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Search Engine Marketing key to Reaching New Customers

Want to keep your competition in the rearview mirror? If you own a small business, consider increasing your digital marketing budget. According to a recent study,1 a whopping 70% of small businesses plan to do just that in 2017. We’re not talking trivial amounts either; 30% said they planned to increase their budget a lot.

So where will that extra spend go? That depends on what you’re trying to achieve, i.e.  getting more website traffic, generating phone calls, or increasing foot traffic in your local business. Many small businesses focus on obvious choices — social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, and mobile marketing opportunities. Rest assured, those channels certainly can add value. But if you want to extend that impact, think about building or enhancing your search engine marketing (SEM) strategy.

SEM opens the door to a global audience. Worldwide, people conduct more than 6.5 billion searches a day,2 which is close to 200 billion a month and trillions a year. Not only that, but they tap into key demographics that businesses drool over. Approximately 92% of millennials and 87% of Gen Xers use search on a regular basis.3 Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to get in front of that audience?

Want more proof? Take a wild guess how most people find businesses online. Maps, websites, reviews — none of them comes close to search.4 That helps explain why one-third of marketers5 plan on spending more on digital advertising and search engine optimization this year.

On a functional level, SEM plays an integral role for you in the search process. A customer wants your product or service, does a general search, and then sees your wares at or near the top of the search results. Instinctive buyer or obsessive researcher, it doesn’t really matter. No matter how many times people come back, your business can pop up.

Focus on Keywords and Targeting

Finally, SEM puts you in the driver’s seat in important areas. You have a lot of control over what you do and how you do it, which in this case means where you show up in searches. You select the keywords to attract your desired audience, you define your targeting criteria to reach your specific audience, and you decide what you’re willing to pay for. And with the ability to track the performance of your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you can quickly and easily revisit your efforts and make tweaks where needed.

Granted, some people think SEM sounds too techy. They’d much rather write creative tweets, clever posts and customized emails. In truth, you can be as creative as you want with SEM. Instead of 140 characters or a fleeting video, you design a portfolio of keywords that attract a targeted audience who have expressed interest or intent to purchase.  You also write what appears on the search results page and can enhance your ads with a variety of ad extensions.

SEM offers a wealth of potential for you to reach new customers and grow your business.  Rather than ask yourself if SEM looks like a good fit for you, think about how to use SEM to transform your business.
To learn more about how SEM can help meet your business goals, review our SEM toolkit.

1.  Small Business Trends, “70 Percent of Small Businesses Plan to Increase Digital Marketing Spend,” January 2017.
2. Smart Insights, “Search Engine Statistics,” August 2016.
3. Pew Research Center, “Online Activities,” December 2010.
4. Google/Ipsos, Industry Multi-Screen Study: Local Services, 2013.
5. eMarketer, “U.S. SMBs Plan to Increase Social Media Budgets in 2017,” February 2017.