Are you new to the world of online marketing platforms? Are you just getting started and not quite sure where to begin? More and more advertisers are enjoying the benefits of online marketing platforms. In fact, it’s hard to find large-scale agencies and direct advertisers who do not leverage a platform these days. As someone who’s been enjoying and leveraging online marketing platforms for over 7 years, I’m thrilled to share 5 tips on getting the most out of your new online marketing platform. Leverage these tips and your new platform could pay for itself in a matter of weeks!

Tip 1: Integrate Your Internal Conversion and Revenue Tracking

By default, most online marketing platforms leverage search engine conversion tracking. This is a super starting point and can take you a long way. That said, it’s likely that you see discrepancies between your internal conversion tracking and search engine conversion tracking. As a general approximation, discrepancies can range anywhere from 5% to 15% (typically with search engine tracking underreporting conversions). Moreover, with the basic implementation in most accounts, search engine conversion tracking may not accurately track multiple conversion events and accurate lifetime revenue amounts. At the core of most successful online marketing programs is an accurate and robust data set. Great data means great optimization. Search marketing platforms thrive on great data. As such, I always challenge myself to get as detailed and as accurate of data (conversions and revenue) as possible in my online marketing platform. Most platforms these days are quite flexible. You can pass conversion data in a variety of ways. It just comes down to working with your platform account manager and your own internal engineering team. As a closing tip, it’s not only about your conversion data going forward but also going backwards too (especially for bidding calculations). Make sure to load at least the last 12 months (and if possible the last 24 months) of data.

Tip 2: Automate Your Bidding

Now that your brand new SEM platform has great data, it’s time to leverage that data and automate your manual bidding. I cannot underscore this opportunity enough. Bidding is tedious, inefficient, and often inaccurate process if done manually. However, most online marketing platforms these days offer superior ways to automate your bidding, especially when they have a robust data set to act upon. My general approach: First and foremost replicate your traditional, manual bidding processes in your new platform. This will yield immediate efficiency gains while ensuring a smooth transition from manual to automated bidding. Second, I recommend testing more advanced bidding strategies. It’s time to refine your bidding algorithm and continually test. Over time, you will lower your CPA while driving more conversions.

Tip 3: Streamline Day-To-Day Reporting

Above and beyond bidding, reporting is one of the largest time syncs around when it comes to search engine marketing. It’s this precise reason that I encourage you to replace all reporting outside of your SEM platform. If you integrate all of your important back end conversion data (my first tip), you should be able to run all reports in your new platform. Not only will you save hours each week, but your reports will yield greater insights than ever.

Tip 4: Save Time With Alerting

Now that your bidding and reporting is automated, it’s time to set up alerts. Alerts are great. They basically represent the difference between a pull versus push system. In a pull system (traditional SEM) you run reports, analyze data, and finally uncover issues that need to be fixed. In a push system (alerting), you get notifications when there are issues. There’s no searching and no investigation. You immediately know what the problem is and where it is in your account. Then, you can act quickly and fix it. One of my favorite alerts: Keywords that spent more than my spend threshold with zero conversions. Another example: High converting keywords that lost a large percentage of conversions week over week. I recommend setting up email alerts so you have a queue of action items each and every morning.

Tip 5: Manage Multiple Search Engines At Once

October 2011 U.S. Search Engine Rankings from comScore

Now that you’re on a new search marketing platform, you will gain more leverage and efficiency than ever. One of my favorite ways of doing so is managing multiple search engines at once. With everything in one place, you can add keywords to multiple search engines at the same time. You can quickly identify loser keywords (and cut them) across multiple search engines at the same time. You can clone winning Google AdWords campaigns on adCenter and vice versa. Brand new online marketing platforms can often pay for themselves within the first few months. Leverage these five tips and your new platform may end up paying for itself in a matter of weeks!