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Search Engine Marketing

We Help Small & Medium Businesses Develop Effective SEM Campaigns

Search Engine Marketing, also known as SEM, can be a useful tactic in some marketing strategies.  It’s basically the process of getting your ads to show along-side organic search results on the phones, laptops, PCs, and tablets of people who search keywords and phrases related to your business.  But how do you know if it’s the best way to create new customers?

SEM typically involves advertising on two main platforms:

    • Google AdWords
    • Microsoft Bing Ads

These are both in the midst of name transitions, but you get the idea.  Ads are typically text based, although Google has recently added images and is always experimenting with new ad types.  Microsoft is usually never far behind Google on enhancements.  In fact, Microsoft recently added the option to link both accounts so that when you make changes in your Google AdWords account, they happen simultaneously in your Microsoft account.  Smart.

Search Behavior Can Imply Someone Is “In Market” for Your Products or Services

People generally don’t search topics unless they’re researching to ultimately fill a need, solve some type of problem and/or make some type of purchase.  At a minimum, we can assume that searcher is looking for information not currently known.

Search Engine Marketing can be a useful tool to inject your ads in search results, with the goal of identifying a good prospect for your business and intercepting that search to redirect it to you.

Search Engine Marketing Can Be Particularly Effective During the Research Phase of the Buying Cycle

If customers tend to do some initial research before they narrow in on a purchase, intervening at the research phase can accomplish some important goals in your overall marketing strategy:

    • Create Awareness
    • Redirect Prospects to Your Website / Phone
    • Allow You to Customize Messaging Based on What They Searched
    • Make Time-Sensitive Offers to Create Urgency
    • Get Prospects Directly to the Most Useful Information on Your Website
    • Allow You to Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition Early in the Buying Cycle

SEM Can Also Be Critical for Short Buying Cycles

When customers tend to make a quick decision and can purchase or book on-line, Search Engine Marketing is almost always effective at driving marketing ROI.

Why?  Because when customers decide quickly, the longer it takes you to make you aware of them, the less likely you are to earn the sale.

 If you’re confused about search engine marketing or you’re just wondering if it can help you grow your business, we are happy to offer some insight.  We offer a free initial marketing consultation.  By helping us understand how you want to grow your business, we can help you decide if SEO is right for you.

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How To Best Leverage Search Engine Marketing to Grow Your Business

SEM often fits well into your basic marketing strategy.  It all begins with our formula:


By following this simple road map to design, execute, and evaluate campaigns we can know our return on investment (ROI).

Make Sure You Can Track Any Digital Display Advertising You Place

We typically accomplish this with two primary tactics:  (1) Pixel tracking, and (2) UTM or other tagging.  But search engine marketing has built-in tracking that makes this very easy.

Some digital advertising platforms offer tracking pixels.  We deploy these to know which visits to the website are driven by each campaign.  Combined with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, this allows us to know how far down our customer acquisition funnel each prospect goes.

When tracking pixels aren’t available, we use a tagging process that communicates with Google Analytics to achieve the same goal.

Use Layers of Targeting to Avoid Waste & Make Your Ads More Relevant to the People Who See Them

Begin with the end in mind.  We often layer multiple targeting methods for best results.

For example, we often use questions like these to determine targeting layers:

Q:  Are there locations visited that indicate someone is a potential customer?

A:  This often includes places like competitor showrooms, restaurants similar to yours, nearby hotels, or even certain office buildings (location behavior can often be tracked to specific floors of high rises).  We commonly use location behavior as an indicator for targeting.

Q:  Is there past search behavior that indicates someone is “in market” for your product or service?

A:  It’s common for people to begin a purchase with an on-line search.  Being able to target your ads based on keywords and phrases can be helpful.  We commonly use recent search behavior as an indicator for targeting.

Q:  Is there past purchase behavior that indicates someone is a good prospect for your product or service?

A:  This often is represented by categories.  For example, if someone has purchased pet products in the past, it’s a strong indicator they have pets in the household.  We commonly use past purchasing behavior as an indicator for targeting.

Q:  Are past customers, and/or past visitors to the website important prospects for the future?

A:  Whenever someone visits your website and doesn’t become an actionable lead (or make a purchase), that may be a strong indicator that they are “in market,” but not yet ready to make a buying decision.  This is called re-targeting.

Q:  How specific is the customer persona?  Age?  Gender?  Location?  Income?  Home?  Car?

A:  For example, let’s say your best customer prospects are women 35-64 in a series of high-end zip codes who drive luxury import cars, are in the top 20% of household incomes, and live in homes valued at over $900,000.  That target can be built quite easily.

These various qualifiers can be layered on top of each other to narrow in on your best prospects.  And once you build the universe of your best prospects, you can then begin

Context is Meaningful to the Outcomes

Reach, simply because it’s available, doesn’t always translate to success.  In our experience, reaching the right people with the right message has to happen in the right context — the correct time and place that allows your potential customer to engage.  Ads that reach prospects when they can’t respond won’t get the desired levels of engagement.

So SEM ads, happening right at the time someone is searching for your products or services, make a lot of sense in most cases.  Roughly 80% of our clients use search engine marketing as a component of their overall marketing strategies.

Our unique Bullseye Marketing Method is designed to track the context where our best engagement comes, and make adjustments to the campaign to focus on the most successful days, times, and other aspects of context that prove to be important for success.  SEM fits right into our method.

When properly organized, you can deploy test campaigns on multiple digital advertising platforms and track the results to know which combinations of messaging and platform get the best results.

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