As search engine marketing (SEM) has evolved, there’s been a recent trend of SEM agencies specializing in particular industry verticals (tourism for example). Although this model sounds great in theory for the verticals they are servicing, an SEM agency with a diverse client base can bring a greater breadth of client experiences to the table. Drawing from a variety of successful campaigns, diverse SEM agencies can grab ideas from one industry vertical, eCommerce for example, and apply it apply it in a way never conceived of in another, such as hotels.
Here are a couple things to consider as you try to choose the SEM agency that’s best for you:
Most SEM agencies with a diverse set of clients will have an exclusivity policy as their central guiding principle when pursuing new clients. This policy essentially states that the agency will not take on a new client if they would directly compete with an existing client. For example, if an SEM agency had an existing client with a set of boutique hotels in Austin, they would not take on another boutique hotel client in the same market (whether that market be by geographic area or by audience). This ensures that the existing Austin boutique hotel client will have the full dedication of the agency team to improve their search engine results rankings, pay-per-click (PPC) return-on-investment, social media outreach, or other services they are receiving.
Unfortunately, what can often happen within an industry specific agency is a conflict of interest. Take two competing hotels in Austin that are both served by one agency. Naturally, these two hotels are likely targeting the same audience and keywords. As was true in the cult classic 1986 movie the Highlander though is true in search engine marketing: there can be only one. Only one hotel can be at the top of the rankings at any one point, and the client that is not at the top will begin to question what they are paying the SEM agency to do. The debate in the agency then becomes which client should we piss off less (or who’s paying us more), because no matter what, someone isn’t going to be happy.
Agencies should be working to get the best results for their clients possible, not having a constant deliberation about who should be first.
Cross-Pollination of Ideas across Verticals
An agency with a diverse client base leads to SEM strategies and tactics crossing industry verticals. For example, hotel clients could learn a lot from how eCommerce companies are optimizing categories and keywords on their homepages. Instead of placing all of the shopping categories in alphabetical listing starting at the top of the page, the world-class eCommerce sites monitor how their different products are performing, and place those in the prime real estate spot: above the fold. Borders does a nice job with this rearranging on their homepage:
Notice that Romance and Fiction categories come first, not the African American category. They’re optimizing their homepage for the most commonly searched terms that brings users to them, and then giving them what they want at the top of the page when they arrive.
Hotel clients could incorporate similar keyword and category optimization techniques. Are visitors arriving at your hotel site because of the word cheap or the word boutique? Are they looking to make a reservation right away, or are they more interested in looking at photos of the property? By conducting careful visitor analysis and landing page testing, hotel clients can use techniques first developed in the eCommerce space to improve conversions on their sites. SEM agencies with a diverse client base will be aware of these different trends and advanced techniques being used in other industries. Agencies that focus exclusively on one industry vertical will likely only know what’s going on in their industry, decreasing their value to their clients.
SEM agencies with a variety of clients are going to help them achieve the best growth possible for their business by working exclusively with that client, none of their competitors, and incorporating new ideas from across the SEM spectrum. Anvil Media offers the best of both worlds, a diverse agency client base along with teams within the organization that specialize in specific industry verticals. Anvil also offers exclusivity in markets, meaning you’ll never have to worry about us taking on client that competes directly against you in the same market. Only through an agency model such as Anvil Media’s where you have a diverse client base along with internal teams that focus on specific industries can you get the best of both worlds.