Get the inside scoop on how SEM & SMM have transformed the world of web and mobile marketing.
Join us as Letizia Marziano gives an exclusive interview on the importance & development of search engine marketing (SEM) and the emergence of social media marketing (SMM) as tools during her 10 year experience in the digital marketing industry.
Could you describe when and why you decided to dedicate your career to the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) field?
I became passionate about the digital world when I was graduating from my university studies. Let’s say this was the moment when I learned about the word marketing. As I was preparing for my thesis, I began to further my research in the digital marketing field. A sort of lightbulb went off, and I realised that digital marketing was in my future. I didn’t exactly know at the time what the word digital fully meant so I researched it for my almost 200 page thesis. It was about digital technology in the tourism industry. I remember that the moment I discussed my thesis, it was very clear to me that the digital world where I belonged, but I didn’t know at the time what sector I would end up specializing in. I’m still very fond of my thesis as it talks about SEM, SEO and pay per click. Social Media Marketing (SMM) still wasn’t around at the time.
I was also very fortunate to find a job right after I finished my studies. I started working as an intern for a small web agency in Rome focusing on SEO and SEM. I began working with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and actually started out as a SEO specialist, so I was more focused on the content creation and even about managing HTML content. By working there, I understood the search engine industry was where my career was going to take off. I the proceeded to dedicate my time to learning everything I could about SEM and SEO, which prepared me for my role at Neomobile. It was at Neomobile that I fully developed my knowledge and skills in the SEM industry, where I was responsible for managing bigger budgets in a broad range of markets.
What makes digital marketing unique?
Well simply the fact that it is digital! The great thing about digital forms of marketing is the ability to see the results of your campaign right away. If you run an ad on TV, you have to wait and see how results are and even then you have no way of tracing your success back to the original ad. You can’t always understand the efficiency of a campaign. In theory, with digital methods you can find this information out right away. You know how many people saw your ad and how many clicked on it. The feedback is almost immediate.
Tell us about your experience seeing the emergence of social media marketing (SMM), and how it has transformed your professional life.
I’m not sure in what year I first approached social media marketing, but it was when I opened my Facebook profile. I remember opening my account because it was becoming a popular platform that everyone was joining. I was curious about how this digital platform could affect my work in the marketing field. It ended up being a useful communication tool to stay in touch with family and friends. Then, the fact that Facebook started allowing ads to appear on mobile devices really allowed us at Neomobile to focus on using social media as a mobile marketing platform, especially now that Facebook has further developed it, making it much more efficient. Today SMM has become a fundamental part of our team’s work here at Neomobile.
In your experience, what are the differences and similarities between SEM & SMM?
These are two channels that complement each other but are different. While SEM allows you to access a larger audience, Facebook requires you to be aware of trending topics and be ready to change how you promote a product. You need to know your users well. In SEM you are able to intercept a user while they are physically searching for something online. While on Facebook you are posting an ad that shows up on a user’s newsfeed, trying to find a common dialogue with them, in order to get their attention. It’s easier on SEM to get a user’s attention because the user is already searching for something specific that you are offering. The similarity between the two is that you get to reach an enormous audience. But Facebook allows you to target specific demographics for your campaigns. For example, you can choose between men & women of specific ages, with certain interests. This isn’t really possible with Google.
From an online marketing perspective, when do you decide to use SMM instead of SEM or vice-versa?
We are always trying to use different communication channels. It’s obvious we have to calculate our goals and budget to figure out what strategy is going to be most effective. You need to know the type of product you are promoting. If you have an app, you may have a better campaign on Facebook because it will have a better acquisition rate. It really depends on whether you are pushing an app or a website. There isn’t a scientific formula that guarantees success, so we like to run tests before running a campaign. If you’re trying to raise acquisition rates, both can work well together.
Tell us more about which social media and search engine companies you often focus on and how that has broadened your work experience.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are the companies we focus on. For sure, the top 2 are Google and Yahoo. For social media, we are in touch with Facebook and Twitter who are two key social media players. Then there’s the whole world of Programmatic advertising.
SMM is a new phenomenon that has taken off over the past few years. How has Neomobile encouraged your continuously learning within this field?
Neomobile always encourages us to learn about emerging marketing techniques and trends. As a team, we stay curious about new digital phenomenon. When it comes to Facebook, we enjoy learning and deepening our understanding on how it works, sometimes by collaborating with other teams in the company. Our top management pushes us to learn about the latest innovations in communication channels, giving us the freedom the try new techniques and use new communication tools that can help our business.
Something really great is that we often get to attend courses and training sessions on social media marketing strategies. In fact we even got to attend one in Bologna, Italy. Neomobile’s top management and People Team are always supportive when it comes to investing in our digital skills.
The fact that Neomobile has been supporting our growth within the SMM world has made us well known within the digital world. This gets us invited to events by other digital companies, including Facebook’s team in Milan. Facebook had even arranged for us to meet them and train us on how to best use their marketing tools. Neomobile has always been very supportive when it comes to participating at these digital events. This is why tech companies today recognize Neomobile as a top player in the digital world.
Could you describe a prefect profile of SEM & SMM Specialist?
You must have a strong passion for everything digital. You have to enjoy being in this type of environment and need to stay curious. You need to be passionate about digital marketing and social media. You need to be creative so that you can find the right message for the right product. Advertising on Facebook isn’t the same as placing ads on Google, so you need to know how to quickly adapt and approach your strategy differently.
You need to be innovative to send an adequate marketing message. And above all, you must keep learning because the digital world changes quickly. After 8 years at Neomobile and 10 years in the digital industry, I am still aware that I am always learning. This isn’t a finite universe; it’s an environment where our skills and knowledge are always evolving. You need to be passionate about learning.
How have jobs within SEM changed over the past 10 years?
In the past 10 years, SEM has changed quite a bit. When I began working in this area 10 years ago, everything had to be manually uploaded onto Google’s panel, even if they were 20 banners for different sites. Only the search was available, the display didn’t exist yet. We still didn’t have the Google AdWords editor that is a tool to that really helped SEM become more efficient. It was originally very basic. Over the years, Google dedicated itself to bringing tools that would simplify the process. Also, everything used to be web-based and now you have mobile marketing. Later on, eventually apps came out. Other search engines such as Yahoo followed Google’s lead when it came to developing more efficient tools for SEM over the years.
[Editor’s Note: Letizia was Neomobile’s employee until 2016]