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What is a good Chinese SEM (search engine marketing) strategy?

  • SEM

Compared to SEO, the SEM campaign can drive traffic to your website in a short time. But it doesn’t mean SEM is easy. Certainly, if you have enough media budget, you can bid for all relevant keywords and filter the traffic by reviewing search query report. You will get quality traffic finally. However, it not only cost extra money but also take time.

So what is an ideal SEM strategy? Below are 6 key steps you can’t skip.

Step 1. Audience research

Figure out the target audience, who are they (age, sex, location, device, etc.) and what they care/need (price, quality, location, brand, etc.)

Most of the digital agencies and bid managers skip this step or don’t pay much attention to it. But in fact, this is a very important step of a successful SEM campaign. Even more important than keyword research. If you have known the age, sex and the location of your audience, you can quickly set the correct targeting of your SEM campaign. This will save media budget for you and save your time of reviewing the irrelevant search queries. If you have known what your audience’s needs and what they care, you can quickly create proper ads and find out the good keywords to target them. For example, if you want to target the high-end audience, then your ads should underline the quality instead of the price, and your keywords list should include more long-term keywords about quality. 

So, at this step, you should find out the following information at least about your audience:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Location
  • Device
  • Interest
  • The time they search
  • Education
  • Career
  • Income
  • What they care
  • What they need

Step 2. Keyword research – Find out the good keywords for your campaign.Step 2. Keyword research – Find out the good keywords for your campaign.

Based on the above research, you should be able to find a list of relevant keywords by keyword research tool, like Baidu Keyword Planner, Baidu Index, and other 3rd party keyword tools. Then you can group the keywords to as many adgroups and campaigns as possible. Each adgroup should only contain the keywords of similar meaning and the part of the speech. By that, you can create more suitable ads copy for each keyword.

Step 3. Ads creation – Create proper ads copy for each adgroup.

Before creating the ads copy, learn the advantage of your product first. Have a think about your product, what is its sale points? Lower price, better quality, good design, safety, fast delivery, etc., then create ads copy based on the result of audience research too.

Step 4. Tracking Setup – Setup tracking tool and tracking code for each ad and keyword.

By UTM, you can use Google Analytics to track the Chinese SEM campaigns as well. The advantage of using the tracking tools of local search engines such as Baidu Tongji is that the conversion data will be integrated to the SEM campaign, so you can easily check the conversion in your campaigns, which is good to bid manager. But if you have multi SEM campaigns over the world, it is better to use one tracking tool to collect the data for all campaigns.

Step 5. Setup account – Upload the SEM campaigns and set up the targeting, budget distribution (by campaign/device/location, etc.), schedule, etc. all the setting of the account.

At this stage, take advantage of the audience research in step 1, you will be able to set up the campaign quickly. You can use offline tools, such as Baidu editor to upload the campaigns. But most of the settings of the account need to be made through the interface.

Step 6. Optimization – Constantly review the performance of your account and make necessary changes.

To optimize the campaign, a good bid manager should constantly review the KPIs, such as CTR, CPA, bounce rate and the search query report. Then modify the bidding, match, targeting, etc. based on the performance of the account to improve the quality of the traffic. But don’t modify the campaign too frequently. An experienced bid manager will give the campaign some time to get enough sample data to make the conclusion before making changes.

Step 0. Account application

To launch the SEM campaigns in China, there is step 0 before all the above, which is applying the SEM account. It won’t be an easy process in China. Local search engines will require many documents about your business, some of them could not make sense in your country at all. In that case, you need to communicate with Baidu/360/Sogou about that. Anyway, it could take more time than you expect. So, we suggest starting the account application whenever you are ready to avoid the delay of your promotion.