We're having a big debate within our company about bidding on our brand name. On one side of the fence they're saying we don't need to bid on our brand name because we dominate the organic results. On the other side, numerous studies show that combining paid ads with organic listings can dramatically increase conversion rates. Here's a study from the Atlas Institute showing a 22% increase over search alone. The study also talks about the “last ad” factor where people will click on your ad even though they intended to visit your site anyway so the study contradicts itself. There are many other studies showing it is worth bidding on your brand name. Unfortunately there are many studies showing it's not worth bidding on your brand name if you rank well organically. The studies all conclude “it depends” whether you should bid on your brand name so round and round we go!
At the Search Engine Strategies conference last August, Rand Fishkin and Melanie Mitchell said their research showed it's worth bidding on your brand keywords even if you rank well organically. I respect Rand and Melanie so that's a big plus in the Yes column for me.
Here are some facts that may help you add your two cents to our debate:
- We're bidding about $2 per click for exact match clicks on our brand name and up to $11 per click on our phrase match bids (a wide gap which we're working to narrow!)
- In the organic search results, we control 8 out of 10 search results, including our web pages and some external blogs which have many links to our website
- We're a B2B software company with a six figure product so our sales cycle is long and requires many “touches” with the customer
- About 60% of the time, people clicking on our paid brand keywords sign up for a demo of our product which is our “home run” from the marketing perspective
- Since we added Ad Extensions to our paid ads, our conversion rate for demos has tripled while spending the same amount on the ads
- We're testing to see if our demo requests decline if we turn off the paid ads since they can click on our organic listing which includes Sitelinks to our demo request form. This is tricky because we don't want to lose demo requests but we don't want to have to pay for clicks if they're willing to click on our organic listing.
- Our cost/lead on our brand name paid ads is around $50/lead which is cheap considering each sale is six figures
We know that many people now use the Google search box in their browser toolbar instead of using the address bar. This means they're just entering our brand name as a Google search instead of typing www.brandname.com in their address bar which would take them directly to our website. I'm sure Google loves the fact that people would rather do a Google Search and make an extra click to visit a website instead of typing a few extra characters but it makes us pay for extra clicks on our ads. Considering our cost/lead and the amount of each sale, it seems like a no brainer to continue running the ads in parallel with our organic domination. But if we turn off our ads, we could spend that money on other advertising channels.
What would you do if you were in our position?