Once You Figure Out the Sauce, Spread it Around

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What’s the one thing digital marketers want most? Positive return on investment (ROI). What’s the best way to achieve ROI? Heavy site traffic and numerous conversions. What’s the most efficient way of increasing traffic and conversions? Contrary to what most digital marketers practice, it’s not by re-tapping the original source, whether identified through a search engine marketing (SEM) company, individual search engine buy or network buys.

No, your efforts would yield more fruitful results by leveraging your existing keyword database among the countless search engines, networks, and other advertising applications that are often overlooked. (ADOTAS is a great resource for many of these online marketing options.)

In talking with search marketers — of all sizes — day in and day out, I’m often surprised to hear that at least half their time spent on SEM-related tasks — and in most cases, up to 75 percent of it — is monopolized by managing and optimizing their keyword list.

In our system, the average number of keywords per advertiser is nearly 2,000. Zango’s own keyword list approaches 5,000. Either way, that’s a hefty list and, more importantly, a hefty amount of work.

The question I often ask prospective SEM advertisers is: “If you spend that much time and effort — work! — on your keyword list, why limit its utility (and potential earning power) on just one or two search engines?” Just like you wouldn’t put all your retirement eggs in one investment basket, it’s wise to diversify your keyword currency.

Yes, there are legitimate concerns with lesser-known engines and other keyword advertising networks, like volume and traffic quality. Those same concerns, however, should be considered regardless of the media purchase, including those you currently buy.

Taking a step back, it can take months and months to achieve positive ROI, going back to the decision point of wanting to start an online marketing campaign. Once the decision has been made on where to buy, and the campaign(s) has started, the next step is optimization. Finding the perfect mix of target terms and adjusting their frequency and reach is both an art and a science. It’s painstaking, consuming work and I’m willing to bet there were nights you went to sleep thinking of new word combinations to test in the morning.

But you did it — you successfully identified your campaign’s top-performing keywords, or what I call the secret sauce. So now that you figured out the sauce, spread it around!

In 2007, make it a goal to try three new keyword media outlets. Happy New Year!

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