6 SEM Best Practices Growth Marketers Need to Master

Growth marketing and growth hacking are terms you hear a lot.

There are even positions and functions dedicated to “growth hacking.”

But what does growth marketing actually mean?

Simply put, growth marketing is finding the right customers and attracting them to your business. These are the people most likely to buy from your brand—whether they’re at the top of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel.

So, what is the key to growth marketing in today’s world?

Three words: Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Not to be confused with PPC or SEO, search marketing has been proven time and time again to produce successful results.

SEM is not a short-term endeavor: it is an ongoing strategy that drives more qualified customers to convert over the long term.

Here are six best practices for winning SEM in today’s market.

1. Deliver value throughout the decision-making process

As decentralized customer behavior evolves, so should your growth marketing plan.

Who is the customer behind all these clicks?

Research on Microsoft Ads allows us to better understand Five different stages of purchase intent All clients share:

  • consciousness: Get background information and buy context to become a more informed researcher.
  • consider: Explore buying guides, recommendations and products that meet essential criteria. Compare a handful of products that meet customer criteria, including ratings, reviews, features, and cost.
  • Convert: Find where to buy, then check pricing and promotions, availability and local stores – and finally make the purchase.
  • maintain: While a relationship has been established with a brand, they may come across products or services in different areas that you offer.
  • expansion: Users are satisfied customers and leave reviews for your business, word of mouth to peers, and more. These people then enter the stage of consciousness.

2. Align your campaign and business goals

Search can influence and help you measure your business goals.

Make sure to align your SEM strategy with your campaign goals:

  • Brand awareness and recognition: Competitively bid on your non-branded, branded and competitor keywords. Non-branded search is the key to starting the journey: 69% of branded ad clicks are affected by non-branded search queries. Searchers are 30% more likely to conduct a branded search after seeing a branded ad on either a generic search query or a competitor’s branded query.
  • Win new customers: Consumers rely on search to make purchasing decisions. SEM can help at every stage of the decision-making process.
  • Drive sales: The dominance of search is driving conversions. It outperforms other marketing channels across devices in terms of conversion rates.
  • Enter new markets: Ubiquitous search allows you to launch cross-border marketing strategies, drive traffic with location extensions, get more calls with call extensions, and drive ad clicks with sitelinks.

3. Expand your marketing channels

As our constant partner, search is no longer just a product – it’s an act.

We search anytime, anywhere, whether on our desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Understanding how people search at different points in the buying process opens the door for your brand to engage with these new audiences.

Search has become an engine of insight and now has impact across five buying stages (awareness, consideration, conversion, maintenance and expansion).

SEM also strengthens your conversion funnel and unifies different marketing campaigns.

4. Take audience targeting to the next level

Engaging in the right place at the right time is no longer enough to attract potential customers.

You need to leverage audience targeting to reach as many unique searchers as possible.

step 1: Build richer buyer personas that consider:

  • Behavioural: Past behavior helps understand consumers’ interests and their purchase likelihood. To better measure user behavior, analyze website, search and content activity.
  • Demographics: Buying preferences are influenced by basic but important factors, including age, gender and location.
  • Context: Consumers are now searching a lot. Analyzing where, when and how they search can provide useful content for creating more impactful ad campaigns.

Step 2: Choose keywords that align with the key stages and mindset of your target customers:

  • consciousness: Keywords like “what” and “benefits” work best at this stage.
  • consider: Keywords like “buying guide” and “model” work best at this stage.
  • Convert: Keywords like “Where” and “Coupon” work best at this stage.
  • maintain: Keywords like “support” and “experience” work best at this stage.
  • experience: Keywords like “reviews” perform best at this stage.

5. Boost other investments with paid search

Optimize your search efforts by combining organic search with a paid SEM strategy.

  • Search and socialize: Customers who click on your paid search and social ads are more likely to buy and spend more. Strengthen your keyword coverage for more impressions and customize your bidding strategy for business-related PPC campaigns.
  • Search and TV: Searches skyrocketed in the days after the ad aired.Search volume soars in Catalyst Digital study 30% Compared to the same day and same time when the ad did not play.
  • Search and display: Running both search and display at the same time allows you to make the best decision as to which channel brings the best results, which may be based on Invest in digital.
  • Search and other channels: When Microsoft Ads alone is in the buying path, the average order value of orders purchased is 27% higher than purchases that do not include Microsoft Ads, which also generate value when paired with other channels.

6. The Battle for and Winning the Paid Search Budget Share

SEM still competes with other channels for a share of your marketing budget.

So bring hard data that links search engine marketing to business interests.

Your budget share battle plan involves three elements:

Choosing the Right Metrics to Measure SEM Impact

Metrics provide an easy way to see what’s working and what’s not.

Your team can test, change and optimize your brand’s SEM strategy for better results.

Centralize your reporting by identifying and tracking key performance indicators that reflect your business goals:

  • Acquire new customers.
  • Driver traffic.
  • Take more calls.
  • Increase ad clicks.
  • Build your brand trust.
  • Expand cross-border strategy.

Separate SEM influence from other channels

Learn which channels drive your marketing results.

Each sale is the culmination of a series of marketing contacts that can span multiple channels over days, weeks, or even months.

Attribution can sometimes get quite complicated, so if you can demonstrate that a paid search campaign delivers ROI and bottom-line results, you’ll free up more budget and further optimize search performance.

If you’re still looking at conversions through a last-click attribution model, you may be significantly underestimating the contribution of other channels and tactics to your overall success.

Apply the same process to allocate budget between Google Ads and Microsoft Ads

The last part comes in when you analyze paid click share and find out how each SEM option represents in your industry.

Not only can you get your business in front of a large audience, you can be confident that your paid ads will lead to clicks.

in conclusion

SEM is the backbone of today’s marketing mix and is essential for growth marketing.

The expansion of channel availability and multiple devices per user can create a more fragmented customer journey.

One of the biggest challenges is delivering the right message to the right customer on the right device at the right time.

Aside from these challenges, arguably the biggest challenge is measuring success resulting from user privacy restrictions.

You can no longer afford to put all your marketing dollars into one search ad network. If you want to expand your marketing, you must strive for other channels to expand your target market.

Follow the best practices outlined here to maximize the reach, impact, and value of your paid search campaigns, and get bottom-line results.

Utilizing these best practices will help you when trying to acquire marketing resources or budget.

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Featured image: suphakit73/Shutterstock

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