10 SEM Rules You Should Break

Posted by
Jennifer Bahr
Date
 26 November, 2014
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Here, we hope to insert a little nuance into the SEM calculation. The following 10 rules might, on first look, seem reasonable. In fact, they all deserve to be broken.

Sumayya Sattar of Search Engine People wrote an article a couple of months back on SEM rules that seem to make sense, but only tell half of the story. Here we’ll explore the top 10 rules that SEMs might be told to follow but which either need a lot of qualification or are just plain wrong. Let’s get started:

1. Blog all the Time

Not just any content is king. Sumayya Sattar says that producing massive amounts of content is a waste of time and energy if it’s not relevant to the brand.

The first step for a blogging strategy is keyword research, through which SEMs can produce just the right amount of content that will hook people who are looking to buy what they’re selling.

Mark Schaefer wrote on the Schaefer Marketing Solutions blog that the amount of content that companies produce is growing faster than the public’s capacity to consume it.

If SEMs continue to focus on the quantity of their content and not the quality, they can expect to see the overall value of the content as a means of getting people to their site decrease.

2. Insert as Many CTAs as Possible

Don’t stuff posts full of CTAs and hope that readers will accidentally click on them. The best approach is to include one or two CTAs. The fewer CTAs, the more unique they seem and the more they stand out and say, “Click me.”

Corey Eridon writes on Hubspot that an SEM’s approach should be to ask of a particular piece of content: “What do I want to convince people to buy/explore/learn with this post?” The answer to this question should then determine which and how many CTAs are necessary.

3. Only Write Blog Posts of 400-600 Words

Neil Patel describes on Quick Sprout that the nature of a brand and what its readers enjoy should govern the length of blog posts. In other words, there are no set rules. Though Patel observes that long posts do better statistically in the SERPs, the only way for an SEM to know what works is to experiment.

jonny goldstein/flickr

jonny goldstein/flickr

4. Never Send Marketing Emails on Fridays/Weekends

Different brands have different audiences with different lives and, as such, the best day to send out marketing email will vary.

Remember: not everyone works nine to five, Monday through Friday. If a certain product appeals to people who work in an industry with irregular working patterns, sending emails on the weekend might actually give the product a boost. Amanda Day from Vertical Response observes how, by one metric, the open rate for weekend emails is 17.8% higher than the rest of the week.

5. Gate as Much Content as Possible, Asking for Personal Information

Sumayya Sattar advises that content gating will only work if some content is given away for free, thus creating demand. Remember, with so much free content out there, if readers aren’t interested enough in a brand’s content to give out their email, they will ignore the form and go elsewhere.

Joe Pulizzi of The Marketing Institute says that gating content discourages content evangelists like bloggers from accessing and sharing it. So, by grabbing a few emails, an SEM may have turned away people who would’ve shared their brand’s content in their networks.

6. Send off 5 Tweets Every Day

The quality, clickability, and relevance of social output are far more impactful than the raw quantity of it. Social media users are fickle and will unfollow the brand if their feed is clogged with excessive and/or boring content.

Global brands tweet 30 times per week on average. Who wants to hear from all the brands they follow 30 times per week all yearlong? The answer to this question, posed by Twisted Image, is probably not a large number. Twisted Image suggests that brands tweet so much because it’s free. This is a false economy, and one that runs the risk of overwhelming people with output.

7. Adding a First Name to Emails Will Improve Conversion

This data is now commonplace, and calling a potential customer by their first name won’t make an email stand out. It has effectively become the baseline.

As Blue Bridge observes, the way to have a meaningful interaction with the people who read a brand’s marketing emails is to personalise the whole email to suit them, along with relevant products and offers. Such highly personalised emails generate 14% more clicks and 10% more conversions.

8. Social Media: More = Better

From everything that social media evangelists are saying, one might think that every business should have an account on every network that exists. On the contrary, ask yourself which networks customers or potential customers use the most and copy them.

Side Qik has published some great data on who uses particular social networks and how they behave. For example, Pinterest might be a great choice of social network for a company that sells women’s clothing, given that 82% of its users are women. Conversely, if most of a company’s customers were men, they might want to focus on Google+, of which men make up 63% of the user base.

9. Don’t Deviate from Your Branding

The necessity of a strong and unified brand is a given. However, the Search Engine People post serves as a reminder that choosing different colours and styles for CTAs will make them stand out from the rest of a brand’s content, thereby increasing their clickability.

Crazy Egg even goes so far as to advise looking at what the very top brands are doing with their CTAs (colour, placement etc.) and seeing how many of these styles can be incorporated into a site. If people are used to clicking an orange button, give them an orange button.

10. More Traffic and Clicks Always = Good

Traffic is good, right? Well, only if it’s the right sort of traffic. Sharing funny memes will increase exposure, but the interest of people who are amused by cat pictures is only beneficial if they are consumers of cat-based products and/or services.

PS Website Design emphasizes that getting the right traffic depends on how PPC campaigns are run as well as the content produced. Personalising ads so as to attract a specific audience will save money and mean that the traffic that one does receive becomes more valuable.

This is clearly a lot to remember, but two general axioms should help:

1) Where possible, experiment, in order to see what works.

2) What feels like the bleeding edge of marketing tech might not be. Always push the envelope.

With all of this in mind, hopefully SEMs will be able to match their brands with their customers and not create the latest clichés in the process.

(Main image credit: Google)