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Do you set aside part of your marketing budget for search?

Most businesses — particularly small businesses — don’t. At least, not effectively. And they really, really should.

Here’s what it means when you’re budgeting for search: You’re actually putting dollars behind keywords that relate to your business, so that when someone searches for one of those keywords, your business shows up higher on their search results page.

Paid search has one of the highest ROIs of any kind of digital marketing, and that’s easy to explain.

Imagine Person 1, searching for a plumber near their house and seeing a plumber’s listing for the first time, along with nearly identical listings for a bunch of other plumbers. How do they choose?

And imagine Person 2, who saw a YouTube ad about a plumber while they were looking for a video to help them fix the problem on their own. The ad takes them to the video they were looking for, but they decide not to try to fix it. So they search for a plumber near them and … the plumber who provided the how-to video shows up at the top of the search results page.

Chances are Person 2 is done looking, and ready to make an appointment.

Most businesses spend 70 percent of their digital marketing budget trying to attract visitors for the first time. That’s wrong. It should be the other way around. You should be spending more to convert customers who have already engaged with your brand. Why? Because conversion rates are 20 to 30 percent better for return visitors than first-timers.

Of course, if you got those return visitors using pay-per-click, that can get expensive. But if you engage with them first through a Facebook or YouTube ad, the cost of conversion is just pennies.

So if you reallocate your digital marketing dollars to put more into paid search, and back it up with more strategic ads on the right platforms, you’ll get people to engage with your brand in a much more cost-efficient way, and make them more likely to convert when they’re ready.

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