When looking at what tools you need to automate your search engine marketing operations, make sure you’re selecting the tools right for the size and scale of your business.
A natural starting point, says Michael Kahn, senior vice president of client services at Performics, is to look at the size of your spend. Some questions he suggests asking include:
- If I’m an enterprise level advertiser, do the tools I’m considering have the scale to support a large scale campaign and spend?
- Is the tool set better for a direct response advertiser or a CPG firm?
- Is it better for generating sales and leads? Or traffic?
- What kind of reporting does it offer to allow changes to be made on the fly?
- Is it better for a national brand? Or, how can it support local distribution?”
Companies that outsource their search efforts must make sure they have a system in place to track the performance of their agencies, and to make sure their search budgets are being spent appropriately, notes Craig Macdonald, CMO of Convario. And considering that the budget dollars allotted to search can number in the tens of millions for large enterprises, making sure your agency is clearing the ROI hurdles is essential.
If you’re automating your search strategy inhouse, you need to make sure you select the right campaign management and web analytics systems. “Many companies under invest in their backend technology and tracking capabilities, and that means they’re flying blind, at best,” adds Macdonald. “They need to invest in the staff and time to get their systems up and running properly.”
Once marketers have the basic tools for automation in place, they need to consider tools for attribution management, to discover how search is impacting their other marketing channels. “You need to automate all parts of campaign management — it’s the only way you’ll get a truly efficient scale,” notes Kahn. “If you’re only [judging] search based on the first transaction, you don’t understand the true value.”
As many marketers divert part of their search budgets to things like media buys on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as ads on engines like Google, this is becoming more and more important, adds Macdonald. “It’s a huge opportunity.”
Marketers must have a handle on the overall “pathway to conversion,” says Kahn. This means they need access to both backend and front-end data to match terms and see if it was a new customer or a returning visitor, and to determine the cost of the transaction. “Look at all the clicks that led to conversion — 20% of your keywords may be driving the transaction, but other terms you may be bidding on may have assisted.”
Oops, They Do It Again
How to avoid common SEM mistakes
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB.
There’s a plethora of search tools out there. Make sure the one you choose is right for your business, says Michael Kahn, senior vice president of client services at Performics. The search automation strategy that works for a B-to-B marketer of pricey security systems isn’t the same as what would be perfect for a clothing retailer. Find what fits your business.
- GET THE RIGHT METRICS IN PLACE.
In search, as with any measurable marketing, having consistent metrics to gauge your success is essential, says Craig Macdonald, CMO of Convario. Put metrics in place that are definable, and create a governance model to gauge your progress. And if you don’t know what methodologies work best, go back to the tried-and-true golden rule of direct marketing — test.
- TAKE YOUR TIME.
A lot of people cut the integration process short just because they want to get their new automation system up and running by the holidays or in time for a big promotion. That, says Aaron Goldman, CMO of Kenshoo, means they make mistakes like not waiting to have the site tagged properly or the marketing plan in place. Slow down, he advises. Getting it right the first time saves a lot of headaches in the end.
- PEOPLE, YOU NEED PEOPLE.
Technology can be a great enabler, says Goldman, but it can’t do everything for you. “Even the best tools need smart people looking strategically at the business to make them work.”