PPC and SEO are both forms of SEM. (That’s 3 abbreviations in one sentence, wow!)
PPC stands for Pay Per Click and SEO is for Search Engine Optimization. SEM encompasses both as Search Engine Marketing.
Search engines are free online tools that allow you to quickly find a desired webpage merely by using words that describe what it is you are looking for. You want yellow polka dot boots? Just do a quick search on Google and you got it. After submitting your search request you are brought to the Search Results Pages, aka Serps. On this page there are several elements, usually PPC ads are at the top and SEO organic results in the middle. Sometimes you can also see Google Shopping, Google Places, etc.
SEM is advertising to people at the moment in which they are looking for something they need/want. People are searching online for a product or service that your business can offer them. Essentially they are looking for you! With SEM you can target them at that moment and there is a good chance you will win their business. This targeting ability makes SEM a unique form of advertising. The customer is coming toward the business, also known as Inbound Marketing. There are many benefits that come with this uniqueness as we shall see.
The opposite of SEM (where the user is engaged in looking for you) is Interruptive Marketing, where the user is engaged with something else and you interrupt them with your ads. Many Traditional Marketing forms are Interruptive such as TV ads, magazine/newspaper ads, billboards, flyers, etc. The people are watching TV, reading, driving, walking, etc. and then you interrupt them with your marketing. In this case it is the business reaching out to the customer, or Outbound Marketing.
As an advertiser, you want to target the right people. People that are within your business’ target market. A target market is a group of people that are more likely to buy from you. If you sell golfing equipment then placing ads in a golf magazine is a good idea. Selling sheitels, then a Jewish magazine is great. You need to find the right audience and then advertise to them. That is how traditional advertising works.
So now that you’ve got your audience and you place an ad in the right spot, there is still a downside to interrupting people. Your ad needs to be REALLY good. It needs to capture their attention and draw it away from what they were already focusing on. Drawing their attention away is not enough, you also need to keep that attention and most importantly you need the ad to be memorable. At the moment they most likely are not yet ready to buy from you. Your ad needs to stay in their mind for when the time is right for them. Just targeting the right audience is not enough to make a successful marketing campaign. You really need to leave a strong lasting impression to turn people into customers.
In comes SEM. Let’s say you sell golf equipment and the keywords you target are “buy golf equipment online”. When someone searches for “buy golf equipment online” you can be certain that they are within your target market. And, not only are they the right audience but they are ready to buy as well. Right here, right now. Compared to traditional advertising where your ads need to be amazing, this kinda just seems like you need to show up to get the sale. Of course you need to be running a good business to actually close the sale, but most of the work is already done.
If you are not showing up then you are missing out on great opportunities. These types of opportunities are called low hanging fruit. That is because they are quick and easy wins, just like picking a low hanging fruit from a tree.
John Wanamkaer, who lived about 100 years ago, was known to be “the pioneer of marketing.” He said: “Half the money I spend on marketing is a waste; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Funny and very true. When advertising, it is difficult to track the results coming from the money you spend. Which ad in which magazine or which billboard is the one sending you business and which one is just a waste?
There are methods to make the tracking a bit better, like having different phone numbers in each ad or different coupon codes. But still this is not a perfect system because with Interruptive Marketing most often the person is not calling you from the first time they see the ad. The first impression just put the thought in their mind and later they saw a different ad. Or it’s likely that after seeing your ad they had you in mind and then checked for your number in a phone directory. Now you have no clue at all how this person even became aware of you.
The beauty of SEM is that there is the ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing budget. Both PPC and SEO drive traffic to your website through clicks. Each* of those clicks can be tracked and so can the actions taken on your website after the click. When you spend money on clicks to the site which lead to nothing you can just cut that cost. If you see that it is working you can increase your budgets in those areas. (*not to mislead anyone but very often all 100% of activity cannot be tracked and some things do fall through the cracks – but still considerably better than Traditional Advertising)
ROI, or Return On Investment, is a performance measure used to measure the performance of an investment. Your marketing dollars are an investment, it is an investment in the growth of your business. If that investment produces profit then you have a positive ROI. The more profit it produces the higher the ROI. The superior tracking ability that SEM offers tends to lead to higher ROI on your marketing budgets. In general, SEM campaigns that are running efficiently have the highest ROI compared to any other marketing channels.
So there you have it, 3 reasons that make SEM worth it: 1)Selling to people actually looking for you tends to be “easier”, 2)Tracking capabilities to ensure you don’t waste money, and 3)Higher ROI.
The next topic we will discuss is determining which of the two, PPC or SEO (or both), is better for your business.