Nowa­days, any per­son, com­pany, or orga­ni­za­tion with a prob­lem seeks to resolve that prob­lem through search. If you want an answer, you Google it—simple as that. But some­times, the solu­tion is not as easy as a sim­ple answer or def­i­n­i­tion. Some­times you need to fol­low the mar­ket­ing chain to get the right solu­tion for your issue—be it a soft­ware issue, a secu­rity issue, a com­merce issue, or any­thing else.

The pur­pose of SEM is to give cus­tomers solu­tions as quickly as pos­si­ble. When peo­ple go to search for their solu­tions, SEM mar­keters should seek to give them the right answers, right away. Let’s say you have a cus­tomer who does not have a com­pany web­site and wants to build one. The ini­tial search will yield numer­ous solu­tions to the prob­lem, some of the best solu­tions being SEM ads. SEM can adjust more quickly than tra­di­tional, organic, SEO—that’s why cus­tomers might find more direct and up-to-date solu­tions with it than they would with nat­ural search results.

If one of these ads is for Adobe web­site build­ing solu­tions, and then the cus­tomer clicks on it, we call that the first touch. Even though the cus­tomer may not make a pur­chase at the first point of con­tact with these poten­tial solu­tions, SEM kicks off the mar­ket­ing chain and helps solve the customer’s prob­lems down the road. After the first point of con­tact, the mar­ket­ing chain can move in numer­ous pro­gres­sive direc­tions, direc­tions that will help the mar­keter, the com­pany, and the cus­tomer. But the most vital part about the first touch is that the solu­tion matches the customer’s issue.

To kick­off the mar­ket­ing chain, an SEM mar­keter can­not just bid whim­si­cally on every related key­word. The SEM mar­keter must ensure that they are spend­ing mar­ket­ing dol­lars wisely. Sure, there is no rea­son to leave any poten­tial sales on the table, but there is also no rea­son to bid on key­words that are unlikely to yield any cus­tomer action. Action does not always indi­cate an imme­di­ate pur­chase, but if you get more clicks with a cer­tain key­word than with oth­ers, then you know that key­word func­tions as a bet­ter mar­ket­ing spark­plug. Weigh your options, and spend mar­ket­ing dol­lars fru­gally. Use A/B test­ing and ana­lyt­ics to fig­ure out what options best suit your mar­ket­ing mission.

A rel­e­vant land­ing page is nec­es­sary if you want SEM to jump­start the mar­ket­ing chain. You can have the best ad copy in the world, but you won’t get any pur­chases until cus­tomers visit your site. Two impor­tant aspects of land­ing pages are (1) par­al­lelism and (2) calls to action. You need your land­ing page to match your ad copy and the customer’s search terms as closely as pos­si­ble. You also need your land­ing page to have obvi­ous calls to action so the cus­tomer can move down the mar­ket­ing chain.

With­out SEM, many mar­ket­ing cam­paigns would never get going. Make sure you put all the pieces in place before send­ing a cus­tomer on a mar­ket­ing jour­ney. Make sure that jour­ney has an inten­tion, and isn’t just a ran­dom jum­ble of mar­ket­ing tac­tics. Remem­ber that first impres­sions are the most impor­tant, so be metic­u­lous about what type of SEM ad copy you put out. Also, make sure cus­tomers con­tinue down the mar­ket­ing chain by cre­at­ing rel­e­vant and use­ful land­ing pages.