To those of us on the more creative side of marketing, AdWords can be a mysterious and intimidating beast. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be a great way to quickly throw thousands of dollars down the drain.
Yet most life science companies have yet to embrace paid search, or appreciate the awesome power of a well-executed PPC strategy.
The playing field is sparsely populated. Yet the principles of winning with AdWords are actually quite simple. This means big opportunity for you.
What’s more… AdWords is useful for MUCH more than just driving traffic to your website.
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- The real purpose of AdWords
- The simple mistakes most marketers make and how you can avoid them
- How to get profitable or fail fast
- How AdWords might just be the most cost-effective market research tool on the planet (told you it’s not just about driving traffic to your website!)
Announcer: Welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast, bringing you best practices, advice, and insight from marketing experts from across the life science industry and beyond. To get more insights from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.
Harrison Wright: Hello and welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society Podcast. I’m Harrison Wright.
Kenneth Vogt: And I’m Kenneth Vogt, and today we’re gonna be talking about a webinar presentation that was an interview that was entitled It’s About Psychology, Not Technology: The Quick-start Guide to Winning with AdWords. And that’s where our very own Harrison Wright is interviewing Andy Black.
Harrison Wright: Yeah, it was a fantastic interview. I really enjoyed it, actually, not just because of the many nuggets of great information that Andy brought to the table. But there was a lot of his personal story in there as well. I don’t want to dwell on this for the purposes of this podcast, but he had a great story right at the very beginning about how Andy got into AdWords almost by accident. He was working in IT. He was a data geek, as he calls himself, and he had a friend who was a plumber.
And back in 2009 it was the recession. They were in Ireland. They had hit pretty badly from everything that I understand about that, and he was struggling to win any work. Andy offered to create a website for his friend, and then this €50 AdWords started to drop through his door. So he thought, “Let’s give this a try.” When he ran the AdWords campaign and was getting his friend calls.
But being a data guy he realized the power that AdWords has in terms of not just getting leads or click-throughs or sales but in terms of giving you market research really quickly and really inexpensively. I said I didn’t want to ramble on his story, but I think that leads nicely into one of the big takeaways here.
Kenneth Vogt: Yes, this idea of market research is an interesting one, because many business people aren’t even thinking about that. His friend the plumber wasn’t thinking about market research and probably didn’t even have a notion of how he would do market research even if he thought it was important. But the data that he got from the running of the AdWords campaigns provided that market research. Now it helped to have Andy Black there to use his data geekiness to say, “Hey, take a look at this, friend.”
And it showed them things that they wouldn’t even have known to look for. Because at the beginning, like many businesses, they just wanted to have a website, and they wanted to talk about what they wanted to talk about. They weren’t thinking at all in terms of, “What does my ultimate customer want to hear about? And what are they thinking about? And what are they Googling about?” Now that is really, really interesting stuff. You put an ad in most places, you don’t know what the magazine reader or the newspaper reader is thinking.
You don’t know what the television watcher or the person driving by on the freeway looking at the billboard is thinking. But when it comes to AdWords you know exactly what they were thinking because it was all captured, and it’s all shared with you. You can see exactly how people got to your ads. You can see exactly how they got to your landing pages. And if you go a little further, you can see what other things people are searching for that didn’t even come to your ads.
Google gives you all that information for free. “Come look at our stuff and tell us where you want to put your ads.” It’s an amazingly powerful thing, and it is unprecedented in the world of marketing. There is just nothing else like it out there.
Harrison Wright: You know something occurred to me just as you were talking, Ken. There’s a huge application here that – I’m making a massive assumption here. But my assumption is not many life science companies are taking advantage of this. I’m picturing now a reagent or consumables company, probably an independent one. There’s lots of them out there – probably someone listening to this. You work for such a company. These reagent companies tend to have vast and expanding product ranges.
Now how do you decide what product to make next or which products to focus on or which ranges to expand? Do you guess, make new products that you want to make or that your boss wants to make? What if you just loaded up these thousands of different keywords into AdWords and spent $100.00, $200.00, $300.00. You’d very quickly see where you should expand your product range and what those moves demand for.
Kenneth Vogt: Exactly, and I want to key in on your point there. When you were saying, “$100.00, $200.00, $300.00,” you were saying, “For this very small amount of money.” It’s not that much. Spend a little bit of your budget finding out where you should be spending most of your budget. It is a tremendously good investment, and it’s easy to do.
And you never know what you’re going to find. You might get surprised. You could go to the expense of creating a survey for your customers and all that. Of course you don’t get very many of them to participate. And then they tell you what they think you want to hear. Whereas with this, this is what people are searching for on the web. There’s no filter there. They can’t pretend what they’re looking for. They’re looking for what they’re looking for. It’s right there in black and white.
Harrison Wright: Exactly, and they don’t even have to visit your website for you to get that data, the impressions data. In fact, theoretically, you could make an ad that’s so terrible no one would ever click it and just get all these impressions. How’s that for free market research?
Kenneth Vogt: Exactly – maybe not entirely free but so cheap it’d be ridiculous not to do it.
Harrison Wright: Yeah. When we were preparing to record this podcast I did a bit of googling around of various types of life science products. And what I found was quite interesting. I found that most of the things I search for – and I’m not gonna name any names – most of the things I was searching for no ads showed up at all. And where ads did appear I’d say at least 70 percent of them were completely irrelevant.
You’d be looking to buy a reagent, and you’d get an ad about contract research. Or you’d be looking to buy the reagent, and you’d get an ad for outsourcing your research work. There was no match at all between the intent of the search and the ad that was being delivered. And neither the landing page, actually, because I checked that as well.
Kenneth Vogt: Wow.
Harrison Wright: Even when they were relevant there was only one ad I spotted out of about 30 I would say – one ad that actually did what Andy recommended, which is match the exact language of the search – and the intent of course – but match the exact language of the search with the language you use in your ad. And match the language on the landing page exactly to the language you use in the ad as well. So you’ve got this continuous chain from search through to visit and potentially purchase that matches what the buyer was after all along.
Nobody else managed to do that. So I see a lot of things that people can learn from Andy – even though this is quite basic stuff in the grand scheme of things in marketing. But also, I see a huge opportunity here because not many people are doing it. Very few people are doing it well in life science.
Kenneth Vogt: Right. A couple things came up for me there as you were talking about that. One is that of some of the ads that you saw, they might be difficult things to sell, and they’re casting about trying to find a way to sell their contract lab work or other services. But if you’re selling products, there’s no excuse here. You should have seen just a trail of product ads that were directly linked to those searches. How there’s such a gap is ridiculous. And by the way, it doesn’t mean that the people who are selling things that to my mind are more difficult to sell couldn’t do a good job also.
They just need to be on better keywords than those, and they could dial it in. This all goes to show that you really need to make a complete mind shift about why you’re doing this stuff online. You cannot be there to toot your own horn. You cannot be there to pontificate. You’ve gotta get your ego out of this. It is all about the ego of your potential buyer. And if you just get yourself in that mode, get your head there, and you just keep pounding on that … and you may have to go up against forces in the other direction.
There may be people in the company, your boss, your boss’s boss, that they want to stroke the company ego. It’s gotta be your job to make it clear to them, “That’s now how this works. This is how it works.” And there’s plenty of people who have been down this road – kinda like the way Andy went down this road – where he had to learn that, “Wow, I’ve been looking at this wrong.” Here’s a guy who personally is data driven, and he had to acknowledge he was looking at it wrong. So we have to understand that it’s human nature, and some really smart, well-intended people in our own companies may have the wrong idea.
And it’s up to us to show them what works, and hopefully you’re working with people who will respond to what works. That’s the whole mission behind one of the things we’re doing in the Life Science Marketing Society is to get people to see. Let’s start using the best practices that have been demonstrated to be successful in industry after industry. And yet we see in our industry people aren’t even trying, which creates this fabulous opportunity for you. You could be there when no one else is there, and by the time other people wake up to it you will be really good at being there while they’ll be catching up. Opportunity here is just fantastic.
Harrison Wright: Absolutely. There’s another thing that _____ off of this, Ken. My view is – I could be wrong about this – but I think so much of why marketing is done in the wrong way – i.e. the focus on me, me, me. “These are our products. These are the things we want to sell. You want them, don’t you?” I think it’s evolved naturally from a lot of the bad sales advice that went around for decades. “Always be closing.” All the usual things. I don’t need to repeat them here.
It’s quite well known in the sales profession nowadays that effective sales isn’t about, “Always be closing.” And it isn’t about all these things to pressure people into purchasing. It’s about a thorough understanding of what they need, building of consensus within the organization, and it’s then about tailoring a solution to give them what they want better than anybody else can do – so in competition.
And it’s the same thing here, but I think a lot of that thought process hasn’t caught up in marketing. So when it comes down to it it’s actually quite simple. It’s about – as Andy said – find out what people want, find out how to sell it to them. And the beauty of AdWords is people are already looking for things, so it’s the perfect medium to tap into already existing demand. That’s a better place to start than creating new demand. Of course there’s a place for creating new demand, definitely, but why wouldn’t you tap into the existing demand first and find out how to serve it?
Kenneth Vogt: Right. Now you just mentioned two points there, and I want to reiterate what you just said. We’ve been talking a lot about “find out what they want,” and if you caught that point by now, and you understand what we’re saying, good for you. Now I’ll get to the second one. Find out how to sell it to them. Just because you know what they want, you don’t go back to, “And therefore hear our ego story.” No, you’ve gotta sell it to them the way they want to be sold. You gotta say the words that they use to describe things. It’s so obvious once you think of it in those terms.
And when you think about yourself as a buyer, what you respond to, use yourself as an example. You never want to hear the ego story of the company you’re gonna buy from. You wanna hear how they’re gonna solve your problem. You wanna hear how they’re gonna do it for a fair price. You wanna hear how they’re gonna do it with good service. You wanna hear how they’re gonna do it in a way that’s scalable, in a way that I can count on in the future. All that stuff – it’s all about them. Get your head into that. Figure out how to sell it to them.
Sometimes that means you’re gonna have to do it in multiple forks. You sell it this way to this person, that way to that person, this other way to this other person. And if you pick out the things that are really popular, that people are looking for, you don’t have to sell everything you’ve got. If you got a catalog with a thousand products in it, and you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness. I’ve gotta come up with an ad for every product and a landing page for every ad. I can’t do that.”
Well, you don’t have to do that. If you do your AdWords market research right, you’re gonna find out, “Here are the five products that everybody’s looking for.” Those are the ones you key on. Bring them in the door with those 5, and the other 995 will then be there to be sold as time goes on.
Harrison Wright: Exactly, exactly, and there’s another point I wanna make here that Andy didn’t cover but I think is a little extra value we can add in this podcast. I’ve spoken to I don’t know how many hundreds, thousands of life science marketers these last few years. Almost nobody in life science knows their lifetime customer value. So you win a new customer. How much do they spend over the lifetime of their being a customer? As a consequence of that, how much can you afford to pay to acquire a new customer?
I wonder if a lot of reagent companies, in particular, don’t use pay-per-click advertising because they think, “Well, someone comes on the site, and they usually place an order for $100.00. And after all our overheads are taken into account we only make a $30.00 profit. How can we afford to if it costs us $100.00 to make that sale using AdWords?” Well, yeah you’ll lose money on the first sale, but what if you make $3,000.00 over the lifetime of the average customer?
Then you should be spending as much money on AdWords as you can, as long as you maintain those conversion rates. You’ll only know how much you can spend if you know your lifetime customer value. When you know you’re lifetime customer value nobody else, if they decide to compete against you for the ad results, nobody else is gonna be able to compete with you because they don’t know their lifetime customer value. And they don’t realize that they can be making up their money on the backend.
Kenneth Vogt: Right.
Harrison Wright: Really important concept this, and I hope people get around to paying it more heed in the near future.
Kenneth Vogt: And I would say too that if you just can’t get your upper management on board to think that way, because they’re a bunch of scientists rather than a bunch of business people, you can still think that way. And you can recognize, okay, if they can’t think that long term, sure I can get them to think in terms of, “How much will this customer be worth this year?” Or “How much will this customer be worth this quarter?” if you have to go that short a distance, but it’ll likely be more than buying one kit. Reagents is our go-to here, but it’s just an example.
Now obviously if you’re selling capital equipment and things like that, folks there are thinking more long term. Your management is gonna be realizing that if we’re selling a $200,000.00 microscope we’re establishing a relationship in say a university where we’re gonna be there for decades. We understand we’re gonna sell them more than one – and maybe not this year – but we know it’s really important to establish that relationship because if we don’t our competitor will. And when they establish that relationship we never get in the door.
You can use this stuff to your advantage. But as you’re saying, Harrison, that is a marketing – not a 101 concept. But it’s a 102 concept, lifetime customer value, and you need to put it into practice.
Harrison Wright: You bring up something else as well there, Ken, inadvertently. If we’re talking about capital equipment here, assuming the margins are significant, which I would expect is the case, you’ve got a lot of money to play with to acquire a new customer. And you can afford to use AdWords to drive … and I’m not gonna use the word traffic. As Andy explains, they’re visitors. They’re researchers who are interested in finding out an answer to a question. They’re not traffic. Way to humanize them.
But you’ll be able to use AdWords to drive researchers not only to something leading to a direct purchase now and then, but you’ll be able to use them to capture informational searches as well, where they don’t have a buying intent just yet. Or their buying intent is quite loosely defined.
And if you’ve filled out your content platform, and you’ve got resources for people who are in the awareness stage, in the consideration stage and in the buying stage, assuming you understand the conversion rates at each of those areas, which I think again ties into the same sort of data-driven area as figuring out your lifetime customer value. As long as you know what those rates are – you’d have to check the conversions on AdWords – but theoretically anyway you should be able to use AdWords to fill the funnel at the top, the middle, and the bottom.
Kenneth Vogt: Sure. You point out something else too that a sale is one potential positive outcome, but there are other positive outcomes that we need in business. We need to create brand awareness. We need to create brand authority. Those are things too that you can use AdWords to help create in a pretty inexpensive way. You’re not trying to get them to do something but rather just to think something. That’s actually a lot easier, and you can put things out in the world.
You saw that. You commented on putting in some searches and looking for ads and seeing some of them were going to things like articles and discussions. Well, that’s interesting. People are buying ads to get people to hear them talk about things. Now that’s not a bad idea if that’s your objective, if you’re trying to build brand awareness. But if you’re doing it for leads that’s not a very good way to do it.
Harrison Wright: The beauty of this is informational searches are much cheaper to advertise on.
Kenneth Vogt: Exactly. They’re not as competitive, yeah.
Harrison Wright: Fascinating thing. The informational searches aren’t as competitive in AdWords, but they’re much more competitive for the organic rankings. So crazy idea … it might make no sense whatsoever, but I might be onto something as well. What if use AdWords to drive informational searches and you use organic traffic – or organic visitors or researchers I should say – for your product-related searches? Because everyone’s advertising on AdWords there, but they’re not writing articles about those products.
Kenneth Vogt: I see another podcast and another webinar.
Harrison Wright: Yes, me too. There’s some testing required first.
Kenneth Vogt: There you go. And there was something else that you mentioned a second ago. What you said is accurate, but I want to turn it on its ear. You talked about how Andy spoke about, “Don’t think in terms of clicks or traffic, but think in terms of people,” and you called it humanizing it. I wanna call out that the problem here is that we have dehumanized it. They were always humans, and we turned them into data and into statistics, and we need to return to this.
We need to stop the dehumanizing that we’ve done, because marketing is always gonna be talking to people, and we need to connect to people. People are the ones who get interested and click through. People are the ones who give you their contact information and say they wanna talk. People are the ones who write the checks, sign the POs. We really, really need to think in terms of people.
Harrison Wright: I think that’s just about the most powerful and best point we could end on.
Kenneth Vogt: I think you’re there. So there we are. It’s About Psychology, Not Technology: The Quick-start Guide to Winning with AdWords. If you would like to get a link to the actual webinar where Andy Black has a lot more to say to Harrison in an interview, you’re gonna wanna catch all the details. And you can get there by going to bit.ly/lsms.Andy, so be sure to check that out. And of course, if you go there you’ll be able to sign up for free to get access to all kinds of quality webinars and other content that will help you in your life science marketing career. So on that note thank you for listening. I’m Kenneth Vogt.
Harrison Wright: And this is Harrison Wright. See you next time.
Announcer: To get more insights from the Life Science Marketing Society please visit www.lifesciencemarketingsociety.org and grab your free membership.
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Photo Credit: thinker thing