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My Business + SEM = Yes?

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SEM, PPC, CPC, other acronyms. Advertising has evolved into a multi-channel beast that needs to be fed in a variety of ways, traditional and digital. With that said, it can be awfully tempting to throw money at digital advertising, plug in some keywords, and cross your fingers. Yes, It’s also possible to make money doing this, but before you rush into anything let’s do a quick evaluation of your business and its chances of success using Search Engine Marketing.

In this article we will be discussing how to evaluate your market, any external limitations associated with new advertising, and how to implement.

Market Evaluation

Let’s preface this discussion by getting one simple truth out there, most businesses are capable of achieving success with SEM. As the practice lends itself to most models and industries, the goal here is to establish some parameters that may indicate the kind of success you’ll achieve. What is your target demographic? How technologically savvy are they? Take a look at your business and examine the following.

What is the Lifetime Value of your customers?
What is your current website Conversion Rate?
Is there a high level of competition for your industry, are your target keywords heavily advertised?

If the fictional company Good Times Inc. (a supplier of banana hammocks, hammocks, and piña colada mix) wants to launch an SEM campaign let’s take a look at how this should play out.

Good Times Inc.
Primary Buying Demographic: Men 35-65
Lifetime Value of Customer: ≅ $255
Conversion Rate: 2.0%
Est. CPC (cost-per-click) for Top Keywords: $1.18 (outdoor hammock), $.49 (best piña colada mix), $.21 (banana hammock)
snap agency people working

It’s very possible that the current conversion rate will not translate exactly to SEM traffic, but let’s assume that it will be comparable when looking at their business. WIth their conversion rate and est. CPC, Good Times Inc. is looking at the following Cost of Acquisition numbers for their products:

Hammocks $59
Piña Colada Mix $24.5
Banana Hammocks $10.5

With this model it makes sense to advertise their Hammocks and Banana Hammocks, but Piña Colada Mix by itself doesn’t appear to make financial sense as a product to sell through SEM (unless you know historically that customer who buy your Piña Colada Mix are often going to be interested in buying either Hammocks or Banana Hammocks later.)

With a Lifetime Value (LTV) of $255, technically any click you get is worth the investment. A solution may be to proceed with a low-budget Piña Colada Mix campaign, that lets us carefully evaluate Frequency and Recency numbers for Piña Colada Mix visitors. Based on the current digital market Good Times Inc. occupies it would seem they make a great candidate for SEM.

External Limitations

How close are you to maxing out your current production/workforce capabilities? Would additional business create a need for new hires? Is your market share capped, or do you have room for growth within your industry? Do you have someone in place with both the ability and desire to manage SEM long-term?

A host of questions can be asked at this point that would seem to deter even a viable company like Good Times Inc. from moving forward with SEM. The question of manageable growth and productivity that new or additional advertising might jumpstart shouldn’t be ignored – but these are good problems to have. The benefit of SEM is that it can be seamlessly pushed forward or reeled in; are you finding you still have plenty of room for new business? Crank it to 11. Is your staff drained and uncontrollably angry due to the new work they are having to do? Maybe lower the budget and slow things down. SEM is built for customization and adaptability.

Once you have established whether or not your business has an acceptable market to begin advertising yourself, make sure you are aware of these issues, but don’t let them hold you back. A good way to measuring success is to look objectively at your market, and if you have doubts about your SEM marketability AND have serious concerns about external limitations, you may want to start very small with SEM or consult an expert for advice.

Implementation

Creating and executing digital strategy is daunting. If you’ve never managed an Adwords, Bing Ads, Yahoo Ads or other platform account before, you will very likely have no idea what you’re doing. Thankfully for you, there are choices in the SEM industry.
There are several SEM training platforms, and although they may be expensive can be very helpful, making it possible for you to learn all you need to know and move forward as your own personal expert. Finding someone with knowledge/desire internally can be particularly cost effective, especially if their current duties are similar in nature or allow for additional work load. External hires – such as bringing in a new full time employee, consultant, or hiring an agency – are a third and handsome looking option.

There’s no way to properly justify creating a new account/campaign and running it effectively in this section, but I will leave you with this: Always test what you are doing, don’t be afraid to look for help and keep consistency from your website to your digital ads (use keywords, branding, and a message reflective of your image).

Remember, we’re always here for you if it ever feels like too much, or you’re curious about what your business could be doing better.


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Abby Olson

Abby Olson

Abby is a sparkplug of energy, and a go-getter in leading the SEO department. She helps kick in the energy in the office and keeps us all on our toes.


 

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