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Jun 26, 2018    Burn Book

Brains vs. Budget: Smarter SEM Gets You More for Your Money


Search advertising, like many things in life, is easier when you have lots and lots of money. Are your ads underperforming? Increase the budget. Want more traffic? Increase your cost per click bid. This is the way the system is designed. Google did not invent AdWords to make you money, it’s there to make them money. But a smart advertising agency does not rely on a massive budget for impressive returns.

On the face of it, search ads seem quite simple. The ads are all text, with a very short character limit. Targeting by search keywords seems easier than identifying a target demographic and finding ways to reach them based on those attributes that make them an ideal buyer.

But this perceived simplicity is the source of your main problem when running search ads: Everyone does it. Google ads seem like a no-brainer money maker. So all of your competitors are going to be doing it too, bidding on all the same obvious keywords, which drives up the price for prime space in search results. With all this competition, how do you get ahead?

The obvious solution is spend way more money than anyone else.

In the short term, the increase in results may justify the added expense. But that kind of short term thinking is dangerous to the success of your overall marketing strategy. Collectively, you and everyone you’re competing against are driving up the price for AdWords as you outbid each other. This hurts everyone… except Google, of course.

So what can you do? That answer is not so simple, because it differs on a case-by-case basis and requires actual analysis and creative thinking. The main point is that you need an attentive, savvy, and aggressive search specialist who is looking out for your budget and your best interest. There may be keywords that competitors are ignoring, making them cheaper to bid on but no less effective than the obvious key terms. You may need to test the content in your ads to possibly increase your click through rate. No matter what, if your marketing firm is suggesting increasing the budget without offering any other means of optimization, they aren’t doing the best they can for you.

You can extend this thinking beyond search engine marketing. In any marketing strategy – whether it involves social media advertising, influencer marketing, video ads, anything – increasing the budget is always going to be the lazy answer. But that alone is never the best solution. Our Austin ad agency got to where it is by offering custom strategies that do not rely on the client to provide sky high budgets to begin with. Sure, it takes money to make money, but that way of thinking does not lead to the most sensible and cost-effective marketing plans.

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