SEO vs SEM: the difference

SEO and SEM are two terms which I see used interchangeably but that actually have very different meanings. They are two sides of the same coin – but just like any coin, these sides are different.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process you go through in order to ensure your website/content pleases the search engine and allows it to serve up your content when a user is looking for it. Your goal here is to ensure that your website is turning up on the first page of the Google’s (or any other search engine) search results. There are lots of different elements you need to look at when optimising your website; it can be VERY overwhelming. From ensuring your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for Google to determine the classification and content of the page, to ensuring a quality back linking strategy and creating the type of content that it will deliver first to users that is key word heavy. Google will analyse all these factors, as well as the performance of your landing page, to determine its relevance to the what its user is searching. It’s definitely worth investing in an SEO consultant who can help set you up here.

Whilst traditionally the definition is related to websites alone, now there are search functions within many different platforms and so the principles can be applied throughout all that you do.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the tactic in which you pay per click (PPC) on ads which you create to drive traffic to your website. These are the ads which appear at the top of a search engine results page, marked with “ad”, that you decide the headings, text, links, landing page, etc, for. You choose which key words your ads will run against, how closely they need to match and what KPI you’d like to optimise towards. PPC/SEM ads are paid for via an auction/bidding mechanism: you set your maximum bids, time frames, budgets etc and then this information is combined with the quality score of your ads. The quality score of your ad is determined through a number of factors such as quality of landing page (content & load time), relevance of headlines/copy and additional features such as site-links or review features.

So what’s the link?

Well, ensuring you have a solid SEO strategy in place can actually complement your SEM strategy. For example, a high quality landing page with strong organically driven traffic is more likely to achieve a higher quality score – which can then help your paid ad appear higher up the ranking, without paying more.

If you’re getting to grips with marketing and starting to work out how to build a plan for your business, it’s really important to understand the difference and the value each can add. Our recommendation is to first focus on SEO, even if that means investing a little more upfront in an SEO specialist to get your website up and running.

Not sure how to get started? We offer a Brand & SEO package which combines a workshop on developing your online brand and working with our SEO specialist to build out a custom strategy & support plan. Fill in the form below to find out more.

Read this if you’re in B2B marketing

If you know anything about me and the values of Pink Digital then you’ll know that I am passionate about breaking down the belief that B2B brands must market in a completely different, impersonal way to B2C brands. I’ve written a post previously (back in October 2017) about the importance of remembering that your customers are humans and, how the global digital disruption (oooh, buzzword), needs to be considered for all organisations when creating your marketing strategy.

Now I’m going to talk more around how people’s personal beliefs, likes, dislikes, preferences and beliefs are impacting decisions in the workplace. I.e. why you should stop thinking something won’t work for you because it’s a traditional B2C tactic and why you need to lean into content that appeals to people.

First some questions: when was the last time you can honestly say you made a decision that was completely against your personal beliefs but was for the good of your company? Have you ever stopped working for a company because of how they operate or interact with you?
Have you ever found a new company to work with because their messaging was so up your street?

The chances are you answered: not for a long time, if ever; yes; yes.

There are 2 reasons for this.

1) You have been hired by your company for your expertise, mindset and experience. This means that it is very unlikely that if something is fundamentally against your beliefs personally, that it will benefit the company. You have been hired for your opinion. You know that and so will likely exercise your right to that opinion when making decisions on behalf of the company. Otherwise, I’m sorry but you shouldn’t be in your job.

2) It is physically impossible to completely separate your personal preferences for consumption, interaction and values, regardless of what you are researching or buying for. It’s not in our nature as human beings.

This means that who your company is and how your company operate are two of the most important aspects of your marketing strategy. And, you need to have a crystal clear view of who your target audience is – deeper than their job title.

You have to understand what they like, what they dislike, what their hobbies are, whether they have children, love sports, hate sports, are into fashion. Where do they over index? What values are important to them? All of these different elements can help to inform your tone, messaging, visuals and placements. It’s also why it is so important to continue to invest in brand awareness, not just sell, sell, sell your products. No one cares if you have the most cost-effective solution if you aren’t an ethical company nor will they want to partner with a company who’s employees are not happy or passionate – for example.

B2C marketing is often seen as the holy grail of marketing and super fun to work on because their campaigns focus on people and lifestyle. But you can appeal to people as well. Make people excited about your brand. Relate to them through their interests in more than just a badging exercise – find an organic connection between an element of their persona & your brand.

Then leverage the shit out of it.

Show the people at the core of the organisations you are targeting that you are there for them, that you understand them and that you can help them. Create an organic, human connection. The sales will soon follow if your website, products & sales team can do their job.

Instagram for business

Let’s talk Instagram for business, why you should be on it and some top tips & tricks for succeeding. It’s such a great platform and even if you don’t think your business is *right* for Instagram there are still some phenomenal benefits to be had.

  1. Build awareness – eye pleasing visuals grab the attention of people endlessly scrolling. Research has shown that on average people spend 53 minutes a day on Instagram, second only to Facebook at 58 minutes per day. Have you read my post about the value of being insta-worthy? We talk about how leveraging this quality can boost awareness & engagement. If you aren’t active then you’re missing out on connecting with your audience, which brings me nicely onto my next point…
  2. Build a real connection with your audience & customers – a few years back I wrote a piece on the importance of remembering that everyone is marketing to a human being. Instagram is the platform to build that connection at a human level. With a more real-time feel than other platforms, the ability to add snippets of content in stories and bring your company to life it can help breakdown some of the walls between customer & brand. Especially in the B2B world.

So, how do you master it? I’m glad you asked!

Here are my top 10 tips for mastering Instagram:

  1. Set the right expectations for yourself: take the time to assess whether Instagram is going to be a predominantly awareness/community building or sales based platform for you.
  2. Make sure it’s on brand: if possible ensure your handle matches your company name and that the colours, image style, tone of voice all match your brand
  3. Make the most out of your bio: include descriptive copy with a call-to-action. Don’t forget that you’re allowed one URL so make sure it’s a good one – I like to either link to my blog posts or a current offer
  4. Have specific content pillars: stay structured and consistent with your content by developing themes that align to your brand & goals. I recommend 3-6 content pillars depending on your type of business
  5. Plan ahead of time: there is nothing more stressful than getting to the day you need to post and not having a clue what to do. Preparation is absolutely key and can help you stay aligned to your brand
  6. Ensure you have a # strategy: hashtags are a great way to reach new followers and tap into existing conversations. Make sure you have a mix of broad and narrow reach hashtags. Do some research and see what ones your target audience and competitors are using
  7. Use location: by using location tags you can increase your reach as people search posts tagged in locations. If you tag a location in your story you could even be included in that location’s story… more exposure!
  8. Make the most of your stories: IG stories are a great way to provide more insights to your audience on you, your employees, the day to day of your business and help people feel connected to your business/brand
  9. Engage meaningfully with your audience: if you’re going to grow your following & engagement on Instagram then you need to engage too! Make sure you’re replying to comments in a meaningful way and make sure you are engaging with others’ posts too. Stay authentic in your engagements but make sure you set some time aside each day to do this
  10. Use analytics: Instagram offers free insights into your content, audience and activity. Use these insights to better serve your customers content that will resonate with them and that will aid your growth.

If you want some help in setting up or improving your Instagram strategy drop us an email at – we offer both one off workshops and monthly support packages.

How to adapt your marketing strategy in times of uncertainty

Wow. What a year the last couple of weeks have been. COVID-19 has taken over. There’s a lot of stress, worry and uncertainty around right now – both personally and professionally. While I’m not a health expert and can’t comment on the medical situation, what I am is a marketing expert with extensive experience in reactive and adaptive marketing. So, for all you business owners/marketing folks/freelancers out there I’m here to provide you with some guidance on how to pivot, adapt and keep on track during this turbulent time.

The first thing to do is to ask yourself three key questions:

  1. What do you want your customers to feel?
  2. What do you want your customers to think?
  3. What do you want your customers to do?

From this you can work out where you want to head with your content & distribution.

Let’s start with how you want your customers to feel – let’s face it, right now, this may have changed from your usual tone/strategy. Building an emotional connection with your customers/followers (I will use these terms interchangeably) is the best way to ensure retention and attract new customers. People love relatable content and content that makes them feel good. For me, it’s about giving people hope and some positivity in their day – I want my clients/followers to feel confident and sure that there is a future past what we are experiencing right now.

Now, secondly, what do you want your customers to think? Again, in the context of my own business, I want my followers and clients to think they have the power to get through this. I want them to think that they have the strategy to go forward, connect with their customers and I want them to be thinking about the opportunities they have.

And finally: what do you want your customers to do?  I want my clients and followers to adapt their marketing strategy, reach out for help where needed and have confidence in adjusting their content tonality. 

Once you know the answer to these questions you can adjust your content and distribution channels accordingly. For example – for me right now it’s not about acquiring new paying clients it’s about inspiring confidence and helping struggling business owners/marketers. Therefore, with my content, I aim to provide positivity and tips for adjusting in this weird period. I’ve opened my doors to free consultations to work with my clients on how they can continue to build connections or a following base whilst not being physically open for business. For gyms/personal trainers this means focusing on building an online rapport with people & understanding opportunities to virtualise their services.  For coffee shop or restaurant owners – it’s helping people to re-create their favourite beverage or meal in the comfort of their own home, providing comical relief and keeping the conversation going for when business re-opens. It varies per business but the underlying principles are the same – think about what you want your customers to feel, think and do.

Once you’ve established the above, you can focus in on your channel strategy. Figure out which channels or tactics leave your brand at risk and pull back from them. For example – ensure that you are not monetising against any negative content, don’t be at risk of sharing fake news or information that is not validated by professionals. Be careful not to comment on areas that you don’t have the expertise in – authenticity and integrity are key. If email plays a key part of your strategy then assess whether the tone or content needs to change here.

Do share how your company is reacting to the situation – keep your customers up to date. This isn’t about switching off your marketing, it’s about being sensitive to the situation, your customers and understanding your role in this.

If you want someone to brainstorm with, provide advice then Pink Digital are open! We’re offering free consultations and advice until the end of April 2020 – get in touch via the form below, or if you’d rather, drop us a message on social.