Everything You Need to Know about Search Engine Marketing & Social Media Marketing

“Relationships are always built on trust. It is not the advertisement that may enhance the trust factor among the target audience. It is the content that makes everything different that builds the trust factor.” – Hecate Strategy

Are you a brand marketer? Or, do you perhaps own an SME (Small Medium Enterprise), and are you trying to leverage the online space to drive visitors to your brand’s website so that they will convert into returning customers? You might be looking at bootstrapping a start-up that is a digital marketing agency. Or you need to market your new venture as though you are a functional digital marketing agency?

The reasons for learning about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) are not the salient points of this discourse. It is essential, however, to set the scene for the discussion that follows.

Navigating The New Normal

The global business world has been forced to pivot its primary business processes from a physical work environment into a remote, virtual work environment. Most retailers have moved their operations online. And, shops that sell essential items are choosing to employ additional staff that pick, pack, and deliver groceries to their customers rather than have large numbers of consumers in their brick-and-mortar shops.

Why?

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is sweeping across the globe. Consequently, at least 50% of the world’s population is at home under a severe lockdown order. All non-essential businesses have been forced to close. And, everyone who can work remotely from home is working from their makeshift home offices. The entire global economy has been shut down with the movement of people and goods frozen for the foreseeable future. The question that is concerning economists and government leaders is how easy it will be to bootstrap the global economy without causing further devastation.
Navigating The New Normal​

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These statements will more than likely sound as though the world has ended, and there is nothing anyone can do to change things. This is not the rationale behind these comments. They are merely present to set the scene and explain the reason for the need to implement a robust SEM and SMM campaign while waiting for the global economy to reboot.

In other words, it is vital to build brand loyalty in this time of crisis because there will be a reboot. And it is critical for brands to position themselves to leverage the restarting of the global economy.

Even though the majority of the global population is hunkered down waiting for the pandemic to pass, businesses need to remind their target audiences that they still exist and that they care about their customers’ health and well-being.

Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing: A case study

By way of expanding on this point, let’s consider a case study. As an aside, a similar example might have been mentioned before, but no matter, it is still relevant to this discussion.

As a case study or example, let’s consider a brand called Hot Frog Originals that aims to provide an eCommerce sales platform for individual manufacturers of handmade goods like leather bags, wallets, clothing, soft furnishings, and bed quilts.

Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing: A case study​
This brand’s financial model is as follows:

Manufacturers either pay a monthly subscription or a percentage of the value of their sales for the right to list their products on Hot Frogs Original’s site. This model functions on a tiered system where if a manufacturer earns less than $250 (USD) per month, they pay a monthly fee of $10. Once a manufacturer startsgenerating more than $250 per month in sales, the charges are $5% of this income, up to a maximum amount of $100 per month.

And, apart from providing an online presence for the individual manufacturers, the Hot Frog Originals’ business model includes Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing for each manufacturer and the brand.

At this juncture, it is vital to note that, because the Hot Frog products are not essential, they will probably not be shipped until the hard lockdown or shelter-in-place is over. Even though this fact will likely translate into reduced sales metrics, it is essential to keep up with digital marketing campaigns. As stated above, it is vital to remind the brand’s target audience that it is open for business even during the global pandemic.

Internet and social media usage statistics

Before we look at the specifics of SEM and SMM in relation to the Hot Frog Originals’ case study, let’s look at a few statistics to gain perspective of how important engaging with your brand’s target audience on social media is.

Smartinsights.com states that “social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day multi-networking across an average of 8 social networks and messaging apps.”

More than 4.5 billion people had access to the Internet at the beginning of 2020, with the number of active social media users reaching 3.8 billion people in the same timeframe. It is worth noting that the number of people on social media increased by 9% when compared to the January 2019 figures.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that reaching your brand’s consumers on a number of different social media platforms will drive sales and increase the ROI on the marketing spend.
Social Awareness Storyteller

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social Media Marketing is defined by whatis.techtarget.com as a“form of Internet marketing that utilizes social networking websites [or platforms] as a marketing tool.” Its primary aim is to “produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach.

Social networking is described as the “practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making [social or online] connections.”
Social Media Influencer
It stands to reason that there will be many social media platforms available to build social connections. The 2020 social media software apps include platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snap Chat, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, WhatsApp, Tumblr, and Reddit. In fact, the Influencer Marketing Hub lists more than fifty different social media marketing platforms in their article titled, “50+ Social Media Sites You Need to Know in 2020.”

The good news is that it is not necessary to use many of these sites to market your business. It is physically impossible to post marketing material on all of the platforms highlighted above. Additionally, it is not cost-effective to spend time and money marketing your brand on many social media websites.

Therefore, the question that must be asked and answered is, how do you know which social media platforms you should use for marketing your brand?

Target audience persona types

Developing target audience persona types is a critical part of initial business documentation. In other words, it is vital to determine which tranche of the population is the most likely to buy your products. Therefore, it is vital to develop a persona type for everyone who is likely to be included in your brand’s target audience.

By way of expanding on this description, let’s consider our case study mentioned above and develop two basic persona types for one of the products, a 100% leather laptop sling bag.

Let’s assume our persona type’s name is John. He is a businessman, a middle manager, and he earns at least $45 000 (USD) per annum. He travels a lot both to work and to offsite business meetings. Therefore, he needs a bag to carry his laptop and peripherals in. When he purchased a new laptop, it came with a standard sling bag; however, he much prefers a professional-looking leather laptop case.

A second persona type that is on the opposite side of the spectrum is a college or university student, principally a student who is studying business management or law. This student is young, circa 25 years old, male or female, and is upwardly mobile. The student prioritizes the need to appear successful and professional at all times. The caveat here is that the student probably cannot afford to purchase the laptop bag and will rely on their parents or grandparents to buy it for them.
Target audience persona types​

Now that we have two examples of the type of person who is likely to purchase our laptop bag, let’s consider which social media platforms are the most likely to reach each persona.

Facebook

Facebook is the number one ranked social media brand in the world. Some figures quoted by the company show that there are more than 2 billion Facebook users across the globe. And over 140 million businesses use Facebook to connect with their customers to convey their social messages.

In other words, Facebook is a useful tool to build social proof or social trust in the advertising brand. Therefore, even though the advertising messages must differ to reach the businessman and the student, Facebook is part of the “must-have” social media platforms in every social media marketer’s toolbox.

Twitter

Twitter is another relevant brand that will engage both the businessman and the student. Twitter is a short-form text social media platform. When it was first established in 2006, users could only tweet messages that were 140 characters or less. This number increased to 280 characters in 2017.

Twitter is a compelling case. It seems that it is both loved and hated by the business world. Andrew Hutchinson, in his article titled, “Here’s Why Twitter is so Important to Everyone,” states that “Twitter’s strength is real-time…[and it] remains our best indicator of the wider pulse of the world and what’s happening within it.

Unfortunately, because of Twitter’s “real-time nature,” it is susceptible to spambots masquerading as celebrities. Donald Trump, the forty-fifth president of the USA, uses Twitter as his primary platform for expressing an opinion on what is happening across the globe. There is no doubt that this fact has increased Twitter’s profile. The question is whether this is good or not.

Twitter’s value as a real-time predictor of trends is underestimated. Unfortunately, the platform is garnering a reputation as a celebrity gossip platform. However, as Andrew Hutchinson states in the article highlighted above, it is vital not to view Twitter “as a stream of nonsense.” There is value in using the platform both to engage with your brand’s target audience and deriving real-time metrics about the brand’s adoption in the marketplace.

Instagram

Instagram is another popular social media marketing platform. Its unique value proposition is that it allows a brand to communicate with its target audience using photos and video content. Additionally, comments on these photos and videos are also utilized to convey marketing messages. Consequently, this platform is uniquely suited to brands and products like our 100% leather laptop bag. Photos of both the businessman persona and the professional law student carrying the laptop bag will drive the message home to the product’s target audience.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is slightly different from the other social media platforms mentioned above in that it is a “social network that focuses on professional networking and career development.”And, LinkedIn is designed and used to “enhance [people’s] professional reputation by making posts in the news feed and commenting on other people’s posts.”

Therefore,it does not make sense for the company in our case study to use LinkedIn as a tool to reach the student. On the other hand, it is worth considering to reach the businessman persona type.

The quintessential nature of Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing is defined as the “process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts.” In other words, SEM is a marketing tactic where a brand marketer, or business owner, advertises their website to drive traffic to the site by increasing its ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Consequently, Search Engine Marketing is divided up into two sections: Paid Internet advertising models like Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and organic traffic generation methodologies like Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Before we consider PPC models and SEO methodologies in detail, let’s take a look at the importance of SEM:

Nicole Rende of hubspot.com notes that “SEM combines both [the] benefits of [PPC and SEO] as your content is both optimized for higher search rankings and is placed primarily in front of audiences who are most likely to convert when they click on your ads.”

In other words, employing an SEO or a PPC marketing strategy on its own is valuable; however, when both are combined, the resulting value is worth double what it would be for each individual approach.
The quintessential nature of Search Engine Marketing​

SEO

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a digital marketing model that aims to increase your website’s visibility in Google’s organic search results. Every SEO aims to ensure that the brands they take care of rank in the top three to five results on the SERP. There are two types of SEO:

  • On-page SEO, which deals with ensuring that every page and aspect of the brand’s website is optimized according to SEO best practice methodologies like usability (UX) and user-friendliness (UI), website load time, keyword optimization, and the quality of the web page content.
  • Off-page SEO, on the other hand, encompasses all organic marketing tactics that are designed to drive traffic to the brand’s website. These include content writing, guest post blogging, and backlink building.

Pay-Per Click advertising and the sales funnel

Searchenginejourna.com defines Pay-per-click (PPC) as an “advertising model that lets marketers place ads on an ad platform and pay the host of that platform every time their ad is clicked.”

It aims to direct the Internet user who clicks on the advert to the advertiser’s website or app. This process is a valuable part of the brand’s sales funnel.

Pay-Per Click advertising

What is a sales funnel?

At the outset of this example, it is vital to note that the sales funnel is one of the core concepts of the digital marketing model. Succinctly stated, the fundamental aim of the successful digital marketing model is to increase a brand’s sales figures. And, the sales funnel forms a vital part of this raison d’etre.

In summary, according to Entrepreneur.com, a sales funnel is similar to a real-world funnel. For example, let’s assume you would need to pour cooking oil from a wide-mouthed container into a bottle with a narrow neck. You must use a funnel to prevent the oil from spilling over the narrow entrance to the bottle and being wasted.

Let’s now consider the sales funnel example in the context of our case study highlighted above to describe a successful example of a digital marketing sales funnel.
For the purpose of this content, let us assume the Hot Frog Original’s owner decides to add PPC advertising to the brand’s marketing campaign. Again, the product marketed is the 100% leather laptop sling bag. Thus, once the PPC campaign has been set up using a product like Google AdWords, the advert for this laptop bag will appear at the top of the SERP when a user searches for leather laptops to buy.

The exact search terms are not really relevant there. The salient point is that a consumer is using Google to search for leather laptop bags. Once the user clicks after typing in the search phrase, Google displays the Hot Frog Original’s advertisement above the organic results on the SERP. This advert attracts the user’s attention and (s)he decides to click on the advert. The user will automatically be directed to the product’s web page where the opportunity to purchase the product online exists.

The start of the sales funnel is when many Internet users visit the brand’s website. The narrowing funnel indicates that not many of the visitors to the site will answer the site’s CTA (Call-To-Action), which is to complete the purchase process. The end of the sales funnel is the completed sale.

It is also vital to note that the wide mouth at the top of the sales funnel is designed to catch as many of the product’s target audience as possible. The rationale behind this design is the same as our example where a funnel is needed to transfer oil from a wide-mouthed container to a bottle with a narrow neck.

Search Engine Marketing Strategies to drive customer conversions

A digital marketing strategy must be a unified, synergistic effort that presents a cohesive voice across all marketing channels, including the Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing channels. Therefore, when planning the implementation of the different campaigns included in the total strategy, each aspect must be covered at the outset of the design process; otherwise, you run the risk of presenting divisive voices. Consequently, the synergy of the whole approach cannot be emphasized enough.

If your brand’s marketing approach is not synergistic in its approach, the results will not be as good as they would otherwise be. As a result, the effectiveness of the campaign will be reduced, resulting in lost sales and contracted growth metrics.

Search Engine Marketing Strategies to drive customer conversions​

Measuring the effectiveness of a Search Engine Marketing campaign

It is one thing talking about ways to implement a successful SEM campaign. But how do you prove that your tactics are successful? In other words, what can you measure, and where are these metrics found?

Measuring the effectiveness of a Search Engine Marketing campaign​
Marcus Miller of Searchengineland.com notes that measuring your SEM results is an essential component of any SEO (SEM) campaign. If you do not measure the results, how will you know whether the campaign is successful or not?

Additionally, it is vital to understand your real objectives in relation to the successful marketing of your brand’s products.

Consequently, he suggests the following KPI (Key Performance Indicator) measurements as a baseline from which to work. KPIs are a useful tool to track campaign success and improve the results of the following campaigns. Ergo, if you measure these results of a current campaign, and you study them in relation to the tactics implemented, you will be able to improve on these results by amending your campaign’s strategies based on the current results.

In summary, “KPIs are the connective tissue between the business’s goals/objectives and the SEO work that you are doing.”
And, it is equally important to note that improved rankings on the Google SERP do not directly equal more business and increased sales numbers. The ranking metric is essential, and it should not be underestimated. However, it is just one aspect of the overall marketing process. It is the start of the sales funnel. The salient point here is that you need to justify or show why a given tactic is successful.

Again, back to our case study highlighted above. Let’s assume that your SEO campaign has resulted in the brand’s site being ranked third on the SERP. Therefore, the ranking objective has been met.

However, the next step is to prove what the consequence is of this achievement. Therefore, it is critical to determine whether ranking high on the SERP has increased the number of visitors to the brand’s website. And, if this metric has increased, the next figures to look at include the bounce rate, the time a visitor spends on the website, how many visitors answered the sites CTA by purchasing a laptop bag, and how easy is it for visitors to follow the site’s navigation path.

It is clear from this discussion that the topic of SEM KPIs is complex and should be revisited on another occasion. However, the basics are provided here, and they should be enough to start a thought-provoking discussion on how to use KPIs to measure SEM success metrics.
Final thoughts:
The conversation on Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing is a broad topic and forms the foundation of any successful digital marketing campaign. Consequently, it should not be ignored or underestimated. As a result, click here should you wish to know more about the Advanced Search and Social Media Marketing Certificate Program offered in partnership with S N Chatterjee and with BDN Groups’ collaboration.

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