Hir­ing some­one is a stren­u­ous and con­fus­ing process—hiring a per­son (or peo­ple) to run the SEM for your com­pany can be even more so. Whether you decide to work with a free­lance con­trac­tor, use an agency, or hire inter­nally, there are cer­tain qual­i­ties of SEM pro­fes­sion­als that dis­tin­guish the ade­quate from the awe­some. If an indi­vid­ual has these three par­tic­u­lar qual­i­ties, chances are that she or he will make a great SEM pro­fes­sional. Even if a per­son lacks rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence, with exper­tise in these three areas, he or she will have the poten­tial to become an SEM master.

So what are the three traits com­mon among SEM mas­ters? (1) An SEM pro­fes­sional must love data. (2) He or she has to be a word­smith. And, (3) any great SEM expert will be a self-starter. These three qual­i­ties are impor­tant for spe­cial­ists and any­one else on the SEM team, but they are espe­cially impor­tant for those man­ag­ing and over­see­ing SEM campaigns.

How to Love Data

To the out­side world, mar­keters seem like cre­ative gurus: pick­ing the col­ors that will sell, com­ing up with enter­tain­ing taglines, and cre­at­ing sto­ry­lines that will engage cus­tomers. But, in the age of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, data has cemented a greater role in marketing—especially in search. To find a good search mar­keter, find some­one who loves comb­ing through num­bers. Seek out the per­son who makes deci­sions based on statistics.

It’s impor­tant that SEM mar­keters use data to make a choice, not to con­firm one. In the for­mer case, some­one decides some­thing first and then uses the stats to back up that deci­sion. In the sec­ond case, someone’s using data to back up a deci­sion they’ve already made. This is an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion about the rela­tion­ship of SEM pro­fes­sion­als to data. It’s easy to bend sta­tis­tics to say what you want. SEM pro­fes­sion­als should be objec­tive and sci­en­tific when mak­ing their deci­sions. They should make deci­sions only after they have con­sulted the data.

Why a Wordsmith?

In SEM, data dri­ves deci­sions. But, paid search is just as much about copy as it is about sta­tis­tics. SEM mas­ters under­stand the nuances of words and terms; they know the value of the right buzz­words, and the ways to engage cus­tomers with lan­guage. Not only that, but a great SEM copy­writer knows how to pro­duce great copy efficiently—both within a con­strained word limit and on a rapid and con­sis­tent basis.

Copy­writ­ing and word­smithing are where the cre­ative side of mar­ket­ing shines through—but don’t be fooled into think­ing it’s all about cre­ativ­ity. Remem­ber, that data dri­ves deci­sions and any great SEM mar­keter will weigh dif­fer­ent key­words and ver­sions of their copy against one another to see which com­bi­na­tion of words works best. Writ­ing in SEM is all about get­ting a reac­tion, and lucky for mar­keters, the data will reveal how many reac­tions you get and what kinds of reac­tions they are.

SEM Self-Starters

The world of SEM is dynamic and fast. Best prac­tices are con­stantly chang­ing, as are the rules of the SEM game. Search engines con­stantly update their SEM for­mats, and search mar­keters must keep up. Unfor­tu­nately, if you’re not a self-starter you prob­a­bly won’t fare well in the ever-changing SEM race.

SEM is a real-time mar­ket­ing plat­form. This is great for mar­ket­ing pur­poses, but demand­ing on mar­keters. The speed of paid search means that SEM mar­keters have less time to pro­duce an ad than most of their col­leagues work­ing in other mar­ket­ing plat­forms. An SEM mas­ter works speed­ily and effec­tively. SEM mas­ters must trust their col­leagues and rely on data to drive deci­sions on the fly.

When you find a mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sional who is data dri­ven, crafty with words, dynamic, and self-motivated, you know this per­son will be a great SEM mar­keter. If you’re a mar­keter with these qual­i­ties, then you should know that you’re on the path to becom­ing an SEM master.

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