More and more companies in the world are adopting Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as part of their digital marketing strategy, especially in APAC, where SEM began to take root about 5 years ago, comparing to the more matured SEM markets of US and Europe which is a matured 15-year-old industry.


Let's talk about what is SEM first before we go into the benefits of why it is important to businesses. To put it simply, SEM is the practice of bidding on keywords that your customers may be searching on, in a virtual auction of a search engine. Keywords are the text that you enter into search engines like Google when want to search for something. Based on your keyword search, the search engine like Google or Microsoft Bing, would then crawl for the most relevant webpage from its depository of indexed websites and webpages.


The job of a SEM manager is to use the lowest cost to bid on a relevant keyword so that your bid in the virtual auction in Google or Bing could allow you to secure an advertisement slot in the search results page of a search engine, most preferably on the first page of search results, where it is the most visible to your customers. Along with your advertisement copy which your customer may click on, it would then lead to the destination website where your customer may convert, depending on how you define your conversion goal, be it an order or email subscription.


So as you could see, there are a few components to a SEM campaign, which is

  • Researching for the relevant keywords
  • Crafting the advertisement copy
  • Bidding based on your allocated Budget


While there are more components of a SEM campaign, such as which match types of keywords to use, negative keywords, ad groups, strategies to increase conversions and campaign efficiency, advertisement fatigue, bid adjustments and scripts, these would not be covered in this article as this is merely an introduction to SEM.


Now that we are done with the introduction, let us talk about the benefits of using SEM for businesses. There are 3 main benefits to adopting SEM.


Performance is easily measurable:

With SEM performance metrics like CAC (customer acquisition cost) or CPA (cost per acquisition), CPC (cost per click), conversions (depending on what you define as a conversion business goal), ROAS (return on advertising spend, usually how much sales generated from each dollar of advertising spent), KPI is easily set at a department level, requesting for budget from senior management is easily justifiable, QoQ, or MoM performance comparisons could be easily done and it is a breeze to measure the success of each campaign invested.


The sooner you adopt SEM, the better:

As more competitors adopt SEM and starts bidding on the same keywords as you or your company, this keyword overlap in the auction bidding system would mean that it would cost more for your advertisement to be at the top of the search results page. As with biddable platforms, like programmatic, digital display banners, videos, going in early means lower cost comparing to when the channel is saturated with your competitors. So, when you discovered a new channel or new channel format which you believe is aligned to your campaign objectives, it might be worthwhile to be an early entrant.


A new inflow of sales for your business:

Similar to OOH (out-of-home) marketing, offline marketing, telemarketing, partnerships, sales team to drive sales or leads for your business, SEM is an additional channel to bring in more sales. The best parts, you could optimise your SEM campaigns to maximise its efficiency levels and it works well in tandem with your branhding campaigns, to bring the most out of the lifetime value of your customers.