In today's day and age there are so many ways to spend your digital marketing budget. Should you put funds towards print advertising, social media, email marketing, radio, web design; it's often hard to know which will give you the best return on investment. Although all of these can be effective means of advertising, there is another powerful tool that can be extremely valuable to your business: Search Engine Marketing (SEM). According to netmarketshare.com, Google owns nearly 76% of the search engine market. (https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0)
Here are 5 ways that SEM can help grow your business:
1. Targeted Advertising on Search Engines
With Google Adwords you can display specific advertisements based on the keywords a user enters into a Google Search. So even if your target audience is as specific as young people interested in baking in Manitoba, or retirees in northern North Dakota, you will be able to easily target them. What if you want to reach a broader audience? Google Adwords also lets you target people by interest. Perhaps you aren't getting the results you are wanting by targeting "young people interested in baking in Manitoba", then we broaden the audience by displaying ads to people who like to bake in Manitoba. SEM also increases the chance of repeat traffic and returning clients, as well as targeting a new customer base. This can be done by using cookies (small pieces of information that follow the user around gathering details about their online habits). By showing those ads to people who have already been to your website you are reminding them of your products.
2. Immediate Results
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or pay per click campaigns, allow for immediate results by displaying your ad exactly when people are searching for your products or services. We can research and narrow down which keywords are more popular at different times of the year to optimize the results of your campaign. For example, take a company that sells windows. We may find that people are searching for "window replacements" in the fall more than any other season, so we would create a window sale campaign targeted at the people searching for this service at that time. In spring the focus might switch to home renovations and building supplies, so we would switch the target of the marketing to hit that specific audience.
3. Measurable Results
When tracked properly, SEM can provide real time data in order to see the results of your digital marketing campaign. We can see how many people are clicking on your ads and visiting your website, what pages they are looking at, how long they are staying on each page, if they clicked on any links or downloaded any forms, etc. With this data it is easy to monitor and make adjustments to the campaign and discover ways to optimize your website to increase traffic and generate new sales leads.
4. You Only Pay When You Get Results
If you're advertising through Google or Bing, you only pay when people click on your ad, meaning you pay for people who show an interest in your ad and not just those scrolling past it. This lets you know if you are targeting the correct demographics based on the amount of clicks you receive.
5. SEM and SEO Work Hand in Hand
The success of your campaign can give your digital marketing team insight into which keywords are bringing traffic to your website. For example, if one of the keywords is "Winnipeg Brewery" and you use that in your SEM campaign and get a lot of traffic, it would be a good idea to put that keyword onto your website as well. However, if you use the keyword "Light Beer", and it gets no clicks, you probably would not want to use that keyword on your website. This A/B testing can help determine the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that you can do on your website.
When SEM and SEO are done correctly, they complement each other. SEO can help you gain more organic traffic, meaning people are visiting the site by searching for keywords you already have integrated into your site. SEM can help you create more targeted campaigns using keywords that your site doesn't rank well for organically.
Using the Brewery example again, if one of your target keyword phrases is "Winnipeg Brewery" and your website is optimized for this specific keyword, you rank well organically. However, now if you want to expand your keywords into "Light Beer", SEM can help you target these keywords and be found immediately on search engines, without using "Light Beer" as keywords on your website.
Caution - Search engine marketing must be implemented correctly to get proper results. Your business accounts must be linked together in a trackable way and someone with a good understanding of Google's advertising rules and knowledge of different advertising platforms is recommended. Research of applicable keywords must be done and not assumed and targeting certain keywords can be expensive; you want to make sure you have the right keywords for your business and are able to track the results so that you're not just dumping money into the black hole of digital marketing. Done correctly, SEM can be a valuable asset of any business.