Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can boost sales and promote your brand, but if you’re juggling other roles in your small business, or even within your digital marketing strategy, it can be challenging. The best approach if you’re a one-person marketing department is to keep it simple, but be diligent in continually assessing performance to get the most out of your ad spending.
Think big, but start small
If you’re new to SEM, don’t blow you’re marketing budget with big, bold experiments. Start instead with one or two ad campaigns, and be careful not to inadvertently set them up to compete with one another for the same set of keywords.
Choose keywords that serve a purpose. To stay within a budget, stick with long-tail keywords that are lower volume and lower cost, but which are used in searches that reveal user intent. These keywords often convert better.
Choose keywords that users are currently using to find you. You can find these in Google Analytics under Acquisition>Search Console>Queries, as long as Search Console Integration is enabled in Analytics. These keywords are likely to be your branded keywords, since users often key in a company or product name into a search query via the address bar rather than to type in an actual web address, even when the latter is known.
Branded keywords typically result in lower advertising costs. To control cost and track performance precisely, give each branded term its own campaign, using a single match-type and a single ad group. Every ad in the ad group should have a similar theme and purpose.
Imparting a consistent theme and purpose to each ad group helps you build ads creatively that then link to a landing page that supports the same theme and purpose. You can also use Responsive Search Ads to automate the creation of hundreds of related, similarly-themed ads to speedily create more effective ad groups. The idea is for all the ads to speak the same language, and for that to translate seamlessly to the landing page displayed when the ad is clicked.
Make relevant landing pages
Landing pages can make or break conversions. Design and copy should work together to “close the deal,” making it clear to visitors what step they must take next to proceed down the funnel. Don’t place these calls to action deep within the page; instead, get to the point quickly with compelling reasoning. Make landing page content easy to consume with a quick browse:
- Make the headline short, punchy, and clear
- Use powerful images
- Use bulleted lists
- Display the call to action up front
- Provide alternative contact methods for users who don’t wish to click (a sales hotline phone number, for example)
- Show testimonials near the CTA to provide assurances
- Remove elements that lead out of the funnel
- Keep design simple and clean
Building your landing page is just the first step in creating an optimally performing landing page. Once the page is built, /analytics/google-analytics-measurement-plan/ review page metrics. Look for areas where the funnel may be leaking, or where the path tp purchase hits a dead end. If you uncover areas to improve, set up /analytics/avoid-content-testing-traps/ A/B tests to compare possible solutions.
Automate your bidding strategy
To keep a cap on your SEM spending and to improve advertising effectiveness, consider adopting an automated bidding strategy.
Some of these strategies can be linked directly to conversion goals and tailor bids based on a wide range of indicators that infer the searcher’s intent – thus increasing relevance. These so-called “Smart Bids” can be set to maximize conversions, achieve a targeted cost per acquisition or even a targeted return on ad spend.
While these tools make SEM easier and more effective, there is one last thing to bear in mind: you should review campaign performance consistently, and tweak your approach intelligently through testing. Consider adding keywords, adding negative keywords, changing bid strategies as necessary. By thinking big, starting small, staying focused on the customer journey and paying attention to results, you’ll boost sales and promote your brand – all while staying within your time and money budget.
Simple Search Marketing
was written by me, Greg Norton – also known as webzenkai. I’ve got more than two decades’ experience building effective websites and powerful email campaigns that yield results. Feel free to contact me regarding this article or anything else you find on this website.