Paid Search

Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

One of the things I love most about PPC is that, despite the competitiveness of most commercial keyword marketplaces these days, once you step off the beaten track of advertising on head terms, category killers, and product names the Adwords landscape is still like the Wild West.

For advertisers with a creative mindset and a willingness to adapt, there’s no end of opportunities to drive low-cost, audience relevant traffic. Here I’m going to look at local events and how event based keyword searches can drive an absolute ton of qualified traffic for a fraction of the cost of head terms.

This strategy is based around attracting a relevant audience to your site before they start to look for your product. Once that audience steps into the proverbial buying cycle its going to cost you a fortune to reach them with PPC. But get them before they look like a buyer and you’ll get the same people to your site for a fraction of the price.

Here’s How It Works.

You identify local events either near to your local business, or with an audience who matches the target demographic for your product.

So, for example if I’m searching for “Pubcon las vegas” you could sell me a hotel in Vegas on the dates of the conference, or you could just assume I’m an internet marketer and sell me something else I might be interested in, like some marketing software, for example.

So you’re going to get the right people onto your site, whether that’s someone who is going to be searching for a hotel in Vegas very soon or someone who’s likely to be a buyer of SEO software, but you won’t have to pay the high CPC’s associated with these keywords:

pubcon estimates Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

The only catch? They’re not looking for your product right now, so your pitch has to be incentive-based. Similar to say a Facebook ad where you’re interrupting the user. Basically you need to think like an advertiser not a search marketer – think about the audience, not the intent.

Local events you can advertise on might include:

  • Conferences
  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Shows
  • Exhibitions
  • Meet-ups
  • Anything that brings together a group of people with similar interests, which intersect with your product.

This Doesn’t Work Without Content

The biggest obstacle to advertising on keywords like this is always content. If you try to place an ad on “pubcon las vegas” and point it right at the homepage of your marketing software site then your quality score is going to be so low you’ll have to pay way above the odds just to get that ad to show.

So you need to be able to host content on your site that actually meets searcher demand either directly or indirectly. So to continue the Pubcon example,  you could send traffic to a blog post you’ve written about Pubcon, or a promotion you’re running for Pubcon attendees.

When I’ve suggested this strategy to clients the sticking point is usually that our copywriters have to produce pages and push them out on the clients site – that costs money and brings into play a bunch of obstacles like compliance, brand, and PR departments. As a result we’ve had most success getting this working with SME clients who tend to be more agile with time sensitive content management.

Here’s some hypothetical examples of how you can use events traffic to advertise a range of different products and services.

1. A B2B Product or Service

Most business sectors are going to have at least a few seminal events where like-minded individuals from different companies congregate. Just look at search marketing as an example, we have more than our fair share of conferences in this business!

If you sell products B2B then these events give you an opportunity to reach the exact audience for your product when they’re searching for information about industry events.

Lets say for example you’re selling to the concrete industry. This January 50,000 concrete industry professionals will descend on the Las Vegas convention center for the “World of Concrete 2014” Expo.

WOC2014 637x398 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

Run a competition around the Expo, lets say for the sake of argument you give away a helicopter tour of Vegas as a prize. Use PPC to drive keyword traffic for the expo to your competition page. You can create an opt-in email list of expo delegates or remarketing list of industry professionals without even having to exhibit at the expo. This is the kind of audience targeting you can only usually get by a) paying thousands to exhibit at an expo or b) paying thousands to advertise in industry press. You’re getting that same audience for the cost of a few zero competition Adwords clicks.

2. A Local Restaurant

In this example, lets suppose a local restaurant located next to an events center creates a dynamic landing page which generates a 2-4-1 dinner coupon for attendees of every event at the center.

jimmycarr 637x398 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

They target their ads to searchers looking for information about the events or shows at the center.

Visitors are met with a customized landing page offering a discount voucher to convention center attendees. They grab the email address, give them the voucher and drop them an email on the morning of the event to remind them to redeem their voucher.

3. A Hotel

Hotels already do great trade-off of events, but when it comes to their PPC they tend to go down the same route as everyone else in bidding on “hotels in [city]” keywords, putting them head to head with powerhouses like booking.com and Expedia. If you’re a hotel marketer you should be looking for any opportunities to capture an audience BEFORE they actually start their hotel search.

Hotels can create landing pages on their site for events and offer a promotional rate for attendees. The landing page is specific to the event, which gets you over the quality score barrier, and, because the deal you’re offering is specific to the attendees of the event, you should find the conversion rate is good. Because the offer page will only be reachable via an ad which is only shown to event attendees, it won’t compromise your rate parity across other marketing channels.

brightonseo 637x398 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

Just remember to geo-target your adverts to searchers looking for the event from a reasonable distance away from the venue. There’s no point showing the ads to searchers looking for an event in their hometown – those people aren’t going to book a hotel.

4. E-commerce Sites

Plenty of ecom retailers can capitalize on product based events. Probably the best example of this is in the video games market. Big game releases always attract a lot of buzz, but bidding on those product terms once the game is out is expensive business.

For months before the release though you can bid on “[game name] + release date” keywords and usually there’s little or no competition on it, the manufacturers are often the only ones advertising.

callofduty 637x398 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

5. Childcare Providers

Every parent (and teacher) does a search like this at least a couple of times a year:

termdates 637x398 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

All schools now publish their term dates online so you’re likely to find a worthwhile pocket of traffic on keywords like “[name of local school] + term dates”. This obviously peaks at certain times of the year.

That’s millions of searches, with no advertisers, and all those people have one thing in common – they’re looking for something to do with their kids during the school holidays. So whether you’re selling childcare, a local attraction, or vacation packages these keywords are a great source of high quality local traffic. Most parents are going to search for these keywords during or directly before they complete an action like booking a vacation, so there’s a huge opportunity here.

As with all the examples here, make sure you’re tailoring your landing page content to the search query by including the term dates and keywords on the page itself, even if they’re just loaded dynamically from a database.

Do you have any other ideas for how event keywords could be used to promote non-event based businesses? Please share or ask any questions in the comments.

 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

John McElborough

Co-founder & MD at Inbound360
Co-founder and MD of Inbound360, a London based PPC agency. John has been building and marketing websites for over a decade and has consulted for some of the UK’s largest brands on PPC and digital strategy.
 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic
 Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

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4 thoughts on “Capitalizing on Local Events for Cheap, Quality PPC Traffic

  1. John- I love it. That is really great thinking. I did something like this with the organic results and Google news items about the local events…but somehow, I never made the leap to PPC. Really great idea. I love it and will be implementing it very soon. As an SEO person, I’ve always scoffed at PPC because my job is to get you in the organics- but this is a whole different ballgame. I don’t dilute my site with information that could confuse it’s primary focus, and the results are instant and guaranteed to be on page one of Google.

    Great thinking sir!

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for your comment

      This is a tactic I’ve actually adapted from my SEO days. I agree that its not usually a good idea to dilute your site with off topic information just for the purposes of gaining long tail SEO traffic which is why for me it makes more sense targeting terms like this via paid channels. For me its really just an extension of what local businesses would do offline, sponsoring events which are likely to get them in-front of potential customers.

  2. PPC is surely a great thing. As only negative aspect I see the fact that it’s similar to the FB ads and interrupting users is a delicate thing which requires more experience in the field of marketing. Still, it’s a nice post with good examples and I’ll share it with some colleagues of mine that will appreciate this strategy.

    1. Thanks Joseph

      It is indeed a delicate tactic and one which you have to be on top of to make sure its profitable, as well as clever. I think you can limit the effect of interruption by tailoring content on your site as closely as possible to the event which is being searched for but yes in principle you’re right wherever you’re interrupting users you’re likely to get a lower response than a classic search ad which is targeted exactly to the search query and intent.