In today’s difficult economic environment it is critical for businesses to show the value of their marketing effort in hopes to avoid drastic budget cuts and staff reductions. Marketers must continue to deliver measurable marketing programs and demonstrate how these programs support the business objectives. It is not enough to simply show the return-on-investment, but also to communicate what marketing programs work and key findings to establish internal best practices or benchmarks. In search engine marketing (SEM), there are a number of methods and approaches to help businesses deliver the value of SEM.
Search Engine Marketing refers to both organic and paid search marketing. Paid Search Marketing (Pay-per-Click) refers to search engine results that are determined by the amount a business pays to appear in sponsorship banners or placement at the top of search engine pages such as Google, MSN, or Yahoo. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of adjusting web content, design structure, indexing, descriptive tags, and page titles to gain higher placement in the search engine results. Search Engine Optimization (organic) is a non paying tactic utilized to attract more visitors to your website. In addition, web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.
How can SEM & Web Analytics help your business?
Through SEM & Web Analytics, businesses can control cost, target demographics, testing advertisements, improve web traffic, and unite the results to establish metrics or best practices. For example, a local business could use pay-per-click advertising to target a 15 mile radius, manage the daily expense, and increase traffic to your site by over 30%. Furthermore, the previous implementation of SEO could reduce your business’s overall cost-per-click (CPC). Google Analytics (web analytics application) can gather traffic information, guidance to enhance customer experience, develop custom reports, and implement advanced segmentation to show which ads/segments are responsible for generating sales or specific activities (conversions).
There are several advantages to using SEM with Web Analytics. Most SEM services provide the opportunity to implement A/B or Multivariate testing and the ability to determine which advertisements lead to a purchase. The web analytics application can test the responses to improve purchase or engagement of landing pages used in SEM campaigns.
Why Testing & Measuring Matters?
The ability to test and measure SEM programs can save you time, money, improve efficiency, and productivity. Once there are established results from a campaign, it should be easier to implement improvements and modifications to improve similar campaigns. There is also an opportunity to develop best practice for future campaigns. The result of your organization’s efforts will provide benchmarks for other campaigns and a basis for vendors, partners, or affiliates. The bottom line is saving and a bigger bang for marketing campaigns.
Where to go from here?
It is important that your business evaluates their internal resources especially IT, Web Development, and Marketing teams. Remember that this is an investment and it will not produce instant results. The implementation of SEM and Web Analytics will require communication among all business units. The business must “buy in” or use a SEM vendor but be sure to take into consideration external and internal factors for success.
The first step would be to determine which web analytics application to use. A popular application is Google Analytics and it’s free. There are other web analytics such as Omniture, Coremetrics, Webtrends, and more. Our suggestion would be to do a little research on the best option available based on functionality, cost, feature, and type of industry your business is in. All of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages but it is important to understand how they collect data and whether or not you want to purchase the software versus on-demand services.
The next step would be to determine which SEM services provide to use based on target audience, visibility, and testing options. Our suggestion would be to test the performance of the campaign with two different service providers and eliminate one of the options based on the campaign’s success. Be sure to carefully monitor ad variations, keyword effectiveness, and most importantly “conversions” (purchases or registrations).
Finally, we would recommend that the business develop a process to implement and communicate SEM & Web Analytics services. The communication of SEM and Web Analytics services will be important for all of the key stakeholders to understand these services and their role in supporting the business objectives. The implementation process will help to “flush out” any potential challenges and reduce the cost.
Many organizations have difficulty communicating across business units and effectively implementing changes within their company. Be clear in communicating how SEM & Web Analytics can help the business. Remember that testing and measuring search engine marketing will reduce cost, increase marketing efficiency, and improve productivity among business units. The challenge of embarking on the journey to implement SEM & Web Analytics will be filled with obstacles so be specific in your objectives and show the value of your programs.
By Daniel Laws, Jr., MBA
President/CEO of DaBrian Marketing Group