In today’ business landscape, consumers expect companies to provide legit and useful information online, those of which are easy to find. Thus, if you have a business, or planning to put up one, you need to have a website. Traditional advertising and word-of-mouth approach are no longer sufficient. Your business must be visible online!
It makes sense. After all, the chance of fishing for potential customers among 4.38 billions of internet users across the globe is just too hard to ignore. And, when you’re forking out serious money, it’s only normal to hope for good ROI (Return on Investment) results on your marketing strategies.
What is SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and what does it mean to your business?
Creating a website is just a tiny fraction of your business journey. What comes next will be a series of marketing strategies to get your target market’s attention and bring them to your website. One way to do so is through SEM (Search Engine Marketing).
Some mistake it for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but the two aren’t the same. SEO is simply a branch of SEM.
SEM is a practice of using ad campaigns and organic search engine results to increase a website’s visibility. It allows users to run paid campaigns, research keywords, set a budget, forecast and analyse results, copy generation and automate bidding, as well as act on intelligent bidding recommendations.
Its ultimate goal is to lead your target audience forward to your website through keywords where you rank least and make sure there’s a steady flow of leads with a good conversion rate for your business.
So, what do all of these mean to a potential consumer who wants to easily and quickly find your website?
It means you need to make your business visible online by any digital marketing means necessary. It means you need to be one step ahead of your competitors by utilising a strong set of SEM tools to guide your marketing goals.
That being said, here is the creme de la creme of SEM tools that you should add to your marketing arsenals this 2019!
SEMrush is a highly versatile and one of the most comprehensive SEM tools available in the market. It’s for every marketer who wishes to conduct accurate audits and perform a medley of SEM activities that are sure to bring home the bacon (engagement and traffic).
SEMrush is definitely a tool to reckon when it comes to keyword analytics, display ads, content mapping, and SEO checkups. All of which provides useful insights that help marketers build a strong base for their SEM accounts.
One of the tool’s highlight feature is its competitive research tool. It allows the users to check on the competitor’s activities, including the keywords they’re ranking for, as well as the terms you need to target. Such information will help you gain traction on the keywords that you might have missed out.
Price per month: Pro plan: $99.95; Guru plan: $199.95; Business plan: $399.95
If you want to play around with trending keywords and punch up your site’s traffic, Ahrefs should be part of your must-have tools. With its monstrous database of 5.5 billion keywords with relevant metrics across the globe, it’s not hard to see why Ahref’s is a holy grail tool for many marketers.
It’s efficient with competitive analysis feature allows you to check your competitor’s top pages, who is linking to them, and more. Ahrefs also houses the Content Gap tool, which enables you to track the ranking of the competitor’s contents and identify the crucial deficits of your contents as well.
Further, it comes with the Top Pages tool that lets you check which pages absorb the most traffic. You can also check the volume of traffic that goes to your competitor’s site. Ahrefs has a lot of other impressive features under its wing that are worth exploring for. Hands down to this amazing tool!
Price per month: Lite: $99.00; Standard: $179.00; Advanced: $399.00; Agency: $999.00
You won’t want to miss Hubspot Marketing if you wish to grow your business. Good news if you’re just starting out because it has several tools that you can avail for free!
You can install live chat software, popup forms, and web forms for lead capture. You can then pipe your data to the free CRM, send kickback emails, and analyse the behaviour of your site’s visitors.
If you wish to avail the paid tiers, Hubspot Marketing has advanced marketing automation tools ready for you. From social media management, tracking emails, up to content management, this total solution will get your SEM goals rolling in no time.
Price per month: Starter: $50.00; Professional: $800.00; Enterprise: $3,200.00
If you wish to get your target audience’s sentiment regarding your brand, Survey Anyplace is the right tool to get your hands busy with.
It evaluates the status of your branding through surveys. Their surveys are well-designed, simple, and compatible with mobile devices. Thus, there are no more frictions from completing the surveys and getting the insights that you want. The better the survey is, the more useful the data you can get.
You can also create your own questionnaire and include images should you wish to make it more personalised.
Price per month: Basic: Free; Essential: $25.00; Professional: $42.00; Enterprise: On request
If you want to increase your leads, sales, and demos by 10%, you’ll need Proof by your side.
It uses social proof to boost your site’s conversion rate and connects to your website or CRM. Proof religiously implements reviews, social proof messaging, video contents geared to a specific audience once they visit the site.
Proof’s Hot Streak and Live Visitor Count notification features improve the perceptions of the customers to your brand. Such features allow the prospects to take a sneak peek at how other people interact with your brand. Also, it’s very easy to set up: just copy and paste their pixels, and voila! You now have a running Proof!
Additionally, Proof lets you identify your visitors and evaluate their journey in your site, which is useful in optimising your site’s design to get higher conversions. What more, it’s optimised for mobile use and integrates with other software systems.
Price per month: Basic: $29.00; Pro: $79.00; Business: $129.00; Premium: $199.00; Platinum: $299.00; Enterprise: Custom
It’s an excellent tool to help you optimise your contents for search engines. Yoast is a popular plugin too that works well with Classic editor in WordPress and Gutenberg.
It helps you select foundational contents, focus keywords to help you rank, internal links for an additional boost, and individual content URLs. This plugin also analyses the readability of your page and gives a score through Flesch Reading Ease.
In addition, Yoast updates itself every two weeks to keep up with Google’s algorithm and keep an SEO Specialist’s goals on track.
Price per month: Plugin for WordPress: Free; Paid Premium Plans: Ranges from $16.58 up to $349.00 depending on the training or bundle package.
When it comes to website analytics, Google Analytics is the gold standard. And as a digital marketer who wants to make the most out of micro-moments in the SEM industry, you need to know your audience on a deeper level.
Google Analytics, at its most basic level, gives you data about who’s visiting your site, their locations, and what pages they visit the longest. It also allows you to create goals to track conversions, follows events to learn more about user engagement, and create enhanced e-commerce setup. These valuable insights will help you conjure and deliver the right message to your target audience at the right time.
The only downside of using Google Analytics is that it requires expert knowledge to analyse all the results. But hey, it has a free trial (quote-based plan) with 5 million impressions per month limit, so it isn’t that bad at all!
Price: It’s free!
This tool operates like a search engine and does so with justification.
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider is an excellent tool for running an SEO audit to identify the issues that may be holding you back in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages.) These things might belong more on the SEO side, but having such data is vital for your SEM goals.
It’s also an efficient site scraper that goes through the entire website’s pages and links and gives data on Meta Descriptions, Status Codes, Page Titles, and Robots Meta Tags. It then arranges these data into a filtered spreadsheet. Another noteworthy feature of Screaming Frog is that it enables you to create an XML sitemap.
You can avail all of these features for free! But if you want some upgrades, you can purchase its paid version that comes with more sophisticated functions such as Google Analytics integration and custom source code search.
Price: £149.00 ($193.31) per year
This tool is just what you need to fly the virtual wall while your customers are navigating your site. Equipped with Scrollmaps, Heatmaps, Click Reports, User Session Recordings, and A/B Testing Tool, Crazy Egg will help reach your website goals faster.
These features let you track the journey of your website’s visitors. The data will show you which part confuses them or where they get stuck, to name a few. Crazy Egg also helps you determine which version of your website works best through its A/B testing tool.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a programming ninja to implement the changes you want for your site. Crazy Egg will take care of the technicals for you. How cool is that?
Price per month: Basic: $24.00; Standard: $49.00; Plus: $99.00
Keyword Tool IO
If you’re looking an alternative for Google Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools that are as equally good, Keyword Tool IO is the best contender. This tool understands that every search is people’s expression of wants, needs, desires, and interests.
These factors will benefit your business if you know how to analyse Google’s search trends, customise contents on your site to cater to the actual needs of the customer, and find search terms relating to the domain of your business. These are where the Keyword Tool IO will intervene.
It will help you explore new long-tail keywords for different niches by generating Google’s search suggestions automatically. These suggestions will be created according to Google language and domain that you choose.
The pieces of information you’ll get out of it will help you invest in the most relevant paid search terms for your target market.
Price per month: Basic: free; Pro Lite: $48.00; Pro Basic: $68.00; Pro Plus: $88.00
(There are available yearly subscriptions too that cost more upfront but less in the long-term.)
This tool claims to be the “all-seeing eye for your SEO performance” at a scale. An analytics tool and advanced SEO performance tracker rolled into one.
Nightwatch.io might be heavy on SEO, but the insights it yields are significant to every SEM goals there is. It tracks down keyword distribution, evaluates search visibility, and notifies the changes in the volume of keywords in your site’s contents.
It also houses an automatic keyword discovery application that actively looks for keywords that you could rank for. It’s an excellent support mechanism that online marketers, especially content managers.
Price per month: Starter: $19.00; Starter +: $39.00; Basic: $59.00; $ Pro 1000: $ 99.00; Pro 2500: $199.00; Pro 5000: $369.00; Pro 10000: $699.00
Goodge Adwords is an absolute must-have to every SEM artillery. It’s an excellent platform for marketing a business on Google’s SERPs with payment scheme that’s based on either pay-per-call structure or pay-per-click.
It’s most popular feature is Google Keyword Planner where you can search for keywords that you want to use in your contents and ads. It has a budget capping option too that allows you to control your expenses. Plus, it helps you get more prospects to your site.
Moreover, Google Adwords is a proactive way to showcase your products and services on the results pages of Google for specific inquiries.
For example, someone searches “best Zumba Class gym in Austin, “ it allows you to ramp up on your SEO and hope for it to appear as organic on SERP. But, you can do more by bidding on the keyword and rank on the first page to catch high intent visitors.
Price per month: Adwords run through a pay-per-click model
You might have recognised BuzzSumo from their plethora of useful blog content ideas. But make no mistake as this tool can do more than just that. As unique as its name, this content research tool can identify the top influencers in the industry and will help you connect them.
You can search for viral topics and define your searching scope to generate trending or evergreen contents for your target audience. You can then check your content’s social mentions and analytics and measure their performance accordingly. It’s definitely an easy-to-use tool to reinforce your SEM strategies.
Price per month: Pro: $79.00; Plus: $139.00; Large: $239.00; Enterprise: $499.00 plus
It’s another robust tool for customer data management and personalisation. Both of which are essential insights to create successful SEM campaigns.
This tool enables you to the following:
- Identify your target market and determine every visitor’s intention, both on mobile and desktop.
- Run A/B tests and multivariate tests of experiences and algorithms and respond to the customers’ questions on a real-time basis.
- Target your visitors through messages and experiences based on ad campaign source, email, duration, visit frequency, and geo-location.
- Create cross-channel reports, evaluate statistics of campaigns, and utilise machine learning to recognise the most valuable data for your marketing activities.
Price per month: Pricing is based on web applications, number of channels, email, mobile apps, user volumes, and monthly unique visitors.
It’s a genuine end-to-end platform whose emergence in the digital marketing industry changed the experiences of siloed systems with a relevant and cohesive customer journey.
Dynamic Yield helps manage customer data from your ESP (Email Service Provider), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), APIs (Application Programming Interface), DMP (Data Management Platform), just to name a few. It also allows you to do the following:
- Personalise and identify data for anonymous users.
- Allocate audience segments between different sites.
- Evaluate audience behaviours and acquire sizing analyses real-time.
- Discover segmentation opportunities automatically.
And, as of writing, Dynamic Yield is officially a wholly owned subsidiary McDonald’s Corporation. A significant milestone that hopefully might inspire you to do better in SEM.
Price per month: Quote-based
It’s both an optimization and keyword suggestion tool that works well for businesses of different sizes and niches.
If you want to run a successful PPC campaign or rank your website for SEO, Ubersuggest can help you do so. It enables you to search and look for the right keywords, informs you about the frequency of search for such keywords, and tells which are difficult to outperform and outrank.
Ubersuggest’s other notable features include SEO functionalities, mining information from Webmasters tools and Google Analytics, and researching competitor keywords. The best thing about it: it’s free, which makes it a beneficial tool for businesses with a limited budget for SEM.
Price per month: It’s free!
If you want to create better customer engagement through integrating multi-channel marketing campaigns, LeanPlum is at your disposal. It will help you improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns through automated guidance. Further, it will show how your campaign can help you make sound decisions for your business.
LeanPlum’s service offerings. These services are checked hundreds of times every day to make sure your brand can generate better customer engagement. It also uses in-app messaging, App Inbox, push notifications, and more.
Price per month: Quote-based
You will definitely patronise this tool as it makes client-facing reports easy and quick so you can spend more time developing insights, executing strategy, and analysing data.
Supermetrics will help you get a high-level pulse on the performance of the client across different channels such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Quora, reddit, and Bing. With just one click, you can check out ROAS, spend, conversions, and more on every channel where a client advertises his products or services. An excellent time-saver since you no longer need to download metrics from different channels as it simply compiles all data in one report.
Price per month: Product-based
Optmyzer’s lack of vowels (in a literal sense) doesn’t make it less of a tool as it leaves no stone unturned. It’s good at providing swift optimisations to help every marketer seize the hanging fruits within Adwords accounts.
Optmyzr is all about saving your time on complicated and tedious reports and allows for easy functionality for optimisations. In its “Data Insights” part, you can create visuals of performance segments with ease. Additionally, the hour of the week analysis, quality score tracker, and geo-heat map are important reports that you can now create with ease and in a snap.
This tool also houses a section for optimisations that can be done in one click that allows analysts to make bid and keyword adjustments, budget changes, and A/B ad tests quickly. To delight you further, Optmyzr is equipped too with enhanced scripts and custom reporting templates and options that you can run from the tool.
Price per month: Pro: $449.00; Pro+: $719.00; Enterprise: Customised
If you don’t like analysing variations or running copy tests by yourself, you’re in luck! AdBasis removes most of the complex work and runs big scale ad tests across counts with ease.
The tool’s interface is pretty simple and straightforward. It makes it easy to launch a test across different ad groups while transmitting the data in a breeze. AdBasis also allows for quicker analysis compared to conducting an ad test via the native interfaces.
It breaks down the results according to ad variation, as well as per variable to confirm which description or headline works best. The options for multivariate testing are endless too and allows for fast gains through every element of the ad.
AbBasis’s coolest feature is its custom parameters, which lets you insert elements into the URL or copy. Such parameters display specifics like state or pricing, something that shaves a lot of manual labor off the plate of every advertiser.
Price per month: Product-based
Nowadays, you can’t just generate a marketing campaign and hope for it to autopilot. Besides monitoring your campaigns and tracking analytics religiously, it’s crucial to choose the right tools to help you get the job done right.
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to pick which ones will integrate with your workflow, or which tools will render you the most bang for your bucks. That being said, take your cue from the following tools above to make it a win all-around!