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Search Engine Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct

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If your brand’s website has less than 1m unique monthly visitors then this article is for you. If you have more than that, the chances are you are either knowingly or unknowingly already allocating the right percentage of your budget to these key marketing areas.   

SEO 15 percent
If you are yet to utilise video, mobile and retargeting, you should allocate approximately 30 percent of your budget to SEO. With these other advertising channels, you would see your SEO allocation reduced to 15 percent.  


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Search Engine Optimization takes time and should not be seen as a quick solution to turn around an ailing product or service. However it remains the standard of gathering organic search traffic, and it should be a central element of any online marketing budget. SEO is necessary for you to build organic traffic and you grow it over time.   As each cycle passes, you should reassess your progress and divert budget away to the other areas until your 30 percent comes down to approximately 15 percent.  

Ensure your site has “SEO-friendly” design; research your keywords carefully by analysing your competitors and ensure they are properly used within your site. With this in place, allocate a monthly budget to spend on SEO activities such as link building and producing original content (‘content is king’).    

SEM 40 percent

The largest part of your online marketing budget should go to SEM. If SEO is pull marketing (attracting customers to your site), search engine marketing is push marketing. Directing customers to your site; to call your store; or to visit your store, is the single biggest thing you can do to quickly boost sales and show an ROI on your marketing budget. This will give your superiors confidence to leave you alone in future and not scrutinise your work so closely.  

SEM is the process of getting your content (store phone numbers, address and reason to call/visit) across the internet in as many places as possible. More importantly to where people often visit. Generally, the higher the visitor numbers, the more it will cost to advertise. There are two main ways to use your SEM budget. PPC advertising and business directory advertising.  



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You will have begun researching keywords for your SEO and spent some budget to uncover their value. With PPC and directory advertising, you will also benefit from modifying your advert copy frequently in order to determine which ones generate good CTR. To establish your keyword strategy, you should first evaluate your competitors’ keyword strategy.  

Remember, if your PPC ads aren’t performing so well, it might mean that while your adverts work well on Google, your potential customers aren’t connecting with them. Therefore you need to keep an eye on the CTR rate and adapt your creative, targeting and landing pages until you find the optimum combination. In highly competitive markets, keywords can be very expensive, so you shouldn’t spend a lot on PPC before you have mastered your perfect conversion funnel.


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There are many business directories. Find out the best ones (speak to specialist agencies like YouCom Direct) and allocate a budget to them. London-city-directory.co.uk for example looks to be a good site, it is often found in website analysis sites as a referral site (directing traffic to a company site). However it only has 14,000 views a month. Yell.com though has nearly 10,000,000 views a month. Just as for PPC, you should research your competitors on each directory. If they are advertising there, then you should be. If they are not, it may be that they have yet to find it and you could gain market share and competitive advantage by advertising there. Of course it might be, that particular directory doesn’t generate enough traffic for your business sector and your competitors have already tried it and left. Business directory marketing and PPC advertising work best with advice from specialists.    



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SMM 15 percent

The SEO content you create (news articles etc.) then has to reach as many good quality readers as possible. This is where good social media marketing comes in.  

Most advertising campaigns start with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, where the advertising is established and proven. If your business sells products, it will benefit from being active on Pinterest and Instagram.  

What to aim for? Look at others in your sector and work out (or ask an agency) what makes users engage with the posts? Most directory agencies for example have 1 favourite or 1 retweet if they’re lucky. Below a typical tweet from YouCom Direct (formerly YouDirectories) has over 20 retweets, 37 favourites, nearly 80 engagements and is seen by 1,800+ people. Remember, each time a user retweets your message, your brand is reaching all of their followers too.


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Retargeting 10 percent
The majority of sites have very low conversion rates. Retargeting is how you improve conversion rates. Of course you require the visitors to find your site first so retargeting comes into play after you’ve built up your traffic. You will need approximately 15,000 monthly visitors until you can sustain a retargeting campaign. Create an excel document, monitor the monthly visitor numbers and place a marker to remind you to begin retargeting marketing activity at 10,000.   


Display Ads 5 percent
Display advertising is declining hence our 5 percent suggestion. How does it work on a smartphone mobile? Exactly, it doesn’t. With increasing web browsing on a smartphone, display adverts are being largely ignored by consumers. However some display ads will be necessary to match your competitor’s reach.  

Email marketing 15 percent
Email is often viewed as an old method of advertising, but it is still an effective low cost opportunity to reach customers. Beware the frequency parameters (too frequent emails will increase the unsubscribe rates dramatically) and change the content to maintain engagement (uninteresting content or repetitive content will increase the unsubscribe rates also).  

Remember, consumers access email on mobile devices as well as traditional desktops. This makes email DM a necessary addition to your online advert strategy. If you want to manage it yourself, try MailChimp as an effective delivery tool.  

There are many email DM templates you should create. It doesn’t have to be cold-calling email DM. You could send a shopping cart abandonment email with tailored messaging to bring them back perhaps mention a limited time offer, or a Cross Sell email. Of course to deliver the right email recommendation to the right user at the optimum time is essential in order to make this channel work for you. For that you’re best to utilise an advertising agency’s expertise and learn from a few campaigns.  


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Glossary:

SEO – Search engine optimisation

SEM – search engine marketing

PPC – Pay per click

CTR – Click to conversion rate / Click through rate

SMM – Social media marketing

DM – Direct mail  


Required reference
: YouCom Direct News Article, Sept 2015, London, ‘The budget secret’.

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