12/05/2014 02:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Fierce Football Plays for Winning at Paid Search Marketing

Paid search advertising is growing every year, even as traditional advertising spend declines. Growth in paid search advertising demands special attention be given to the outrageous boom in mobile paid search advertising, too. With so many new advertisers getting into the paid search game, now seems like a good time to review the top plays for small and medium businesses. As a warm-up, check out these staggering Super Bowl stats:
  • U.S. consumers watching the Super Bowl will spend $68 on average on game day food, athletic wear, décor and TVs, with a total spend across the U.S. of $12.3 billion.
  • Super Bowl is the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S. after Thanksgiving.
  • Nearly 75% of searches on sporting goods and team apparel retail sites in advance of game day in 2014 were on mobile devices.
1. INTERCEPT THE PASS Analyzing your competition is easier than you might think. All it takes is some time and a spreadsheet. Do a search on the keywords you use and take a close look at the competing ads that show up. Figure out where you can be stronger by digging into:
  • The value proposition. Is there a value proposition for your product that no advertiser is using? And is it stronger than what's out there? Then use it.
  • The offer. Can you match free shipping? 20% off? Free consultation?
  • The ad features. Is your competition using sitelinks plus call extensions and map extension? This makes their ad more noticeable and bigger. Go head to head with the same features.

Intercept the pass with sharp competitive analysis that reveals all the plays.

Your quarterback is your best ad copy. This is the ad copy that connects with your customer because it matches what she's looking for and meets her intent. It drives clicks, which drive conversions. Your ad copy should highlight the benefits you offer and answer the question "why buy from you and not your competitors?" Protect your best ad copy by running copy tests and tracking results so you can attribute success to a specific word combination. Then test again a few weeks later - as our world and culture is constantly shifting, you cannot assume what works best in the summer is going to work best in the winter.

3. SACK Whenever possible, take out your competitors by doing one or all of three things:
  • Get more precise with targeting (geography, time of day, device) which drives conversion rate
  • Adjust your offer and value prop to hit the target harder (For more on this, see "Intercept The Pass," above).
  • Bid higher on important keywords

Sometimes you have to take some risks with your paid search campaigns. Try some ad copy that's unexpected - and maybe fun. Experiment with using emotion in your ads. Don't think features, think how your customers wants to feel when they buy.

To mitigate risk, run these plays in a testing environment so you can track results and land on winning combinations that actually work.

Your paid search campaign doesn't begin and end with your ad on the search platform - it ends with your landing page. When a searcher clicks your ad, they do so with an expectation that the place they're landing will deliver what they're looking for. Make sure it does.

Consider using easy to use and affordable tools like Unbounce, Optimizely, or CrazyEgg (who all have free trials) to improve landing page performance.

Changing your play at the last minute is not just accepted in paid search, it's encouraged. Nowhere else can advertisers simply click a button to delay the launch of a campaign to coincide with a local event that will deliver more customers. This is exactly the kind of audible you should call - keep your eyes open for circumstances that can bring you more business and adjust for it. For example, on a local level, hotels, car rentals and restaurants will want to increase budgets in the weeks directly before a major event like the Super Bowl or college graduation.

Now get out there and fire things up. Don't get called for delay of game, and whatever you do don't drop the ball before you get to the end zone.

For some particularly relevant information about search advertising during the Super Bowl, get a look at this deck on Slideshare. But you might want to skip the slides that tell the story about how much food we eat on Super Bowl Sunday - it's just too shocking.

Sources for stats at the top of the story:
1. Poll conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics on behalf of the National Retail Federation. January 2013. n= 6,417
3. SLI Systems via Fans mobilize for Super Bowl shopping, Internet Retailer, January 2014