SEM in a virtual world vs. Traditional advertising

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the new frontier in advertising businesses on an international scale. However the question remains, "how does it compare to traditional advertising?" as primarily punted by Madison Avenue creative agencies. A key to consider is the locations of these types of advertising forms, which I eluded to in the title of this post today. SEM is a virtual advertising medium found purely on the Internet whereas traditional advertising such as billboards, TV advertising are promoting the businesses in the traditional brick and mortar sense. Online it is all about content and information and supplying that need to the people who are looking for answers. In the real world it is all about location and he who has the best location and most advertising spend will win the customer by getting feet into their store. However the beauty of SEM is that it allows smaller businesses to compete with much larger businesses as he or she who provides the most credible information, correctly optimised for search engines, will win the customers hearts.

Let us look at an example:

Client A who is a seller of electric generators decides to use search engine advertising using organic search engine techniques and is able to get on the 1st page of Google for 6 of his keywords. From this achievement client A is able to generate 1000 targeted customers to his website. From this he is able to achieve 1% sales conversion rate and makes a total of 10 generator sales. Now the true success of this campaign could only be measured by knowing all the costs incurred to sell these generators and the price he is charging his own clients. However I would like to make a key point in how this advertising campaign differs from a traditional advertising campaign.

What’s the difference?

In traditional advertising the business would place magazine adverts, create billboards, and hand out flyers, glossy brochures to sell this generator. Now one of the differences here is that the customers would not be targeted as in the search engine example as many people who received the brochure or saw the billboard actually did not want to see it. However there would also be a greater audience (mass advertising) seeing these adverts. So let us assume that this advertising also generated 1000 feet into the generator store. I can guarantee you that there would be a higher response rate than the 1% that was achieved using the search engines. If there was 1000 people physically coming into this fictitious generator store. This is simply because of the stickiness factor of being in-store.

Am I saying traditional advertising is better?

Not necessarily. Yes if you were able to get 1000 people into your physical store a much higher percentage should buy your products, due to the stickiness factor of the store (competitor might be across town, good salesman etc). However the question to be asked about the traditional advertising medium is how much money had to be spent on the advertising to get those 1000 prospects in the 1st place. More than likely it would have been much more than a search engine marketing campaign. Using online marketing techniques like SEM means that we can track every dollar spent and determine the best strategy for the best ROI. This is one of the biggest differences as businesses can now be confident in a form of advertising where they can measure results. If a campaign is not working, weaknesses can be identified and fixed. This is the beauty of online marketing and why we are so passionate about it. Do we recommend canning traditional advertising? Absolutely not, however if you are not increasing your advertising spend on search and internet marketing, now would be a good time to consider doing so. There are millions of people just searching to do business with you. Do you have any comments about this article, feel free to comment below.

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