Getting the terminology right

At many organisations, the sales team acts as a buffer between the marketing department and customers – and sees its role as translating from one to the other. One way we often see this is when running search advertising campaigns for clients, who ask us to build a campaign around a certain product description, but then get no results.

We report back that despite the client having a nice landing page about blue widgets, and a nice advert about blue widgets, we can’t get any results because we’re only running the advert against searches on ‘blue widgets’ – and it turns out there aren’t any. Which is odd.

So we start to broaden out the searches where the advert runs, and we begin to get a few clicks at last, although the clickthrough rate is low. However, on investigation, we see that the advert is showing a lot against one particular search – let’s call it ‘blue widglettes’. This, it turns out, is what customers call blue widgets in the real world. Our advert isn’t getting a great clickthrough rate, because it talks about blue widgets rather than blue widglettes, and many customers are skipping past it. But if we rearange the whole campaign around the terminology customers use …bingo.

How does this happen? Why does a marketing department talk a different language to customers? Because nobody tells them. If you ask the sales department, they just shrug their shoulders and say: “That’s how it is. We (the company) call it one thing, customers call it another. Does it matter?” Yes, it absolutely does matter.

Getting this information out of sales teams can be almost impossible. So make a point of looking around online to see the terminology your competitors are using. Look at their adverts and on their websites. If it’s different to yours, investigate the search volume. Most importantly, talk to the sales team and see if they think you should change what you call the product or service. I’d bet that most wouldn’t think to tell you unless you asked.

Discussion

  1. Nick Revels

    Listen carefully to what prospects ask for when they come up to you at exhibitions / trade shows, for different terminology, this will probably be the search terms they use.

  2. Daniel Robins

    Excellent post Chris. We had this very issue some time ago. We used (disastrously) a PPC agency, and they simply could not grasp why I wanted keywords added that were obvious spelling mistakes, or worse still – not even proper words! The fact is that people struggle to pronounce the name of the product so it gets called all sorts of things. Now, those ‘wrong’ keywords are some of our highest performing ones in AdWords.

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