Paid Search for Startups with Steffen Horst CEO & Co-Founder | Symphonic Digital

On this episode, I talk with Steffen Horst CEO & Co-Founder | Symphonic Digital.

Steffen is one of the most experienced practitioners of Paid Search having worked in the industry for years, worked in multiple countries and run global search campaigns for the biggest brands in the world.

On the episode we cover a range of topics including:

  • Brand bidding
  • competitor bidding
  • keyword funnels
  • why you should not optimise ad groups early on
  • don’t have 10-15 keywords in an adgroup
  • Keyword match types (learn more here)
  • quality score (1-10) definition
  • in-market audiences

…. and because you obviously love podcasts, you can check out the Symphonic Digita podcast here.

Automatic Transcript here


Paid Search for Startups with Steffen Horst Steffen Horst CEO & Co-Founder | Symphonic Digital 00:00:00 – 00:05:01 Thirty seven percent of all money spent on digital advertising is through Google. That’s over one hundred billion dollars a year spent globally through the Google platform as you can say Google’s not a platform or a channel that you can afford to ignore with your business. But more importantly, there’s no barrier to entry to advertise on Google. So any business regardless of how small will hound you can open an account and be appetizing on the world’s biggest advertising platform within minutes. I’m Jerry Doyle. And this is the practical podcast where I bring marketing experts around the world to you to help you drop your marketing Deva’s forward. Let’s get this show. So welcome to this week’s episode where again you being Tyler focused on paid search. And when we talk about hide such a postman talking about Google and Atwood’s because Google pretty much owns this market. And to help us get through this very important part of the moxie makes we had joined by Stephan host who is the CEO and co founder of symphonic digital and a longtime friend of mine says Stephan, welcome to my podcast. Thanks for having me, really quick background Stephan. And I worked together in London with an agency reprise media. I hide thing. How long ago that is now, but it was a robbery, and when he had some absolutely brilliant times and we worked on a number of quite high profile pitches together. And I still have a very clear memory of looking across the reprise meteorology office, when’s deafen the phone call from Coca Cola saying whether we’d want to pitch or not. And I what she’s feisty tender with two big thumbs up to signal that we’d actually. Wonder if the code and it led that and nut that’s itchy my memory. That’s what I think of when I imagine you. It’s you on the fine with your thumbs up like Aw with one this. We couldn’t believe it. So that’s that’s out his ACA. So whenever you see a Coca Cola cutoff sparks memory. I just I just have a mind’s eye of your face grinning across that long. That was a special moment many long nights laying out PowerPoint slides and the voter table. That’s good times. Good experiences. And what’s great for everyone? Let’s use the show is you could NAS for someone who’s got more experienced white around the world on huge brands in paid search, which is great because it means that experience is gonna come to you through these podcasts when we start talking about how we can possibly compete against these big brands, and that’s where I want to get started. When I think about hide such a with come from wicked agencies with hundreds of dedicated professionals working on paid search working for brands lack cog. How is every possible for a small business owner founder of a company to even try to compete with these companies if you’re gonna need tips about how they can do it while that’s a that’s a really good questions for companies like Coca Cola? They obviously have deep pockets, and I wouldn’t say that they’re agency managers are not thinking about how to best invest their money, but they have other. Problems when it comes to how to set up campaigns for someone who who just starts out for someone who doesn’t have awareness cannot rely on people coming into that website in buying products or requesting services for rent term. It really is about sitting down and thinking about you know, what our core areas that I can provide strong service or strong products in N, basically didn’t looking at exactly what key words are going to be best used to drive the mand that obviously is the first pod. But what is from our perspective from my perspective. More important. What has become more important to really make sure that the ad copy that you use for keyword groups is even more tailored. And when I say more Tatum really thinking about that purchase final. You know, you have keywords that are more upper funnel. She words and you add copy needs to. Flecked that part. I always say, no when when you go on the first date with someone and you completely smitten with that person at the end of the day, you’re going down on one knee and saying will you marry him not anyway. Well, there might be one thousand chance to actually get a yes, but nine hundred ninety nine times, you will get most likely. No, you will not see the person again, and it’s a little bit like that. So if you would have keywords that are upper funnel T-word. You don’t hit them with by all products? They don’t know. You don’t have any relation to you are by products or get your services, you need to ease them into getting to know you. So you wanna have Ed copies that draw them in. And basically help you introduce your company or prodecures services and the further you go down the final keywords change. You didn’t adjust the ad copy depending on where you are when people amid final. 00:05:01 – 00:10:00 So when they compare information your at company needs to reflect and obviously when you’re. Oh often. Will you need to make sure that you have a sales message makes a lot of sense know, inquiry quite daunting to stop. The key words at different stages of a buying stock in creating funnels. If if I wanted to just get started would you recommend that I as a fan, nervous dot up started the top awareness and try to build some awareness research, or would you suggest that we start sort of with the buying temps and try to convince people as quickly as possible. You know, what my opinion is that we depend on prajit half. If you have a product service that is hot in the market. You know, maybe do a me too product. You know, you might actually be successful to go down in the bottom funnel because there’s already demand for those kinds of products or services. However, if you have a product the service that is completely new to the markets debt that needs explanation that needs introduction. You will have to go up in the final in. You will have to introduce people to what that is a good example. We’re recurrently working with a company in the US who wants to offer a new experience on how to help. Test drive cars and that suggestion how to do that is so new so different tube. What democracy does that they try to beginning to really hit people with a hammer over the happened said sign up do this and it didn’t work. So we actually went up the fun. We explained that service. How would works? What what the ins and outs are in basically on some people questions. So we anticipate those pensions and by doing so we we got standing in the market, you how that service works in then result people coming down the fund in way to pick them up, you know, in the lower part of the funding combatant. So really the bottom line is. I think it depends on the product you have if you have a product that has already request in the market, and you have the price advantage or you’re better. You know, I would cover the lower funnel. If you have a product that does not fulfill that or doesn’t you you will have to go up in the final in. We’ll have to stop there yet. That makes a lot of sense. I think for a lot of if you’re a truce add up, and you’ve got somebody’s it’s actually innovative elect the idea of starting top of the final finding associated questions and demand that you can relate your productivity and getting that first liberal of being Agenent satisfy the question, and then I guess in my head what I imagined doing in. Search could be a really good top of the funnel drivers. He’s getting that engagement through to your website. And then potentially you could marry this up you to play with vice Fokin retargeting on social media networks rather than just such. So you kind of combining two different channels. So it’s the drive that awareness face really early on we identifies some demand and might be quite generic. But then you can use vice book re targeting pixels to actually hit a person with a message move them further down that funnel. So yes, it’s an interesting strategy to get wet quite well. Yeah. I think your comment on Facebook site asus. Spot on always talk about search here. I think thinking about the entire final not only about one channel. But looking at how can every engage with that person? And you can. Disley do re-targeting on Google too. But from my experience doesn’t work as good as we targeting on Facebook yet, it’s an era of Facebook is particularly strong, and when you say retargeting on Google, are you talking the YouTube retargeting this exact, yeah. Got a display that Google display network pretty much doing the same thing. You would do on on Facebook. You know, you obviously tack your website where if the Google tag. And then you you’ve re-engage with people that being to either specific side or to upset role in provide a message that leads down to funnel. And if your content is happens to be house on YouTube, and you producing videos will then using YouTube retargeting through Google that way is a logical way. So yet your point exactly right pick. What’s right for your content, and you’ll final game your your messages and combine it and yet we blend the channel’s requirement about a chance I’m curious to find out a little bit grand. What you’re saying sort of? Right now in such. I mean, it’s been quite a number of years since I’ve really been dropped into set. So is there an air at the moment that such market has really talking about and testing, you know, I think we will as they do constantly at the moment. Making quite a number of changes to what inflammation they are going to share and and how their system in general works. I think, you know, before we jumped on the call talked about that we seen a situation where Brent terms that, you know, five ten years ago, we were able to buy for Senate maximum ten cents that were uncompetitive so were competitors. When not trying to advertise against Ben terms. They were very low from cost. Perfect perspective. You know, nowadays, we see Wrentham’s were Wrentham’s are not contested over competitors. Not bidding on them going up, fifty sixty seventy cents. The there’s a huge problem that comes with that situation. 00:10:01 – 00:15:00 Back in the days. We talked about you know, we were able to subsidize generic keywords. In general are more expensive through Brendan conversions that these days is hard to do if you pay for full fifty sixty dollars cents, all Australian dollar. That is a big thing. There’s a big compensation in the market were people talking about why that is Google comedy gives you an answer. It’s just the system that doesn’t nets general answer you would get from Google. So that’s that’s Dave, basically one one topic. There obviously have been massive changes on an how many headlines you have an ad copy lines. You have you know, back in the day. So it was very easy. You have your title that had twenty five characters, and then you had to description lines. And that’s it. And nowadays that has increased I think two three lines and what Google has done their research is to to look at how can at make a big impact an. Can provide more information to people that are looking for specific information. Yeah, I’ve noticed that as well. Yeah. It’s it’s that crepe of how much real estate is the ads gonna tight on a search engine result page, and you just it’s just naturally if you wanna just bump your stock price off a little bit make a little bit more revenue discrepant extra couple of percents of real estate on that really valuable Google search results page and sure enough more money goes through redwoods, icon Kansai. I would do it any differently. If I was Google plus dare in the market to make to make money, you know, at the end of the day. And also, obviously, you know companies like took out the right and site for ads when we only have to to add listings on top of the natural search net or move now over to the center where you have a maximum four listings on talk, which will put obviously all natural so treselle, and, you know, the Google maps and some Twitter listings out of the way endeavour, you know, when you come. To Google search result page nowadays, you don’t necessarily mutually c- netra search results anymore unless keyword Joe. Using is not been on by a company. Yeah. And I guess it makes it also really important. You know, as we both remember time when you can of get ten ads on that front page. If is only going to be two or three ads the importance of being the top rank anywhere or the the ad bearing in position one or two. Now must be even more important than it’s ever been again. I mean, obviously talking you audience are startups, and when when you have a startup you I really well funded, and you have a lot of money, and you wanna make a big impact in the market quickly. Then you wanna push position one to to to push the guys that previously were the the place holders autos away and pick up as much as possible of the real estate not necessarily thinking so much about how much is going to cost you that individual conversion when you have stars on the other end of this factual that are self funded or. Have limited funds. You know, it might not be required to be necessarily on position on you might be going, okay? With being on position to in three. And what you going to do as you look at again at copies. What are your competitor’s talking about how they at copies design in your fight away to make your ad copy either through different wording for calling out certain things, they might not call out. But you know, that your audience is interested in that. So it doesn’t have to be position one position. One does not necessarily mean you are going to be Karoon to have the best results. And if you on two and three or even four you go into fail. I think it’s again, it’s a situation thing that kind of should drive that and, you know, for every company does certain terms would you just wanna be front and center, but in general, I think looking at where you are from a company perspective. What your financial capabilities are detrimental drive your decision on? Whether you be aggressive, or, you know, more. What’s the word resolved in your position in the world? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So just going to connect that competing with other people and what we spoke about before with brands such if I’m an innovative startup company in as an existing player in the marketplace Howard. I if I wanted to Howard I a bat beating on their Brandon and slightly risky strategy. Right. Or is it is there a formula? I could possibly followed to get the best chances succeeding that. Well, I mean, you know, the question is how big is your competitor in how much money do they have if if you start bidding on your competitor you have to be prepared today. Do executives him thing, which can become a problem. Right. If if they have strong market share already day might just push you out by bidding on you. Because the people that search for your brand terms might be tempted to go to the market leader. 00:15:00 – 00:20:01 You know, they might not be necessarily interested in the fact that you have a few more features available. Than the competitor. So that’s that’s always a risk that that new plan comes into the market has in general. I mean, you you book the the grand terms of your competitor in different forms of spelling you use their are L in in some other words in then you basically designed an ad copy that aims at at. I know talked a lot about at copying. But for me at copies is like the window. When you go shopping with your wife ride. That’s what draws the wife over draws you into a store and yet copies exactly that if you want us do competitive bidding you need to have an ad copy that stands out, and that make people think about whether they click on the position one on the one that is there already or click on on yours. Good. Good example as Iran article yesterday. Sure, that’s in Australia to obviously a lot of companies nowadays that that that says. Mattresses home delivered mattress. So you don’t have to go to a store engine mattress at industry, we’ve got koala and sleeping, doc. I don’t know why we like animals mattresses, but apparently they’ve editor. There you go. So here in the US. I I think there are at least ten companies, and I read an article yesterday as a company called tuft and needle and day, basically do competitor against all the others in what they say in their ad copy, something I don’t spend all the money on ABC. Try our mattresses. They are much better. They’re much cheaper there bold in their company Kantian, but you know, what? Sometimes it has to be bolt to generate interest in to to get someone to click on your ad and get them to your side. Yeah. I like that idea actually if someone else’s making a market, you can potentially just bid on their brand terms bequest explicit in the fact that you’re different explain what it is. And and get that trial. So the other companies done all the hard work. You know, someone big like casper koala has all of the building the interest in Asia. And right at the point where that the the final thinking about making such as jumping on the cut them on price. Put a put an interesting twist on it and. After the customer a like that as a strategy. It’s a bit. It’s a bit evil, but. Hey, what sometimes you have to be a little bit broke? And what I probably also would say, it’s you don’t necessarily have to be positioned mom, again, something I said a second ago, you might be totally fine with be on precision to and paying them the men CBC, you know, but you add copy might make all the difference. Yeah. I think if someone’s listening to this, and they haven’t really been running Edwards before they might get a little bit confused around where talking here about bidding in ranking how they things rank in Monte good, just if you could give an another you’ve done this a thousand times in your life. But a really quick explanation to exactly how some ads or how Google ranks the ads in Edwards co-boys. There’s a long Rosen. I will stick to the short version because. So. In back in the day. It was very easy. You you pay the CBC and the person who paint more would get the top spot in end, depending on how much you you recently were willing to pay for keyword. You would follow suit? These days. Unfortunately is a little bit of a black box approach that determines what what you’re CBS’s in position at the end of the day going to have in Google paint search results it’s things like what is your CGIAR in? Oh, so what is to click through rates of people that the what at click on many of those. It’s the CBC to Maxine PC. So how much are you willing to bid for specific keyword in some people put in a hundred dollars? They will pay one hundred dollars. But they indicate to we’re willing to pay a lot to be positioned one. We will take all those information and puts them togetherness flick barks, and then basically depending on on that decides what position you’re on. But you can be the system tells you what the minimum CBC at the end of the day that you have to bid to appear, and if there’s only a competitor in Judah would be in the market. Place. You know, if you bid on the minimum CBC, let’s say minimum TVs twenty cents. That’s what you bid. You’re not going to jump the brand holder, but you will be on position to write bind rental there. It’s always been a difficult by inset Jinshan mackney hasn’t it to explain this because faith Facebook and Google by Taryn this privileged position where they are in the audience than not transparent about exactly what you’re buying and how much you’ll pay and I can get away with it because like own the entire market. So it’s always been a tough explain to clients. Our anyone you’re advising because they had what you’re paying in. It’s just it’s just the way that you run the business, and obviously everything changes, you know. I mean, there’s no week when there are no changes on Google aside. 00:20:01 – 00:25:02 Whether as we said earlier on specific functions, or what data you can pull, you know. So it’s it’s it’s frequently changing, and it can be daunting and sire. If I if you if there’s a found a or in honor of our company listening to this, and they stunned to get an idea that there’s a lot more to such than they thought about. And they actually know what I wanna do is. I want hire agency on Moi’s Cain to hear from the inside the kind of questions that you could awesome. What he so they wanna hire professional agency a contractor wherever it happens to be. What’s the what’s a couple of questions like ask it’s gonna you know, salt the the good such professionals from the the Cowboys have just turned up recently. I wonder if you can give us a couple of lecture Lee questions, we could ask people know, you whom you’re comfortable here. What question do you not want it? Now, it should be one that if you if you get the question you can give a good answer. And hopefully, you’re able to demonstrate that you really know what you’re talking about. If I look at it more from implement employment perspective, when I when I interview people to bring on board as as people, you know, they are there questions the basic questions. Do they know you know, what match types are? So what he would appears against a broad number of terms or just as Pacific Hewitt was type in that definitely is is one inflammation. I always ask them what the process is. If they have in the count within small budget compared to a large budget. The reason why ASTA is you know, if you have a small budget. It doesn’t make sense to create so many campaigns in that might you know, what I’m saying no might overwhelm some people Kristie saving money campaigns to Google system. The paid system is broken out. Two campaigns, which is the top level at groups are underneath that. So one campaign could have several ad groups and moving aqui words. So if you have limited number of a limited budget, you know, you you wouldn’t create too many campaigns because you need to break the budget, you have over several campaigns. And you might get enough enough information to optimize while when you have a lot of budget. It’s not a problem to have several campaign. So I always ask them what is your approach of small accounts with small budgets and accounts for big budgets in their answers. They’re already kind of give me an indication of if they understand the difference between small and large clients. I always want to know what is the optimization approach as I said, the second data is really important if you have a smaller account small budget might take a little bit longer to collect enough data to make optimization decision while when you have more budget, you collect more data and they’re. For you can make decisions quicker. You hit quite often people at Sahan launching her pain in next optimization that doesn’t necessarily make sense because you know, you have stated for one day debts. Not an indication to how in the count worse. Yes. There might be some keywords to argest going crazy, and you want to correct them pasta, or, you know, bring them in. But in general, you know, you wanna wait week to two weeks in den, analyzed the campaign in through the optimization wait another two weeks to do the same thing again. And maybe do a third round till you have kind of brought to campaign to a point where you didn’t start AB testing. So talking to him about finding out what their of demotivation approaches is is really important. You know, how do they start to add hoops Google best practice in a lot of expansions on? I think that’s a good one. Is you don’t have more than ten shifting keywords in an ad group. The reason why because then you can ride really at at copies. If you have thirty forty fifty. Keywords in at group. Delighted of them all being about the same theme is very small, which means you’re ad copy will be very generic. Which means you’re not going to have that much of a success in getting people onto your side. So I mean, those those are those are few questions. I don’t know if you have some other way like in what these are the ones I actually ask look, I think the first one is the most important because when you talk about the different types of Kiewit matching if haven’t caught that you can pretty much throw them out of the rooms try to. But people who are listening. It’s a simple question. But it’s actually a good one for you to get your head around. So what’s staffer was talking about was the different types of search, keyword matching types, and in what that means is this road matching this fries matching has exact matching Rhode modified got that right? And an age of as so normally you have to pick a keyword or a such fries that you want to bid on. You’ve also got to pick the top of bid. And so a broad match means that when you match you put a search fries in it doesn’t matter. What order those words appearing in? What other words were around that your ads will pay for it? Whereas the fries match says the exact key was that you search also might be new running shoes it has to pay as new running shoes. 00:25:02 – 00:30:02 A copy new shoes running with the phrase match crucial Adwan appeal, but you can’t have other things. So it could be cheap new running shoes so fries. Much allows you to have extra keywords around it. Whereas an exact match actually says it has to be exactly the such as you’ve taught if. If you’ve got new running shoes a metro such fries. And you’ve said it to an exact it has to be an exact match that explanations. Not. But it’s really good to study up on that and get your head around the because if you’re asking us professional Nikon explain it clearly in office on a terrible job. So that’s not good for me. And I do like your advice to around that optimization because you know, it. It’s your natural instinct is to start off demise. After the first click, but yoga wouldn’t have been registered at quality skull from Mexico key words, so you know, even Google hasn’t decided where you should be ranking what should be happening yet. So you can get a time Google and Facebook both have the internal metrics where like if you are a writing to say how relevant they think you’re landing page and Joel copy inexperience is relative to that, keyword. Is it went to five or one to ten I can never remember that is wanted tend to actually, you know, as as we brought it up, so what qualities go at the end of the day means is it’s it’s a number of that outlines how will search term matches to the ad copy? It is associated to and whether that search term is also visible on use on the lending, h all what Google wants civil do by by defining. According to. Core is developments over such very tuna lending page because they want to give people the best experience. They want to ensure that people that search for information in when they click on website. They find exactly what you’re looking for. So when you have a high quality skull ten it, basically means you’ve done everything. Right. If you have one you better stop improving. The kickoff the kick out on this is this. If you call it your score seven, you’re at a neutral place. Google doesn’t give you a penalty, and you’ll get a discount if you move up from aid from seven so eight nine and ten you actually get a discount. So he has drink price gets cheaper. So you get kind of good job from Google if you quality scores below seven so six further down you actually get a penalty. And which means that you see you see will be higher could be that, you know, you paying for the same keyword five six dollars in someone else. Who has you know, a high coin to score above seven might pay only two dollars or even less? Therefore, it’s really important that you know, when you decide to either yourself built a search campaign, or you have someone that you hire did you work together and ensure that the leading pigeon, vitamin will you sent people to is kind of reflects the search hurries that are within an act that gives you the best chance of achieving high quality scoring obviously the search query needs to also be in the ad copy. That makes a lot of sense. I’d love you guys. In your crystal ball. I mean, you’ve got you can go back over a lot of history. You’ve saying search of all over many many years where do you think the next step in such engine marketing is on the on the pilots? I wait, what do you think’s gonna evolve Bevis with this year? And maybe into next year has good question. I mean, you know, search has over the years improved so much from the very basic like we been on one keyword in pay exactly. The CBC to you know, nowadays you have in market audience. What that means is if you are caught Neela ship or you’re thinking about. You know, buying cognition. Funding holiday does show and you want to start advertising, you can actually get access to people that are in market to buy a car within the next. I think it’s three months if I’m thinking correctly that wasn’t available several years ago. It’s not new, but it kind of shows you how rules continuously improves or gives you more options to be more precise with your with your search and to be able to reach the people that that you are looking for. I totally agree. I think Google will start to incorporate more data into what do in this results in thought to make smarter suggestions and instead of people at casually type game, they’ll split people. Like, you said we dealerships and say these people are just looking at cows, but people buying causing three different audiences, and that’s not going to be explicit in the search. It could be same. Search query better. Will be Google saying, hey, there’s three different audiences. You don’t need to know how we know what we know everything. So we’ll we’ll split it up for you. I think that’s a I think that’s a solid poll next maybe two or three years with Gaumont again to do what he sat in regards to date. I think that’s a that’s a great point. I mean, there’s a law talk about data intelligence on. 00:30:02 – 00:31:47 I essentially I think as a company that has so many data points. I’m a more convinced that those data points will make their way into paint search which will allow to be even more targeted, you know, when running paint search campaigns because that’s what the market wants. And I think that’s where the market is heading. Yeah. Facebook front running on the data side of things like Google for once can be a little bit slower on it. And maybe let Facebook take all the privacy bullets and out of the set of trickling behind it. Probably come with the solution that everyone accepts exactly exactly well, thank you so much for your time. You’re based on the from the west coast of the US yet that’s going with clients just on the west coast or all of the US or globally. Does it matter to you? Honestly doesn’t match you because we’re virtually agency. We have some clients in Europe. If there’s a client that thinks we we can help them. And then we think we can L that company. I don’t think you know, the location is isn’t big road block these days, not yet should base. So there is someone out there. And I want to get in contact or just sort of follow what you’re doing. What’s the best way to to get in contact with you? Yeah. So I mean, just go to our website, WW dot some funding digital dot com. You find a contact page there. Leave your information we will reach out to you. Or you can also send me an Email, which is Stephan spells S T F F E N at some funny digital dot com. Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for your time today at been great catching up with you. It’s it’s been way too long since inside. Will we need to we need to speak other than just on podcast? But thank you time today. And I thank you for sharing all the insights with everyone his listening. Really appreciate it. Thank you. Gerard.