Paid Inclusion Pays Off
TM: What role does paid inclusion play in meeting your SEM goals?
Fanelli: Paid inclusion allows us to achieve [search results] page saturation, where our key terms are given a higher chance of capturing search users. Studies find that people are skipping over the paid listings, so we get a higher chance to be viewed in the [organic] listings. Also, paid inclusion allows us to lower our program costs [through] a fixed bid rate that, as long as we're doing our job with our sales [follow-up], can get better ROI than PPC rates.
TM: What other benefits do you derive from paid inclusion?
Fanelli: Experimenting with keywords is much less costly than with PPC on Google.
TM: Are there any downsides to using paid inclusion?
Fanelli: One of the downsides is if I could generate 400 percent [ROI] all day long, wouldn't I spend more than $7,000 [over a 14-month span]? Yes, I would, but the downside of search is that there's only a certain amount of qualified traffic on the Web. You end up casting your net wider and wider, resulting in traffic that doesn't deliver the ROI.
Another downside is that paid inclusion doesn't necessarily deliver the same volume as being in the top one, two or three [positions in the] paid or [organic] listings.
TM: How will you leverage future paid inclusion efforts?
Fanelli: We're going to … expand our keyword list. I feel we have some room to move around and get experimental with fringe terms. We started [our paid inclusion efforts] with 20 core terms, and now we're going to add more terms, expand our net and see if it doesn't [drop] our ROI much.