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9 Steps to Successful SEM Marketing Strategy

Set Roadmap to Successful SEM Marketing Strategy

In search engine marketing, everything takes a backseat to a sound, well researched and well crafted strategy. After all, SEM is not just about creating an advertisement to sell a product or service. It’s a way to create a connect with the users searching the web by giving them what they want, and at the time they want. And to create this all important connect what is needed is an extremely sound marketing strategy.

As part of our ongoing tutorials on SEM, the next discussion focuses on the 9 precise steps to follow to a successful marketing strategy:

1. Understand Why the Customers Search the Web

Your customers have various intents in mind when they search the web. Three of the most prominent of them are:

Entertain: People love to get entertained. They watch movies and web series on YouTube, Netflix and other online platforms.

They like to play games like PubG, Dead by DayLight, Diablo 3, etc.

People also like to read stories, movie and celebrity gossip and news related to sports and current affairs.

So what you should do? Think about the entertainment your product or service can offer and create a campaign around it.

Research: People generally research for products or services near their location. For instance Gyms near their location or restaurants serving butter chicken within a few kilometres of the user.

If you own a place where such things are served, connect with people looking for these. 

Purchase: Many a times people want to make the purchase at that very moment.  Offer them something they can’t ignore and you are in the game.

Finally, let me add one more reason…

Search for a website…

Just a minute back, I did a search to check out the government owned site for Goa tourism. I did so because I don’t know the website name.

My query was “Goa Tourism,” The first site listing that popped up was the one I required goa-tourism.com. But what do I notice if I look just a little below. Holidify beats the rest of competition to list at number 2 and Trip Advisor completes the podium at the third position.

What you should do in such a situation?

If you have a new travel company, create a compelling ad to appear in paid listings. This will catch the eye of customers.

2. Set A Clear Goal…

Before you delve into actual creation of your first ad campaign, set a goal.

For instance, the goal can be to increase the website traffic by a specific percentage say 25% over a particular period of say six months. Or increase the leads by 10% over a span of say three months. Or, achieve revenue growth by 15% is say six months.

Another objective, considered to be lot more relevant for businesses is to use SEM to spread awareness about their brand, product or service.

Final objective can be a combination of any of the above goals as well. However, it should be clear, precise and realistic.

…And Establish Metrics to Track it

However, another side of the coin is that driving brand awareness through SEM is a totally different ball-game than driving brand awareness through traditional advertising.

Have some metrics at place to measure the value of your campaigns.

Three popular metrics are:

Site Traffic Metrics (traffic trends), Conversion Rates (number of conversions/number of visitors), and Click-Through Rates (number of clicks/number of impressions)

3. Identify Your Customers

Before you move any further, it’s essential to identify who your target customers are.

You’ll get a lot of answers related to who your customers are and who aren’t when you analyze your existing customer base. Look at their demographics, (their age, occupation, income, gender, education, etc.)

Conduct surveys of your existing customer base. Engage in conversations with them. Carefully listen to what they have to say. Be real and open when you seek answers and reply honestly if counter questions are asked.

Most importantly, note down everything you observe during these conversations. Organize the notes, analyze, and evaluate. The picture of your ideal customer will emerge from this very research.

Once you’ve identified your target customer, build a campaign around him.

4. Set A Budget of Your Ads

If you don’t have a periodic budget in mind, you won’t recognize how much you are spending, so you will overspend.

Key expense factors include:

  1. Daily expenses for every ad campaign.
  2. Wages of resources working on research, creation and management of ad campaigns.
  3. Wages of resources working to maintain your website and keep it optimized. You may hire an in-house team or outsource the process to a trusted entity.
  4. Expenses incurred to subscribe for online tools required to perform the research.
  5. Expenses of resources employed to support core resources including people (support staff, HR, IT, Admin, Finance, etc.) and networking infrastructure (computers and networks).

5. Research for Keywords

Now that you have identified your target audience and have set the budget straight, it’s time to identify the keywords around which the ad copies for your campaign will be created.

Ensure that the keywords are aligned with your overall objective behind having the SEM campaign afloat. Be selective and relevant with your keyword selection.

The research also helps you know the competition the keywords will likely have once the ad copies will go live. Ideally, it’s best to identify keywords with medium competition as you also need to cater in the cost required to stay ahead in the ad auction.

6. Create Relevant Ad Groups

To start with, create a few ad groups with the keywords you’ve identified in the previous section. Ideally, a campaign cannot have more than 7-10 ad groups with up to 20 keywords per campaign.

Create ads with an aim to target by testing different messages with same audience or testing same messages with different audience.

With ad groups you can stay organized by experimenting with different targeting strategies.

7. Create Relevant Landing Pages

Nearly half of the organizations start their ad campaigns with a landing page in the backend of their ads. If you have one with your ad, you are most probably ahead of the remaining half.

Your landing page should be optimized to the point of discussion. It should only be detailed to an extent that it can generate relevant leads.

Don’t tell much about your company; may be a few sentences at the end. On the contrary, ensure that the landing page is as relevant to the set of keywords it’s targeting as possible.

Add a few logos of your associations to create that feeling of trust among the prospective customer.

Convey information about your offerings in the form of bullets. Have a Call to Action (CTA) to tell customers what they should do next.

Leave the details about your offerings to the sales people to explain. The landing page should only convey that the customer will get what he wants from your company.

Also, do not put all emphasis in the design of the landing page. I mean, this activity shouldn’t take away its soul, which is relevance with keywords.

Remember, the objective is to get that lead so there should be very less distractions on the landing page.

8. Use Negative Keywords

You are a technology support company that provide software and hardware support for computing devices. However, when you talk about hardware support, you do not provide support for home appliances like refrigerator, washing machine, etc.

People might use keywords like refrigerator with keywords you are targeting in your ad copies. So, if your ad appears in searches like “repair of refrigerators” or “repair of television,” it will be misleading for the customers as you don’t repair such appliances.

To get rid of this problem, you can create a list of negative keywords, you are telling search engines that you are not associated with such keywords.

9. Maintain High Quality Score

Finally, put all efforts to improve upon and maintain a high quality score. The higher the quality score, the lesser you spend on a campaign

Create a compelling ad copy that is relevant to the keywords it’s targeting

Create a highly relevant landing page with optimal information about your offerings.

Once the ads are live look for CTR, click-through-rate. It means, the percentage of customers clicking the ad after seeing it. Identify ways to improve your CTR.

One way can be to identify the times when specific ads get maximum clicks. Schedule to run the ads during that time interval only.

SEM Marketing Strategy: Final Thoughts

It takes time and continuous efforts to make an SEM campaign successful. The steps mentioned above set a roadmap to accomplish the objective.

What’s required is focus on relevance and quality, right from the time the customers are identified. After all, goal is to get quality leads at justifiable price.