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Convincing senior management that SEO/SEM is a good investment.

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Search marketing has proven to be a profitable investment for many companies—probably including a few of your competitors—yet some senior managers are still hesitant to move advertising dollars in that direction. Below is a list of the top five killer value propositions any marketer could use to pitch SEO/SEM to senior management.

1) Return on investment in SEM is 100% “trackable.” Search engine marketing is unique for its sciencelike precision in acquisition tracking. Most desired conversion events can be tracked by a free Web analytics solution such as Google Analytics or by a more comprehensive tracking system such as Omniture. Return on search advertising investment is reflected in X number of prospects visiting your site and Y number of sales generated as a result. No offline channel offers the granularity of data available in search campaigns, which allows for ongoing optimization and constant campaign efficiency improvements.

2) It's a relatively small investment. Upfront costs associated with paid search advertising are relatively low compared to those of offline campaigns. Plus, the information derived from a test search campaign could serve as a solid projection baseline for a full-scale campaign involving SEO and paid search.'

3) It works for brand awareness and customer education. Search engine marketing—whether paid search or organic optimization—generates targeted impressions. Your brand is displayed to thousands of Internet users and serves as a great product/service branding vehicle. Additionally, bottom-line cost-per-thousand rates compared to offline channel counterparts could be substantially lower at times.

4) It helps with market discovery. Larger companies often engage in market research and market discovery through search engine marketing. Low costs associated with research, set up and execution of test campaigns prove to be priceless for brands looking to branch out. Whether your company is testing a new marketing angle or you're trying to hit a new demographic, precision of search marketing could help.

5) Your competitors are doing it. This often proves to be one of the most compelling arguments. If the “800-pound gorilla” in your niche is fully engaged in search advertising, there is no reason why you should be left behind. Convincing, free competitor intel is available on Web sites such as Quantcast.com to demonstrate your point.

Greg Laptevsky is an SEM/SEO specialist, Certified Google Professional and Yahoo! Search Marketing Ambassador. He can be reached at greg@clickinclu sion.com

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