Tag Archives: SEM

How to use demand generation channels to effectively expand your reach

As Q4 approaches, it’s crucial that you plan to capitalize on all the traffic that comes with it.

We all know how effective search is, but it’s also limited to those already in the hunt for what you’re offering.

To continue to scale, you need to effectively get in front of audiences that aren’t yet interested – but could be! – in your service/product. That’s where demand generation comes in, and marketers have more (and better) options for demand generation than ever.

As we head full-steam into Q4, here’s a list of demand generation channels, considerations of when to make use of them to expand your reach, and best practices we’ve honed across clients of all budgets.

Google Display Network

Once rather maligned, the GDN provides a number of targeting options that allow you to leverage the thousands of data points they collect on users across the web. Among the most effective targeting options when it comes to both demand generation and direct response are:

Keyword contextual targeting

Choose your top 10-15 keywords and let Google place ads accordingly.

My strong recommendation is to start off with content-based keyword targeting first; this gives you more control over what is being targeted (websites relevant to your keywords). When you select “audience”-based keyword contextual targeting, you end up targeting a significantly larger group of users where the targeting is not only websites relevant to your keywords but also audiences who may be interested.

This gives Google a lot of power to find users – but it also opens you up to more risk. By starting out with content, you are taking a low-risk approach to GDN. As you see success and build up conversion history, feel free to experiment with audience targeting.

In-market audiences

Based on audience behavior, Google determines users who are currently shopping for different products/categories. The feature combines search intent with display’s reach, and it’s definitely worth testing.

Custom affinity audiences

If you provide Google with competitor websites or industry-relevant domains, CAA will analyze the types of audiences visiting those sites (demographics, interests, website topics) and target audiences similar to them. I recommend that you test by starting off with your top 5 competitors.

As you build conversions – about 40+ conversions is a good benchmark – I would strongly recommend switching your bidding style to CPA optimizer and allowing Google to leverage its thousands of data points and optimize towards your target CPA. We’ve had a lot of success with this option.

Facebook/Instagram

The Facebook/Instagram duo offers powerful audience targeting capabilities. We’ve seen two strategies work consistently:

Make use of lookalike targeting and base your seed lists off your customers

Rather than taking your full customer list, however, segment by identifiable characteristics. I typically recommend high LTV or high AOV, or segmenting by category/type depending on the product or business. If you have a big enough seed list, start by testing a 1% audience, as those users will be most similar to your existing customers.

Use interest/behavior targeting and insights from the platform’s Audience Insights tool

Upload your top customers to Audience Insights and analyze the valuable demographic, interest-based data. Now begin building various personas of audiences you want to target (each ad set should represent a different persona).

When selecting your targeting options within Facebook, layer in demographic data from the Insights tool to make these audiences more relevant.

Pinterest

I recommend this fast-growing channel more for ecommerce than B2B. Remember that Pinterest is somewhat intent-driven, as users are typing in keywords to look for relevant pins. Start off with your top keyword list and test from there, and focus on strong creative that can stand out among the many other pins.

Your Pinterest creative should be eye-catching, high quality, and include compelling images of the product. Write detailed descriptions highlighting the most compelling aspects of the product and inviting users to click on ad, and leverage text overlays on your pins to help any core message stand out.

Twitter

Twitter tends to perform well for B2B or more technical businesses. I recommend that you leverage lookalike targeting on your top-performing customer segments; you can also try targeting followers of certain influencers who may be core to your brand or followers of competitors in the industry.

Last general recommendation: begin leveraging these options ASAP so you can build up a retargeting audience to engage when purchase motivation is higher. Cast a wide net now, and you’ll have more fish to land in the holiday season.

What is SEM?

If you are coming to this article as a novice, I know what you are thinking. “Not another damned 3 letter acronym! Don’t we have enough?”

Well, apparently not, and unfortunately there isn’t all that much we can do to stop the ever growing database of aforementioned acronyms.

We must therefore get accustomed to not only knowing what they stand for (Search Engine Marketing, in case you were wondering) but also what they actually mean.

The first one is pretty easy. You now know what SEM means in its most basic form – “search engine marketing”. However, the issue is that even those in the SEM industry will disagree on what the component parts of search engine marketing are or what the main focus of SEM is.

At Search Engine Watch we have covered this topic back in 2014, but much has changed since then. We’re going to take a slightly different tack with this one. Instead of looking at what major organisations and websites define as SEM we’re going to look at what could possibly be encompassed by the term SEM.

So let’s dive straight in.

The main consensus

As per the original article on this topic, if you had to pick one overall consensus it would be that the major factor in SEM has traditionally been paid search. For the sake of argument let’s refer to paid search as Google Adwords. This is somewhat linked to the more traditional pay to play advertising association with the word ‘marketing’, and therefore AdWords gets the nod in front of SEO.

However, over the years SEO has made up significant ground in terms of its visibility in the marketing world (and to clients). As such, whilst some may say that SEO comes in a close second as part of the SEM umbrella, there are many that would say that SEO is now a legitimate stand alone practice. In the second scenario this would mean that SEM is somewhat dominated by its association with Google Adwords.

Our opinion? SEM has far stronger links to paid search than paid and organic together, but that’s just us.

The broad approach

It could quite rightly be argued that SEM encompasses anything that improves a website’s visibility via search engines. On the face of it, Adwords and SEO would be the dominant pair here.

However, as our relationship with Google becomes ever more entrenched and complex (both as users and marketers) the list of potential factors that could be included in SEM expands. Let’s look at some of the major ones below:

Adwords and SEO

I think you guys get the point on this one. The Federer vs Nadal of the SEM conundrum.

Roger Federer playing in the US Open 2012, crouching down low to hit the ball with his racket.

Image by Christian Mesiano, available via CC BY-SA 2.0

Local search

Yes, this should be an element of any comprehensive SEO campaign, but many would argue that this will more and more become its own discipline. When Google Maps are displayed for a search query, they take a dominant position in the results page.

Further to this, since 2014 mobile search has continued on its stratospheric trajectory and with the Google Maps app on smartphones everywhere, it is a significant channel through which visibility on search engines can be increased.

Google Shopping

Here come the trolls: “Google Shopping is pay per click and is therefore included under PPC”. Riddle me this, troll, why do you think we were specific about Paid Search referring to Adwords – and if they were so similar, why are they managed via different platforms?

The recent record EU fine for Google’s actions surrounding Google Shopping may have dented their ego but it does not stop Google Shopping from being a popular source of product browsing and subsequent purchase. A well-managed Google Merchant Centre account can be a fruitful form of SEM, used by blue chips and independent retailers alike.

PR or link building

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Search engines are sources of information and not all searchers are super specific. A prime example of this is someone searching for ‘Wine Bars in London’. Whilst you may expect Google to return the likes of Humble Grape or Gordon’s Wine Bar in the results, you will actually find that the main results are dominated by lists.

Google understands that the searcher is looking for options. What better way to give value to the user than by returning curated lists of wine bars from the likes of Time Out or Design My Night?

If this is the case (which it is), in a slightly roundabout way and not directly increasing visibility on the search results, exposure on these types of sites via a PR campaign will still influence your visibility via search engines.

The focus is still on Adwords

Indeed. Google Adwords is the star player of SEM and will continue to be so for more than just 2017. Hopefully the above has demonstrated that there are a number of factors that could legitimately fall under the term SEM; we haven’t even looked at image search, the news feed, or the Knowledge Graph.

In the end, we would argue that the term SEM is falling out of favor. People have realised that the digital ecosystem is more complex than it was and practices such as Google Adwords or SEO are stand-alone services.

Ultimately, clarity is key. If you want to talk about Adwords, refer to it as Adwords. If you want to talk about SEO, say SEO.

For those providing a service that could be incorporated under the SEM umbrella, or are actively using the term during talks with prospective clients or with existing clients and insist on using SEM as a term, it is advisable that you look to define exactly what your definition of SEM is. In fact, if we looked honestly at ourselves as an industry, we have a tendency to throw about acronyms and terminology that can be mighty confusing to those instructing agencies!

Be aware of what you might deem as an ‘assumed level of knowledge’; clients will appreciate clarity, and you can evade any easily avoidable misunderstandings!

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5 remarketing strategies to prep for Q4

Remarketing is always one of the most powerful tools in an ecommerce marketer’s belt, but it takes on added importance in Q4.

With the holidays fast approaching, you can do a good amount of prep work now to put yourself in a great position to capitalize on the holiday rush. I’ve outlined my five favorite remarketing strategies below.

1. Dynamic product ads (Facebook & Google)

If you’re an ecommerce company with a significant number of products and you aren’t remarketing with dynamic product ads, you are making a big mistake.

Over and over in our accounts, DPAs have proven to be among the more successful ecommerce remarketing ad types. These ads basically show and remind users of products they have seen on your site, along with similar products they may be interested in.

If you haven’t set these up yet, make sure to prioritize this initiative, as feeds can get technical and should be addressed before you’re crunched for time.

2. Audience creation by depth

An amateur mistake of those launching remarketing campaigns is that they typically blanket all audiences and remarket to anyone who has visited the site but not converted.

They may have taken things a step further by also creating an audience for users who have added products to cart but not converted, but that’s still leaving plenty of room for refinement.

Remarketing to one or two audiences just doesn’t take advantage of the varying intent of audiences that have visited your site. Segmenting your audiences by depth of interaction even further (product category pages, about page, initiate checkout page, audience time on site, etc.) will allow you to understand the performance of each type of audience; from there, you can bid more aggressively to reach those with a higher likelihood of purchasing (vs. those perhaps in the research phase).

Additionally, you can start working with your creative team to develop specific visuals for these different audience segments (e.g. for audiences that viewed female clothing, creative can show gender-specific products, etc.).

3. Sequential remarketing

In addition to developing audiences by how far they’ve gotten to your site or how they’ve interacted with your site, you’ll also want to develop audiences by time they last visited the site (e.g. a day ago, a week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, etc.).

After you create these segments, you can implement sequential remarketing and show these audiences different creative and messaging.

Instead of showing the same audience the same creative and messaging over and over, you can test different creative and messaging as time goes on (try further incentivizing users as time goes on to push them to convert).

4. Remarketing lists for specific dates

One tactic we’ve used with success is creating audiences for specific holidays – for example, develop an audience that came to your site during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

These audiences will include visitors who may not be your typical customers (and might be purchasing gifts). You can then leverage these audiences in Q4 to remind them to purchase gifts for their loved ones.

5 remarketing strategies to prep for Q4

5. Broad RLSA strategy

Given that you have so many audiences developed (right?), you’ll definitely want to layer these segments onto your existing search campaigns.

This will allow you to bid more aggressively for higher-intent audiences who have visited your site but not converted and are still searching for they types of products or services you have to offer. Since they are already familiar with your site, your goal should be to bring them back and get them to complete the conversion.

Additionally, you can create a separate campaign with broad or highly competitive/expensive terms you typically wouldn’t bid on, and layer those campaigns on your remarketing lists. Because you are going after an audience that is already aware of your site/service/product, you’ll see higher CVRs and should be able to bring CPAs for those terms within reach.

The sooner you put all of these into play, the more data you’ll have at your fingertips for quick and efficient optimization when traffic gets hot (and more expensive). Good luck!

3 days of SEO and SEM tactics at the lowest rates. SMX East prices increase next week!

Super early bird rates expire next week for SMX East, the East Coast’s largest search marketing conference. Attend for three days of actionable, cutting-edge search marketing tactics presented by experts that will leave your competition in the dust. Here’s what to expect October 24–26 in NYC:...

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7 reasons to enter the 2017 Search Engine Land Awards

Find out why you should be entering the competition to earn recognition for your achievements in SEO and SEM. The Search Engine Land Awards are the highest honors in search marketing. The post 7 reasons to enter the 2017 Search Engine Land Awards appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SMX East agenda is now live! Check out the SEO & SEM sessions in store for you.

Feed your obsession for SEO & SEM with actionable and proven tactics by attending Search Engine Land’s SMX East, October 24-26 in New York City. The agenda is packed with 50+ sessions and led by search marketing experts in paid search advertising, search engine optimization, conversion and...

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SEM growth hack #4: Grow ROI with cross-channel optimization

Columnist Lori Weiman explains how a holistic, cross-channel strategy can help search marketers direct their efforts towards the channel where they will have the greatest impact. The post SEM growth hack #4: Grow ROI with cross-channel optimization appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Watch the SMX Advanced keynote: Google’s Jerry Dischler talks current, future SEM trends

We discussed audience, AMP, attribution and much more with Google's head of search ads. The post Watch the SMX Advanced keynote: Google’s Jerry Dischler talks current, future SEM trends appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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3 ways to scale your SEM efforts when you are hitting a wall

It happens to every AdWords practitioner at some point. We launch our campaigns, split out exact match and broad match, mine for queries, work on expansions, test different initiatives, run betas, etc. – and then we hit a wall.

What do we do next? How do we continue to push forward and scale our paid search accounts to capitalize on intent?

Below are a few strategies to break through the SEM wall and grow your account in an effective yet efficient manner.

Use Dynamic Search Ads for query mining

This is an obvious one, but many folks forget or tend to not use DSAs as they fear them going rogue and eating up spend without performing. First off, what are DSAs?

DSAs are a campaign type in Google that allows Google to crawl your site, matches ads in real time to shoppers, and directs them to the landing page most relevant to their query. (I have written in more detail about DSAs and the various targeting types in a previous article, ‘Capitalize on volume and long tail in Q4 with Dynamic Search Ads‘.)

Essentially, the goal I would recommend with DSAs is not to have that campaign as a volume driver but to leverage it for query mining. Cast a wide net, see what matches up and performs, then graduate those to keywords in your other campaigns where you can have more control over optimization, ad copy, and performance.

Use RLSA to expand keyword options

As you know, RLSA leverages your remarketing audiences for search ads. The great thing about RLSA is the fact that users who have visited your site are already familiar with you, your brand, and your overall offering.

With this in mind, you can create a campaign leveraging more broad, upper-funnel terms that you would normally deem to risky or wouldn’t expect to convert.

In addition, you can even include terms that you feel are somewhat relevant but may have been tested and paused for poor performance. Layering on RLSA audiences makes the same keywords less risky given that the audiences are already familiar with your brand – the goal is to get back in front of them, convince them to come back to your site, and convert.

A couple of additional tips on how to be more strategic with this strategy as you begin to test and expand:

  • Segment different audience types based on their interaction with your website to see how each performs (e.g. researchers, high intent, add to carts, etc.). By segmenting these audiences and layering in RLSA, you can bid more aggressively for segments performing well.
  • If you get significant traffic on your site and have fairly large audience list segments, you may actually want to create separate broad RLSA campaigns per audience segment. That allows you to customize your ads to each audience segment, along with customizing the LPs you would want to send them to – and of course you’ll have better control over budgets, so you can invest more of your dollars into the top-performing segments.

Pair a token analysis with broad match expansion

We’re all familiar with doing keyword expansions, whether that involves poring over search query reports to find converting terms or leveraging competitor keyword tools. However, it’s important to take a step back and look at your account at a high level. What are the core tokens that are not only driving volume but also performance?

A note on tokens if you’re not familiar with them: Tokens are basically the different stems in the keyword (essentially, you break up the keyword into its individual words).

For example, ‘Photography ecommerce website’ contains the tokens: photography, ecommerce, website.

Download your last 3-6 months of performance data across your keywords. Break down your keywords to their various tokens, and aggregate the data for each token. (You’ll want to look at Impressions, Clicks, Conversions, CPA, or Revenue/ROI.)

Once you’ve identified your top-performing tokens, you’ll want to build out long tail keywords and bid on them in broad match.

Note: it’s important to use broad match because the volume of long tail keywords is already fairly limited.

A bonus to the token analysis is that it can also help with efficiency efforts; if you notice bleeding or poor-performing tokens, add them to your negative keyword list and free up budget better spent elsewhere.

These three strategies should help you push past the SEM wall – but you don’t necessarily need to wait for a performance plateau to use them. Good luck!

SMX Advanced is almost sold out! Less than 100 tickets left.

SMX Advanced is in one week. This time next week, your peers (and competitors) will be in Seattle getting actionable SEO and SEM tactics and having conversations with the marketers making the biggest impact in the search world. We’ll be covering the SEO and SEM topics relevant today: from mobile...

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