Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the process of serving an advertisement in response to a search engine query. SEM is a great lead generation tool, because it’s affordable, effective, and easy to analyze.
SEM campaigns start with keyword bidding. When a potential lead searches for terms containing those keywords, a targeted ad appears alongside the search results. This allows you to promote your product when potential leads are within the critical research stage of the buying cycle.
Ideally, you should bid on very specific keyword phrases. The more specific the keyword phrase, the more likely you are to reach the audience that is most interested in your product or service. For example, if you’re a marketing manager at a real estate agency in Seattle, “dental office space in Seattle” is going to better target your audience than the less specific “dental office space.” This level of specificity also often results in lower bidding prices, and a more affordable Cost-Per-Lead.
Once you select and bid on your keywords, it’s time to create the actual ad creative. SEM ads are all text based, but each search engine uses a specific formatting structure. You just need to make sure that your ad aligns with that structure.
You also need to establish parameters for the campaign. These parameters include the campaign budget, and a deployment schedule for the ads. The budget will determine the length of time that your campaign will run, and on which page of search results that your ad will display. The schedule sets the time of day and days of the week that your ad will display. Once your campaign starts to run, the last step is analyzing your campaign and making any appropriate changes to better your performance.
One final item to note, Search Engine Marketing success doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to place your ad on the first page of search results. Oftentimes, people will click through several pages of search results, so if your ad is on the second page, it still has a high probability of success. This high probability of success further solidifies Search Engine Marketing as a highly effective lead generation tool.