Cohen is incredibly talented at the execution of high level strategic optimization. We closely follow his speaking events at different conferences in the industry, as well as his thorough and cutting edge blog contributions to the Click Equations blog, Search Engine Watch, and posts on his own Web site, www.alexlcohen.com. His holistic view of Internet marketing is consistently insightful and refreshing.
Q: In one of your latest Search Engine Watch blog posts, you mentioned a statistic from Marissa Mayer, vice president of location and local services at Google: “20 percent of all Google searches are for local information.” How does that change how national advertisers approach paid search?
Alex Cohen: It depends on whether your business has a local component to it. For example, if you’re a national led gen company for lawyers, you’ll obviously do better designing a campaign that has geo-specific terms, campaign settings, ads and landing pages. But, if you’re Amazon, you’re not going to change your tactics just because someone searches for “Philadelphia book store,” because you don’t have anything that’s relevant to that query.
As ClickEquations founder Craig Danuloff says, “Every search query is a question and every text ad is an answer.” By digging into both your keyword research tools and search queries, you’ll uncover the questions your target audience is asking. Then, you can decide which ones you can answer most profitably.
Q: Remarketing is emerging as an incredibly powerful tool. What do you see as the most important thing to consider when an advertiser is setting up their remarketing efforts?
Alex Cohen: Brad Geddes’ article on remarketing offers a good baseline for anyone who is new to the topic. The most important thing to consider is segmentation. Just as we as search marketers know to tightly group ad groups for more relevant text ads, you need to build remarketing lists in a way that improves the relevance of your creative and offer. Two other important considerations are to make sure you have enough creative to refresh and fight ad fatigue (www.99designs.com can help) and remember that if you’re analytics package defaults to last click, you may see remarketing suck credit from PPC!
Q: What is your favorite Google Beta? Is there one that you think every single advertiser should be using (or at least try)?
I’m personally fascinated by Media Ads, but that more for the implications of the format on the future of AdWords. Specifically, the fact that you buy the ads without selecting keywords and that you don’t set bids. It’s a vision of the future of paid search that I wrote about in my Search Engine Watch article, The Dawn of Paid Search Without Keywords. It has big implications about how we buy media on Google now and in the future.
Q: What is a pet peeve for you to see when you jump into an advertisers account, either AdWords or Analytics?
Alex Cohen: Not enough search query mining! If you’re using anything other than exact match, the search engines are surely pulling in some crazy terms and you’re probably not answering the specific question someone is searching for.
Q: You have mentioned Paul Adam’s presentation “Real Life Social Network” more than once in your posts. He drives home that the influencers have taken a shift from advertisers as an educator to the user’s network as an advisor. What do successful advertisers look like in the social media space that understand and incorporate it into their marketing efforts?
Alex Cohen: I love Paul’s presentation because it has nothing to do with technology. It’s all about the kind of relationships that people have, what matters in relationships and how that is translated online. In his presentation, he makes the point that every website designer will need to incorporate social components into their designs whether they like it or not, i.e. Likes, +1’s, Tweets, etc.
Social media and paid search are relatively new bedfellows. I outlined the relationship in my latest article, How Social Media Affects Paid Search. I’ll answer your question from a paid search perspective. I think it’s still incredibly early. Clearly, the people who are most affected today are retailers (whose ratings from Google Product Search can show up next to their ads) and local business (whose reviews will show up in local/places results). Right now, I think it’s important that advertisers develop a mechanism for earning positive customer feedback and encouraging customers to post good ratings and review.
Q: What would be your advice to those people that are just entering the social media space? What should be their first steps?
Alex Cohen: I am by no means a social media expert and what I’m going to say is based entirely on my personal experience, so take what I say with a bucket of salt. I’m going to share what I’ve learned from writing and tweeting.
First, everyone in online marketing should have a blog. You can’t really understand social media until you have a personal stake in it and a way to understand what works and doesn’t work. It was advice that Avinash Kaushik gave me and it’s made a world of difference in my knowledge of the space and my ability to create a reputation independent of my employer. At the very least, you can contribute to your company’s blog.
Second, you need to have a distinct point of view that gives people a reason to read and share what you’re talking about. I write about marketing optimization, mostly in paid search, and I focus on a small number of quality, very in-depth posts. Other people post daily. Some people curate the best of the best. There is no right or wrong, but there is certainly boring or interesting. Be different. Be interesting.
Finally, you have to be authentic and open. It’s okay to admit mistakes. You’ll get negative criticism. If you are candid, polite and respectful, you’ll end up looking good. You never lose in social media by being nice. You’ll quickly get a reputation by being a jerk.
Q: Who would you like us to interview next?
Alex Cohen: Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian!