Paid Search / SEM / PPC

Should You Invest in Paid Search?

The short answer? Probably.

While few marketing tools truly fit all businesses, paid search advertising comes close. Why? Because it allows sellers to meet buyers at the exact moment they intend to buy. When used strategically, pay-per-click (PPC) ads can equip any company with a wide range of competitive advantages—heightened exposure to target audiences, attractive placement in online search results, and even access to consumer demographics and data trends. Basically, search-engine marketing (SEM) improves both sides of business transactions: the seller gains revenue more efficiently because it targets customers strategically, and the buyer can find the seller more easily because the company has invested in its customers’ search habits.

What is SEM?

In short, SEM (search engine marketing) is advertising that aims to show a business’s website or content above other sites on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google Adwords is the most popular SEM tool with 63% of the market share as of April 2017; the tool applies to all Google searches and requires businesses to create campaigns consisting of groups of keywords and corresponding ads. For example, Jim’s Hotdog Stand might enter keywords like “hotdogs” and “hotdog stand,” which would prompt Google to show an ad for Jim’s Hotdog Stand whenever someone searches for those keywords. The ad could contain links to Jim’s Hotdog Stand’s website, customer reviews, business locations, or even a direct call button that will only appear on mobile devices. The best structure for an AdWords campaign varies by company. Companies can also identify negative keywords and phrases like “dogs for sale,” so Jim’s Hotdog Stand won’t show up uninvited on the hunt for a new family friend.

Additional Benefits

AdWords supports various marketing objectives (awareness, lead generation, conversions)

There are a wide range of ad types to support the objectives:

  • Text
  • Banners
  • Videos – YouTube
  • Retargeting
  • Automated ad optimization
  • Visibility into performance of the best time of day, day of the week, and locations
  • Completely custom campaigns
  • Controlled bidding options

The major difference in paid search advertising compared to other channels lies in its massive potential for budget control and insight into online user intent. In SEM, the key is the customer. While other media channels target prospects who may not be seeking to buy, paid search is all about bringing business to those who are seeking to buy—and what moment is better to introduce yourself than the moment a potential customer is looking for your product or service?

Want to learn more?

If you’re still not convinced or just want to grasp the value of SEM and how targeting works, send us your inquiries at and check out this video about micro-moments from Think With Google:

3 Tips for Effective Marketing Communication

A brand’s entire existence is dependent upon communication. It’s easy to take this for granted since we use communication in all aspects of life, but effective communication is critical in marketing. It’s more than someone not getting a job because of spelling errors on their LinkedIn profile or because they wore a wrinkly shirt to an interview; It’s a matter of brand existence. Marketing communication feels more two-way today than it was 10 years ago, but the fact is, marketing communication has never been one-way. Feedback was just delayed with traditional channels (TV, radio, print, outdoor).

According to Psychology Today, “The most common problem that we can make as message senders is coding our thought, feeling or need in a way that has a low chance of being understood by the receiver.” To be effective at communication, consider Aristotle’s three elements of great communication: ethos (credibility), pathos (emotional bond), and logos (logic) as discussed in 2013 by Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Review.

Here are three tips on how to be effective in your marketing communication:

1. Be authentic.

Before you craft your marketing messages, listen to the needs of your target audience. Hand out samples and do pro bono work with a goal of getting quality feedback. Don’t follow and copy your competitors.  If you are constantly comparing yourself to your competitors, you will become them. Focus on your customers (personas) and craft your messages for them; Then watch your brand’s authenticity start to shine.

2. Create a feedback loop.

The definition of communication is the “imparting or exchanging of information.” Duh, right? The point is communication is an “exchange” of information. There are always signals being sent back to your brand, but you may not be capturing them. Don’t just rely on transactions (sales) as your key performance indicator. Be proactive and set up other signals that indicate what you are doing right and where you can improve. Don’t rely on email and/or pop-up surveys. They are way over-used and may result in a negative influence on the survey. Social media engagement and reviews are additional ways to get feedback.

3. Keep up with marketing technology.

Companies like Facebook and Google are able to provide insights to help you know your customers better, but you have to invest the time learning how to use them. Make sure features (maps, shopping carts, videos, catalogs, etc.) on your website work on all screens (desktop, tablet, mobile). Know what technology is available to help you learn and serve your customers better. iBeacon adoption is one area to monitor. Marketing technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. The best way to keep up with technology is pay attention to thought leaders and innovators in the “martech” industry. There are many sources within the industry that do a great job of keeping marketers informed. Here is a short list to start:


Vertical Video is Here to Stay

Social media platforms Snapchat, Periscope, and Meerkat are a few key players in the vertical video revolution. Contradictory to common belief that quality video must be shot and consumed on a horizontal medium, social media giants are disrupting the game. Whether it’s Snapchat’s self-destructing interactive messaging, in-the-moment live streaming, or an obnoxious looped video on Instagram, mobile apps encourage vertical video. Social media is not the sole proprietor engaging in the vertical video movement, advertisers are quickly following suit.

Although vertical video is deemed an amateur mistake, corporations are investing in a growing market. Most notable is Jeep with the “Portraits” ad during Super Bowl 2016. Ironically, “Portraits” was the most popular ad of the big game. The ad was designed using only a third of an average television screen.  It was a bold move when paying $10 million for a 60 second spot. The ad featured tightly cropped portraits to bring focus to the eyes and look amazing on mobile. Additionally, it took home the Super Clio prize for best Super Bowl ad. This ad is a milestone in legitimizing vertical video.

Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. alone watch video on their mobile devices. Fifteen percent of all video viewed online globally is via phones and tablets. Snapchat has calculated 100 million users and over seven billion Snaps per day. In addition, Facebook and YouTube updated their mobile apps to accommodate vertical video. Agree with it or not, vertical video is here to stay. This shift in media consumption is creating vast opportunity for marketers and advertisers from intrusive pop-ups to curated content. Vertical video is not a backwards format, but rather an adaptation of the market as phone and tablet video consumption becomes the norm.

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