Large and small corporations managing multiple brands online via different websites face a series of unique challenges. Because sites often have related or overlapping product lines, they compete with each other for online traffic, rankings and revenue. Internally, they may also compete for distribution of resources, oversight and positioning. Despite hours of analysis and strategizing, you can end up with poor results across the board if you don’t pursue a coordinated and thoughtful approach. In addition, you’ll have to deal with the annoyance of constantly second guessing your decisions and feeling as though you are competing against yourself. Your outlook on managing search marketing campaigns for multiple websites will depend on business goals, priorities, and the amount of product overlap. If you weigh the options properly, you should be able to choose the best strategy to achieve success. You may find a helpful strategy from the list below; however, you may also later need to revisit your approach based on your results, changes to your business, or to the online landscape.
Here are the top four strategies – which one will work for you?
The every man for himself approach – Every site functions independently from the others
Each website operates individually with its own goals and objectives. Bids, ad copy and keyword selection for each website are decided with that one website in mind. Since each website functions independently, ROI goals should vary across websites based on previous site performance. The success or failure of one website should not determine the success or failure of others as stronger brand names will naturally outperform the other brands. However, if there is significant product overlap, keyword lists and ad copy can tend to blend and create confusion if not managed properly while also possibly raising minimum CPC’s and negatively impacting Quality Scores.
Pros – Easy accounting, Strong individual brands shine, May use more SERP real estate
Cons – No economies of scale, In-house competition
Playing Favorites – Focus on one or two main sites
Identify the primary brand(s) but allow the remaining sites to serve in a minor supporting role through branding. This tactic may appeal to firms who place more emphasis on specific brands and are comfortable with not growing the other brands. It can be appropriate for online retailers with strong brand recognition for one or two of their websites. By not advertising deeply on the secondary websites, it is also a good choice for those who are interested primarily in lowering total costs.
Pros – Reduces internal competition, Helps keep costs low, Cash cow focus
Cons – Sacrifices weaker brand names, Lost revenue potential, Dogs not identified
Put Your Best Foot Forward – Target specific product types for each site
In some cases a retailer may have one brand that does better in certain product categories than its other brands do. Based on historical performance, conversion rates and efficiencies, it’s best to play to the strengths of each site by targeting keywords to specific product sets for each property. Each site develops an individual strength and identity which is unique from the others.
Pros – Each site has its own non-competitive identity, High efficiency, Lower bottom line
Cons – Not always realistic, Potential loss of brand-loyal customers to other brands
Crowd out the competition – Take up as much real estate on the page as possible
This tactic increases your odds for new customers as each space one of your sites takes up on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) eliminates a competitor’s ad. This increases your chances for a sale through one of your ads. In this scenario, you must be comfortable with higher bottom-line costs due to the potential for multiple clicks. However, if Average Order Value (AOV) and total customers increase, costs should easily be covered in the long term.
Pros – United effort against outside competition, Potential for more total revenue across websites
Cons – Possibly lower ROI due to more clicks to your other sites before the sale occurs, potential
for revenue cannibalization
Above all, your success in managing PPC campaigns for multiple websites is dependent on testing and measuring the results of your chosen approach. You will develop a deeper understanding of the pros, cons and implications for your business as you continue testing through these methods. No matter what method you choose, try to test one or two of the other options to see how each change in strategy affects your results. Continue testing until you find the revenue and ROI levels that best meet your business needs. Also, be willing to adapt your approach as business needs, inventory and your ultimate bottom line results evolve.
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