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3 Top Tips for Planning Your 2016 Search Engine Marketing Budget

If you’re gearing up to plan your SEM (search engine marketing) — includes SEO and PPC — budget for 2016 or are already in the process, you may be feeling the pressure that comes with such a vital undertaking. How you allocate your funds can mean the difference between soaring sales and stagnancy.

If you’re feeling beads of sweat drip down as you try to determine where to spend your marketing dollars for the highest ROI, don’t fret. I have three top tips to help you make smart decisions.

1. Consider the Power of Longtail Keywords

Longtail keywords, very specific – often three to six word – keyword phrases (also less competitive than more general keywords), became more important to online marketers with the advent of Google Hummingbird, Google’s major organic algorithm update in 2013, which gives preference to the longtail keyword.

With a recent surge in voice search via platforms such as Siri and Google Voice Search, there’s no question: longtail keywords are more important than ever.

People are searching just as they speak, so it’s time to pay even closer attention to keyword phrases like, “How do I get a stain out of my shirt?” vs. just “clothing stain.”

But even if you’ve mastered the art of conversational dialogue and are pretty certain you know how people might search, there’s a science to figuring out which longtail keywords work best, so working with a good SEO agency to ensure you have a solid long tail keyword strategy in place is definitely going to be vital to online marketing success in the coming year.

2. SEM Is Always a Worthwhile Investment

There are certain online marketing tactics that are a sure-bet for a long time to come, and SEM is one of them.

Overall, U.S. marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019 — growing at a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — but search will remain the largest share of interactive spend. (MediaPost)

Based on our experience, when doing SEO or PPC, businesses are likely to get at least three to four times their money back. That’s actually being conservative.

We have clients getting more than 200x their money back, and that doesn’t even include the long-term residual ROI of SEM. But of course, results may vary.

Many companies we’ve worked with spend 90-100% of their marketing budget on SEM year after year, often after many years of focusing their budget on more traditional forms of marketing.

3. Think in Terms of ROI

Having the right mindset is crucial when planning your marketing budget. Many marketers and business owners make the mistake of thinking in terms of costs rather than returns.

While costs are an important consideration, ultimately, your objective is to “move the needle” and get a return on your money. Don’t focus so much about what you will spend “today”, but rather what you can expect to get “tomorrow” (ROI).

And whatever marketing tactic you choose, you want to make sure it’s yielding the highest ROI dollar per dollar.

If you’re wondering how the heck to figure out the potential ROI of SEM, here’s the formula:

ROI % = $$ sales from marketing efforts / $$ marketing investment

One good question to ask yourself is: “How many new deals will I need to close to break even?” If the answer is one or two, you’ve probably found a safe bet.

Now, it’s time to wipe your brow, take a deep breath, and go plan for a year of online marketing triumph!

Still have questions about how to plan your 2016 SEM budget? I’m always happy to help. Leave a comment below.

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