Search engine marketing (SEM) allows an advertiser to purchase traffic based on a specific keyword or set of keywords on a click by click, fixed impression or pay per view basis. While this cost can add up, it still provides the advertiser with an unprecedented level of control compared to traditional advertising methods.
SEM also allows advertisers to choose how to target traffic based on an advertiser's specific needs and budget. Companies can even pinpoint exactly who they are targeting: geographic area, age group, hour of day, actions taken on the digital property, even IP address. In comparison, this goes way beyond the targeting options traditional advertising methods have allowed. Digital advertising budgets are variable not fixed. They virtually depend on what the advertiser wants to spend. Smaller advertisers can test the waters on any SEM platform before making substantial investments in their marketing budgets which could potentially bankrupt them. The advertiser has complete control.
Prior to SEM, one of the biggest issues advertisers had was in determining the effect of their off-page and on-page search engine optimization (SEO) efforts on their bottom line. Search engine marketing has made tracking traffic possible by making it necessary for networks and platforms to develop ways for advertisers to accurately track their return on investment.
There are many niches, keywords and options to invest in when it comes to SEM. However, there are also a wide range of scalable opportunities and highly accurate tracking capabilities available to the small business owner which they can take advantage of when they are ready to dive into the world of digital marketing. If you are looking to jump into SEM, here are some tips to guide you.
Focus on generating data initially, not conversions.
Before you can start tapping into a consistent conversion stream, aspects of your SEM conversion funnel (i.e., keyword > ad > landing page > conversion action) needs to be developed. This funnel should be developed using accurate data. SEM performance is determined by SEM data generated from your SEM campaign. This data takes the form of metric values such as clicks, impressions, CTR, conversions etc.
Without data or with too little data you cannot properly make critical campaign management decisions to manage your campaign, maintain campaign performance or optimize campaign performance. Focus on generating data and on testing aspects of your conversion funnel to ensure you maximize conversion potential.
Maintain control of your campaigns at all times.
Control is important for SEM campaign management. Losing control of your SEM campaign can derail campaign progress and lead to inconsistent results, inconsistent performance etc. So it is important to maintain control of all aspects of your campaign as much as possible. Much like the captain of a ship, you must maintain course if you wish to reach your destination. Review your campaign performance at least twice per day on days when SEM ads are being served.
Confirm all aspects of your conversion funnel work properly.
All SEM management decisions should be based off of SEM campaign data. The more accurate this data is, the more informed your decisions will be. To confirm this, check all aspects of your funnel, including:
- Conversion tracking
- Campaign layout
- Ad copy
- Keyword copy
- Landing page
Making sure these SEM campaign elements are implemented and functioning properly is imperative to a successful SEM campaign.
React to your data.
There are some SEM campaign management decisions which should be made proactively such as campaign layout, conversion tracking implementation, targeting setup. However, most management decisions are best made reactively. The biggest benefit of using an SEM platform is the amount of actionable data available to you. Using this data to make timely management decisions where possible is to your benefit. Make informed decisions based on data in a timely manner to mitigate campaign performance issues.