When executed properly, an SEM campaign can drive targeted traffic to your site at a

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1 Astonish ebook The Benefits of a Targeted SEM Campaign Search Engine Marketing (SEM), synonymously referred to as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) 1, has grown to become a fundamental piece of advertising strategy for companies of all sizes. Its popularity as a marketing medium is tied to the fact that it is a cost effective and measurable advertising activity that has the potential to deliver immediate results. When executed properly, an SEM campaign can drive targeted traffic to your site at a reasonable cost. In my experience, the most effective SEM campaigns are designed to run as a supplement to other Digital Marketing efforts: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), link building, social media, and blogging. When pieced together, these activities become cogs in an effective online marketing machine that can provide lasting results for your business. This ebook will detail some of the most important benefits to an effective SEM strategy, but first let's answer SEM s most basic question: What exactly is SEM? If you are an Internet user, there is a great likelihood that you've been influenced by a paid search campaign at one time or another, even if you're not aware of it. Each time you execute a search on any of the major search engines like Google, you are presented with a number of website options that are found on Google's search engine results page (SERP). Most of the time, the first three results at the top of the Google results page are PPC ads, along with the seven ads that are found on the right hand side of the page. The owners of these websites have paid a fee for each time someone clicks on their advertisement. By electing to show advertisements on only the keywords that are relevant to that brand, paid search marketing is a way for website owners to generate the type of traffic that is most valuable to their company. 1In fact, there are lots of names for a paid search marketing campaign: PPC, pay-per-click, SEM, search engine marketing, sponsored search, paid search, sponsored search listings, and paid search advertising. These are all used interchangeably. 180-second tour at www. Aston ish.com and schedule a virtual presentation today!

2 Below you'll find a typical search engine results page, generated by the keyword "car insurance." Note that the advertisements found in the shaded blue section are generated by Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Also note that there are ten total advertisements, with three found immediately under the search box and seven found at the right of the organic search results. (SERP: Google s earch engine results page) Now that we know where the ads are placed on the SERP, let's dive deeper into the details of how it works: What determines the position of each of those PPC ads? SEM is an auction-based system. Advertisers submit bids for the amount that they are willing to pay for each click that comes from search engine results. If I am a widget-selling company, I may bid $10.00 per click for anyone searching on the keyword "where to buy widgets," because a person looking for that type of information is a very valuable and relevant customer.

3 Subsequently, the higher I am willing to bid for a particular keyword, the higher I will appear in search engine results (closer to the top). Search engine users are more likely to click on the ads that are closer to the top of the page, making those positions (especially positions 1-3) more valuable, but also more expensive. How important is Paid Search advertising, and how can it help me? The latest studies show that Pay-Per-Click visits accounts for approximately 25-30% of all search traffic. Can your agency afford to ignore these valuable qualified visitors, or more importantly, can your agency afford to let your competitors capitalize on this marketing strategy at your expense? More importantly, can your agency afford to ignore a marketing strategy that is projected to double by 2014? As we like to say here at Astonish, "Fish Where the Fish Are." With 80% of all insurance consumers starting their search online, don't you want to cast your line in that pond? Now that we've covered the "what" and "how" of SEM, let's examine the "why." There are many great reasons to include paid search as a component to your overall marketing strategy, but here are the ten most important reasons The Top 10 Benefits of an SEM Campaign for your Insurance Company #1 - Cost Certainty In today's economy, marketing budgets are being watched more closely now than ever. But while Google's auction-based system will make your cost-per-click fluctuate during the course of the month, you can rest easy knowing that your PPC campaign will never spend more than you want. Google allows you (or your trusted search marketing campaign management team) to set a monthly budget that will never be exceeded. Have peace of mind that no matter how the fluctuating search landscape performs for your company, you will never spend more than the amount with which your agency is comfortable.

4 #2 - Unprecedented Control over Your Campaign Unlike more traditional forms of advertising, like Yellow Pages, a targeted SEM campaign affords the advertiser a myriad of "levers" that can be adjusted in order to create a highly customized campaign. Want to show your ad to an audience within a specific town or state? Want to show your ads only during the hours in which your agency operates? Want to pay for keywords that will drive traffic from potential customers for only one of your insurance products? Our SEM system allows you to do all of that, and more. With these controls, your unique campaign will help you drive qualified traffic at budget that you are comfortable with. #3 - Campaign Flexibility An SEM campaign, if executed correctly, is not a "set it and forget it" marketing tool. The best-performing campaigns are constantly reviewed for performance metrics and adjusted (or optimized) based on what pieces have shown the most success. Every SEM campaign that your dedicated Astonish Paid Search team builds contains unique attributes, which all contribute to similarly unique performance: geographic targeting, keyword targeting, bid optimization, ad copy, and landing page 1 creation (to name a few). With all of these customization opportunities, we also have the ability to identify which pieces are performing well, and which are hurting the overall campaign performance. At that point, we have the flexibility to make changes to your campaign while it is still in progress. If your auto insurance keywords aren't producing leads, we can de-emphasize that piece. If your campaign's geo-targeting needs to be expanded to gain opportunities from the whole state, we can do that as well. Being able to adapt or fine-tune your campaign means that if a particular set of keywords isn't working or you want to target a different audience (or customer), your team can move quickly and effectively. #4 - Target Your Audience Imagine that you have a billboard along a highway, but you can control the type of people that drive by it. Or think about the possibility of running a television advertisement with the ability to choose who saw that commercial? 180-second tour a twww. Aston ish.comand schedule a virtual presentation today! 1 Landing Page: the page to which your SEM traffic is directed after clicking on one of your ads.

5 Think of an SEM campaign as a great way to target only those people that you want to reach. Whether you want to target only those people that live in your state (or city), or only those that are interested in business insurance, you have the ability. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, you're only going to be paying for an audience who are interested in what you are selling, and fit the profile of you ideal customer. Think of each click as a potential sales opportunity, because your SEM campaign can be adjusted to target some valuable visitors. #5 - "Measurability" As a marketer, one of our biggest challenges is to measure the effectiveness of the campaigns that we run. "Attribution" has become a buzzword in the marketing and advertising world, as it becomes more valuable (and difficult) to assign value to all of our various marketing activities. Attribution, or the ability to measure performance, is one of the biggest benefits to running an SEM campaign. Whether you want to know what day of the week you generate the most clicks or the keyword that has provided the most valuable conversions, SEM has it all. This realtime attribution model is important because it can help quickly support optimization changes in your campaign, making your SEM strategy a more efficient source of sales opportunities. #6 - Test Until it Works! Take a look at the following two advertisements that were run for a recent SEM campaign: These are two advertisements that are eligible to appear on Google's SERP for the same set of keywords: home insurance in Massachusetts. For the most part, the ad format and language are the same.

6 The one difference is found in the "headline," the blue bolded and underlined words at the top of the ad. In one ad, we have focused on a broad title that accentuates the "action" language ("get"). This is designed to target individuals who are actively looking to purchase a home insurance policy, as opposed to those who are just browsing. The second ad speaks to a subset of potential customers, those who are price sensitive and are looking for a home insurance policy at the lowest possible price. This headline eliminates the action-based language in favor of more descriptive ad copy that might encourage clicks from searchers who are most concerned with getting insurance that fits their budget. The goal? To see which ad is more effective in driving consumers to fill out a quote request form that is found on the landing page of each ad. With Google's advanced tracking capabilities and the Astonish SEM team's analytical strategies, an advertiser is able to see which ad is more effective at driving a higher percentage of clickthroughs - found in the metric Click-Through-Rate (or CTR: the number of clicks divided by number of times the ad was viewed). This is just one example of a test that can be run to optimize your campaign for efficient performance. Another test that can help your campaign is to compare the effectiveness of two different landing pages (the page to which your PPC traffic is directed after clicking on your advertisement). By sending equal amounts of traffic to two different landing pages with subtle differences (different page content, unique quote applications, varying visual imagery, etc.) you can determine what is most effective in getting your visitor to complete your desired action: in this case, it would be a completed quote request form. Enhanced measurability, combined with various testing strategies, can be an important benefit to your SEM campaign by improving efficiencies and highlighting only its best performing components. #7 - Scalability: Swim with the Big Fish! One of the biggest enticements to an SEM campaign is that you have the ability to compete directly with the biggest "fish" in your industry. Even if you are a small insurance agency that is running its first SEM campaign, you can show your ad right next to the largest insurance carriers in the world.

7 Sure, those carriers might have a larger total budget to assign to SEM, but your bid for the keyword "car insurance quote in Ohio" is just as valuable as theirs. Your ability to be seen in the same search "landscape" evens the advertising playing field a bit, and also gives you access to the same types of leads. At that point, your customer service model and sales capabilities will take over, and you'll close the deal. #8 - Target your Local Audience Earlier, we discussed the various ways that you can target your audience effectively through PPC. One of those techniques, geographic targeting, is so important that it deserves its own section. With an SEM campaign, you are able to show your advertisements to only those people who are searching within your desired marketing area. If you are a small or mid-sized insurance agency who specializes in local business, this can be an effective tool. Geographic targeting has two benefits. First, by targeting a certain geographic area, you can ensure that you are reaching only the people that your company can effectively service. If your agency specializes in home insurance policies within a certain zip code or metro area, geographic targeting is a good way to capitalize on your agency's core competency. Secondly, geographic targeting can be used as a tool to expand your book of business to other cities or towns. Agencies are licensed to sell and service insurance policies in whole states, not simply the county or city in which they are located, so why not take advantage of the ability to draw targeted opportunities from across your entire state? Our most successful clients have used this tactic to broaden their customer base, but more importantly, to expand their business. #9 - Scalability As mentioned earlier, SEM campaigns allow you to show your ads alongside the largest companies in the insurance business. The obvious difference in your advertising reach is budget. Your agency has a limited budget, whereas the large carrier's budget is limitless (or seemingly so). Don't let that stop you from starting your own campaign! In some ways, this is a blessing. With a smaller budget, it will force you to drive only the most qualified audience at an efficient price with highly specific keywords and a geo-targeted campaign. You might not be able to consistently gain the top position for a highly expensive and competitive keyword like "car insurance," but wouldn't you rather receive a click from a visitor with a more qualified keyword term like "get a car insurance quote in Los Angeles"?

8 A visitor who reaches you on a "long-tail" keyword such as this will come at a lower price (result of lesser competition) and will result in a much better chance of the visitor actually converting into a quote request (they've qualified themselves simply by their search phrase!). SEM campaigns can be built to fit any budget. Your dedicated SEM team will put together a plan that can achieve results agencies of any size. #10 - Instant Marketing Gratification Here at Astonish we believe that the best marketing strategy are "blended" by nature, incorporating the best Digital Marketing tactics: social media, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, link building, and SEM. The most successful e- Agencies have a well-rounded strategy with a foundation build on each of these disciplines. One advantage that SEM has over all other Digital Marketing strategies is that your paid search campaign is eligible to produce results instantaneously. From the minute that your SEM campaign is set live, you are eligible to be shown in search engine results. This means that traffic, and hopefully insurance leads, can result immediately. SEO strategies are really the foundation to any good search marketing campaign, and can provide long-term improvements in your search engine visibility. However, many times these optimization tactics can take 6-8 months to be "indexed" by the search engine, which means that SEO is a longer-term strategy. With SEM, you can supplement your SEO strategies in order to boost visibility and traffic as soon as your campaign is live. Now that is a truly blended Digital Marketing strategy. **** SEM can be a critical piece of your Digital Marketing strategy. The benefits of an SEM campaign range from a targeted audience to instantaneous results. While each campaign is unique, the Astonish SEM team is experienced at building campaigns that can achieve results for all types of agencies. Call to see what an SEM campaign can do for YOUR agency today.

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