Marketing in 2020 took a tumble in the wake of COVID-19, with the travel and restaurant industry taking the biggest hit during the global pandemic.
Guidant Financial, a member of the The Small Business Trends Alliance (SBTA), recently surveyed over 3,100 current and up-and-coming small businesses to find out what’s going on with small businesses in these uncertain times. They found that the retail and service industries are currently the most prosperous, holding at about 13% of the market, with construction and contracting businesses in close second with 12% of the market.
They also asked about the biggest challenges small businesses were currently facing and found them to be:
- Lack of Cash Flow
- Problems Recruiting & Retaining Employees
- Marketing & Advertising
Marketing and advertising have always been a challenge for most small businesses, however the reduction in methods to reach prospective customers and strategic partners makes tradition marketing much more difficult. Since business owners and sales people are not able to attend in-person networking events or send physical paper mail, having effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has never been more important.
So What Is SEM?
There are a lot of definitions for SEM, however, we think Digital Vidya did it best by defining SEM as…
“the process of gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through both paid and unpaid efforts.”
Unpaid SEM, known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often challenging for small businesses because it requires:
- A long-term investment of content creation
- Optimizing a variety of other metrics such as load-time
- Improving User-Experience
- Tracking your competition to make sure you’re always staying ahead of them since SEO rankings can change quickly and without a lot of understanding why
With other forms of SEM, like Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, you can get results almost immediately, since you are paying to “skip the line” and appear at the top of search results on platforms such as Google and Youtube. It also gives you the ability to control:
- What content is shown to a searcher
- What time the content is shown (eg. maybe you only want to be shown during business hours)
- Whom it is shown to, down to the keyword typed in the search bar
SEO and PPC both have their trade offs, one requires much more time, the other requires more capital. Both allow you to easily track your labor to lead cost and know exactly where to best place your efforts, in respect to your ROI. For more information on PPC check out this article to see if its PPC is a better fit for you.
Getting Started With SEM
Getting Started with Search Engine Marketing can be a daunting task, with the proper guidance, your company can use it to set up both short and long term marketing goals and benefits. You’ll first need to become familiar with either Google or Bing Ads platforms.
However, for some small businesses owners, trying to take on another project can prove to be a difficult task. Thankfully, there are many companies out there that offer SEM services. The trick to choosing the right SEM company, is to find one that understands your industry and your company.
For more information on SEM and Digital Marketing, check out our other blog posts… or just give us a shout! We’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you have about which marketing strategies and tactics may be best for your business.
Stay safe out there!