For a business owner looking to hit sales targets on a budget, what matters is results. When it comes to digital marketing, one of the most effective ways to increase growth is through search engine marketing (SEM).
What is SEM? SEO vs. SEM
Plenty has been written about the differences between search engine optimization (SEO) and SEM, and the merits of each for small to mid-sized businesses. The truth is that they are two sides of the same coin and can both generate excellent results.
- SEO is concerned with organic search and is often referred to as inbound marketing.
- SEM, meanwhile, is strictly the domain of paid-per-click advertisement and is often referred to as outbound marketing.
Business owners are often skeptical of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising because of the up-front cost involved. However, looking only at expenses will blind you to the increase in traffic and revenue available through paid advertising. Here are three valuable aspects of search engine marketing that every boss should know about:
- Low Conversion Rate Does Not Mean Poor Results
According to a study done by Search Engine Watch, the average conversion rate for AdWords accounts hovers around 2.5%. Your boss might look at that and say, “okay, I don’t like those percentages, let’s try something else.”
But that would be a mistake. Why? Because PPC advertising is incredibly versatile. It all comes down to what your conversion rate is intended to measure. Are you tracking new subscribers to an email list? Downloads of a case study? New sign-ups for a product demo? Even though these actions don’t directly produce revenue, they are invaluable in creating hot leads that will likely, at some point, become customers.
Paid advertisement also integrates seamlessly with social media marketing. A Sponsored post on Facebook is an affordable way to expand your network and improve brand recognition in a non-intrusive way. Conversion rates on social media matter less than lead generation and brand recognition — two metrics that paid advertising can bolster overnight.
- Ad Bids Are Not Only Won by Outspending Competitors
A popular misconception about PPC advertisement is that those who spend the most will automatically win the bid to appear in the SERP. This misrepresents the complexity of ad bidding, which involves a company’s bid plus their Quality Score.
What is the Quality Score?
The Quality Score is Google’s estimation of the quality and relevance of your ad bid. If your quality score is lacking, it is either because your ad copy is vague, your landing page is not convincing, or the keywords you have chosen are not as relevant as they could be. Improving your quality score will bring down the cost-per-click for the keywords within the ad group and result in better positions in the SERP. So optimizing every area of your advertisement (aside from your ad bid) has a major influence on whether you land a slot or not.
- PPC Is Ideal for Targeting an Audience Based on Geography
For a small to mid-sized business looking for website traffic in Toronto, it is usually quite difficult to generate results through organic search optimization. However, a well-targeted PPC campaign will bring plenty of traffic at an incredibly swift rate — and the more data you have to understand your target audience, the more efficient your overall content marketing strategy can be. PPC is designed for:
- A) Collecting data points about your target audience in a geographically specific region
- B) Driving traffic to a particular landing page that is optimized for conversion
Pay-per-click ad campaigns are effective online marketing and social media marketing tools. When used appropriately, they can generate high volumes of traffic and strong leads at an affordable price.
All you need is time (4-6 months) and patience and you can get that new business through digital marketing efforts. If you need results quicker, a website refresh and pay per click (PPC) program may be better suited to your needs. Contact me. We can discuss strategy on the phone or get a coffee.
Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.