One of the biggest reasons why small and midsize local businesses have shied away from search engine marketing (SEM) in recent years is due to the growth of social media marketing.
Facebook in particular has been a great platform for local businesses, as its programmatic infrastructure is easily scalable to fit almost any budget, and marketers are often already familiar with the platform.
However, though social media has made marketing accessible to the masses, there are a number of reasons not to discount the importance of SEM for local businesses.
Search Helps Build Your Customer Base
Though social media is great for interacting with and keeping your current customer base, SEM is a must if you're looking to reach out to new customers. A 2016 study by Nielsen reveals that consumers still rely heavily on search engines when gathering information and seeking deals. And while some local businesses might dismiss this as something that pertains mainly to online merchants, the trend actually extends to physical shops as well, making it especially crucial for local businesses: Consumers could be looking to "shop around" before making a purchase at a local establishment, which could lead them directly to you! And if you think this type of marketing is out of your reach, think again.
You Don't Need a Lot of Investment
Though you might think an SEM campaign requires a lot of initial capital, the truth is search engine marketing doesn't demand that much investment up front, with the cost of small, locally focused campaigns on par with that of similar social media campaigns. In even better news, SEM marketing has a very high conversion rate relative to the level of investment, making this a smart move for small and midsize businesses that are just getting started with digital marketing and don't have a lot of capital to spare.
SEM is Easy to Scale
And even though SEM makes it easy for small and midsize business owners to start small with highly specific targeting, if this initial targeting works, these businesses can use real-time insights to make changes on the fly, quickly ending campaigns that don't seem to be working well and boosting those that are exceeding expectations.
While other types of marketing (especially social media marketing) have received a lot of attention in recent years, particularly among small and midsize businesses, the importance of SEM cannot be overstated. Not only does this type of marketing cost less to start off, but it also delivers more conversions per dollar and is easy to change and scale as your business grows and develops.