Okay, you've heard the buzz; Search Engine Marketing has become the most sought after form of advertising on the market. But, why?

Well, let's go back a few years; back when "search" was something you did when your two-year old got a hold of your car keys. Let's say you're the marketing manager of a major electronics company. Your goal is to drive traffic to the store, so what do you do? Chances are, you'll put the lion's-share of the budget into television and radio advertising, then toss the remaining funds into a targeted print ad. Now you wait. After a week, a month, or maybe a quarter, you compare your advertising spend to your sales metrics. You then build-out your averages, estimates, and close-enough demographic information and attempt to make decisions for the next $10-million campaign; never knowing exactly which piece of the campaign was most successful.

Instead, imagine this…at the end of every day, each of the television stations you advertised with send you a report. The report tells you exactly how many people saw your advertisement on their station; how many took action and visited a store, and of those that visited, how many purchased an item. In fact, they go even further by telling you which products a customer purchased, how much profit you made on each item, and what your total ROI is, based on the advertisement placed on their respective station. Now you might think, ‘What? Yeah right! Who are you with these crazy, high-falutin' ideas…tracking ROI to the most miniscule detail? That kind of data just doesn't exist'…or does it? Enter Search Engine Marketing.

Search Engine Marketing allows you to track details only dreamt of in traditional marketing channels; traffic sources, visitor paths, conversion/leads per ad, Cost per acquisition – per ad campaign; even per search term! exact ROI per campaign, and much more. After analyzing these details, you can then modify your ads to best harness the highest performing campaigns. You can do this weekly, daily, even hourly if you so desire (usually reserved for those previously diagnosed with some degree of OCD).

Take it from me, when you deliver a detailed SEM report to senior management and watch their eyes light up like a 12-year old boy at Yankee Stadium; you'll truly understand the popularity (and necessity) of Search Engine Marketing.

"Okay," you say, "this is all hunky-dory, but what does it cost? Can I do it on my own?" Great questions; glad you asked. You may find SEM services for $250 per month, or $250 per hour (or more). It depends on the services you need, the complexity of your site (e-commerce or informational), and many other factors. When shopping for an SEM firm:

  • Look for a firm that will review your site and build a customized estimate of services based on your needs.
  • A list of successful SEM references is a must.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints. You don't want to sign on with an unscrupulous black-hat SEM firm.
  • Does the firm offer design and programming services? Many site optimization tasks require the use of these technical services.

As for doing it on your own; yes, you can. You can also rebuild the engine in your car, but would you?

Don't get me wrong, many people can learn the basics of Search Engine Marketing and might even be able to implement pieces of it. You simply need to decide if your business can afford the inevitable learn-as-you-go mistakes and delays of DIY SEM, or if it would be more cost effective to hire an experienced Search Engine Marketing partner to help propel your online business.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

January 31, 2007

Scott Orth has seven years experience in Search Engine Marketing, and more than ten years of management experience in industries such as high-tech, hospitality, e-commerce, and communications. Since 1999, Scott has put his business and Internet marketing skills to the test; eventually building revenues of his own e-commerce site by over 2000%.

After receiving his B.S. in Management and Information Systems from George Fox University, Mr. Orth drew on his marketing and management skills to lead full-service interactive agencies; building success for clients like Freightliner, Louisiana Pacific, FEI, and dozens of small to medium size companies; spanning many industries and business types.

With a breadth of knowledge and experience in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer online marketing, Scott has written numerous articles, and is a regular speaker at organizations like the American Marketing Association, Internet Professional Network, Search Engine Strategies, and numerous corporate events.

Mr. Orth is a board member of the American Marketing Association and volunteers on the board of the East Side United (FC) – a local youth sports organization. Scott also co-founded the Search Engine Marketing Council of Portland, serving as the VP of Operations.

You can contact Scott Orth at scott.orth@gmail.com or by phone at (503) 888-9381

Search Engine Guide > Scott Orth > Why Traditional Marketers Should Adopt SEM