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4 PPC Strategies to Maximize Your Venture Capital Funding
Written by Alka Du Mont, Account Manager
Venture Capital firms invested $69 billion in U.S. startups last year, which is astonishing, despite the slight decline from 2015 investments of $79 billion (National Venture Capital Association, 2016).
After the first quarter of 2017, it looked like there was going to be an upswing for VC financing activity, with $17 billion in investments, and similar returns are expected for Q2. There are concerns about market uncertainty and past over-inflated company valuations, which is resulting in VC Funding becoming more tightly monitored.
If you have VC backing, it is important that you have a quantifiable marketing strategy that can withstand the questions of your financial backers. It is vital that you are web savvy enough to answer these questions, or that you hire someone who can speak for your company, because the expectations are likely to be high.
The benefit of paid search marketing is that when it is set up correctly, every dollar that is spent can be tracked to a certain customer action; for example, a website visit, a phone call, or a sale. To build your company, you must show incremental positive trends in customer engagement, which can be achieved by testing different paid search tools designed to grow your market share. This whitepaper will provide your business with 4 important PPC tips for each stage of growth to help maintain this trend and reach your goals.
PPC is one of the most obvious ways to see results quickly. Both SEO and content efforts can take months to work before you can make a solid decision on if it’s working or not for your business. With PPC you get results as early as today. Perfect for investors that want to know quickly how their money being spent.
– Jeff Allen, President of Hanapin Marketing
TIP #1: KEYWORD RESEARCH TO ENSURE EFFICIENT COVERAGE
Increasing market visibility involves keyword research, because paid search is the practice of tapping into existing demand, and not the creation of demand. Keyword research, based on historical data,
Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and competitor keyword tools, like SEMRush and SpyFu, can help you identify high performance keywords and gaps in your coverage.
The first step is to look to your historical performance to identify trends that might translate in other areas of the account. For example, if “sunglasses for kids” is performing well in your United States campaigns, try using it in your international campaigns. If the word “discount” is working across the board, monitor other campaigns to see if you can add other keywords using the modifier “discount”.
Also, consider the power of keyword mining with dynamic search ads, which can uncover words not in your account that your customers search for and associate with your brand.
After exhausting your current keyword pool, look to other keyword tools to find new terms. Google and Bing keyword tools allow you to find the most popular keywords in your prime geographic markets. This will allow you to invest your VC funds in the areas with the highest likelihood of success.
The planner will also report on suggested bids, estimated clicks and impressions, and other forecasting metrics to share with your investors. In the example below, a client in the daycare industry was interested in keyword expansion opportunities. We learned that dog daycares should be added as a negative and were able to avoid a potentially costly mistake.
Meanwhile, Google Trends will show the popularity over time of keywords and will help you hone in on the best word, thus, keeping a lean account. It will also tell you which regions prefer certain terminology, for example, the states shaded in blue use the word “daycare” more often than “preschool”.
Lastly, competitor keyword tools can tell what your competitors might be bidding on, helping you identify possible markets that you did not consider. For example, the US retailer, American Giant, is famous for their well-constructed hoodies and received two rounds of VC Funding.
Using SEMRush, we can see that they bid on their brand name and the hoodies, but also branched out into other clothing and their main selling proposition, being American made clothing.
TIP #2: USE KEYWORD RESEARCH TO FOCUS ON TOP PERFORMING ROAS KEYWORDS
Keyword research can feel endless, but keeping a manageable and well-organized list of words will help you identify your top performers faster. When you can see the keywords that have the best ROAS or lowest cost per conversion, you will want to drive revenue growth by increasing bids for the top performing keywords.
Our Senior Analyst, Jacob Brown, devised a handy step-by-step guide for identifying the breakdown of top performing keywords that help revenue growth and total account ROAS. The screenshot below shows the report from his blog post, called Are You Maximizing Your Revenue? Impression Share Reporting in Excel.
To get this report, you must label each keyword into an “ROAS Numbers” category (typically just adding an Excel column).
Nevertheless, in the table above, we can see that the high-quality keywords with ROAS above 500% have plenty of room for improvement. In the column labeled “Sum of Top Imp. %”, we can see that the top keywords don’t often show on top of the page, so to get to the top of the page he recommends trying either of these:
A. Apply very aggressive manual bidding on these keywords, or
B. Apply aggressive formulas that will bid on these keywords assertively with higher modifiers, if performance remains well above the ROAS goal
TIP #3: ENCOURAGING WINDOW SHOPPERS TO PURCHASE
While exploring streams of new customers, it is also important to entice current prospects into making a purchase. Remarketing is an example of how to remind visitors to your site of your presence and call out unique features of your product. There are tools that help make remarketing easier and expand your reach, for example, AdRoll, Criteo, and Steelhouse are all examples of dashboards that will run your ads in front of previous site visitors on the web, mobile, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
When using VC funds, the goal is to test the various platforms and invest only in the source that gives you the best results, whether that is Google Display or Facebook or Instagram ads.
Furthermore, while exploring the remarketing audience, is it important to test ad copy to find the language, emotion, tone, and benefits that most encourage the desired action. This information can be used in other marketing platforms outside of paid search and with the data to back up performance, it is a reliable source of market research.
Another option for encouraging conversions is to collect emails from users that visit the landing page, with offers of new visitor discounts or free content via a pop up ad. With this list of email addresses, you can create a Gmail Sponsored Ad and test the standard ad or you can test bidding on competitor terms to determine when your ad is shown in a Gmail inbox.
Additionally, you can use this email list for the following Paid Search tools:
- Google’s Customer Match for Search
- Google’s Customer Match for Shopping
- Google’s Customer Match for YouTube
- Facebook Custom Audience
- Pinterest Custom Audience for Promoted Pins
- Similar Audiences in Google, Lookalike Audiences in Facebook, Actlike Audiences in Pinterest
TIP #4: ALWAYS FEED THE FUNNEL WITH FRESH NEW CUSTOMERS
As you are gaining market share, it is important to always be increasing brand awareness. Financial backers want to see continuous growth and showing upward trends in clicks, conversions, and sales is an excellent way to demonstrate sustained market interest in your product. You should be implementing new strategies for building sustainable brand recognition, in concert with building a great company. Some ideas for promoting brand awareness in PPC, include:
- Utilizing Video Ads (YouTube, Facebook)
- Programmatic (Quantcast, The Trade Desk)
- Native Advertising (Yahoo Gemini)
- Strategic Image Ads (Smart Display, Responsive Display Ads)
For venture-backed companies, finding scalable, repeatable marketing strategies and sales processes is vital for hitting your next stages of growth. Effective PPC strategies can be extraordinarily valuable to help companies test and find profitable channels that can be scaled. Using your historic data, find your optimal CAC (customer acquisition cost) based on the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer. When you’ve found that repeatable, profitable avenue, PPC and digital ads are a great place to pour gasoline on the fire.
– Drew Beechler, Marketing Analyst at High Alpha
When using the above techniques, you can use customer engagement as a gauge of brand awareness, i.e. are users clicking the ads. Additionally, review the branded traffic performance across all your channels to see if there is an increase in brand term searches. The most important metric being the new visitors traffic and how much time they spend on the site, which can be seen in Google Analytics. Being able to chart brand awareness with new visitors, month over month, shows a projection of the health of your brand and reassures investors in the strength of your company.
No matter the stage of a company, brand awareness is a critical element of a successful marketing plan. Using PPC for brand awareness as well as targeted lead generation has been a successful approach for us.
– Kathryn Loheide, Senior Director of Marketing at Octiv
Accepting venture capital funding means that everything is scrutinized and your potential for success is measured on a day-to-day basis. This pressure can fuel great momentum for your business, and there are many tools that exist to propel your brand forward and keep investors happy. The key to success is to research meticulously, explore new growth ideas, and invest in the winning ideas.