer then clicks through to the landing page for that particular product. 

People are using multiple online channels and devices to research products and compare prices before buying. Once they’ve found the product, there is then often further comparison around price, availability and delivery options that will decide whether or not a product is placed in a basket and purchased.

Multichannel, multi-device

Online marketing is a multichannel, multi-device discipline now. Research performed on a laptop at work that cannot be turned into a purchase on the same site via iPhone later on is the equivalent of a lost sale.

Product feeds can apply business logic and ensure that all keyword terms within a meta-description are matched to a search. This is compelling when trying to first engage a consumer with the initial clickthrough.

By including details such as price, discounts, model number, stock value and customer ratings, merchants also ensure a strong position with which to convert those carrying out ‘research’ into purchasers using ‘long tail’ search terms.

There is also a great deal of competitive advantage to gain through this. Long tail terms typically don’t attract high bid prices because they contain 4 to 5 keywords e.g. Blue Burberry men’s coat (colour/brand/gender/product), which aren’t in great demand across merchant advertising bids. 

Because product feeds can extract data directly from the front-end of an e-commerce site, they maintain keyword terms even if they change on the site, or if new products are added.

This cuts out a considerable amount of administration time as you then already have product optimised search terms. By automating PPC activity there is little requirement to A/B Test meta-descriptions as people are being directed towards products that have more precise search terms. 

The future of search marketing

In the future, Aaron Goldman, CMO at Kenshoo beleives that search engines will integrate search and transaction functionality so the search to basket process described earlier will be potentially reduced to a one-click process.

The results page on a search engine will be the landing page, populated with rich dynamic content from operators.  

Consumers will be able to identify the products they are looking for through deep listings and comparison features and then purchase it directly from the merchant, without leaving the search results page.

Merchants need to start considering now how they can take advantage of the opportunities these new search engines will present for online transactions in the future.  

Search automation tools will enable the delivery and optimisation of these listings based on merchants’ promotions and margin requirements, but product data feeds will be key to ensuring the products are included in the search results pages.