PPC Segmentation: 4 Tips To Better Target Customers

Any marketer will tell you that the more you know about your audience, the better you can speak to it. That’s why research is so essential in paid search — it can help you choose the right keywords, match them up to the best copy, and ultimately, help you better speak to your audience. But what happens when you have multiple audiences for the same product or service? Moreover, how can a PPC campaign best address that issue? Segmentation is the answer.

Understanding the situation

Having multiple audiences for the same product or service often occurs when a company has an offering that meets the needs of both businesses and consumers. In an ideal world, companies in this situation would have a distinct domain for each audience as it would allow them to bid on similar keywords, be present in the search results twice for a keyword, and have different messaging depending on the domain or audience.

Learning from example

But few marketers live in an ideal world, and the reality is that having multiple domains may just not be feasible. However, segmentation is a good alternative, and Dell provides us with a great example of how it can help you better speak to your audiences. Given that, this article will cite examples of how Dell leverages segmentation in their efforts.

Making segmentation work for you

If you are going to invest the time and resources in developing a PPC segmentation strategy, you’ll need to hit four key areas:

1:  Segment your keywords:  B2B or B2C?

It’s important to segment keywords by each audience type so that the appropriate message gets delivered in the copy and landing pages. But in order to segment them correctly, you need to understand the intent behind them. Naturally, this is pretty obvious for some words. For example,  there is little doubt about the searcher’s intent when they  type the term “home computer” into a search engine. For this query, Dell displays copy that highlights “fun,” “safe,” and “family,” and takes the searcher to a page on the site with computer deals.

However, determining whether the intent is consumer or business focused for more general keywords such as “computer” requires some analysis. For example, if during the sales process customers were asked to state whether the item purchased was for personal or business use, then marketers could tap into this information and link it with the keyword used to make the purchase.

If this isn’t an option, marketers should examine various metrics such as the average sale price for each keyword. Doing so can provide insight as to whether the keyword is more B2B or B2C oriented, with the hypothesis being that business purchases tend to more costly than home purchases. Based on findings from the data, it may be necessary to test the proposed messaging and corresponding landing pages to validate this hypothesis or any other.

2.  Let users segment themselves

Rather than only using data analysis to gauge the predominant audience of each general keyword (i.e., “computer”), marketers should allow prospects to segment themselves once they arrive on the site. This would not only provide users with a better experience, but it would also provide additional insight to the marketer. After a user segments himself, he needs to see that the site’s content is relevant to him. For example, when you visit Dell’s website, you’ll find that the four main audiences are immediately apparent and are clear options that the user can select at the top of the home page (home, small and medium business, public sector, and large enterprises).

It’s also beneficial to help visitors get exactly where they want to go on the site with as few clicks as possible to keep them on the purchase path. One way to do this is to list popular categories under each of the different audience types. For example, Dell accomplishes this by listing “desktops and workstations” under small and medium business on their website.

3. Continue to speak in the searcher’s language once on the site

For keywords where the intent is clear — consumer or business — it is far easier to find the appropriate content and continue to speak in the searcher’s language than doing the same for keywords where the intent is more ambiguous. However, everything can be improved, so marketers should still strive to see improvements for keywords with obvious intent. After finding the best landing page, and testing different iterations of it (perhaps through multivariate testing), it is essential to see a further lift in results.

When the intent of the keyword is unclear — as is often the case with more general keywords — marketers with websites that do not allow users to segment themselves will have a challenging task ahead. To find the appropriate content and continue to speak in the user’s language, these marketers will need to tap into paid search data for business intelligence. One possible approach is to  start with a hypothesis on whether a particular keyword is more B2B or B2C oriented, and then test variations of ad copy and landing pages. With that said, keep in mind that there may be some keywords that are well divided between B2B and B2C. Given that, providing users with more general messaging and site content may be the best option.

4. Enhance sales and branding for both audiences with site targeting

Compared to the search network, site targeting offers a more clear-cut way to effectively target multiple audiences by the very nature of the program. Within the network of websites that participate in the program, some focus more on B2C while others focus more on B2B. This creates an opportunity for a good user experience from tailored copy by website all the way to the appropriate landing page with relevant content.

For example, on a site focused on computer games for learning, a computer company (like Dell) can display copy focused on families, while they could also highlight their benefit to businesses on a site with computer workstation content. The bonus with site targeting is that it can be used to not only generate sales, but to also promote the brand at a potentially low cost (depending on the sites’ average CPCs) because the advertiser is able to pay by the click rather than the impression.

There’s no question about it,  marketing to multiple audiences is a challenge. Fortunately, segmentation can offer an effective means to help marketers better reach their various target audiences, apply the right messaging to the appropriate prospects, and provide a good user experience that fits their goals of visiting the site.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing


About The Author: is a Client Services Director at iProspect, and has grown businesses through organic and paid search in the B2B, pharmaceutical, travel, and retail industries.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    Hi Michelle – This is fantastic information for new and even more advances PPC Managers….your advice #2, “Let users segment themselves” is solid, but often many times if an in house PPC or SEM Manager may not need to do this since they may have a great understanding (or they should :o) of the customer base and various audiences, etc…


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