Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is often mixed up with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but there is a unique difference between the two. SEM is associated with SEO in such a way that both are digital marketing strategies to drive traffic visits from search engines such as Google and Bing. However, SEM usually requires businesses to allocate some spend budget to run search campaigns, while SEO involves optimizing the website to drive search traffic organically without additional spend.
SEM is also commonly known as paid search or PPC (pay per click), where businesses will only spend when visitors click on the ad. It is a quick to implement strategy for businesses to bid for keywords and show up their ads above their competitors, while SEO takes time to build up traffic organically via creating unique content.
Unlike offline marketing, SEM provides the transparency of the campaigns and ads with metrics like:
- Impressions: refers to the number of times your ad shows up on a screen. This doesn’t imply that the person clicks on it.
- Clicks: refers to the number of times your ad is being clicked on.
- Cost per Click (CPC): refers to the average cost of each click that business have to pay for.
- Conversion: refers to the defined action that businesses want to get visitors to do on their website, i.e. send an inquiry, make a purchase
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): sometimes known as Cost Per Lead (CPL), which refers to the cost to acquire a business lead. This metric is often used for B2B businesses to measure the efficiency in their spend budget to acquire leads. If the CPA is $7, this means the campaign is spending $7 to acquire each lead. Typically, the lower CPA, the better
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): refers to the ratio or percentage of revenue value delivered by the campaign to the ad spend. This is often used by B2C businesses to measure the direct ROI performance of the campaigns. If the ROAS is 200%, this means the campaign is spending $10 to deliver $20 of revenue value. The higher ROAS, the better.
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