Benefits of SEM: How Search Engine Marketing can drive traffic to your store

Benefits of SEM: How Search Engine Marketing can drive traffic to your store

Search Engine Marketing | 5 minute read

When you think about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) you think about advertising online, and in particular online advertising with Google or Bing.

You probably also think of driving an internet user to your website to make a purchase, to sign up, to give you their details, or to give money to a Nigerian prince (which is strange because surely a Prince already has enough money).

And you would be right! (Except for the last one).

Google and Bing do provide very effective and useful marketing tools to send online traffic to your website, however, the benefits of SEM should be seen in a wider context. They can also drive people into your physical store, restaurant, massage parlour, cat cafe, or any other physical ‘bricks & mortar’ site.

I hear you cry foul at that comment. With the shift towards digital transactions and smartphone usage growing year on year, the state of business to consumer interactions has to be moving away from the traditional model of foot traffic, right?

The increase in digital assistants, think Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, and the increased use of Google maps screams otherwise.

To put those changes into perspective, there has been:

An 85% increase in searches for ‘Where to buy’

A 3 x increase in searches for ‘Open now

These reflect clear desires for physical locations and the intent to act on purchasing desires within those physical locations.


The micro-moments that matter

They are also indicative of the reason that Google decided their Micro-moments – the intent driven moments of decision making exhibited by consumers, to be:

‘I want to know..’

‘I want to go..’

‘I want to do..’

‘I want to buy..’

All of these reflexive moments in which consumers turn to their devices are carried out with the expectation that the result delivered will instantly satisfy their desires.

A business that can successfully position itself to meet consumers micro-moment desires is one that stands to benefit through online AND offline customers.

Then again, they could find what they want online and go to your competitor who is advertising in those moments if you are not.

That’s the benefit of SEM and that’s how valuable the management of these micro-moments is.

I hear you scream that your customers love you and would shop nowhere else once they know who you are.

But the statistics don’t lie.

  • 53% of people will purchase AGAINST the brand they were originally after.

That means over half of your customers will go to your competition if they can’t find you, or if your online experience doesn’t help them to do what they want, or find what they want.

Which poses the real question – How do you capitalise on this?

There are a lot of ways to do this.

Google My Business, Adwords, and Bing are all able to connect you with the instant desires of your customers. You could even use people with big arrow signs that spin around, though that might be a bit cliche by now.

Ideally all of the above, well, all barring the last one, even if it is very impressive.

A paid search campaign targeting people looking for your business, that’s tailored to drive foot traffic, can take your campaign to the next level.

Consider this, if you are a shop then a shopping cart on your website that allows for in-store pick up can capture the intent of your customers micro-moments.

Or, if your website is optimised for mobile usage you’ll be better placed to turn your customers fleeting interest into a concrete conversion.

Remember, these people are out and about. Your customers use their phone as their own portable brain. It contains dictionaries, maps, guides, how-to information, recipes, advice, pricing, locations, directions, the list goes on. The only thing it doesn’t do is tuck you in at night and make you breakfast…. yet….though I’m sure Google is working on that one as we speak.

And that’s not even factoring in the success that can be achieved by running Local Inventory Ads on Google.

These are an extension of the shopping ads on Google, but they list the stock in a specific store, with the store location as well.

The great thing is, you only need 1 store to be able to do it, which is perfect for the smaller business looking for a competitive edge.

Remember, these are people looking for what you sell, and not just to buy it online and get someone to deliver it, they want their products faster than Australia Post will deliver it. They want it now now now!

veruca salt i want it now

Picture this scenario – You provide a pick up in store option and connect with the instant purchasing desires of people looking for your products. They don’t have to wait by the front door, potentially missing the postman and trekking to the nearest Post Office to provide every piece of ID they’ve been assigned since birth just to pick up their own package.

Instead, they can grab it on their way home, or their way to work, or on the way to the friends birthday that they forgot about until an hour ago and desperately needed a present for.

You know, that wonderful present that you can sell them!

This becomes your chance to shine. Prove why people want to shop with you over others. Smile, be friendly, shower them with praise when they enter your store.

Or you can ignore them, treat them like rubbish and flip them off when they come in, whatever works for your unique customer service experience, I don’t judge.

Ultimately you can deliver the type of service and convenience they want that they can’t get form their portable brain. Phones may provide instant gratification, but there’s still nothing as tangible as the brick and mortar of your store. Through connecting that need for instantaneous results with your store, the benefits of SEM and paid search occur through driving foot traffic to your store, to drive your business forward.

In the case of the benefits of SEM vs the people – a guilty plea!


Something that we are all guilty of has been looking at online marketing in terms of it being on, and driven by, measurable goals. This has been the big selling point for online marketing for years. The idea that unlike TV, radio and other traditional forms of marketing, you can measure the results with online data. And while you can directly measure the results, the way we all use our online space has changed considerably, muddying the waters when it comes to crunching the numbers.

Consider this.

Data via mobile handsets for the three months ending 31 December 2017 was 203,157 Terabytes… a 39.1% increase on the previous year.

This statistic is just one of the many that show a continued growth in mobile usage in Australia. We are using our phones for everything. Like I said before, each device acts as a portable brain satisfying the instant desires of our digital synapse desires.

Of course that means that we are doing more and more on the go. Looking to buy things as we think of them and not waiting until we get home and booting up the desktop and logging in and navigating the… i’m getting tired just writing that, so imagine how few people can show this type of mental focus to shop on a delayed schedule.

In 2018, the desire behind an ‘I want to buy’ search is instant, and the quicker I can get my product, the happier I am.

This is reflected in the fact that there is a 2x increase in same day shipping.

Now, not every business can offer that of course, but you can offer same day pick up, can’t you? That’s thinking outside the box, to put your product in a box, and get it to your customers right when they want it.

That’s how you can use paid search to your advantage as a business.

Because not everything can be sold online. Somethings you just have to go out and get in person. It’s very hard to have a romantic dinner for two (or three, again I don’t judge) online. Looking lovingly into your special someone’s digital retinal display just doesn’t have the same romantic vibe as an intimate candlelit dinner.

digital love

The lesson here is…

We need to change the way we think about online marketing. From a pure measured search + conversion = PROFIT model, to a more traditional form.

The benefits of SEM mean that search and clicks are the same as a billboard or TV ads.

Why? Because business will increase by doing these things as people go out and find you, come to you, and come back time and time again.

One more thing!

The last thing we really need to think about is how we think of the profit that you make.

The first sale, that is, the first time you get the service of your customer, shouldn’t be the last. The old adage, that it takes 5 times as much work to get a new customer than it does to keep one, has a degree of truth to it. You need to do something that does all of the above to ensure you’re not treating your customers like one hit wonders – re-engage with your existing customers, re-market, email marketing, post them letters, get creative with your communication (maybe not carrier pigeons though, notoriously unreliable and the cost of bird seed is through the roof).

This is important for the lifetime value of your customer.

Consider your average customer, what are they worth to you over the year? What about two years? Or an entire decade? Now take that value against your advertising cost.

You might break even on the initial sale or visit, but what about the second one? And that ignores the ancillary benefits of word of mouth, positive reviews on your Google My Business listing, Facebook, Website, Yelp and the like, or even a blog.

You never know who that person is the first time they come to you, or who they know and what they can do for your business too.

Think about the following scenario and identify who makes you more money:

Person 1 spends $1000 on a one off

Person 2 spends $800 on a yearly transaction

Person 3 spends $200 per month

Over 1 year

Person 1 spends $1000

Person 2 spends $800

Person 3 spends $2400

Over 3 years

Person 1 has still only spent $1000

Person 2 has spent $2400

Person 3 has spent $7600

Now let’s look at acquisition cost. Let’s assume that it costs $20 to get each of them and $100 to service them each time they use your business, so $120 in the first year.

Person 1 makes you $880

Person 2 makes you $680

Person 3 makes you $1080

Yearly retention costs you one fifth of your acquisition cost. That works out to be $4, and still costs you $100 to service them. Over 3 years this equates to:

Person 1 has made you $880

an average of $293 per year

Person 2 has made you $2072

an average of $690 per year

Person 3 has made you $3972

an average of $1324 per year

Now, if you had to pick one of these customers for your business, who would it be?

If you said “don’t make me choose they are all wonderful”, then gold stars for you, but a loyal customer who comes back constantly is doing it because they love you and what you do.

They will tell other people because they are happy with what you do for them and this could bring in a lot more customers, at a lower cost too because they aren’t searching for the vague idea of who you are (Local Cafe), but for you directly (John Smith’s Corner Cafe and Picklery).

Remember, these people will go somewhere else if they can’t find you, as I said earlier:

53% of people will purchase AGAINST the brand they were originally after.

So make sure you are there for them to find you.

For a small business, the impact of a paid search campaign goes beyond driving traffic to a website. With the benefits of SEM fully factored in, a pay-per-click campaign can also increase foot traffic to your physical location. When you use paid search to insert your business into the micro-moments of consumers, you’re best placed to provide the products and services they need, and come out a winner.

If you want some professional help to ensure you’re the first business in line when customers go looking, we can help.