6 SEM Tips That Every Marketer Should Know

Use these best practices to maximize your return on ad spend across all platforms.

Growth marketing and growth hacking are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between the two approaches. Growth marketing is a long-term, sustainable approach to growing a business. Growth hacking, on the other hand, is a short-term, quick-fix approach to growing a business.

Growth marketing is the process of identifying and targeting potential customers for your business. This includes customers who are at the top of the sales funnel as well as those at the bottom. By targeting the right customers, you can increase your chances of making a sale.

In order to see success in growth marketing today, it is key to focus on search engine marketing (SEM), which has shown successful results time and time again.

SEM is an ongoing strategy that helps you attract more qualified customers and leads to conversions over time. By following these six best practices, you can improve your SEM results and ROI.

1. Provide Value At Every Step Of The Funnel

As customer behavior evolves, so should your growth marketing plan.

Microsoft Ads’ research allows us to understand the five distinct stages of purchase intent all customers share:

Awareness – The customer is learning about your product or brand for the very first time

Consideration – The customer is exploring their options and looking at different buying guides, recommendations, and products that meet their basic criteria. They’re comparing a handful of products that meet their criteria, including ratings, reviews, features, and cost.

Conversion – Customer is researching where to buy, checking out prices, sales, and special offers. Eventually, they end up making a purchase.

Maintain – The customer is already familiar with your brand, and is likely to encounter your products or services in different contexts.

Expand – The user is a satisfied customer and leaves reviews for your business, word of mouth to peers, etc. These people then go into the Awareness stage. They become aware of your company through these means and may then visit your website or social media platforms.

2. Ensure Your Campaign And Business Goals Are Aligned

Before you set up your search campaign, determine what your business goals are. That way, you can ensure that your SEM effort supports those goals, and you can measure the impact of your search campaigns on your business objectives.

Brand Awareness

If you want to increase your brand awareness and perception, bid on your non-brand, brand, and competitors’ keywords. Non-brand searches are key to getting people interested in your brand. According to research, 69% of brand ad clicks are influenced by a non-brand search query. Also, searchers are 30% likelier to conduct a branded search after being exposed to a brand ad on a generic search query or a competitor’s branded query.

Finding New Customers

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can help you to reach consumers at every stage of their purchase decision process. By making your brand and products visible in search results, you can ensure that potential customers are aware of your business and can easily find the information they need to make a purchase decision.

Expand Your Reach

The proliferation of search engines provides an opportunity to implement a cross-border marketing strategy that can increase foot traffic with Location Extensions, phone calls with Call Extensions, and clicks on ads with Sitelink Extensions.

3. Expand Your Funnel

Search is no longer merely a product–it’s a behavior People rely on search engines at their desks, on their laptops, and on their phones, in all corners of the world.

By understanding how people use search engines differently at different stages of their customer journey, you have the opportunity to more effectively engage your brand with this new audience. Because search engines now deliver influential results throughout the five buying stages (awareness, consideration, conversion, maintain, and expand), they also reinforce your conversion funnel and unify disparate marketing activities.

4. Use Laser-Focused Audience Targeting

In order to successfully engage potential customers, you must go beyond simply being in the right place at the right time. You must also utilize audience targeting to reach as many unique searchers as possible.

Building richer buyer personas is a good first step, as this will take into account behavioral factors that can help you understand a customer’s interests and likelihood to purchase. To get a better idea of user behavior, you should analyze activities across websites, searches, and content.

It’s a good idea to choose keywords that align with the key stages and mindsets of your target customers.

For Awareness, keywords such as “What is” and “Benefits of” work best.

In the Consideration stage, keywords such as “Buying guide” and “Models” work best.

Conversion-focused keywords such as “Where” and “Coupon” work best at the Conversion stage.

For those looking to Maintain, keywords such as “Support” and “Experience” work

Finally, for the Experience stage, use words like “Reviews” and “Rating”

5. Increase Revenue From Other Channels Using SEM

A paid SEM strategy in combination with organic search can help optimize your search efforts.

Search and social: Paid search and social ads can help to increase the likelihood of customers buying from your store, as well as increase how much they spend. Improving your keyword coverage can help to get more impressions while tailoring your bidding strategy specifically for commercial-related PPC campaigns can also be beneficial.

Search and television: A Catalyst Digital study found that there was a significant increase in search volume, by over 30%, on days when a commercial aired, as compared to days when no commercial aired. This indicates that people are searching for products or services that they see advertised on TV.

Search and display: According to Investis Digital, running search and display simultaneously can allow you to make the best decision on which channel drives the best results. This may be both search and display, or one over the other.

Search and other channels: When Microsoft Ads is the only channel in the purchase path, purchases have an average order value that is 27% higher than those that don’t include Microsoft Ads. Microsoft Ads also generates value when it is paired with other channels.

6. Pick The Right Metrics To Measure Impact

Data can be a valuable tool for understanding which aspects of your SEM strategy are effective and which need improvement. By tracking key performance indicators that are relevant to your business goals, you can more effectively focus your team’s efforts to achieve the desired results. Some goal examples include acquiring new customers, driving foot traffic, increasing ad clicks, and building brand trust. Another important consideration is expanding your strategy to include cross-border targeting if that is relevant to your business.

It is important to know which channels are most effective in driving marketing results. Paid search, for example, may touch a potential customer several times over the course of days, weeks, or months, and may not always be the last marketing interaction before a conversion. Therefore, if you can show that paid search delivers ROI and bottom-line results, you will be able to get more budget and optimize performance. Under a last-click attribution model, you could be significantly underestimating the role other channels and tactics play in conversion success. This is why you should always use a data-driven model.

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