You've been entrusted with a handsome SEM (define) budget. The powers that be bark at you to "start driving some more traffic to the site!"
A few years ago, this would've been easier. You could've driven more traffic than a 10-lane highway at rush hour. You could've attracted enough traffic to find enough folks willing to actually convert.
Traffic quality has always been part of your marketing discussion, a weeny part of the game plan. But times have changed. Conversion rate increases are stalling, and it takes more traffic to convert fewer people. Meanwhile, traffic costs are inflating, and the higher-ups keep mentioning that "ROI" (define) term.
A recent JupiterResearch study sponsored by iProspect indicates SEM (define) professionals are performing multiple tasks, including email marketing and design, as well as managing other marketing channels, mostly in an effort to gain more traffic.
People say they want traffic, but what they really want is business. And depending on your site, that business comes in the form of a sale, lead, or subscription. Now traffic quality isn't just part of the game, it seems like the whole game. What's a marketer to do to ensure better quality traffic, better ROI, even better conversion for their SEM budgets?
Plan better scenarios.
If you don't know who your customers are and where they are in the buying process and you don't have a plan to convert that goes beyond a watered-down landing page, you might as well just start flushing that SEM budget.
They're Keywords, Not Magic Words
In its highest form, SEM (paid or organic) is simply about being found. It's matching a prospect with a relevant result. Nothing more, nothing less.
Being found by a searcher only indicates one action a person must take to convert. Even if you assume you are a perfect match for a specific buyer on a specific keyword, do you truly believe that will be enough to convert them?
Plan Your Site for People, Not Traffic
When buying heavily trafficked terms, many marketers forget that behind every search term is a person. And behind every person is a complex set of buying needs and preferences that drive a unique buying process. The search terms she enters can reveal her intent and even where she might be in the buying process.
Keywords are a great foundation for planning a persuasive scenario; they're scenario "driving points." But once visitors have entered your funnel point, what then?
Do you even have a plan for them beyond the search ad? Beyond the landing page? What if they aren't in the market to buy today? Do you have a plan for them post-sale?
In short, do you have a plan to persuade and convert people once they are labeled visitors?
During the 2006 Super Bowl, GoDaddy.com spent millions to drive traffic to its site. And drive traffic it did. But it was obvious it didn't have a sound plan for what to do with that traffic and how to maximize its usefulness to the company and brand, as our persuasion architect, Anthony Garcia, explains. Though the campaign reportedly increased sales by 35 percent, how much money did it leave on the table? Are you doing OK but leaving money on the table?
"Unfortunately, we see very little integration happening," iProspect's Robert Murray told "Internet Retailer." "Organizations need to acknowledge that the search engine marketing channel is most effective when it is integrated with as many other channels as possible in order to maximize the cross channel conversion opportunity."
Are you planning your scenarios? If not, maybe you're digging for traffic while ignoring business.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.