Posted: Thursday 24th May 2012 in Paid Media, Thought Leadership.

Google Search

No one can argue that paid search is still one of the most important digital channels in the marketing mix. Dependent on the maturity of other channels, it can make up to 50% of a retailer’s sale. So the big questions on all retailers’ lips are “What do I need in place to maximise my sales from the channel? Do I need a specialised in-house team? Should I use a 3rd party to manage my activity? Do I need an in-house agency hybrid? How much reliance should I place on marketing technology solutions?”

Every retailer is different and there are no vanilla one size fits all solution for every retailer. The first three questions in particular need a greater understanding of a retailers business objectives and current team structure, to be able to help answer this question.

My experience of using technology is that it should enable your Paid Search activity. It should only be used for processes which would not be possible to do with human intervention. A great example of this is a retailers need to publish thousands of products to search engines in a structured way. Ensuring that the portfolio of products are published and managed in real-time with up to date information published about the products price and stock availability would not be possible no matter what the size and experience of your paid search team. We created Portfolio Manager Solution to help a wide range of retailers to solve such issues, whilst enhancing campaign performance.

It is clear that total reliance on technology is not an option. A great example enforcing this is the continuously changing world of Google PPC. With the growing number of beta tests launched by Google, a retailer needs an agile team in place to understand the value and test each beta’s benefits. The beta could have been scrapped by Google prior to a technology solution being in place.

There will be times where technology and human intervention crossover. Ensuring the million plus keywords that are within a retailers PPC account are flagged for optimisation at the correct time needs to be enabled by technology. High sales drivers need to be highlighted so that retailers can further maximise the opportunity via paid search. High cost low converting areas also need to be reviewed to maintain efficiencies. The most obvious decisions in these scenarios are to simply increase or reduce your visibility based purely on the performance data. It is not always as clear cut as this as there are other factors which need some human override. What if the product is coming to the end of its season? Could the landing page be better merchandised to improve conversion rates or quality score? These questions need an experienced team in place to make decisions that technology would not support.

Technology does have a role to play in enabling a retailer’s PPC campaign management and this cannot be argued. We have developed specific technology which has helped to meet and surpass a retailer’s objectives. However from my experience technology alone cannot provide a one stop solution to maximise the sales and revenue from Paid Search and the value of an experienced team should not be undermined.