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6 SEM Best Practices Growth Marketers Need To Master

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6 SEM Best Practices Growth Marketers Need To Master


Growth marketing and growth hacking are terms you hear loosely thrown around.

There are even job titles and functions that specialize in “growth hacking.”

But, what does growth marketing actually mean?

Simply put, growth marketing is finding and driving the right customers to your business. These are the people who are most likely to purchase from your brand – whether they’re at the top of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel.

So, what’s the key to growth marketing in today’s world?

Three words: search engine marketing (SEM).

Not to be confused with just PPC or SEO, search marketing has proven time and time again to produce successful results.

SEM is not a short-term effort: it’s an ongoing strategy to drive more qualified customers to conversion in the long term.

Below are six best practices for winning at SEM in today’s market.

1. Deliver Value Across The Decision Journey

As the behavior of your fragmented customers evolves, your growth marketing plan should as well.

Who are the customers behind all those clicks?

Research from Microsoft Ads allows us to better understand the five distinct stages of purchase intent all customers share:

  • Awareness: Getting background information and buying landscape to become a more informed researcher.
  • Consideration: Exploring buying guides, recommendations, and products that meet basic criteria. Comparing a handful of products that meet the customer’s criteria, including ratings, reviews, features, and cost.
  • Conversion: Finding where to buy, then seeing pricing and promotions, availability, and local stores – eventually making a purchase.
  • Maintain: While already having a relationship with a brand, they may come across products or services in different areas that you provide.
  • 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.

2. Align Your Campaign & Business Goals

Search can impact, and help you measure, your business goals.

Be sure to align your SEM strategy with your campaign objectives:

  • Brand awareness and perception: Bid competitively on your non-brand, brand, and competitors’ keywords. Non-brand searches are the key to starting a journey: 69% of brand ad clicks are influenced by a non-brand search query. Searchers were 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.
  • Win new customers: Consumers rely on search to inform purchase decisions. SEM can help with every stage of the decision process.
  • Drive sales: Search’s strength is driving conversions. It outperforms other marketing channels across devices in conversion rates.
  • Enter new markets: The ubiquity of search allows you to activate a cross-border marketing strategy that drives foot traffic with Location Extensions, gets more phone calls with Call Extensions, and increases ad clicks with Sitelink Extensions.

3. Expand Your Marketing Funnel

As our constant companion, search is no longer just a product – it’s a behavior.

We turn to search at all times and in all places, whether on our desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

Understanding how people search at different points on their purchase journeys opens the door to engaging your brand with this new audience.

Having become an engine of insights, search now delivers influence throughout the five buying stages (awareness, consideration, conversion, maintain, and expand).

SEM also reinforces your conversion funnel and unifies disparate marketing activities.

4. Take Audience Targeting To The Next Level

Right-time, right-place engagement alone is no longer enough to compel potential customers.

You need to reach as many unique searchers as possible utilizing audience targeting.

Step 1: Build richer buyer personas that consider these factors:

  • Behavioral: Past behaviors are useful for understanding consumers’ interests and their likelihood to purchase. To better measure user behavior, analyze activities across websites, searches, and content.
  • Demographic: Buying preferences are influenced by elementary but important factors that include age, gender, and location.
  • Contextual: Consumers often search at the moment. Analyzing where, when, and how they search can provide useful content for creating more impactful ad campaigns.

Step 2: Choose keywords that align with the key stages and mindsets of your target customers:

  • Awareness: Keywords such as “What is” and “Benefits of” work best at this stage.
  • Consideration: Keywords such as “Buying guide” and “Models” work best at this stage.
  • Conversion: Keywords such as “Where” and “Coupon” work best at this stage.
  • Maintain: Keywords such as “Support” and “Experience” work best at this stage.
  • Experience: Keywords such as “Reviews” work best at this stage.

5. Lift Other Investments With Paid Search

Optimize your search efforts by combining organic search with a paid SEM strategy.

  • Search and social: Customers who click your paid search and social ads are likelier to buy and spend more. Strengthen your keyword coverage to get more impressions, and tailor your bidding strategy for commercial-related PPC campaigns.
  • Search and TV: Search volume spikes for days after a commercial airs. In a Catalyst Digital study, search volume spiked over 30% vs. the same day and times when a commercial did not run.
  • Search and display: Running search and display simultaneously can allow you to make the best decision on which channel drives the best results, which may be both according to Investis Digital.
  • Search and other channels: When Microsoft Ads is alone in the purchase path, purchases have a 27% higher order average order value than purchases not including Microsoft Ads, which also generate value when paired with other channels.

6. Fight & Win The Battle For Paid Search Budget Share

SEM still competes with other channels for a share of your marketing budget.

So, bring along hard data that connects the dots between search engine marketing and business benefits.

Your budget share battle plan involves three elements:

Pick The Right Metrics To Measure SEM Impact

Metrics provide an easy way to see what is and isn’t working.

Your team can test, change, and optimize your brand’s SEM strategy for better results.

Focus your reporting by identifying and tracking key performance indicators that reflect your business goals:

  • Acquiring new customers.
  • Driving foot traffic.
  • Getting more phone calls.
  • Increasing ad clicks.
  • Building your brand trust.
  • Expanding cross-border strategy.

Separate SEM Impacts From Other Channels

Know which channels drive your marketing results.

Each sale is the culmination of a series of marketing touches that may involve several channels over the course of days, weeks, or even months.

Attribution gets quite complex at times, so if you can prove campaigns with paid search delivers ROI and bottom-line results, you’ll unlock more budget and further optimize search performance.

If you are still looking at conversions through a last-click attribution model, you could be vastly underestimating how other channels and tactics contribute to the overall success.

Apply The Same Process To Allocate Budget Between Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

This last piece falls into place when you analyze the paid click share and query that each SEM option represents within your industry.

You’ll not only get your business in front of a large audience, but you’ll also be confident that your paid ads will lead to clicks.

Conclusion

SEM is the backbone of today’s marketing mix and is crucial for growth marketing.

An expansion of channel availability, and multiple devices per user, can create a more fragmented customer journey.

One of the biggest challenges is getting the right message to the right customer, at the right time, on the right device.

In addition to these challenges, arguably the biggest challenge is measuring the success due to user-privacy limitations.

You no longer can afford to put all of your marketing dollars into one search ad network. If you want to grow your marketing, you must enlist other channels to expand your addressable market.

Follow the best practices outlined here to maximize the reach, impact, and value of your paid search campaigns with bottom-line results.

Utilizing these best practices will equip you when trying to obtain marketing resources or budgets.

More Resources:


Featured Image: suphakit73/Shutterstock





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SEO

Daily Search Forum Recap: June 28, 2022

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


We have yet another unconfirmed Google search ranking update rolling out now. Google said near duplicate URLs with canonicals still can lead to the wrong URL ranking. Google seems to be adding pros and cons to some snippets. Google Shopping Ads is testing a brand/merchant slider. Microsoft Bing autocomplete tab is awkward.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

  • Google Search Ranking Update Brewing Again June 27-28th

    After maybe four or five days of calm, we are seeing new signs of more larger Google Search ranking algorithm tremors and volatility. This new one seems to just be kicking off, some of the tracking tools are already picking up on it and we have chatter from within the SEO community about a possible update on June 27th and today, June 28th.

  • Google: Near Duplicate URLs With Canonical Still Can Lead To Wrong URL Ranking

    There is an interesting thread on Reddit on a topic we touched on here several times, the topic of Google ranking the wrong version of the URL in Google Search. It all stems back to the URLs you want Google to rank being near duplicate to the URL Google ends up ranking.
  • Google Adds Pros & Cons To Search Result Snippets

    Normally when someone sends me a sophisticated search result snippet from Google and I dig in, I find a reason for how Google came up with this snippet. But it seems like in this case below, Google is being a bit more sophisticated and showing pros and cons in the snippet without the web site having mentioned pros and cons specifically.

  • Google Shopping Ads Tests Retail Brand Slider

    Google seems to be testing a new feature for shopping ads, where as you slide through the shopping ads carousel, it shows you which stores retail brands are being displayed.
  • Bing Autocomplete Tells Searches To Use Tab To Fill In

    Microsoft Bing is testing a new annotation in the autocomplete search results to communicate to searchers that they can tap the tab key to finish the autocomplete without clicking on the term. Here is a screenshot of this that I can replicate – no you cannot click on the word “tab” but using tab on your keyboard does do the work.

  • Mundo Bita At Google Brazil Office

    I saw this photo on Instagram, used Google Lens to figure out who this cartoon character is and discovered his name is Mundo Bita. They were at the Google Brazil office I think for some YouTube subsc

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, you can follow us on Facebook and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.





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Marketers want better features from their martech solutions

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How did you change up your stack? Take the 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey


Marketing organizations are still doing it. Ripping out martech solutions in favor of alternatives with better features, better integration capabilities and more data centralization.

And that includes mission-critical solutions like marketing automation and CRM.

The 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey showed a continuation of some of the trends detected in 2021. Organizations are still re-training team members to handle new technology rather than bringing on new hires. Proving ROI has always been important, but the importance is growing. Businesses are still switching from homegrown to commercial technologies. And the voice of marketing operations is getting louder.

Solutions replaced. It never ceases to surprise us to see so many marketing teams facing the challenge of trading their existing marketing automation and CRM platforms for something new. It’s easier to swap out SEO tools, and that’s the third most frequently replaced category in this report.

Up this year was the replacement of project management, ABM and e-commerce platforms — but respondents seem to have figured out virtual events in 2020 and 2021, because there was less activity in that category in this latest report.

A deep dive. The survey, based on responses from almost 300 marketers, not only looks at which solutions were replaced, but also:

  • The key reasons for the changes.
  • Who championed the changes.
  • How the new implementations were managed.
  • How long the replaced solutions had been in place.

Download the 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey here. It’s free and requires no registration.

Why we care. Marketing technology is no longer a nice add-on that supports campaigns and creative initiatives. In fact, it stopped being that a number of years ago. The martech stack is at the center of marketing, determining what marketing organizations can attempt and achieve, defining viable and exceptional strategies, and creating the conditions for success — or failure.

Within the constraints of budgets and the need to demonstrate ROI, every savvy marketing team sees the stack as something constantly evolving and hopefully improving. You’re all on a journey — what we are humbly trying to do is help show you the way.


Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.


The 2021 MarTech Replacement Survey is here.


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Mundo Bita At Google Brazil

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Mundo Bita At Google Brazil


I saw this photo on Instagram, used Google Lens to figure out who this cartoon character is and discovered his name is Mundo Bita. They were at the Google Brazil office I think for some YouTube subscriber milestone.

I found the character interesting and fun so figured I’d share it here.

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





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