What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) when done correctly, places your products or services right in front of your potential customers when they search online for what you are offering. This is a paid ad service and ads appear instantly. There is no wait time, so it's an ideal way to get traction immediately with your target market.
How is SEM different to SEO?
SEM is different to SEO in that SEM gets results quickly but only lasts while you are running and paying for the ads (much like newspaper ads). SEO on the other hand, takes time, but generates results over the long term. SEO is of a more long term, permanent nature so the benefits grow over time. Each method has it's merits but for this article we'll focus on SEM.
On Google, SEM ads appear on the right hand side of the Search Engine Results Pages (or SERPs). So in a nutshell, Search Engine Marketing is the science of marketing your product or service on Search Engines.
Example: If your main product is sunglasses, it would be obvious to target users searching for only "sunglasses". However, if you think laterally, it may also be beneficial to target people who are searching for other related products or services such as boating, hats, fishing or anything else where sunglasses may be useful. So, these could be potential key words used in search phrases like "boating sunglasses". In addition, you may only want to market to your local area so might need to narrow down your search phrase to something like "Sydney sunglasses" There are many variations that can work and there are proven strategies to finding out which terms will bring the best results (most traffic) but, you either need a lot of time for experimentation - or guidance from a proven and qualified SEM expert to bring the results you require.
When DO you need SEM?
Unless your business or website is a household name and gets millions of hits through word of mouth - you need SEM. But is it really worth it you may ask?
Would you print 10,000 brochures and then bury them in a desert?
What sort of a crazy question is that? Well, oddly enough, many companies today build their websites just like this. They have a website built then sit back and think their job is done. But when it comes to the internet, this approach would be exactly the same as if you spent thousands of dollars printing brochures to promote your business and then drove hundreds of kilometres into a desert - and buried them! Sounds insane right?
Obviously you wouldn't expect a response from any of those buried brochures, yet this is exactly what some people do with their website by not advertising it where and how it needs to be advertised (through SEM).
The metaphor of the brochures in the desert is meant to represent Search Engine Marketing (or SEM). This is the number one way in which you can guarantee your website will be found online when someone is searching for your product or service online.
When DON'T you need SEM?
If you're a large company with a six, seven or even eight figure media advertising budget that already drives traffic to your website - maybe you don't need SEM. This is because a TV or Radio ad that promotes your web address will generate many hits for your website anyway. The interesting thing is, many big companies today are actually spending more on SEM than on traditional media advertising. Why? Because they've paid big money for research that shows consumers have shifted to embrace online sales. It's a fact that some of the larger companies spend more than $250,000 per month in online advertising. These are smart profitable companies that have done their research and are now reaping the rewards of well thought out, targeted SEM campaigns.
How does SEM work?
Search Engine Marketing focuses on getting quick results in the short term, for a predefined price. The ads you see on the right hand column of Google (click image above for larger view) after you have searched for something, are all examples of SEM in action. All these listing are paid ads, also commonly referred to as 'paid search'. SEM is an excellent way to generate quick leads to your website or campaign page. Generally, an advertiser pays each time someone clicks on one of these ads.
CPC (Cost Per Click) or PPC (Pay Per Click) is the price an advertiser is willing to pay-per-click each time a web user clicks on their ad. The advertiser sets their own price for this so in effect, they are bidding for the customers' clicks. In an extremely competitive and lucrative market such as Financial Services, CPC rates can be set well beyond $5 per click. This means, if their ad is clicked say 1000 times, they will have to pay $5000. The scary thing is; this amount of clicks could easily occur in one hour in the right circumstances!
And it doesn't end there. What if you've just racked up a $5000 bill for your company and you haven't created the right 'landing page' to convert that traffic back into sales for your company (ROI)? That will be money down the drain.
Don't forget the Landing Page!
Before you start with SEM and CPC, you should always have a proven winning Landing Page designed and ready to capture information from the potential customers that your SEM campaign sends to your website. This is the page where your prospective customers arrive once they've clicked on your ad. If this has been done correctly, it should convert a good percentage of those prospects into paying customers.
I'm paying for SEM but getting no sales from it, what's wrong?
If your SEM campaign is not delivering you sales (or enquiries) within a very short amount of time, it is not achieving it's sole purpose. It's sole purpose is to send traffic to your website - where you then should be influencing them to either buy online or to send a form or pick up the phone. These are all CTA's (Calls to Action) which is the sole purpose of SEM. So, if you don't notice an immediate increase in this activity from your website via your SEM spend, stop the ad! There's no sense in continuing to spend money when you are not getting the desired result. That's a sure way to go broke!
Without a good Landing Page that converts idle browsers into customers, any amount of money you care to throw at online marketing will surely be wasted. Take the time and effort to get a great conversion strategy in place. Test the water, and test again until you've found the winning formula that gives you a solid ROI for your money.
To learn more about SEM visit Google Adwords.
If you would like to fast-track your SEM strategy why not contact Metaweb for proven Google qualified SEM strategies that work.CONTACT US