3 Pillars of a Successful SEM Campaign

Many organizations embark on a marketing campaign thinking the goal is to appear first in an online search. While visibility during a search is a key component, there are three pillars of a successful Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign to consider.

Basics Terminology Review

Before jumping into the three pillars of a successful SEM campaign, let’s review a key difference between SEO and SEM. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an organic strategy relying on keywords and link building in order to move up the ranks in visibility during a search. The key word there being organic. However, showing up in search results isn’t always about SEO.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the paid advertising that appears during those same searches. The key word here being paid. SEM campaigns can be listed on Google or Yahoo search ads and even sites like Reddit and Quora. Diversifying these types of campaigns can bring powerful results.

When planning an SEM campaign, the most successful outcome starts with determining the goal of the ads, the budget, and how you’ll measure success.

SEM Pillar 1: Know What Your Goals Are

The overall goal of an SEM campaign is to gain a quality inquiry at the best price. If an ad appears in search results that it doesn’t quite correlate with, it’s possible it will be clicked on by a casual visitor who isn’t a qualified inquiry, just a curious web surfer. That click costs your marketing budget. Proper key word research and bidding avoids these types of lost budget.

While Google is used for searches 80-90% of the time, avoid the temptation to flood it with PPC ads that don’t closely match your audience. Capturing less traffic of higher quality prospects is better than appearing everywhere just because it’s possible. Think quality versus quantity.

Just like any other advertising campaign, identifying who your prospect is, and where they hang out online is the first step in successful marketing.

Be clear on the goal (i.e. conversions) for your campaign, whether it’s a request for more information, an application, or a paid transaction. Then make certain that you are properly tracking those conversion actions.

SEM Pillar 2: Testing

Once a campaign is underway there is still work to be done. That’s where monitoring and tracking comes in. Strategies such as split testing help fine tune the campaign to increase ROI. There may be changes made to keywords or other adjustments that will enhance the effectiveness of reaching your ideal audience.

Your marketing agency or department should be watching the results closely, communicating the results with you, and quick to respond with changes when necessary.

SEM Pillar 3: ROI

The third pillar of your SEM campaign boils down to the ROI. If the advertising is targeted appropriately, capturing quality inquiries or conversions should improve your overall return on investment.

Again, as you strengthen lead quality, you can make more informed decisions on how to allocate spend based on return on investment.

Leverage Expertise

The best way to maximize your marketing budget is to get assistance from experts on which platforms offer the highest intent, pin-pointed interests, the best location for your budget, and which are worth testing for your specific programs.

Be sure your provider takes the time to have a thorough discussion of your marketing goals, budget, and definition of a successful SEM campaign outcome before jumping into an ad campaign that may only be padding the search engine’s pockets.

MDT Marketing has been serving clients in the digital advertising space since 1995 and offers a free digital audit as part of our overall suite of marketing services. To start your audit, click here.