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Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing – Understanding the difference

By Chetan Saxena
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Imagine this:

The pipes below your sink started leaking today so you head to Google and search for “Dallas Plumbing” only to see a deal you can’t refuse in one of the ads listed on the side. You click the ad and land on the company website, then proceed to read a few reviews about the service. After a few 4 and 5 star reads, you decide it’s a safe bet and put in a service order. They show up, fix the pipes in under an hour and say goodbye with a smile and a handshake.

You’re impressed by their quick and amiable service, but not enough to think about liking or rating them on Facebook.

However, a month goes by and your coworker mentions their water isn’t running properly so they had to take a cold shower. You remember the plumbing service and tell them their brand name and they pull their phone out of their pocket and instantly find them on Facebook.


Sounds familiar?

When businesses start seriously considering online marketing, they often first consider complex actions like search engine marketing and social media marketing, without understanding the differences in each approach.

The cool thing about online marketing though, is that although there are different routes to take like SEM and SMM, they all play off of each other and support each other.

First, let’s talk about what why people engage in these marketing activities in the first place.


Social Media Marketing

The review effect

If you didn’t already know, 85% of people read up to 10 online review before deciding to trust the business on what they offer. Not to say this is all that social media is about, but it is a great bonus.

Having a presence on Yelp, Facebook, and Google Plus to allow for reviews to aggregate is a wise decision, especially if your platforms see a lot of traffic.


Native Advertising

Natively allowing your ads to integrate into Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn feeds has historically been shown as one of the least intrusive forms of advertisements that leads to the highest overall engagement. When you’re casually scrolling down a feed and see a “sponsored” post that sparks your interest to click on it, you just fell victim to the beauty of native advertisements.

The best part is that viewers can comment on a native ad to give feedback, thus allowing for others to see that comment in their feeds by association to increase overall ad reach.


Perfect opportunity to promote, create deals, and add customer lifetime value

Social media is too often looked at as just a center for distribution of content when you can and should be doing so much more. You can run campaigns that integrate social media into a deal/limited time offer that have been proven to have massive success.

But the best part is, when you add value to the lives of you social media fans, more fans naturally congregate, no payment to social media required. Instead of throwing money at something to get leads, using social media marketing to enhance the customer journey should be looked at as an opportunity.


Search Marketing

Larger target audience

Intuitively, we all head over to Google or some other search engine to find something, especially services. Google is the main platform over which we directly discover websites that show their stuff, thus, it is also grounds for marketers to reach you.

It’s not exactly a secret that the overwhelming majority of people check out the results listed in a search engine before doing any actually purchasing. Which of course in turn leads to the need to rank high in search results.


Infinitely measurable metrics

Especially when it comes to doing search marketing, discovering what works and what doesn’t is unbelievably easy. Keyword tools, analytics, competitor analysis tools, automatic graders, and so many more options keep you in the know.

To emphasize this, you can lookup a keyword like “Urgent Care Centers” in Google’s keyword planner and find out how many times that word has been search for in Dallas in the last week, and the demographics of who did the searching.

Not only audience settings though, you can measure every single little metric to gauge the success of your search marketing campiagns.


Buyable Results

With so many big names ranking for highly contested keywords on Google, trying to outrank someone on “Buy flat screen TV” isn’t exactly going to happen unless you’re Best Buy. The good news is that Google allows marketers to essentially buy traffic to their site if your campaign is structured properly.

In Google AdWords, you can purchase “inorganic” listings to show up at the top of the search results, have you ads show up elsewhere in display, or have a text ad on the side of the search results. The effectiveness of some of these strategies looks to be waning, however, particularly display advertisements.

With such an interconnected system of online flows, choosing to funnel every bit of your energy into one strategy or the other isn’t a realistic choice anymore. Using multiple different sources of expertise or freelancers to run segmented campaigns is one option. The other is to find a company that knows an online strategy is overarching, and requires multiple routes to be successful.

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