How Do I Use SEM If People Aren’t Searching For What I Do?

This issue comes up a lot with tech clients whose products don’t fit neatly into defined or established categories. A client writes (details changed to preserve confidentiality):

“Our product is on demand health & wellness software for small businesses and we’re promoting it as a tool for improving productivity, claims prevention, reducing healthcare costs, etc. I’m bidding on key phrases related to those topics, for example, ‘business productivity’, ‘small business healthcare costs’ etc.

My keyword research shows that very few people are looking for health & wellness software. Instead, they appear to be looking for software to solve their problems relating to employee productivity, healthcare costs, etc. Our software solves many of these problems, but my market research shows that very little small businesses use this type of software, and when most small businesses think of health & wellness it’s not with software in mind.

My question is this: Should I mention health & wellness in my PPC ads? On the one hand, I want to make sure that when they get to my site, it’s not a total surprise that the site is about health & wellness.

On the other hand, maybe putting the words ‘health & wellness’ in a PPC ad for small businesses will bias them against even clicking because they aren’t even thinking of health & wellness as say, a way to improve productivity.

Our white paper introduces the concept and promotes the use of health & wellness software for a variety of purposes, so should I just write something like ‘FREE Report on Reducing Business Healthcare Costs’ and let them come to the landing page, find out the paper is about health & wellness and hope the paper does the persuading? Or should I drop a hint in the PPC ad that the solution involves health & wellness?”

My response:

Think of your PPC advertising not as a way to convince people to buy your product, or even to convince them that health & wellness software is the answer to all their problems. Think of the campaign simply as a means to engage with companies that have the specific issues, problems, and challenges that your software can solve. Then let your sales force (not the white paper) do the convincing.

With those principles in mind, I recommend you:

1. NOT mention “health & wellness” in your PPC ad (for the reasons you describe, i.e. it’s not what people are searching for)

2. by all means mention the white paper is about health & wellness, but describe it on the landing page in the context of the business issues that you know will resonate with the reader, i.e. “Learn how a new approach to employee health & wellness can improve productivity, reduce healthcare costs, …” Consider developing multiple versions of the landing page, with different intro copy highlighting specific business issues according to ad group. This will minimize any potential disconnects between the search term and the landing page, which in turn will increase your conversion rates.

3. Testing ad copy is extremely simple in Google, so test multiple ads aggressively across a range of ad groups. At a minimum, run two ads head to head – one mentioning health & wellness, one without. Also, be sure to employ “phrase” and “exact” match where possible – you’ll pay less per click, eliminate unqualified traffic, and convert more clicks to actual leads.

For more tips on how to get the most of your SEM program, download a free copy of CDI’s white paper: “Top 10 B2B Paid Search Mistakes: Why Your Google Campaign Isn’t Working And What To Do About It.”

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One thought on “How Do I Use SEM If People Aren’t Searching For What I Do?

  1. Mike O'Sullivan

    Howard, as you imply, your advice applies to *all* companies. When we think about it, your client’s situation (“people aren’t searching on ” software”) is logically *the norm*. After all, do any of us really want more *software*?

    I.e., the “established categories” your products fit into may be buzzwords (“CRM software”) vs. a reflection of what’s actually in the customer’s mind (“My churn rate is going up, why?”).

    (No earth-shattering insight there, I know!)

    So — again, as you imply — even if a lot more people *were* searching on the phrase “health & wellness software” they’d only be the ones at a late stage of the buying cycle. To connect with everyone else other than just the proverbial “low-hanging fruit,” companies *need* to follow your advice. And at a basic level, not just for PPC advertising but *all* advertising. (“Think of the campaign simply as a means to engage with companies that have the specific issues, problems, and challenges that your software can solve.”)

    Thanks for sharing this client’s situation in-depth; from his/her email to you, he/she clearly thought through the situation carefully (i.e., know what you don’t know!).


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