How to Evaluate the Success of Your SEM Marketing Strategy

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Search Engine Marketing has proven to be a successful way to reach your audience online. If you can optimize your efforts for the right keywords and phrases, you can ensure that a large audience will view your ads and learn about your brand.

But of course, simply spending money without understanding the results is not enough. Ideally, you want to make sure that your efforts make a tangible difference in helping to generate customers and growing your business. Here are three ways to evaluate the success of your SEM marketing, ranked in order of relevance.

The Good: Impressions

The first statistic that a platform like Google AdWords will give you is the total number of impressions your ads receive. Stated differently, this metric describes the total times your had has been shown. We should note that impressions are not unique; if a user sees your ad more than once, AdWords will count it as multiple impressions.

Impressions, above all, measure one potential marketing goal: brand awareness. Through this metric, you can reasonably estimate how many members of your audience have actually been exposed to your brand and its core message. They are closely related to another metrics, average ranking, which tells you exactly where your ad ended up on Search Engine Results Pages. You can also use them to evaluate the success of your keyword research.

The Better: Click-Through's

Ultimately, impressions do not go far enough in determining the success of your SEM marketing efforts. They don't, for example, tell you how many members of your audience actually found your ad interesting enough to click through to your website. That's where the second metric comes into play.

Your click-through rate matters in more than one way. search engine marketing uses a PPC pricing model, which means that your budget will be charged each time someone clicks on your ad. Impressions are free if they are not followed by a click; click-through's, however are a more desirable goal.

In evaluating your success, start by researching average click-through rates for your industry. If your rates fall below these benchmarks, your ad may not be convincing enough, or you may be optimizing your strategy for an audience that is not actually interested in what you have to say.

The Best: Conversions

Of course, even click-through rates do not yet reflect your ultimate goal: generating leads and customers through your search engine marketing. That's where conversion tracking comes into play.

If you place a few lines of code on your conversion-focused website, platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads allow you to track conversions for everyone that clicks on one of your ads. You can use that information to gauge true interest and success of your SEM efforts.

Conversion tracking can be invaluable in helping you determine how closely your ads actually reflect your brand's message and value. If search engine ads overpromise, you may see high click-through rates but low conversions. Only a consistent message along with convincing and relevant content once your audience lands on your website can help you drive conversions and ultimately grow your business.

Evaluating the success of your search engine marketing should consist of more than one metric. As outlined above, each of the three categories allows you to measure very distinct aspects of your strategy, which you can use to improve your efforts.

Of course, platforms like AdWords can be difficult to navigate if you are not an expert in the field. In that case, you may want to work with an SEM marketing agency instead. Contact us to learn how we can both set up and track the success of your search engine marketing, ensuring a fiscally responsible spend of your marketing budget and reliable long-term success in growing your customer base. 

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