SMX Advanced 2014 Series: ‘Mad Scientist’ Seth Meisel Reveals Secrets to Paid Search Wizardry
The countdown to SMX Advanced 2014 is almost over — two weeks to go until Internet marketers gather in Seattle to learn from the brightest minds in SEO, SMM and SEM. I’ve been interviewing select SMX Advanced speakers this month, giving readers a sneak preview of what they can learn if they attend their sessions June 11-12. Lisa Williams (director of digital marketing strategy at Search Discovery) let us in on her search + social secrets and David Roth (VP of marketing at Move, Inc.) revealed his top content marketing tips. Today, Seth Meisel divulges his proven strategies for harnessing the powering of remarketing and paid ads.
SEM Manager Meisel runs remarketing campaigns for national drugstore chain Walgreens. He’ll be taking the SMX Advanced stage on June 11 at 9 a.m. to speak in “The Mad Scientists of Paid Search” and again at 1:45 p.m. in “Maximizing The Synergy Of Paid Search & Social.” Here, Meisel gives us an inside look at some of his powerful paid search strategies — the very same strategies that landed his previous company a spot as a top ten PLA advertiser last year.
Can you share a must-do and a must-don’t when it comes to remarketing?
Do: Look into Similar Audience targeting options for retargeting. I like what some of the search engines are doing with the ability to target based on domain, interest, keyword, etc.
Don’t: Rely on static image retargeting ads because it decrease relevancy. It may be difficult initially to set up site pixeling with your IT group, but it’s ultimately more relevant because that’s what a customer was looking at previously on your site.
There are a few paid search + social rumors floating around that sometimes stop brands from participating — what rumor can you dispel?
The rumor that no one is on Google+. Regardless of Google+ user count vs. Facebook user count, there is still value in having the option to test into AdWords Social Annotations, which requires at least 100 Google+ users to have circled you. Maintain a Google+ posting schedule and build your following. Your company’s SEO team may be able to support your Google+ page solely out of the SEO benefit provided.
‘Pay to play’ is the new game in the social world and many companies are upset that they have to pay to increase their reach. What advice can you give companies on this matter?
My advice would be to pay up in order to increase their reach it makes sense from a top-line goal perspective. For example, Facebook is introducing larger format Right Hand Side ads that will show less ads per page which will inevitably raise CPCs in that auction. I see Pinterest and Twitter transitioning to paid models, as well. Paid social sometimes comes with increased relevancy, especially when it comes to dynamic retargeting. There are still some free tricks like utilizing the Google+ ‘Recent Posts’ feature in the Knowledge Graph to get Google+ posts onto the first page for a limited amount of branded queries.
You have a lot of experience in search marketing, what advice would you give to people trying to enter the industry?
Find a company that will give you a chance to have a ‘journeyman’ year, where you learn account management end-to-end and gain experience. My first job in paid search was at Marchex, which was an opportunity I am very grateful for. After that, I was on the paid search team at Drugstore.com.
During your tenure there, Drugstore.com was rated the No. 10 PLA advertiser between March and May 2013 by AdGooRoo. That’s awesome! Is there any one campaign that stood out to you that you’d like to share with readers?
I’d say any campaign that utilized Merchant Promotions. We had only been testing the feature for three months at that time in March 2013. We had a lot of weekly promotion, so we tried to tag certain parts of our PLA feed with ‘special offers’ messaging as a value differentiator on Google.com and the Google Shopping domain. We also tested some Merchant Promotions that pertained to everything in our PLAs feed so every PLA ad featured this differentiator. Another factor was opting more of our product catalog as distinct product targets (rather than All-Products target) also contributed to us being a top PLA advertiser.
What are three of the most important tips you have for fellow search and social marketers?
- Test into Alphas and Betas early so that you can be one of the first advertisers with that differentiator for a period of time. For example, testing into Google PLA Merchant Promotions early enabled us to be one of the only advertisers with that differentiator for a little while and enabled some time to establish a scalable process for using it throughout your account. Alphas are often a manual process until the search engines roll out the feature on a more widespread basis (AdWords Editor support, etc.)
- Don’t operate as a competitive marketing channel ‘silo’ within your company. In the past few years, the search engines have introduced changes have required more inter-group communication than was necessary in the past. Ask for login information you don’t have access to and start a dialogue about developing better synergy between channels.
- Learn quickly to decide what is not worth your time! For example, Google tested a PPC ad format called Image Extensions. To test into it, it involved selecting products with multiple perspectives, resizing products ads, moving keywords into test ad groups and a very tough approval process. This ad format was very similar to PLA ads — with far more effort involved. In the end, some tests are not worth the time involved.
What worked last year that does not work today in paid search and social?
Having accounts split out more granularly by device (desktop, tablet, mobile).
What are you three favorite industry blogs (other than this one, of course)?
If you could only follow three industry VIPs on Twitter, who would they be?
Thanks Seth! We can’t wait for your sessions at SMX Advanced 2014 — see you in Seattle!