Most startups running paid search campaigns are very focused on ROI. They have pre-defined goals for their profit margins and cost per acquisition (CPA) targets. As such, marketing executives at startups often choose to leave branded keywords (i.e., variations of their company and product names) out of their campaigns. Though the conversion rates and ROI on branded terms are usually through-the-roof, it’s not necessarily money well spent. The main reason is that most marketing people believe that even if they don’t actively run PPC campaigns on their branded terms, they will still capture most of these users via their organic listings in the search engine results pages. In other words, why pay for something you’re getting for free anyway? However, the decision of whether or not to bid on your brand keywords should involve taking several important factors into consideration. Below is a list of questions you should ask yourself when deciding if brand bidding is right for you.
Are there Many Monthly Searches for Your Company’s Branded Terms?
If your brands are well known, with anywhere from a couple of hundred to tens of thousands of monthly searches on Google for your branded terms, you run an online brand (congratulations!). If you’re not sure how many monthly searches there are on Google for your brands terms, check out the Keyword Planner.
Are you Running PPC Ads for Non-Branded Keywords?
If the monthly search volume for your brand terms is negligible, and you’re not running PPC campaigns for other keywords, then there’s not much to be gained from bidding on your brand. It will not drive any customers to your site, and you may as well let the occasional brand searcher find you through your organic listing.
If however, you are running PPC ads for other keywords, then bidding on your brand is highly recommended if there aren’t many monthly branded searches. Branded keywords normally have excellent click-through-rates and quality scores. So by bidding on your brands, you will improve the overall quality score of your AdWords account, which helps in lowering the cost-per-click of other keywords. And since in your case, a branded campaign will have very few searches, the cost will be just a few dollars a month, a small price to pay for boosting your quality scores. So by all means, set up a branded campaign with all your branded keywords and create a daily budget of $5,000. You’ll never reach it, but why not show AdWords that you have deep pockets? It can only help.
Companies with lots of monthly branded searches need to consider a few other variables when deciding what to do. The quality score improvement from running branded keywords is valuable, but if running these campaigns will use over 25% of your budget, your’e better off using that money to drive customers that have never heard of you.
Does your Site Rank #1 in Google Organic Listings for Your Brand Search Terms?
If some other site is ranking in the top spot for your branded keywords, especially if they’re a competitor, you should definitely consider bidding on those keywords. Users searching for you may not necessarily find you, so by running ads, you are actually saving these potential customers from inadvertently going somewhere else.
Are Your Competitors Bidding on your Brand Keywords?
Your competitors know that users searching for your branded terms may be interested in becoming their customers. That’s why you’ll often find them bidding on your brand with ads suggesting that they offer a better alternative. If you see that as you search for your brand, your competitors’ ads keep coming up, then you don’t really have much of a choice but to bid on these words as well.
Once you answer these questions, you should be able to make a calculated decision. Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure your tracking systems are in place so you can measure your return on any changes you make. Best of Luck!