CMO-Friendly, CFO-Approved: The Direct Path Approach to Paid Search

Paid Search is a crowded and competitive digital marketing channel. The path from first impression to sale can often be a winding road. Yet, there is a way to cut through some of the chaos with what we call the “Direct Path Approach”. The primary goal of this approach is to move customers from impression to sale as quickly and painlessly as possible. By leveraging data, creating a logical keyword structure, determining your most desirable customers and creating simple, clear tests, this approach can allow you to increase sales… while spending less of those precious marketing dollars.

Everything Begins with Data

Paid Search is a business rooted in “Big Data”. Yet, more than simply leveraging data once it is gathered, the Direct Path Approach focuses on building a structure that will pull in the right data as quickly as possible.

Google and Bing are excellent at helping advertisers get their ads in front of a wide variety of customers. Unfortunately, without proper planning and appropriate set up, AdWords and Bing accounts can get very messy very fast. This can lead to a lot of wasted spend. Our approach uses the inherent logic within keywords to create a streamlined structure for keywords and data.

Keywords: Less = More

So how do we set up our keyword structure to maximize data and build data quickly? Using the logic of keyword match types, we can target the traffic you want and avoid what you don’t want. (Click this link for more detailed info on setting up a keyword structure: The “Name That Tune” Approach to PPC)

When setting up Paid Search accounts it is essential to cover all relevant searches with as few keywords as possible. Keep in mind, each time a new keyword is added, a new data bucket is created. The more buckets you have, the thinner your data becomes. In order to make good decisions, you need robust data. By only focusing on the necessary keywords, the data builds faster and the results are credible sooner.

This keyword approach is also the primary reason why this is such a cost effective structure. When I used this approach at a company with over $50 million of annual spend, conversions went up significantly and spend actually went down. Imagine that conversation with your CFO! (You’re welcome.)

Below is an example of what happened when we turned off an old, messy account and turned on the Direct Path Approach. The impact was almost immediate. Not only was there no loss of traffic initially, conversions saw a nice spike.

graph for DPA

Target Most Desirable Customers

Not all customers are created equal. Some are browsing. Some are ready to buy. With the help of clean data and industry insights, you can target the customer segments most likely to convert. For example, customers may be ready to buy on Tuesday at lunchtime but not on Sunday at breakfast.

Whether considering device, location, time of day or returning customers, it is essential to get your message in front of the right customers at the right time. These types of insights can be found much more easily and quickly if your data isn’t a mess.

Testing with a Purpose

The best decisions start with good science and good data. Testing is a big part of building a strong Paid Search account. It is also essential to keep the testing process simple.

Most of us learned in third grade science class to do your best to control what you can and limit the number of test variables. The more test variables you have, the more “noise” in the test. This set up can lead to lousy test results. Not only does keeping it simple get you better results, but your tests can be done more rapidly as your data will build more quickly.

Everything Ends with Data

Once everything is up and running, this is where the fun starts. Now you can start leveraging all of your clean, robust data. Data will help you find ideal bids for your keywords, persuasive ad copy and high-converting landing pages. Your data analysis will also help you identify key trends and opportunities. Believe it or not, data analysis is much easier with this approach. By keeping the process simple, you will end up with much better insights.

The Direct Path Approach begins and ends with data. If you start with this simple, clean data structure, you will have an easier time analyzing data once you kick off your campaigns. This logical approach to building your Paid Search accounts is not only less expensive, but it will give you a leg up on your competition.


You can see Matt Brown present the Direct Path Approach at PPC Hero 2016 in Philadelphia from April 25th-27th.

Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Why Lead Quotas (and Other Vanity Metrics) are Hindering Your Long Term Growth to learn about the impactful metrics your agency should be reporting on.

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