If you’re looking to grow your business with digital marketing, it’s important to understand where your audience exists online, what their activity patterns are, and how to best leverage digital campaigns and media to motivate them to become your customers.
For many B2B & B2C marketers, digital advertising can be a great way to draw leads to your website. While many companies use Google’s Adwords program to target audiences via search engines, far fewer digital marketers have realized the benefits that Microsoft’s Bing Ads platform has to offer.
In this post, we’ll introduce Bing Ads to those who haven’t used the search engine marketing platform before, explain how it differs from Google’s Adwords platform in terms of functionality, cost, and reach, and how to set up a Bing Ads campaign.
What is Bing Ads?
If you’ve never heard of Bing Ads, or are unfamiliar with Microsoft’s search engine marketing platform, this section is for you.
In the early days of the MSN search engine, ads on Microsoft’s search engine were served up by Overture and Yahoo. Those contracts expired in 2006, and the only way to advertise to users of Microsoft’s search engine since then has been through Adcenter, known today as Bing Ads.
Since 2010, Bing Ads has also been the search engine marketing platform for Yahoo’s search engine, a result of a partnership between the Microsoft and Yahoo. As of 2015, Bing Ads are also displayed on AOL properties.
Bing Ads vs Google Adwords
While Bing Ads and Google Adwords share a lot of characteristics, the two advertising platforms also have key differences that set them apart from one another.
Google Adwords Advantages
When comparing Bing Ads and Adwords, Google’s platform does have a few advantages, including:
- Volume: Google is the world’s most-used search engine by a wide margin, which means that Google’s Adwords program has a larger potential audience than Bing Ads does.
- Ad Extensions: While both search advertising platforms have extensions available during ad creation, Google’s Adwords extensions are a bit more robust. In Adwords, you can manage extensions at the account level, and can include pricing extensions. Don’t expect to find these two features in Bing’s Campaign Creator.
Bing Ads Advantages
While Adwords has it’s strengths, Microsoft’s search engine marketing offering should not be ignored. The platform may be newer, and Bing may not be as widely used as Google Search, but that does not mean that Bing Ads isn’t a viable digital advertising channel in many cases.
Here are some of the reasons that you should consider using Bing Ads as part of your digital marketing strategy:
- Cost: Because of Google Search’s widespread adoption, advertising with Adwords can be a war of wallets. Bing Ads being relatively new and being served to a smaller overall audience means that less advertisers are competing for space on the platform, which means that per-click costs are typically lower than you’ll find on Adwords. In some cases a Bing Ads campaign can leverage per-click costs that are half what you’d find in Adwords.
- Multiple Search Networks: Don’t be fooled into thinking that Bing Ads are only shown on Microsoft’s search engine. Their partnerships with AOL and Yahoo mean that your Bing Ad campaigns will be shown on three major search platforms.
- Customer Support: If you’re new to search engine advertising, creating your first campaign in Adwords can be daunting. Bing’s support agents are extremely proactive with advertisers, and generally can be expected to do a lot more hand-holding to make sure your campaigns are successful.
- Windows 10: Bing is the default search engine for Microsoft’s Windows 10. If you’re targeting an older audience, they’ll be far less likely to download 3rd party browsers, opting to stick with the stock browser and search engine.
Bing Ads Statistics
While Bing, Yahoo, and AOL combined are still smaller than Google Search, there’s still significant opportunity to be had. Check out these metrics:
- Bing Ads reach more than 150 million unique searchers every month.
- More than 5 billion searches are performed across the Bing Ads network each month.
- Gender is split nearly down the middle, so you’ll be able to reach both men and women.
- Bing Ads have a global reach, with just 20% of searches being performed in North & South America.
How To Create a Bing Ads Campaign
Now that you’re familiar with what Bing Ads is and how it compares to Adwords, let’s dive into how to create a successful Bing Ads campaign!
Create Your Bing Ads Account
If you’re new to Bing Ads, you’ll need to create an account before you can launch your first search engine marketing campaign. Creating an account is a simple process, and you’ll just need a Microsoft account to get going, which is free.
Like Adwords, every Bing Ads publisher begins by performing keyword research. Microsoft’s keyword research tools are quite advanced, and have been designed to make it easy for those coming from Adwords to find their way around. Of course, you can always use the keyword research tool of your choice.
When you’re building your keyword list, keep these things in mind:
- Intent: Search ads should target buyers at specific stages of the purchasing process. Understand how your audience moves through your marketing funnel, and identify what their goals (intent) are at every step. When you create your keyword list, focus on keywords that are relevant to one stage of your funnel, and speak to a specific intent.
- Long Tail Keywords: If you really want to maximize your PPC budget, find as many long tail keywords as you can. These terms are usually 4+ words long, and (while being used less often) are highly focused and relevant to your ad’s purpose.
- Be Specific: Unless you’ve got a massive campaign budget, don’t waste your time bidding on generic search terms. Instead, include keywords that are highly specific to your product and audience.
Say you sell auto parts online. Instead of using keywords like “auto parts” “discount auto parts” and “car parts”, you’d use keywords like “aftermarket parts for toyota tundra” and “replacement headlights for 1999 Ford Mustang”.
Once you’ve got a list of targeted keywords, you’re ready to create your Bing Ads campaign using the campaign manager. When you click “create campaign” you’ll be presented with a screen featuring this menu:
Here’s an explanation of each option available to you:
- “Visits to my website”: This option is best if you’re just trying to build brand awareness. Your primary goal will be to drive as many people as possible to your website.
- “Visits to my business location(s)”: If you want people to visit your local business, you’ll want to use this campaign goal.
- “Conversions in my website”: Want users to take a specific action on your site? If so, this campaign goal is for you. Especially useful if you’re trying to generate leads through your website.
- “Phone calls to my business”: Want to drive people to pick up the phone and call your business? This campaign goal will help you create an ad using the appropriate extensions.
- “Sell products with Bing Shopping Campaigns”: This campaign goal can be particularly useful for ecommerce brands. It allows you to feature products right in your Bing Ads.
Once you’ve chosen the appropriate campaign goal, you’ll see the following screen:
To move forward with creating your Bing Ad campaign, simply fill out each field. Give you campaign a unique name, and select the appropriate timezone for reporting purposes. Then, set a budget, and identify whether that budget is to be used per day or per month. Most campaigns use the monthly budget option. You’ll also be able to set your geographic targeting on this page.
Once you’ve finished this menu, it’s time to upload the keyword list you built. The easiest way to do this is by pasting your keywords into the “Enter Keywords” box you’ll see on your screen. You’ll notice that Bing offers additional ad groups based on the keywords you enter in a box on the right of your screen. While it’s tempting to add all of the recommendations, you’re better off sticking with your original keywords until you’re more familiar with how Bing Ad campaigns work.
Once you click “Save & Go To The Next Step”, you’ll have the opportunity to design the ads that will show up on all of Bing’s various networks. This screen’s menus can vary depending on the campaign goal you’ve chosen. Keep these things in mind when creating your ads:
- Use landing pages whenever possible. Don’t send people to your homepage- send them to a web page or landing page that’s specific to their intent.
- Use direct, compelling titles that speak to your audience’s intent
- Keep ad text to-the-point. You get 80 characters to explain why your target should engage with you- use them wisely!
- Use extensions whenever you can. These give you more on-screen real estate, which means you’ll have more opportunity to convert on each impression.
Once you’re happy with your ad copy, you’ll submit it for review and ad payment, and your campaign will go live after it’s approved by Bing’s automated system.
Optional Step: On-Page Analytics
While this step is optional, we highly recommend it for any Bing Ads campaign that sends users to a website or landing page. Setting up analytics requires you to complete two distinct actions, one within the Bing Ad Manager itself, and another on your website.
First, you’ll need to set up conversion goals in your Bing Ads account. These can be done using the “Conversion Tracking” button in Bing Ads, located in the “Campaigns” section, seen in the image below.
Conversion goals can be one of five types:
- Destination URL: Tracks every visit to a specific page on your website.
- Duration: Tracks when a user spends a defined amount of time on your website.
- Pages Viewed Per Visit: Tracks when a user visits a specified number of pages on your website.
- Event: Track specific actions on your website, such as a form completion or purchase.
- Mobile App Install: Track app downloads.
Use the conversion goals wizard in Bing Ads Manager to create conversion goals based on your desired parameters. You can also create custom conversion goals, but keep in mind that you’ll need to make manual changes to the Bing Ads tracking code that you’ll install on your website.
Campaign Measurement & Optimization
The biggest mistake you can make in creating a Bing Ads campaign is to neglect the campaign once it launches. If you want to maximize your campaign budget, you’ll need to monitor each campaign’s performance on a regular basis. Using data gleaned from campaign reports, you can make changes over time that will lower your cost-per-click and drive more conversions.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your Bing Ads campaigns:
- Negative Keywords: Once your campaign has been running for a week or two, look at your campaign reports. Look for any keywords that are generating clicks that don’t lead to conversions. These clicks are costing you money, but they’re not delivering results. You can edit your keyword list to include these keywords as negative keywords to prevent your ads from being shown for them in the future.
- Split Testing Ads: Is your ad copy the best it can be? Could it be better? You can easily answer those questions using split tests. Creating split tests in Bing Ads will allow you to roll out new ad copy and compare performance against your existing ads. Consistent split testing will help you increase your ads’ relevancy and click through rate (CTR).
- Conversion Optimization: If you want to squeeze maximum value out of your search engine marketing budget, you’ll have to put in a bit of work on your website. Look at the pages that you’re linking your ads to, and make sure that they’re set up to encourage visitors to take the action you want them to take. You can use third-party software like Crazy Egg to see where users scroll and click on your site, which will help you adjust your pages’ layouts to maximize conversions.
If you’re a professional digital marketer, there’s a good chance you’ve tried running campaigns on Adwords in the past. If you’re frustrated with a lack of results on Adwords due to stiff competition and high prices, consider giving Bing Ads a try. The audience may not match Google’s, but 150 million searches per month is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, you can always partner with a professional to make things easier! Our digital advertising team has helped clients around the world use Bing Ads to make the most of their marketing budgets.