SEM – the basics of what you need to know

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is paying to ensure that the people who are using keywords to find products and services online, can easily find your business. It’s like buying advertising space in a newspaper, but the newspaper is filterable by keywords.

The first step to starting your business on a SEM journey is to ascertain what your objectives are. Your strategy should be very different if you are trying to convince people to spend thousands of dollars, as opposed to an objective of finding people to enrol in a free seminar or follow your business on social media.

Secondly, it’s important to decide how much you would like to spend on your SEM campaigns. SEM is not a set and forget method and your spend on different keywords and target markets should be adjusted regularly in response to the traffic you are seeing and the seasonality of the campaign.

Ensure you decide what you are expecting to achieve from your spend. Decide what success looks like to you before you embark on this new method of attracting new leads to your website. Set some targets and check up on your progress each week.

Before you hit the ‘Go’ button on your campaign, think about what your new leads will see when they land on your website. Your ad could perform very well but if you don’t give your leads something interesting, they will not convert once they land on your website.

In our increasingly risk adverse world, you always need to be careful that the way you promote your business is legal and compliant with any applicable industry legislation. If your product or service is part of a particularly heavily regulated industry, then it’s always best to get an expert legal opinion on the wording you use in your offers.

If you are spending a large amount of money on SEM then it may be worth considering A/B testing for your first month. A/B testing means creating two versions of your ad and testing to see which works better. The same concept can also be used for your landing page and your conversion form. Some businesses convert better using first person terms such as, “I want to know more,” on their buttons, whereas others may prefer, “Click here to find out more.” Testing the different versions can help you figure out which works for you and your leads.

As with all digital marketing methods, take it one step at a time and don’t let anyone convince you to throw all your eggs into one basket. If an advertising or promotional method is going to use all your marketing budget, be sure that you will see the return on investment that you expect!

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