• Two Essential Tools for SEM Campaigns

When you are looking for a product or service, especially one near you, what is one of the first things you do? If you’re like most consumers today, you Google it (or depending on your preferred search engine, you “Yahoo” it, or “Bing” it). With such widespread use of search engines today, Search Engine Marketing has become a powerful way for businesses to enhance their visibility and grow their customer base.

With SEM campaigns, businesses pay to have their listing or ad show up in front of people who are searching their product or service. As such, SEM Campaigns are synonymous with paid search or pay-per-click advertising. Since this is a form of paid advertising, it is important to make the most out of an SEM campaign. This post will go over two essential tools to enhance SEM knowledge and drive campaign success.

Two Essential Tools for SEM Campaigns

Related: 3 Tools Your Competitors Are Using to Advertise Effectively

Tool #1: Conversion Tracking

What is a Conversion?

A person’s journey from online browser to paying customer is rarely a direct path or overnight event. This journey typically involves multiple forms of engagement with a business.

The completion of actions that are meaningful to your business is called a conversion. There are many different actions that a given business may define as a conversion. A conversion could be a direct sale or a consumer engaging with your business in some other way that ultimately will drive revenue for your business, such as submitting a form, making a call, or scheduling a consultation. The key is determining what actions performed by users are valuable to your business.

Why Use Conversion Tracking?

When running an SEM campaign, someone may click on your ad but then take no further action. Or, they might not purchase or download the item you’re advertising, but might engage in a different activity on your site. Tracking the actions performed by people who have clicked on your ad is known as event tracking. Tracking those actions which you have defined as a conversion is called conversion tracking.

Uses of Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is an essential tool for SEM campaigns. Conversion data allows you to see which campaigns are performing successfully, or more specifically, which ad copy, keywords, or landing pages are driving the most activity. Conversion tracking also enables you to trace purchases back to specific ads. This gives you a clear view into the return on your investment for the campaign.

Benefits of Conversion Tracking

When you know which ads, demographics, or keywords are performing best, you can learn a lot about your target audience—their behavior patterns, what appeals to them most, how to serve them best. You can also make data driven decisions. For example, if you need to cut down on your budget on a particular month, you will know exactly which demographics or keywords to shut down or continue running in order to maximize your spend.

Conversion tracking is an SEM campaign tool with two benefits: 1- It provides data and analytics to drive campaign success, and 2- It provides valuable information with respect to your budget and target audience.

Tool #2: A/B Testing

The second essential tool for enhancing the success of SEM campaigns is A/B testing. If an SEM campaign is yielding weak results, how do you know what to change? Perhaps it is one small tweak. Or, if a particular campaign is bringing in leads and increasing conversions, how do you know that it can’t bring in even more?

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing enables you to create multiple versions of something to find out which version performs the best. With SEM campaigns, A/B testing can be used on the ad itself or its associated landing pages to find out what yields the most success. While it may sound simple, careful consideration is required for A/B testing, such as with how many factors to test at once, and how long to run each test. The data from A/B testing will not be useful if it is convoluted or insufficient.

What to A/B Test

With regard to an SEM campaign, there are various components of a pay-per-click ad that can be tested. These includes the headline, description, call to action (CTA), destination URL, punctuation and capitalization, the time of day the ad runs, and the devices it targets. A/B testing enables you to determine which words and additional details encourage users to click and convert.

SEM Campaign Success

SEM Campaigns increase your online presence by putting your business in front of the vast amounts of people who use search engines, and driving potential leads to your website. With tools such as conversion tracking and A/B testing, you can gain important insights to enhance the benefits of an SEM campaign and maximize your ROI.

For example, one particular ad may be receiving a lot of clicks, but not a lot of conversions. A/B testing would allow you to see that something like changing the image on the landing page is all it took to get more conversions out of those clicks. Or perhaps the landing page is well designed, but tweaking the ad copy itself to better match the landing page is what was needed.

SEM campaigns require ongoing maintenance and monitoring as products, audiences, and platforms evolve. Conversion tracking and A/B testing is a combination that allows you to find out not only what works, but what works best and how to optimize SEM campaigns accordingly. With these tools, you can keep track of conversions, keep up with changes, and keep striving for improvement. You will also learn more about your target audience which can help with other digital marketing channels as well.

Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive, where she geeks out daily over SEO, organic traffic, and A/B testing. When she's not equipping business owners and marketers to get their name out there through effective content, she's out pedaling the streets of Boston on her beloved bike.

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