Remove the Digital Guesswork
Article Date: June 17, 2021
A Search Engine Marketing Primer
It’s 2021. Believe it or not, tech-adopting Millennials make up the largest percentage of the U.S. workforce, according to Pew Research Center. Gen Z is entering the equation, too, and their research and consumption habits closely mirror that of their Millennial counterparts. They’re both digital natives.
So, what does this mean for building materials manufacturers (BMMs)?
It means that the architects, specifiers, and builders of these generations are mainly going to one place for building products research: Google.
That’s why it’s absolutely vital for building materials manufacturers to have an online presence via search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
The goal of SEO and SEM are to increase your brand’s online visibility, primarily on Google as it owns the lion’s share of the search engine market. The primary difference between the two is that SEO is organic while SEM is a paid tactic.
Of course, other search engines exist, such as Bing, and may be native on Microsoft devices using Internet Explorer or Edge as the default browser. However, for the majority of devices, Google has the advantage. In fact, Google’s partnership with Apple means that searches through Apple’s internet browser, Safari, will default to a Google search. It’s partnerships like this, and overall brand recognition, that allow Google to possess such a significant edge in the search engine market. To the majority, “Google” and “search” are synonymous.
But on a deeper level, what is SEM? And what are best practices for SEM in the building materials industry
Getting up to Speed
SEM is a paid tactic to gain visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). A paid SEM strategy includes activities such as developing, setting up, and optimizing ads as well as setting a budget that pays for the placement of those ads.
Have you ever searched for running shoes on Google and a Nike text ad that appears nearly identical to an organic search result came up? That’s SEM working its magic.
Time to Prep
Like any worthy marketing endeavor, the early-stage, up-front prep work is often times the key to success. Here are a few early considerations:
Goals: You need to identify the goal or goals of the SEM campaign. Is it to increase traffic to your newly launched, user-friendly website? Do you want to drive users to your “Contact Us” form to generate leads for your sales team? Is there a specific asset on your resources page that you want users to download?
Whatever the goal is, you need to define it at the very beginning. This will serve as the basis for your overall SEM strategy.
Campaign Parameters: These need to be clearly defined and should include:
- Who (target audience)
- Where (geography)
- When (timing and how long the campaign lasts)
- How much (the budget for daily spend)
Once you define your campaign parameters, you can begin to determine your list of relevant keywords that will ultimately be refined and categorized into each of your unique ad groups.
You probably already have a handful of buzzwords or industry terms directly related to your brand that make sense to feature in a text ad. However, it’s also imperative to develop keywords with your target buyer’s persona in mind.
What organic keywords fit that buyer’s persona? What relevant search terms do we know they’ll type into Google when searching for a product or service that your company provides?
One way of looking at keyword development is to identify current gaps in your brand’s search results. Is your competition getting search engine visibility where you’re not? It’s important to identify what keywords your competitors are paying for, because this eliminates a great deal of trial and error when launching an SEM campaign. Take those competitor paid keywords and consider them alongside relevant organic keywords and competitor brand keywords to inform the development of your search term list.
Tee up Your Text Ads
Now that you have your list of keywords in place, you should define distinct ad groups and place related keywords in those groups. Now it’s time to develop the actual text ads that will be plugged into Google.
You have limited space, so choose your words wisely. In fact, per ad, Google only permits 30 characters per headline and 90 characters per description. In sum, keep it short and sweet.
You want to include your most important message in the headlines, and keep in mind, headline number one is the most important. If you have prices, promotions, or exclusives, include those, too.
According to Google, people often use search engines to make a decision, and you don’t have infinite time to convince them to choose you. It’s important to give users the information they need in an easily digestible format to make a quick choice. Otherwise, they might move on to your competition.
Google also encourages you to empower your customers to take action. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, give people the information they need to directly contact you. Consider including a call to action such as “purchase,” “shop today,” “call now,” or “get a quote.”
Stick the Landing
Now that we’ve discussed two critical components of SEM, the third key to success is to ensure you have optimized landing pages.
Keywords, text ads, and landing pages all need to be in sync. If you neglect even just one of them, it will affect your ad quality score and negatively impact how high your brand shows up on search engines.
Make sure your landing page is relevant, incorporates the essential keywords you’ve already cultivated, and actually delivers the payoff that the user expected when they clicked on your text ad. If your landing pages aren’t buttoned up, bounce rates will skyrocket, and you’ll fall flat with regard to the goals and KPIs you initially set out to achieve.
Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to launch your ads.
Be patient and give it some time as you begin to measure and take initial metrics into consideration.
Keep in mind that SEM is an evergreen initiative. Between Google updates allowing you to tweak and optimize your ads; to testing, fine-tuning, and refreshing your message; to incorporating new keywords into the mix, it’s important to keep an open mind and an eye toward constant improvement when it comes to your SEM strategy and overall campaigns.
As far as timing for fine-tuning your ads, a good rule of thumb is to make a change when you start to see metrics eroding.
For insights and recommendations on how to launch your next (or first) SEM campaign, contact BLD Marketing. Let’s shine the spotlight on your brand where your customers are looking for you: Online.
BLD Marketing is a results-based, digitally-focused, full-service strategic marketing firm exclusively serving the commercial and residential building materials category.