Using PPC For Market Research

I love hearing about ways that pay per click advertising can be used in unconventional ways. Sure, it’s great to get the word out about your products, but did you know that it can be a really valuable market research tool as well? Here are a few simple tricks to use your pay per click advertising accounts to discover some useful information about your market.

The really obvious method of market research is to use it to find new keywords. Sure, you could always plug in some queries into the Google Keyword Tool. But the numbers in that tool are rounded up to an arbitrary hundred, and are often quite a bit off from reality. If you really want to get accurate numbers, you’ll have to run some keywords for real in your own AdWords or AdCenter campaign. You can even run a geotargeted or ad scheduled campaign to get keyword information for a particular geographic area or a specific time of day.

Once you have this keyword data, it can inform your SEO targeting efforts. Search volume is important for SEO targeting, but it’s much more important to know which keywords convert the best. Targeting a high-search-volume keyword won’t do you any good if people don’t buy once they reach your site. Use that PPC conversion data to make more profitable decisions for search engine optimization.

This keyword data can also help you create more informative product titles on your website. You may be calling products by their official name, while your customers have been using a more casual name that you don’t know about. You could be driving away customers by using confusing terminology and not even knowing it. But, if you run a broad-match version of your “official” term for a couple weeks, search query reports just might turn up some more common terms that your customers use to describe your item or service.

Authors such as Tim Ferris and John Graham-Cumming have used AdWords to A/B test the potential titles of their books. Instead of guessing the best title of a book or whitepaper, why not let your potential readers decide? Run a couple of competing ad headlines using the prospective titles of your work. After a couple weeks, check back and see which title got the best click-through rate. The CTR will help you determine which ad (and headline) is more appealing, so you’ll know which of the titles will stick out the most to customers browsing around for a book in your genre.

Don’t think that PPC is only useful for pushing products. Use it creatively, and it can reward you with some creative insights that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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