A: The value of SEM can be underestimated. Generally, companies only attribute a successful conversion or action to the last touch — the final channel that gets a customer to convert. Paid search usually only gets credit if the customer converts directly after clicking through an ad on a search results page.
But what we’re finding is that search engine marketing is rarely the last touch. Someone could click on a paid search ad, go to your website, and then decide not to buy anything. A week later, they get an email — because now they're in the system — that says, "Hey come back to our site, purchase this." The customer may still not be ready, but the next day they see a display ad and decide to finally purchase. Only the display ad would get credit for the conversion, and so companies might not see the value of search engine ads.
If it wasn't for that paid search ad, though, the company wouldn’t have had the customer’s information to send an email or deliver the display ad. So being able to look at your marketing channels holistically gives you a better idea of what channels are influencing each other.
For a long time, attribution and success metrics were siloed, with email marketers only looking at what happens in the email world and display marketers only looking at display ads, but teams are starting to dig into other channels to see how the influence is happening.
Another problem lies with not tracking metrics other than conversion. In the last two or three years we've seen an increase in customers wanting to know the mid-funnel metrics, which are behaviors that customers are doing or taking after they click an ad. For a long time, people assumed that every click and every conversion was the same.
But as we started to deploy analytics and as companies started to look at other behaviors happening on the site after the click and before the conversion, advertisers got a better idea of how customers are behaving. They can better figure out which customers take longer to convert.
The other piece that can be challenging is understanding how to allocate that paid search budget in the most effective way. Companies need to really think about not just how do my keywords work individually to their best advantage, but how do they work together? What's the marginal return and that payoff between different keywords?