Would you be surprised to hear that Microsoft made a better MP3 player than Apple’s iPod? When the Microsoft Zune launched in 2006, it could share songs wirelessly, had hotspot support, an HD Radio tuner, and was much faster than the iPod. However, Microsoft could not market the Zune successfully, so it continually lost market share to the iPod—before being summarily discontinued in 2011. Despite offering a better product, and despite being a billion-dollar company, Microsoft let external factors such as a lack of marketing drive Zune to failure. When I first learned the Zune’s failure was primarily due to its failure to market itself, I learned that a failure to market your product or service is a failure to invest in yourself.

When you’re running a small to midsize business (SMB), you know better than anyone that good marketing is the lifeblood of your business. In order to grow your business, you need to expand your customer base. One of the ways to do that is through Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search Engine Marketing is a key component of an SMB marketing strategy because it relies on a “pull” marketing strategy to identify consumer’s needs and create ads to point them towards your product or service.

How Does Search Engine Marketing Help My Small Business?

Search ads have higher conversion rates than Facebook due to the fact that it presents a product or service right when the consumer is looking for it. They immediately identify the want, and a well-structured search marketing strategy can address it. For example, if I run a bakery, and someone searches “croissants near me”, my SEM efforts will pick up on that search and bid to try and rank the highest on that user’s search results. From there, a compelling ad can convert that user into a customer. 

85% of consumers use the internet to search for local businesses, so SMB Search Marketing makes a large difference to local businesses. Small to midsize businesses benefit the most from search engine marketing because it showcases products and services within the local community and keeps business within it. By building up your profile within the community, you continue to stand out from local competitors and grow your business. An investment in a search marketing strategy is an investment in your business.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s actually really easy to build a search engine marketing strategy. The catch is that it’s also easy to mess up.

The basic building block of any good SMB search marketing strategy should be the keyword. keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for. They’re important because your website can show up when a user searches for that keyword. This is determined by how relevant your website is to the keyword. 

One great way to get started building your plan is by using the Google Keyword Planner to see what keywords are in your market, how much those keywords cost, what keywords your website ranks for, and what keywords your competitors are ranking for. One trap that I’ve seen some small and mid-sized businesses fall into is by trying to bid too much for keywords that aren’t in their market, or on keywords that don’t take up a large portion of their target market. 

The next step is to make a Google Ads account if you don’t already have one. If you do, then you start by setting up a campaign where you’ll take the keywords you found and list them off as individual Ad Groups. This makes what are called “Single Keyword Ad Groups” where you can write ads relevant to your selected Ad Groups. This is so you can control the cost of spending so you can set specific bids for your Ad Groups—since you used the Google Keyword Planner to know how much the keywords are worth. As you write ads that are relevant for the specific ad groups, here’s a tip from a pro: Keep the keyword in Headline 1, so that a user sees right away that your ad addresses their search query. Once your ads are written, you’re ready to take your ads live and measure their performance.

Why Search Marketing?

Set Fire Creative focuses so much on SMB search marketing because we’re a small business ourselves. We know what your business is going through because we’ve been there too. As your company grows, we make sure that your ads receive the care and attention they deserve. Set Fire Creative’s paid search marketing service is designed to get your company leads and purchases. Since our processes depend so much on making sure that your business succeeds and grows, we can’t make money unless your business makes money. If you’d like to learn more about how search marketing can benefit your business, contact our client strategy team for a free consultation!