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2 Surprising (and Profitable) Market Insights Hiding in Your Google AdWords Data

How’d ya like to get better, more accurate keyword data than your competitors?

How’d ya like to get inside your prospects’ heads so you can see what offers, headlines, copy, etc. will get their pulses racing and have them grabbing for their wallets?

In my last article, we covered 11 reasons you should consider using AdWords in your marketing mix. One of those reasons was the ability to do keyword and market research. But this is an aspect of AdWords that most people don’t think about and even fewer know how to use the right way.

So in this article, we’re going to talk about how you can use AdWords, not just to drive traffic and leads, but to gain valuable insights about your market you can’t find any other way.

Keyword Research Using AdWords

No matter what tool you use for keyword research, it’s not giving you accurate data. Sometimes the data can be pretty good, other times it’s wildly inaccurate.

You just never know.

And there are some other drawbacks to using these tools…

  • They can’t give you data about how any given keyword will convert for YOU. (quite important information to have!)
  • If you’re targeting a local area, the data showing how many people in your region are searching for particular keywords is even less reliable than national data (if it’s available at all).
  • Many tools (especially the Google Keyword Planner) do a pretty bad job of coming up with a good list of related keywords to the keyword(s) you put in the tool so you may very well miss out on a lot of potentially valuable keywords.

Enter Google AdWords.

An AdWords campaign can give you the most accurate keyword data available.

Consider these scenarios…

Scenario 1 – You want traffic data for specific keywords

This one is simple…

You create an AdWords campaign… enter those keywords as Exact Match keywords… run the campaign and see how many Impressions that keyword gets over a given time period. (Obviously the longer you run this campaign, the more accurate the data you’ll get.)

Using this strategy, you can get data at a local level by adjusting the geographic area where your campaign runs. So you can find out how many people are searching for…

  • ‘hiking boots’ in Colorado
  • ‘snowshoes’ in the city of Syracuse, NY
  • ‘Louis Vuitton shoes’ in the 90210 zip code

An important note here… you can bid much lower than normal to get this data. In fact, if all you want is the Impression data (ie. not the clicks) I’d encourage you to bid low enough (and write crummy ads) so you’re getting Impressions but not too many clicks.

One thing you have to be aware of however is that Google doesn’t show your ad every time someone types in your keyword. So in order to get accurate data, you have to use the Impression Share data and do some math.

Impression Share is essentially what percentage of the available Impressions your ad was actually displayed for.

To see Impression Share data at the Keyword level, go to the Keywords tab, then click on the Columns button. That will bring up the window in the screenshot below. You’ll find the Impression Share columns under Competitive metrics and can add them to the data you see for each keyword from there.

Impression Share Report

As an example, if your keyword got 300 Impressions over a 7 day period and your Impression Share was 50%, then that keyword was actually searched for 600 times on Google during those 7 days.

So don’t just look at the Impressions for your keyword and assume that’s how many times people typed that keyword in while your campaign was running. Look at Impressions and Impression Share together and do the math to get the true number of searches.

Scenario 2 – You’re looking for variations on your main keywords

If you’re looking for variations on your main keywords that can generate quality traffic for you, you’ll want to set up a Campaign using Broad Match keywords.

Broad Match can be a dangerous match type in an AdWords campaign and we don’t use it often. The reason is that when you use Broad Match, Google will show your ad for “relevant variations” of your keyword. The problem here is Google’s definition of “relevant” and your own may be quite different.

So (using an actual example from a campaign I saw) ads for the Broad Match keyword ‘solar panels’ were being displayed to people doing searches about the ‘solar system’.

Not the people that business was trying to reach!

That said, if your goal is to find variations of some specific keywords, you can run a small AdWords campaign using Broad Match in order to mine the data for good keywords variations to add to your main campaigns.

Or, if you want to have a little more control over things, use the Broad Match Modifier (BMM) match type. With BMM, you put a plus sign in front of each word you want which indicates that the word MUST appear in the search phrase someone types into Google in order for your ad to appear.

For example, if you have the Broad Match Modifier keyword:

+canon +DSLR

Then the words ‘canon’ and ‘dslr’ have to appear in the search query someone types into Google in order for your ad to appear.

It would match for search terms like:

  • best dslr from Canon
  • Canon 70d dslr
  • buy canon dslr in nyc

It would not match for search like:

  • Nikon dslrs
  • Canon camcorders

Whether you use BMM or Broad match keywords, using the Search Term report in AdWords will let you see the exact search queries people typed into Google before clicking on one of your ads.

You can run a Search Term Report when you’re on the Keywords tab by clicking on the Details button as shown in the screen shot below…

Search Terms Report Adwords

Mining that report can uncover some great keyword opportunities.

In fact, we once used this strategy to boost conversions by over 50% for one of our clients. This was a local business (I don’t want to share the actual location and keyword so let’s say this business offered underwater chess classes in Los Angeles).

In looking at their keyword report, I noticed a number of searches for underwater chess in the LA suburb of Glendale. Now, if you looked it up using a keyword research tool, the results would show you that nobody is searching for ‘underwater chess Glendale’.

Because of our Search Term report in AdWords, however, we knew that wasn’t accurate. In fact, we found that a few hundred people a month were searching on that term.

Using that data, we optimized our AdWords campaign for that keyword, created a dedicated landing page for underwater chess in Glendale and started converting at a 54% higher rate than we had been.

Add to the fact that, based on that data, the client did some SEO around that keyword (because the data showed it was worth the time and money to do so) and we were able to get more organic traffic for that term.

That’s powerful stuff that, without AdWords, would have been darn near impossible to figure out.

Now, as good as that is, keyword research ain’t the only kind of research you can do with AdWords. You can also use AdWords for Market research.

Illegal Drugs, AdWords and Market Research

Now before you tune out cuz you think Market Research is boring, pay close attention to this story involving illegal drugs (and marketing!)…

About 10 years ago I was involved in a small drug testing company that was a reseller of a CSI kinda device called DrugWipe. It’s like a pregnancy test for drugs. It’s used to swipe a surface (computer keyboard, steering wheel, forklift controls, etc.) and within 5 minutes the device would turn colors if someone who’d touched that surface had been on drugs and, if so, what kind of drug(s) they were on.

Despite having something cool to sell, hardly anyone was interested and the business was struggling.

Originally we were targeting the product to the two most obvious markets – businesses wanting to detect and deter drug use by employees as well as parents of teenagers. However, I had a hunch that it’d go over big in the real estate market.

Why? Well, because that was at the height of the meth epidemic. The news was full of stories about the dangers of using and/or producing methamphetamines.

One of the hidden dangers of meth production is that the process creates a highly toxic residue that can linger for a very long time (months or more). That residue can linger in carpet, HVAC systems, walls, etc. and create health hazards for anyone that enters the building where the meth production took place.

So my hunch was that those involved in real estate transactions – buyers, renters, realtors, home inspectors, apartment managers, etc. would want to use DrugWipe as a quick and affordable way to test surfaces for the presence of this meth residue.

To test my idea, I set up an AdWords campaign. I created a real estate focused landing page on our site, put a few real estate/meth testing related keywords into an AdWords campaign and let ‘er rip.

It took about a week and less than $30 to get my results. The real estate keywords got more traffic, higher clickthrough rates and more conversions than all the other markets/keywords we were targeting in AdWords… combined!!

Still wasn’t enough to rescue the drug testing company, but it was an eye opener for me about the true power of AdWords.

Having worked in market research for a number of years, I can tell you that companies pay big bucks to do phone and/or mail surveys, focus groups, etc. over the course of weeks or months to get this sort of information. (And, arguably the results they got were not as accurate as the ones you can get when you let prospects vote with their mouse clicks when they’re alone with their computers.)

You ever hear of the book “Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit”? Well, hardly anyone has because when the author (who had worked in the pharmaceutical industry) sent it to the publisher, the publisher told him Wal-Mart wouldn’t sell a book with that title so he had to change it.

Instead of picking one of the crappy suggestions the publisher came back with, the author set up an AdWords campaign. He created about 12 different ads and put a different title/subtitle in each one to see which performed the best.

It took $150 and week to get the clear winner. As a result of that AdWords test, the book was renamed “The 4-Hour Workweek” and went on to become a best-seller for Tim Ferriss.

From helping discover the book titles (or headlines, offers, etc.) that most resonate with your prospects to finding new, untapped markets for your business, you can use AdWords to gather data faster and cheaper than any other method I know of.

Listen, in marketing, guessing is expensive.

Rather than just launching that new product, offer, marketing campaign, etc. based on a guess, why not use AdWords to test your assumptions?

Either you spend some money to find out your assumptions were wrong (in which case you’ll go through a lot less money and heartache than if you launched without testing) or you’ll validate your assumptions (and may discover things about your market, messaging, offer, etc. that you can use to improve your overall marketing efforts).

AdWords ain’t a one trick pony. Yes, it’s a great way to send traffic and leads your way, but if that’s all you’re using it for, you’re missing out on its full potential.

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