SEM might seem to you like just one of many vague acronyms “those web people” use – and you’re not wrong. We are quite fond of acronyzing pretty much anything that can be acronyzed (and by the way, DON’T look up that word, we made it up, ™ pending). So if you’re stumped by SEO, perplexed by PPC, confused by CTAs, confounded by CMS, conflicted about CRM, unclear about CTRs, critical of CSS, or clueless about CRO, IFYP.
TBH, we’re all about simplifying things over here, especially when it comes to web marketing. So before this becomes some TLDR soliloquy, let’s cut through the chaff and get right down to business. Today, we’re going to talk about SEM—that is, Search Engine Marketing; how do we do it? What goes into it? And are there any more acronyms I’ll need to know to make it go?
Gather ’round, digital marketing enthusiasts. All will be revealed. We’re always HTH!
A Typical SEM Campaign Process
So maybe we should start by explaining one thing—why SEM? Why do we suggest this strategy? And why should you go along with it?
Two words, people: IT WORKS.
So let’s look at the typical lifecycle of an SEM campaign so you’ll know WTE.
1. Initial Consult
Here’s where we get to know each other. Our team meets yours. We’ll talk about your business and what you’re hoping to achieve with your campaign. We’ll ask you things. You can ask us stuff too.
We present you with a proposal for your campaign that outlines our commitment and yours. Once you approve the proposal, it’s game on.
3. Identify Prospect
A successful SEM campaign depends on getting your ad in front of the right people. Which means you need to be able to describe your ideal buyers. We’ll work with you to put a face to the search intent; then we’ll get inside their heads, put on our Swami hat, and predict what they might say to Alexa, Siri, or Google.
4. Keyword Research
Your keywords are the heart and soul of your SEM campaign. For that reason, keyword research is pivotal to your success. We use research to discover what words and terms your ideal customers are using in their search queries. The right KWs get your ads in front of the right people. The wrong KWs will run your budget down with little to show for it.
5. Ad Copy/Groups
Your ad copy is basically what it sounds like—it’s the main ad that people see and interact with on the web. It contains a title, display URL, and a description. As for groups, we generally create several alternate versions of the ad copy to broaden the audience based on relevance. Different ad copy versions will trigger based on the search query.
6. Landing Page Wire
Just like a bad first date, your ads mean nothing if they don’t take you somewhere special. IKR? A well-designed landing page is a must as that’s what’s going to bring the magic. Wireframing the landing page gives us a template to work from that can be adjusted and customized for a variety of customer segments, demographics, geographical regions, or to reflect a specific stage in the buying journey.
7. Landing Page Design*
A landing page has a single purpose: to convert. A well-designed landing page encourages the visitor to take the desired action—whether that’s to book a call, buy the product, or download your lead magnet. If we have access to your WordPress site, we’ll go ahead and create your landing pages within your CMS. Working directly with your existing WP site is always helpful as the core design elements are already there, which accelerates the time to result.
7. Ad Account Setup/Fund
Once we’ve got your landing pages and ad copy ready to go, it’s time to set up and fund your ad account. Your account structure is pivotal to your success, as the right keywords, keyword groupings, ad copy, and ad groups will drive optimal results. Funding the account means setting budgets for each campaign and deciding what your daily/monthly maximums are. We monitor ad performance over time and make adjustments as needed.
8. Ad Activation
Now that we’ve got all the production work out of the way, it’s time to let those babies leave the nest, watch them fly, and correct course, if needed.
9. Monthly Review
We’ll review your campaigns to understand what aspects need more attention and what’s doing well. The goal is to help you achieve a better ad position for less money. We do this by attempting to answer search intent as accurately and succinctly as possible. In other words, the closer we can get your KWs to match the user’s search query, the higher your CTR, which means more people on your landing page and more opportunities to convert.
10. Ongoing Optimization
Like that awesome neighbor that keeps upping his Memorial Day Party BBQ game every single year, we’ll keep tweaking your copy and KWs until we hit on that magic formula that opens the pearly floodgates to SEM heaven. Over time, we’ll be able to suggest actions based on ad metrics like CTR, CPC, CPA, quality score, and return on ad spend (ROAS). In addition, we’ll also look at on-page metrics like page views, time on page, and the number of unique visitors. These metrics help us understand which KWs and keyphrases are performing best for you and will help us optimize our bid strategy to help you get the best possible ROI.
In conclusion, running a successful SEM campaign is not as simple as you might think. It takes experience, insight, and a whole lot of hands-on attention to make sure that a) it’s working for you, and b) it’s not draining your ad budget. While SEM isn’t magic—per se—there is a trick to it. Partnering with an experienced SEM marketer like CCG is the alchemy you need to turn that digital lead into gold.