Using Long Tail Google AdWords PPC Campaigns For A Tour Operator
About The Project
One of our Digital Agency partners approached us for help with a Caribbean Tourist Board client wanting to raise awareness of their holiday destination. The client had already planned a significant offline advertising campaign and wanted this to be supported by an online, paid digital advertising campaign.
We established the paid campaign (AdWords) goals as:
- Provide additional information about the region and available activities to prospective holidaymakers.
- Drive click-throughs from the campaign landing page to hotel websites for bookings.
- Avoid competing on expensive keywords with tour operators.
Choosing AdWords Search and/or Display Networks
There were two main options available to us for running the AdWords campaign:
- Rich Media Display Network Campaign – Targeting In-Market or Affinity audiences, or Managed/Automatic Placements on prominent websites to drive awareness of the holiday destination.
- Search Network Campaign – Researching relevant keywords and creating AdWords Campaigns and Ad Groups structured around the main campaign themes.
Benefits Of Long Tail Search Campaigns
Given that the client wanted to increase hotel bookings, without cannibalising traffic from existing regional advertisers we decided to create a large number of long-tail search network campaigns to drive awareness. The benefits of choosing a long-tail search campaign were as follows:
- Better CTR (Click-Through Rate) in general on Search Network ads over Display Network ads. The goal being to drive a larger amount of traffic with the media/ad spend over the campaign duration.
- Better Conversion Rate in general on Search Network ads over Display Network ads. The client wanted tangible evidence of conversions, which automatically lends itself towards using Search over Display.
- We are able to target cheaper clicks with long-tail AdWords campaigns, as the competition is far lower so the client would receive more traffic for the spend.
- Targeted Long tail campaigns can also drive far more qualified leads to a website. For example, a user searching for “<destination>” is less qualified than a user that searches for “<hotel name> destination”. The more qualified lead is more likely to convert as they are often at a later stage of the buying process.
- The Tourist Board client wanted us to avoid competing on expensive terms with other advertisers such as “flights” and “weddings” at the destination. This reduced the CPC (Cost per click) but massively restricted the available volume of searchers that we could target. This meant we needed to cast the net wide in terms of finding other suitable keywords, but without starting too broad.
- Finally, building out a well structured set of long tail campaigns and ad groups meant we were likely to achieve a decent AdWords Quality Score (QS) which would equally drive down Average CPC. The ad copy and keywords were relevant to the campaign landing page which would help in this area too.
Creating Long Tail Campaigns In Google AdWords (The Technical Bit)
There are plenty of how-to guides in existence on creating long tail campaigns. As above, the potential value to be gained is huge if time is invested in the planning, creation and optimisation. We had to be proficient in using AdWords Editor and MS Excel in order to manage tens of thousands of keywords and bids plus thousands of ad variations.
The approach started with a number of “seed” keywords that were then multiplied out and combined with other groups of keywords. Campaigns were based on high level themes, with Ad Groups relating to sub themes beneath. Each long tail campaign was Exact Match, and then duplicated as a BMM (Broad Match Modifier) campaign with the Exact match keywords added as negative keywords.
This approach of not mixing keyword match types is an essential best practice to make sure that clicks are being funneled to the correct keywords.
Using a combination of AdWords Editor and MS Excel, we set the keyword bids according to the FPB (First Page Bid) or First Position Bid provided by AdWords before uploading them in bulk.
Managing Long Tail Campaigns
If the campaigns are structured & set up correctly the management is still involved, but relatively straightforward.
Analysing the search term reports in Google Analytics naturally provided access to negative keywords that were using up click budget but not driving conversions. Equally, as our Adwords QS was high, we saw our FPB drop for a lot of keywords, so adjusting our bids down meant our Average CPC was less than half what the client expected at the start of the project.
Also regularly keeping on top of budget allocation between AdWords campaigns as standard meant we could fund the more successful campaigns and drive better overall results.
As conversion was a key metric in this case, we’d spent a significant amount of time making sure that page interactions were tracked in Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager and AdWords beforehand. We needed to be able to demonstrate ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), and reporting simply on traffic and CPC is not enough to show any client how much digital marketing value their advertising has brought them.
We obviously can’t publish the full results, but the average CPC achieved was less than half what the client expected at the start of the campaign. Therefore we drove 110% extra traffic for their media spend. The conversion rate was also 600% higher than on comparable Display Campaigns that had been run in the previous year, so clearly we were able to target qualified leads, more cheaply with our approach to using long tail AdWords campaigns.
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