For most small businesses, surviving in a challenging economy requires a greater investment in marketing and promotion. Online marketing and advertising can be a cost-effective way to reach your customers, who increasingly use the Internet to research products and services before they buy.
To ensure your investment in search engine marketing is paying off, follow a few simple steps that will help you measure your performance and adjust your campaigns to maximize results.
Step 1. Define profit-based metrics. You need an effective strategy to make your campaign profitable. As a general guide, try to bid for less popular, low-cost, relevant keywords. They produce a better return than the popular ones. You can also define profit-based metrics, such as margins, cost per lead, or sale to determine your maximum bidding level. If it takes you 10 clicks to get one sale, do not pay more for those 10 clicks than what you will be able to make when a visitor converts to a customer. But don’t forget to account for the lifetime value of a customer when calculating success objectives.
Step 2. Manage campaigns at a granular level. Advertisers can achieve greater returns for their search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns when they are able to manage them down to the keyword level. As keyword listings grow to get more traffic, it becomes a challenge to handle campaign details manually. Consider using technology to track conversions across search engines. Using such technologies allows small business advertisers to improve their campaigns by bidding on more effective keywords, not necessarily the most popular ones. An extensive list of less expensive keywords can usually bring better results, but will be a lot more cumbersome to manage unless automated optimization technology is in place.
Step 3. Track your entire SEM campaign. Search engine advertising platform interfaces are not always enough to keep up with real-time campaign tracking while enabling you to make the appropriate bid adjustments on the fly. A single interface into several search engines can tell you which keywords are driving traffic and converting to a lead or sale, thus allowing you to fine-tune your bids or add and delete keywords right away.
The bottom line is to take the time to examine how your campaigns are performing, and critically evaluate whether your investment is generating the results you need to sustain and grow your business.
Dorab Patel, PhD
Founder and Chief Technology Officer
Santa Monica, California