The “Marketing” In Search Engine Marketing

- March 19, 2008

I studied marketing in business school and one of the most important things that has always stuck with me was the 5 P’s of Marketing — People, Place, Product, Promotion and Price. I later realized that some people were taught less than 5 and I personally came to believe that there should be 6 — Profit should matter as well.

More companies are realizing that SEM is a valid and important strategy, but many of them are not approaching it in the same way that they approach traditional marketing. People working in the SEM/SEO industry blog about these kinds of clients all the time — those that think it is as simple as picking a few keywords, throwing up an ad on a search engine and bidding more than everyone else to get the top spot.

This is not the process for traditional marketing and should not be for SEM. I have outlined how a company should use the 5 Ps to plan a paid search campaign better.

People — Who are you targeting? Targeting businesses instead of consumers means that you should be taking advantage of specific engines. Google, Yahoo and MSN are not the only options for paid search campaigns.

Place — Where are your customers? Most paid search platforms allow you to target specific states, cities or even choose your own radius from a specific point on a map. Not every company needs to target the entire USA so use geo-targeting to your advantage.

Product — What are you selling? Too many paid search ads do not clearly focus on the product and instead try to focus on the company. More importantly, the landing page for the advertisement needs to quickly explain what the product/service is. It makes no sense to spend money to get a lead only to provide them with a terrible landing page containing little product information.

Promotion — Are you promoting properly? Return on investment is usually proportional to the amount of promotion (though after a certain point saturation adds little value). Search engines like Google offer the option to show ads as quickly as possible or show evenly over time. If you have a sale/incentive with a specific end date, are you taking advantage of this option?

Price — The price of a product/service always matters and should be communicated on the landing page as quickly as possible. Searchers treat a landing page like finding a product on the shelf and they expect to quickly find the price, not carry it to a cashier for a price check.

ProfitThis is my addition and it is important because it helps to determine what you could be bidding for your ads. Higher margins provide more room to adjust bids, but higher bids do not automatically mean more sales, so be careful not to overbid. All advertisers should test lower bids and not always aim to be in the #1 position. The lower position could very well result in a better return on investment based on the cost per conversion.

I hope that I have helped you to see where the “marketing” comes into play in search engine marketing.

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