Complete Guide to Effective SEM Marketing Campaign Strategies

We talked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) being the “free” way to acquire traffic through organic listings. Now let’s introduce the terminology Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

SEM is the “inorganic” or paid search marketing method in which you buy ad spaces to appear in search results. Why do you need SEM you may be wondering? Well, for starters, there is one great benefit that comes with paid listings, and that is the ability to receive instant traffic.

Here is an example of a paid listing in Google:

example of a paid listing in Google:

Hold on, before we dive deeper into the subject, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture …

How to Run SEM Marketing Ads?

There are two major advertising platforms you can choose to service your SEM ads – Google Ads and Bing Ads. Online advertisements in Google Ads will be posted in Google’s search engine.

Campaigns in Bing Ads will be posted to Bing search engine. Both platforms are free to sign up. Here are examples of online ads appearing in Google and Bing:

Google Shopping Ad

Google Shopping Ad

Bing Shopping Ad

Bing Shopping Ad

In addition, you will have the option to choose where your ads appear. For example: in search results only, Google partners only, or both.  For more information on how to install and use Google Ads and Bing Ad, see our complete guide to Google Ads and Bing Ads.

How to Receive Instant SEM Marketing Traffic

Here are three most-practiced SEM activities that online marketing professionals talk about. We will explain each method, and how they can bring instant traffic to your website.

  1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  2. Cost-Per-Thousand-Impression (CPM)
  3. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Now let’s get to the meat of it!

3 SEM Marketing Strategies to Get Instant Traffic

SEM Marketing Strategy #1: Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

What is PPC

This is the most popular and commonly used method of online advertising. Advertisers pay a fee every time their advertisement is clicked. You may have also heard Cost-Per-Click (CPC) being used interchangeably with PPC.

These two terms essentially have the same concept. CPC is the metric that measures the specific cost for one single click of an ad.

How PPC Brings Instant Traffic to Websites

Think of it as bidding for an auction. Position one on page one is a prime spot, and it cost more than position 10 on the same page. If you outbid every competitor, your ad will receive the most prime spot. You will then pay the amount you bid for everytime someone clicks on your advertisement.

In turn, you gain  more opportunities of converting sales. The tricky part is, depending on the industry and what keywords you are bidding for, this auction can get very expensive.

Learn From the Experts

Here’s something very helpful and well known: Ultimate Guide to Google Ads: How to Access 1 Billion People in 10 Minutes (Ultimate Series).

This book is written by the “golden team” – Google Analytics expert Mike Rhodes and Google Ads masters Bryan Todd and Perry Marshall.

They have joined together to introduce the latest, most comprehensive guide to Google Ads . Through their methods, you will learn how to effectively apply winning Google Ads campaign strategies to your website.

This book is not one of those Jargon-stuffed technical manuals that require a degree to digest. There are well-explained concepts and step-by-step processes to walk you through your first Google Ads campaign.

In addition, there are many useful “hidden” techniques to help you save on marketing budget.

SEM Marketing Strategy #2: Cost-Per-Thousand-Impression (CPM)

What is CPM

The “Impression” here stands for the number of times viewers see your advertisement. The industry standard for paid impression is measured per every one thousand. Hence the “M” in CPM, which is used to represent 1000.

How CPM Brings Instant Traffic to Websites

Instead of paying for each click, you are paying an amount you have determined for every 1000 views of your ad. With this advertising model, viewers may or may not take any action to visit your website. However, your advertisement can reap the potential benefit of receiving a great amount of exposures.

Learn From the Experts

You can find more information about CPM model and its bidding options directly from Google in Google Support Google Ads Help.

SEM Marketing Strategy #3: Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

What is CPA

The acquisition here means visitors responding to a specified call-to action. You pay a fee when an action is performed.

How CPA Brings Instant Traffic to Websites

With CPA, you are able to indicate what action visitors should take in order for the advertiser to get paid. These user performances can be a wide range of actions. For example, it can be to make a purchase, sign up for newsletters, submit an inquiry, or any other types of conversion you have defined.

One of the biggest advantages of a CPA model is the ability to better control your ad spending and pay only for results. So if you are making a CPA campaign for visitors to sign up for your weekly promotions, you are paying for each time someone signs up.

Learn From the Experts

This is an informative piece by Semrush. It can guide you to understand how to choose between the 3 SEM advertising models.

Semrush is one of the top SEM research platforms. It is known for its ability to conduct profitable keyword research, competitor analysis, and provide complete SEO audit of any website. Tools are imperative in SEM marketing because they provide you with the insight to edge above competition.

You can learn more about Semrush by typing a domain, keyword, or URL below.

We are Just Getting Started

No matter which SEM campaign model you choose, choose according to what works best for your business. The key is to start with a feasible plan.

Keep testing until you have results, and then continue to work on improving that result. So what’s next? What exactly do you need to start an SEM ad campaign? See our 4 step how-to guide on creating a winning SEM campaign.

The Complete Guide to Successful SEM Marketing PPC Advertising

My website is new, and it will take some time for organic (SEO) traffic to build up. Is there a way to get more online traffic right away? The answer is yes. If you are not getting the visitors you need through SEO or traditional marketing methods, PPC campaigns can put your business in front of ready to buy customers instantly.

What are PPC and CPC?

Contextual wise, what is the difference between PPC and CPC?

  • PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, is one of the most popular methods of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) advertising. It works by advertisers paying a certain amount of money every time a visitor clicks on their advertisement. These paid advertisements are generated through platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads.
  • CPC, or Cost-Per-Click, indicates the actual dollar amount that the advertiser needs to spend for a single click on the advertisement per keyword.

The PPC Campaign Calculations

In order to determine the success of a PPC campaign, it is important to understand the following three components of online marketing calculations:

Calculation #1: Click-Through-Rate

The CTR or Click-Through-Rate metric helps determine whether an ad can generate a good engagement. The higher the CTR, the better your ad performance will be.

Click-Through-Rate is calculated by the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. Multiply the value by 100 and you will get a click through rate percentage. A good click through rate percentage for an ad is normally around 1%, however, depending on your industry the CTR may go higher or lower.

Calculation #2: Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the metric you need to closely monitor because it determines the advertisement’s profitability. Conversion in a PPC campaign is the number of leads or sales gained through clicks of advertisement. Conversion rate is calculated by the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks. Multiply this value by 100 and you will get a conversion rate percentage. Depending on your business, average conversion rate varies by industry.

Calculation #3: Cost Per Conversion

Cost per conversion determines the cost per acquisition for a PPC campaign. It tells you if the marketing dollar spent on a campaign is worth the price base on your business needs.

Cost per conversion is calculated by the total campaign cost divide by the total conversions. The value is a dollar amount which represents how much an ad campaign cost to make conversion happen.

3 Reasons Why PPC SEM Marketing can Fast-Track Your Business Online

With proper research and setup, PPC campaigns can achieve immediate results within a planned budget. Here is what you can expect:

1. Instant Traffic

Unlike SEO marketing, which takes some time to see results, PPC can deliver instant traffic by displaying your ads on top positions of search queries within Google or Bing. Include high search volume keywords in ad message. It helps you gain visibility and improves conversion opportunities.

2. Controlled Cost

You decide how much you want to pay for each keyword click, so the cost is completely transparent. However, it does not mean advertising campaigns won’t get expensive.

Let’s go back to our PPC calculations for a minute. Even if you pay $0.50 per click, with 10,000 clicks, you will end up with a $5,000 dollar bill.

On the other hand, if 40% of those clicks converted into a sale with a $10 profit, then you are looking at a $40,000 earning. That is marketing money well spent.

So ultimately, your cost control and management are more than just receiving clicks. With the right SEM tools, you can improve and accelerate the campaign to convert more traffic into revenues.

3. Targeted Customer Marketing

Unlike traditional marketing where you are targeting as many people as possible and hoping some of them will become your customers, PPC is a much more defined marketing method.

It targets audiences who have already shown a preliminary interest in what you have to offer. PPC allows you to market to specific niche audience who fits your demographic criteria, so your ad targeting is more precise and effective. For example, use ad scheduling and geolocation settings to customize audience reach of every campaign.

Focus on Conversion

Sometimes PPC marketing can be a love-hate relationship. The best advice is to concentrate your effort on the conversion and don’t become fixated on the clicks. Make sure you are comfortable with the budget you set. Keep refining your campaign until you have found the winning strategies.

A feasible plan and the right strategies set the foundation for a successful SEM campaign. Next, we need to put it to the test and create a campaign that makes conversion happen. This is essential to any business trying to market and advertise online.

Create SEM Marketing Campaign in 4 Steps

Step #1: Plan for Specific SEM Keywords

Keyword research is vital to the success of your search marketing campaign. For example, if you advertise to someone who is searching for a “car” then good luck with going against the other 3,370,000,000 results that yield “car”.

The problem is we don’t really know what this person wants when he/she is searching for such a broad term. Therefore, if your marketing campaign is targeting a generic or a single broad term like this, chances are, you may need to spend an obscene amount of advertising budget, and end up breaking your bank.

Take Advantage of Long Tail Keywords

To ensure your marketing dollars are put to good use, start by narrowing your keywords from ambiguity. Aim to create long-tail keywords which are short phrases made up of 3 or more words.

Try different variations and combinations of the keyword phrases that best represent your products or services. The right keywords can uncover new market shares.

Going back to our “car” example, now let’s try to target someone who is searching for a “2016 BMW M4 Coupe”. From this new long-tail keyword, we can understand this person knows his or her car’s year, make, and model.

By applying more specific descriptions to a keyword, we have significantly narrowed down what a potential customer is looking for.

You can capitalize on this information and build a landing page specific to this search query. It can translate into increased opportunity of converting a lead or sale.

Winning Keywords Entail the Following Qualities

The key is to look for quality long-tail keywords that are unique to your business. With these keywords, you can discover and capitalize on more niche markets.

In summary, good keywords have the following three qualities:

  1. Unique and descriptive
  2. Relevant to your products and services
  3. Create call-to-actions

Step #2 Utilize SEM Tools for Effective Keyword Research

By now you might have this burning question to ask: “How do I find the most profitable and business-qualified keywords for my website?” Luckily, searching out these money-words don’t have to be a wild goose hunt.

There are many quality SEM tools out there that can take the guesswork out of the equation. Let’s explore a few from the top of our “tried-and-true” list:

Top 2 Free Keyword Research Tools:

#1 Google AdWords Keyword Planner:

Google AdWords Keyword Planner is one of the best keyword research tools you can find out there. It is free when you have a Google AdWords account, which by the way, is also free. You only pay when you start to run AdWords campaigns.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner does exactly what you need it to do – comprehensive keyword research. You can use it to brainstorm or research the best terms for your SEO or SEM ad campaigns.

The tool provides keyword suggestions and estimates the amount of traffic you would receive for each keyword within Google. Additional data are provided to help you determine the most suitable phrases to advertise.

For instance, it can show you competition level and the suggested bid price of each keyword.

A Google AdWords Tip: Remember to select your target area. For instance:

  1. Which Country: United States
  2. Language: English
  3. Date range: Normally the default setting of last 12 months is enough data.

#2 Bing Ads Keyword Research and Opportunities:

Similar to AdWords for Google, Bing Ads provides a platform for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. You can easily import most of your Google AdWords campaigns directly into Bing Ads.

It is free to sign up and the best part is that you can receive a $50 free ad coupon when you sign up with Bing Ads today. You can use the $100 to run Bing Ads. So basically, you get free money to try it out.

The Bing keyword planner allows you to input keywords and receive search volume data aggregated from Bing, Yahoo, and AOL search networks. All these data represent SEO organic search. The stats on the search volume are based on the previous 6 months of historical records.

This keyword research tool will generate keyword suggestions in different languages particular to their countries. It is helpful in targeting content to specific demographics.

Although search volume will be smaller than the data from Google AdWords keyword planner, it is still a reliable research platform to get great keyword search volume.

Top Advance SEM Tools:

Basic keyword research tools are sufficient to get the job done. However, when you want to win and consistently stay on top of your competition, you need advanced SEM tools.

They do everything from complete SEM audit, competitor analysis, to comprehensive keyword research. You can even peek into what your competitors are writing for their advertising content.

Advanced SEM keyword research tools that top our list are SEMRush, SearchMetrics, and Wordtracker. We will talk about each in detail.

SEM Tool: SEMRush Keyword Research

We love using SEMRush and would recommend this tool for SEM and SEO keyword performance tracking. It is especially handy in discovering lucrative and high-yield keywords for SEM campaigns.

Use this tool to uncover related keywords and phrase-match keywords to the original search phrases. This can reveal additional opportunities for long-tail keyword discoveries and show you different word mix.

In addition, SEMRush will:

  • Calculate every keyword’s competition level
  • Average each keyword’s cost per click
  • Estimate monthly keyword search volume
  • Provide historic monthly trends of keyword search volume
Digital Marketing Tool


$99.95 per Month
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Step #3 Budget-Control Your Cost Per “Click”

Now that you have a list of keywords to run advertisements with, let’s talk about how much you should spend on PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaigns. The truth is, it is different for every business and industry. So determining how much you should spend on SEM campaigns depends on many factors.

However, with relevant data and research you can come up with a workable budget to begin with.

Keyword Pricing is Dependent on Various Reasons

  • Industry
  • Seasonality
  • Market competition
  • Your advertisement’s Quality Score within AdWords. This is Google’s 1-10 ranking system. Quality score measures relevancy, click-through rate and overall user experience delivered through your campaign. Google uses this rating system to determine the quality of your ads and landing pages through the keywords you are advertising with. Learn more about how to improve your ad campaign’s Google Quality Score.

Focus on Quality over Quantity of Clicks

Cost-Per-Click in a PPC campaign is different for every industry. That is why you should spend the time to thoroughly research and discover unique niche markets with long tail keywords.

One of the best routes is to research for long tail keywords that do not have a large search volume but shows great user intent. For instance, it can be intent to make a purchase or to learn about a topic. Competition for those keywords will be comparatively less.

When your potential customers search on Google and have a good idea about what they want, they are more likely to respond to call-to-actions. Make sure your landing pages are highly relevant to the keywords in your ad content so you can maximize conversion.

Since Google AdWords assign keywords with a quality score. The higher your score is, the less you have to pay for clicks. Remember to keep your overall budget in mind and refrain from ego-bidding war with competitors.

Always focus on quality over quantity in keywords, and constantly try to improve your keyword quality scores to lower overall cost.

Get Help from SEM Experts

Starting your first SEM Campaign can be confusing. The good news is you can get help from professionals for very little investment. Google AdWords for Beginners: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to PPC Advertising can guide you through the basics and make sense of AdWords in mundane terms.

The Author Corey Rabazinski is Director of Marketing at Code School and a seasoned PPC expert himself. He provides a straight-to-the-point explanation of Google AdWords and how it works. It is an informative and easy-to-read piece for beginners with limited technical background.

This book is rather short (65 pages) and explains Google AdWords in a simple context. It allows readers to quickly grasp the concept. The book includes a helpful 8-step process that generates optimistic results for many companies.

If you are just getting into the realm of running your own AdWords campaigns, this book can be very helpful.

Step #4 Write Compelling Ad Messages

Stand Out from Your Competition

You are up against more competition than you think. In the online space, your rivals are not just limited to your direct parallels. For example, a BMW dealership may be in direct competition with Mercedez Benz, Audi, and other BMW dealerships. When it comes to online advertising, non-dealerships such as CarMax becomes a fierce opponent.

Spend the time to research which competitors are advertising for the same keywords as you are. Highlight the unique qualities of your business in ad messages to entice the audience. Work to differentiate your ads from the competition. Learn more about SEM ad content writing for better conversion.

Include a Benefit Statement

“50% off”, “free gift”, “buy one get one free”. These are all eye-catching incentives or benefit statements to improve click-through rate of your ads.

Benefit statements encourage audience to click on your ad. So give your customers a good reason to come to your website. Make sure to highlight the best features of your products or services.

Focus on identifying and promoting your best selling points. These are the keys to closing a sale or converting a lead.

Keep Testing

There is never one good phrase you should stick to for all of your SEM advertisements. People appeal to different communication styles. So customize different campaign messages for different audience groups.

Test different variations of your ad messaging over a period of time. You will find the most profitable one with the highest return on investment, lowest cost per acquisition, and lowest cost per click.

Persistence is the Key to Long-Term SEM Marketing Success

Take control of your SEM campaigns. With good practice cost will eventually weigh down. Start with researching the right keyword phrases for your business. Make sure all your landing pages are relevant to what people are searching for.

Test your ad messages to gain the best ROI (Return on Investment), CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition), or CPC (Cost-Per-Click). Search engine marketing will be one of the easiest ways to get traffic to your website fast. So start planning! Here is a helpful checklist item that can guide you to build a successful SEM campaign.

Complete SEM Marketing Campaign Strategy and Paid Search Advertising Checklist Guide

The acronym SEM translates into Search Engine Marketing. It is a method of online marketing which you pay a price for advertisement to show up in search results when people look up keywords relating to your products or services.

The dollar amount you pay for ads to show up in search engine results will vary. It is dependent on the keyword you wish to bid for and how many advertisers are also bidding on the same keyword.

The more search volume and competitiveness a keyword have, the more expensive it is to bid for the desired keyword. Depending on the industry, Cost-Per-Click (CPC) rate of an advertisement can go from a few pennies to tens of dollars per a single click.

Yes, it can add up to be really expensive. This is why you should have a step-by-step SEM strategy to run a successful SEM campaign.

12 Key Elements of a Winning SEM Marketing Campaign

3. Improve Keyword Performance with Analytical Tools

Conversion of an advertisement ties closely with the keywords you choose to target in a campaign. Analytics data is the key to SEM campaign’s keyword performance success.

4 Criteria of High-Performance Keywords

  • Returns high sales volumes
  • Generates the most clicks
  • Produce the lowest bounce rate (when a visitor takes no action on your website and leaves) Leads to the most time spent on the website

Use SEM tools to discover profitable keywords. Make sure to check for search volume and competitiveness of every keyword periodically. Focus on raising the quality scores and CTR (Click-Through-Rate) of these keywords within ad content. Refer to our complete guide to winning SEM keyword Research.

In addition, if you are using Google Ads, sync it with Google Analytics to receive better analytics insights.

4. Divert Ad Traffic Segment and Test

Getting visitors to click on your ad is only half the job done. Turning that click into revenue is the ultimate objective of a successful SEM campaign.

So how do you ensure that the ad’s landing page is effectively converting sales? Or can it potentially be more effective? This is when we turn to A/B testing.

Basically, A/B testing tools such as Optimizely allows you to divide traffic from the same ad content onto two different landing pages. Test ad elements such as keywords one at a time to perfect both ad message and landing page content for maximum conversion.

Now you are able to test out what components of the advertisement work best. You can also monitor how different page components can improve the conversion rate. Keep testing and perfecting the ad campaigns for better ROI over time. Here are the details on how to properly run A/B testing from Google Support.

5. Simplify Checkout Funnel on Landing Page

This can apply to both e-commerce and B2B websites. You can improve the conversion rate of the website by setting proper checkout funnels on the landing page.

Whether you are promoting email signups or running a sale, if you are collecting information from customers, make the landing page where they input information as easy as possible.

For e-commerce websites, you want to guide visitors through the checkout process in a few simple steps without confusion. Making an efficient checkout funnel improves user experience and ultimately leads to better conversion results. An efficient checkout process has the potential to turn ready-to-buy visitors into committing customers.

However, building an e-commerce website can be challenging and expensive. Esthetics, usability, and marketability of every component on the website affect conversion. E-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce offer an extensive range of powerful front end and back end tools. It makes theme designing, managing inventory, marketing, reporting, and even accounting easy to execute and track. The platform provides large collections of resources for webmasters. It can be a more budget friendly option versus a completely custom-coded website.

6. Increase Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is the percentage of total volume of sales, leads, or any other conversion values divided by the total number of visitors. This is one of the most important metrics in SEM you need to monitor. The higher the conversion rate is in an SEM campaign, the better the advertisement is performing.

3 Key Factors that Control Conversion Rate

  • Keyword performance
  • Ad content optimization
  • Landing Page efficiency

This means, the keywords you are targeting, the message you are using to describe ads, and the webpages that your advertisements lead to should be optimized to convert sales.

Refer to data from Google Ads and Bing Ads to track and improve your campaign’s performance. You can refine the marketing messages, benefit statements, or call-to-action statements according to analytics data.

Use keyword research tools to help you find, track, monitor, and refine keywords with the lowest Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and the highest Click-Through-Rate (CTR). High performing keywords can uncover unique niche markets while better control overall campaign budget.

As for landing pages, continue to test out visuals and different ways to structure content to improve conversion.

7. Decrease Bounce Rate

When visitors come to your website and hit the “back” button too soon, you know there is a bad case of high bounce rate. Bounce rate is one of the most negative metrics affecting SEM campaign’s success.

When a visitor leaves your website right away after clicking an ad, advertising dollars are wasted because no conversion resulted from this transaction. It is a sign to make some serious assessments.

Unless you have got technical issues or broken links, content is the first thing to be evaluated. Ambiguous, irrelevant, or misleading ad content can contribute to bounce rate in a negative way.

Make sure there are adequate data supporting the advertisement’s landing page. What customers see on the landing page should be exactly what the ad is pitching for. Sales pitches may earn you a click, but it can turn into a click wasted when you lose a customer over a low-quality landing page.

8. Target Geolocation Performance

Picking the right location, but not every location, can significantly increase ad targeting precision. In both Google Ads and Bing Ads, there are options to select which physical locations (i.e. county, state, city) the advertisements target.

Adjusting your bids according to ad performance in different locations. It is a cost conservative way to push out the campaigns to the right audience for maximum exposure.

Utilize location-specific keywords in landing pages (i.e. New York City, Los Angeles) to better respond to location-specific search queries. Make educated predictions of visitor demographics by researching into your analytics reports.

Here we have the best practices to help you improve Google Ads geolocation targeting.

9. Monitor Time on Site

Once a potential customer clicks on an ad and lands on your webpage, the time a customer spends on your website ties closely into the likelihood of a conversion. The longer visitors linger on your webpage, the more likely they will take action. The action can be anything from clicking on another page, responding a call-to-action, or making a purchase. More dwelling times equals to lower bounce rate, which can increase your website’s Google quality score rating.

How to keep visitors from ditching your page too soon? Factors like content engagement, keyword relevancy, and ad message are big influencers. They are good predictors of how much time visitors are willing to invest into your website.

10. Customize Ad Schedule Performance

With Google Ads and Bing Ads, you can customize the time period advertisements turn up in search results. This is a great way to improve targeting as you narrow down the window of the highest search traffic.

Both Google Ads and Bing Ads have “day parting” options that allow you to customize ad scheduling. It makes ads appear in search results at your selected days and times.

How do you determine when is the best time to show ads? Look into your analytics reports. Pinpoint the peak periods when you receive the most views and conversions. Keep an eye on the day parting schedule and adjust it periodically according to traffic flow.

Here is our comprehensive guide on how to set up ad scheduling in Google Ads and Bing Ads.

11. Reduce Cost Per Lead

Cost reduction is definitely one of the biggest goals and challenges of SEM. This is the metric that quantifies the value created through SEM campaigns and ultimately determines ROI (Return On Investment). Knowing the cost and return of each lead generated can help businesses to balance marketing effort between SEO and paid SEM campaigns.

You can lower cost per lead by utilizing keyword research tools to seek out long-tail keywords with high quality scores. It is a much more cost effective than going into a bidding war with generic keywords that every competitor wants to rank for. Learn more about how to better budget SEM Pay-Per-Click campaigns.

12. Accelerate ROI

ROI (Return on Investment) is measured by the percentage of converting sales divided by cost. It is one of the most direct and perhaps difficult performances you can measure through SEM.

It is difficult because it is challenging to correctly pinpoint the elements that contribute to the conversion. For example, there can be incidences where visitors see your ad for product A but bought product B instead.

So how can you track and increase ROI conversion? Most of the answers lie within the analytics data collected on the back end of your website. Data about how visitors interact with your advertisements are extremely valuable to your marketing campaigns. This is the core information you need to increase conversion rate. Use SEM tools to better track and analyze data for the most profitable ad campaigns.

Win with the Right SEM Strategies

The key to a successful SEM campaign lies within the right strategies. Optimize campaign strategies to align with marketing goals can greatly accelerate online marketing efforts. Learn the best strategies to run a successful SEM campaign.

Effective SEM Marketing PPC Campaign Strategies

PPC, or pay-per-click, is one of the most commonly referred to method of paid search advertising. This is also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). PPC describes the activity where businesses pay a certain monetary amount each time someone clicks on their advertisement. These paid advertisements are generated and managed through ad platforms such as Google Ads and Bing Ads.

How Does PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Work?

PPC or Pay-Per-Click is an effective and popular way to quickly gain search presence and acquire online traffic. It works through advertisers bidding on the keywords they wish to rank for in Google Ads or Bing Ads. The more value a keyword possesses, the higher the bidding price will be to rank for a top position in search results.

However, not every advertisement is created equal because not every PPC campaign guarantees a high return on investment or low cost per acquisition. In order to run a successful and profitable PPC campaign, we need to focus on the winning components that go into building an effective online advertisement.

Strategy #1: Optimize Ad Content Messaging

Two of the most critical pieces of a PPC ad are its content and messaging. In Google Ads and Bing Ads, you are only given a certain amount of text for the title and two lines of description. So every word counts.

For example, in Google Ads, the title traditionally gets 25 characters. In line one and two of the description, you are only allowed 35 characters per line. This limits your options quite significantly. Therefore, word choice becomes the key factor which determines the success of an ad campaign.

*Google Ads Update: On May 24th, 2016 Google announced a revolutionary change by allowing advertisers to extend the character count on their ads. In return, you get 2 headlines each with a 30-characters limit followed by a description line with an 80-characters limit. Stayed tuned and anticipate Google Ads to make this awesome change soon.

Strategy #1: Optimize Ad Content Messaging

A good SEM advertiser will consistently test the verbiages of an ad and try to obtain the best click through rate.

3 Tips to Follow When Choosing Effective PPC Verbiage

  1. Use clear and concise words that are easy to understand and tell customers exactly what is your product or service. Avoid overuse of jargons or abbreviations that can cause confusion. Make it a good habit to always double check spelling and capitalization.
  2. Use actionable words such as “Buy now”, “sign-up today”, and “call us today”. These are word choices that encourage a user to take a specific action while your advertisement is still fresh in their memory.
  3. Use emotional appeal that coincides with your audience’s feelings. Don’t worry, it does not require mind-reading abilities. However, it is smart to base your ad strategies on data gathered from client past behaviors, interactions, and preferences.

Strategy #2: Create a Call-to-Action Statement

Create call-to-action ad messages by identifying customer’s needs, wants, and pain points. Your ad message should fulfill a demand, or offer a solution towards a common problem.

Plan your advertisement with these 2 questions in mind:

  • How to add value to your ad statement?
  • What can you offer to customers after they clicked through the ad?

Try to create incentives for viewers to click on your ad. Make it a good reason for a potential customer to choose your business over your competitors. Enticing perks always help.

3 Examples of PPC Ad Messages with Call-to-action Statements

  • “Sign up today and receive a free consultation”
  • “Sign up now to start your 30-day free trial”
  • “Join today & receive a complimentary gift”

Strategy #3: Utilize Product Level Ads

Utilize Google Product Level Ads (PLAs) for product-based e-commerce websites.
Product Level Ads allow you to show the image of a product plus item information such as price and shipping.

Instead of creating individual ads for groups of keywords using AdWords, Google PLA only needs a product feed and a budget to start running ads.

Product Level ads are displayed separately from the text ads. They come up in search queries through Google Partner Search websites and Google Shopping search results. This gives your product double the exposure because both the PLAs and text ads can come up within the same search query.

Learn more about how Google Product Level Ads benefit your e-commerce business from Google.

Strategy #4: Plan Strategic Pricing

Plan your PPC ad with an attractive price tag for the right customers. On a Product Level Ad (PLA), you can test out the best pricing strategy for any market segment by promoting the best sales price for the ad content.

This gives visitors a better picture of your price competitively and an idea of whether your product is within their budget range. This can help your business to precisely target niche markets, and at the same time put your marketing budget to more effective use.

2 Examples of PPC Ads with Price Points

  • “… Starting at only $9.99”
  • “… Subscribe for only $14.99 per month”

Now what does adding a price point has to do with precision targeting budgeting? If your PPC ad receives a large volume of clicks without converting them into revenue, you are not targeting the right customers. If you know what price point drives the most sales, incorporate it into the ad content to increase conversion.

Strategy #5: Research Competitor Ad Content

Differentiate your advertisements from the competition can save you marketing dollars by avoiding unnecessary price wars. Type a related keyword about your business into Google, and check out how your competitors are advertising.

Are they running a big sale for the upcoming holidays? Are you losing business to their new promotions? At the least, some inspirations can be drawn from learning about what your competitors are up to.

Use handy online marketing tools such as Semrush and SearchMetrics to research out competitor’s ad content and their recent PPC campaigns. Understanding competitor campaign strategies can help you better identify your own unique advantages. Keep them in mind when designing verbiage of your ad content.

Strategy #6: Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

Advanced keyword research tools such as Semrush allow you to research high-value long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are short phrases made up of three or more words. Customers who use long-tail keywords to search tend to be more exact in what they want. This means there is a higher chance of conversion when visitors are looking for something specific.

Long-tail keywords help you avoid high-cost keywords everyone is fighting after. Instead, focus on keyword phrases that can enhance the unique value proposition of your advertisement. With the right keywords, you can improve quality and conversion of ads while keeping cost down.

Try researching the right long-tail keywords that fit your business below.

Strategy #7: Add Sitelinks to Branded Keywords

Within Google Ads and Bing Ads, sitelinks allow you to add up to 4 additional URLs and keywords to display below your original ad content. Adding sitelinks to branded keyword ads can increase opportunities of receiving clicks. Sitelinks can provide visitors with a more in depth view of what your website has to offer.

Use sitelinks to target additional supporting pages about the product or service you are promotion. You can also link to other categories or related product pages to gain more page views.

The cost of each click to the sitelink is the same CPC (Cost-Per-Click) rate you have selected for keywords. So when a Sitelink is clicked, you will be charged at the CPC rate you have set for this advertisement.

For example, if you were selling branded sunglasses your AdWords sitelinks can include links to:

  • Luxury Sunglasses
  • Sunglasses Guide
  • We are Price Matching
  • Sunglasses Under $40
Strategy #7: Add Sitelinks to Branded Keywords

In the example above, we are showing an ad from a national retailer with 4 related sitelinks. It offers a price match incentive; runs holiday promotes, and targets customers looking for high-end merchandise.

Strategy #8: Enhance Ad Copywriting

Mind your ad formatting, layout, and aesthetics. It is very important to look good. What visitors see in your ads could be their very first impression of your business.

Think about encounters you have had with online ads. Have you ever run across an advertisement with tiny words jammed together that is hard on the eyes? Or have you ever seen an ad that is just all over the place with its content? They instantly turn visitors off.

Plan your ads with a balance of text and visual. Sometimes less might be more when it comes to designing in limited space. Follow Google PPC Ad Policies to make your ad stand out in a good way without being an eyesore.

3 Ways to Improve PPC Ad Copywriting

  • Avoid symbols and inconsistent capitalization. Please don’t do this: >>$CliCk hEre to BUY!!$<<…
  • If there is an image in the ad, the selling point is in that picture. All images should be visibly and legibly presented. Utilize design tools (there are many free ones out there) to help you create quality visuals.
  • Leave appropriate white space. Having white space actually brings more focus to the main object and accentuates ad content.

Strategy #9: Run A/B Testing on a PPC Ad

Running a PPC campaign can become expensive. CPC (cost-per-clicks) can quickly rack up to significant amounts of marketing dollars. It is crucial to check and test your campaigns regularly and make sure you are not overspending or losing out on potential conversions.

A/B Testing is a great way to identify the best marketing strategies and test ad messaging for effectiveness. You can test one element or keyword at a time and observe what works. Continuously test your ad statements until you find the version that brings forward the most conversions.

3 Statement Categories to A/B Test with for better Click Through Rate

1. Absolute Statement:

  • 100% money back guarantee
  • Guaranteed results in 30 days or full refund
  • Voted #1 nationwide
  • 1st to offer an exclusive new line
  • Buy one get one free

2. Comparative Statement:

  • Bigger savings
  • Better results in 10 days
  • Faster shipping
  • Easier application

3. Statistical Statement:

  • 20% off
  • 33% more
  • 4x stronger
  • 24/7 available

Strategy #10: Build Converting Landing Pages

Horary! Your PPC ad works wonders and brought in traffic to your website. So now you must capture those leads and convert them into sales. If you have been aggressive in PPC marketing, you’ve probably spent a good amount of money to run PPC Campaigns. To make sure these marketing dollars don’t go to waste, improve PPC conversion rate with adequate landing page support.

A landing page is a page that your advertisement directs visitors to. It should display relevant content as to what your ad message states.

Landing pages serve the important purpose of sales conversion. Make sure the products and information on the landing page correlate to what you are offering in your ads. Remember, there is a better chance at retaining customers with meaningful and honest advertising.

3 Helpful Tips to Improve Landing Page Support

  1. Match Ad message keywords within landing page headings. It helps visitors to recall the ad copy and ultimately capture more on-page conversion opportunities. Google will index keywords in the landing page to help with organic ranking. It is a cost effective way to improve long-term search marketing.
  2. A/B test landing page elements for optimal conversions. Change out a text link with a button. Include a how-to video. Switch out the layout, move module positions or change the theme colors. These are components you should continuously test for on a landing page to improve conversion. Use A/B testing software such as Optimizely to make the process easy.
  3. Call-to-action with landing page content. Encourage visitors to take action with a call-to-action. A call-to-action is something that stimulates visitor response. It can be a link, a button or a banner. It should be to-the-point and interesting enough to grab attention.

Strategy #11: Every Online Review Counts

Make sure your business always has a good reputation in major review websites like Shopper Approved, Trustpilot, Resellerratings, and Google Trusted Stores. Your average rating best out of 5 stars will be shown within ads in Google.

So if your business only has a 2-star rating, expect visitors to frown and skip your ad. Although you may not manipulate customers for online reviews, you can encourage satisfied customers to share their positive experience online.

2 Tips to Gain More Positive Online Reviews

  • Make it simple and easy for customers to leave reviews. Include links in your thank you emails or put them on your website. When you make the instruction easy to follow, customers will be more willing to leave reviews.
  • Follow up with email reminders. If you’ve asked customers for reviews and they have not gotten back to you, send them a follow-up reminder. Provide links within the email for easy access, and do not spam their inbox.

A Bonus Tip: Bring on the Customer Service

Here is something to consider. If you have an awesome customer service department or sales team, you can add a phone number in the PPC ad. Include it within the title or the description of the ad to allow a call-in.

In addition, if your business relies heavily on one-on-one service, include your phone number at visible places on the website. For example, put it in the navigation, footer, or call-to-action modules to capture more opportunities. With a live representative doing sales and answering questions, you have better chances of conversion.

Earning that Click

If you can capture an audience by fulfilling their needs, you will earn more than just a click for your business in the long run. Ultimately, paid search marketing goes beyond advertising strategies.