Paid Search Challenges for High SKU Companies

In my 20+ years of doing search marketing, I have worked with companies across the gamut of industries with vastly different goals and needs. While a portion of paid search management fundamentals apply regardless of vertical, truly effective strategies require deep industry expertise. For example, the account structure, measurement, and attribution strategy for a financial services brand with only 10-20 products varies greatly from an eCommerce company with thousands of SKUs. As a result, the technology and approach needed to support the unique needs across industry verticals also looks very different. Retailers focused on driving in-store traffic will need to use a geo-fencing measurement stack. B2B companies selling products with a year-long sales cycle must have sophisticated multi-touch attribution capabilities.
In order to have a competitive edge in how we serve our clients across industries, we need technology-enabled strategies built to solve specific challenges. One of the most motivating digital marketing challenges that we chose to solve is complexity. We have committed to helping companies with many departments, thousands of locations, hundreds of franchises, and extensive product catalogs. In this series of posts, I will specifically discuss the challenges and solutions we have overcome to be the best at search marketing for high SKU retail brands.
For brands that sell thousands, or tens of thousands, of different products, the sheer volume of SKUs and keyword variations create several challenges. Here are the four topics I will be discussing in greater detail in this series:

1. Time/Labor Investment: The logistics of building and managing a comprehensive search strategy when supporting thousands of products, even when using automation, is labor intensive. Some of the complexities that high SKU brands need to consider range from tactical annoyances to data processing needs that require big data platforms.

2. Optimization: Another challenge that high SKU brands face is how to make optimization decisions when a substantial portion of conversions come from long-tail keywords with low traffic volumes. If, for example, you have 30,000 keywords that each have one click and no conversions, how do you optimize those keywords?

3. Budget vs. Breadth: When supporting a massive volume of products and brands, it may not make sense to put advertising dollars behind each product; marketers need to be armed with the right data to decide where to focus spend and coverage. While decisions to concentrate spend into specific categories may make sense for the business overall, this can cause friction among different teams or groups.

4. Reporting/Insights: Fundamentally, search marketers must be able to answer performance questions within a reasonable timeframe; this arms them with the information to optimize accounts and improve performance. To achieve this, they need to have technology that can process massive amounts of data quickly. It is crucial to have a disciplined and governed approach to naming conventions in their campaigns that allow the user to segment data in whatever way they need—by location, department, or product category.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts in each of these areas during this series. In my next post, I will elaborate further on the labor-intensive challenges high SKU companies are up against and provide examples of how some of the best in class brands are tackling these difficulties. Contact Rise to discuss how our search experts can help with your challenges.

05/14/2019 at 05:58