Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

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SEM – The Missing Link to
Having a Complete Marketing Portfolio

Unless your marketing portfolio contains a well managed Search Engine Marketing component, you are leaving a substantial amount of sales on the table for your competitors.

For years, most companies have been doing fairly well working with their conventional marketing campaigns. This may have included direct mail, email marketing, trade shows, yellow pages, internal marketing, and media advertizing. While the effectiveness of some of these forms of marketing has flattened or dropped off during the recession, many companies have cut back or completely stopped their marketing efforts, waiting for the recession to end.

Unfortunately, this strategy leaves many great opportunities untapped or worse, open to your competitors. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) offers substantial opportunities for successful marketing when you consider that even during this recession online purchasing has increased exponentially.

With better online security, consumer confidence has improved dramatically. It’s much easier to comparison shop online and the Internet is simple and convenient for people to use to source the products or services they need. Statistics reveal that a lot more people are using the search engines to find and purchase what they are looking for.  In fact, online purchasing is now the option of choice by a lot more people.

The key to using SEM successfully is to have a well managed campaign that is of proper size for your market. You need good online visibility to attract the people to your website and you need a good website that can sell your products or services. Your website must be designed so that it sells what you are offering.

In a well-managed SEM campaign the sales per dollar spent can vary anywhere from $5 to $1 up to $60 to $1 (or better). This means that for every dollar spent on SEM you receive $5 to $60 in sales. Therefore, if the ratio was a decent $10 to $1, for every $1000 spent on SEM you could expect $10,000 in sales. The actual ratio depends on your product demand and your website’s ability to convert interested visitors into buyers or leads.

Unfortunately a lot of websites are not designed to actually convert visitors into buyers or leads. Most websites are more like online brochures that don’t contain the information needed for visitors to make an informed choice or purchase.

In terms of online marketing, there are essentially two options for SEM. They are search engine optimization (SEO) and PayPerClick (PPC). SEO and PPC can be implemented individually or in conjunction with each other depending on the type of market coverage you want.

SEO tends to deliver better and certainly longer lasting results overall but takes much more effort and time to properly set up and attain the visibility in the search engines. SEO requires a time frame of 3-6 months to set up and implement properly, which for some companies can be a deterrent. The up side for companies who do pursue SEO is that they now have a greater opportunity for long term success.

If properly set up and managed, SEO can potentially provide the biggest return on investment. When compared to PPC, SEO usually delivers 5-7 times the volume of interested visitors to your website and often converts at a much higher rate than PPC. SEO is a process of ensuring that your website is readable by the search engines.

Your website needs to be keyword optimized to ensure the search engines understand the relevance of your website to what is being searched for. The more relevant your web page is to the search term used, the more likely your web page will be shown in the search results when someone is looking for something related to what you offer. Many keyword search terms now have millions of competing pages. For your web page to get ahead of this many competing pages requires the expertise of a good SEO expert.

PayPerClick (PPC) is the closest cousin to conventional advertising. You can set up ad groups that contain lists of keywords that the search engines uses to display your ads when it meets your campaign criteria. Once your ads are added to the campaign they are normally reviewed and approved within 1-2 days so they can start running on the search engines right away.

You can specify regions your ads run, times of the day, maximum cost per click and monthly budgets. The criteria can be changed as required and changed on a daily, weekly, monthly basis depending on what suits your business model. PPC ad campaigns and individual ads can be turned off or paused when you don’t want them to run.

If your monthly PPC spend is in excess of $2000 per month it is highly recommended that you use a professional PPC campaign manager to set up and maintain campaigns. PPC campaign managers use visitor and conversion tracking to make decisions on any adjustments needed to maximize the returns and attain the best results. Since we know that the 80/20 rule applies and most of the clicks are not productive, PPC campaign managers are there to decrease wasted clicks and improve cost of acquisition costs.

In summary, you can develop a better marketing portfolio by including either SEO or PPC into your existing marketing activities. SEO and PPC are marketing opportunities that most companies have yet to explore; sometimes citing the lack of resources to implement successfully.

In light of the decreasing effectiveness of conventional marketing strategies and in terms of overall marketing success (sales per dollar spent), the real question is how can you afford not to implement an SEM strategy. A good SEM marketing firm can help you explore the opportunities for using either SEO or PPC, individually or in conjunction with each other.