Can your potential customers easily find you online? According to Forbes, 74 percent of internet users are performing local searches and 61 percent of those searches result in a purchase. Regardless of what business sector you are in, search engine marketing (SEM) plays a key role in getting new customers. In fact, 85 percent of retailers say that SEM is the "most effective customer acquisition tactic." While search engine optimization (SEO) is all about organically growing your web traffic, SEM involves paying to list your business in relevant search results. If your SEM strategy isn't effective, you're losing customers and money. You can reverse that trend by finding the right SEM partner to help you reap the benefits of SEM. Here are five questions to help you choose one that's right for your business.
1. What is your record of success?
We live in a data-driven society, and no one should know that better than an SEM agency. Ask to see their success stories. Do they have data to show their client's results? In addition to reading testimonials, ask specific questions, such as how many clients do they currently have? Are they a certified Google or Bing partner? These questions will help you see if the SEM agency is the right partner for your needs. A high churn rate or lack of certification should be a red flag. Ask for other data points, such how much SEM spend do they manage annually? What is their client's average monthly budget? These questions will show the size of clients they are used to working with.
2. Have you worked with clients in my industry before?
Relevant industry experience is a huge plus. Simply put, we all have a learning curve when we start a new project. Even the most experienced SEM agency will have to develop new search strategies when they enter a new industry. Working with an agency that has experience with your industry allows them to leverage existing knowledge and avoid pitfalls.
3. What are your core services?
Find out what other services your SEM partner offers and ask how they will complement your SEM strategy. For example, your SEM partner might also focus on search engine optimization (SEO), reputation management, display advertising and other digital marketing solutions that will enhance your search strategy. Consolidating your digital marketing efforts with one partner will help you achieve more consistent brand messaging and greater ROI.
4. How do you handle attribution?
SEM isn't just about getting customers to your site. It's about understanding how visitors interact with your site and how your various marketing channels affect their purchasing habits. Simply put, attribution helps you figure out what marketing strategies are driving the most revenue. Understanding the various attribution models will help you tweak your campaigns and adjust your marketing budget to focus on your most effective channels. Ultimately, it means you'll get more bang for your buck. Talking to your potential partners about attribution will help you gauge their knowledge and understanding of your industry.
5. What’s your approach to campaign creation?
A good SEM agency will do their homework to understand your business and campaign goals. You’ll want to look for a custom strategy that’s built around your website and the products or services you offer to deliver the most qualified traffic and leads to your business.