E-commerce Tips & Tricks 8 min read
05 Nov 2021

SEM vs SMM: Discover What's Best For Your Business in Under 13 Minutes!

SEM vs SMM: Discover What's Best For Your Business in Under 13 Minutes!

Which is better: Social Media Marketing or Search Engine Marketing?

If you're like a lot of ambitious brand owners, you've probably wondered which digital marketing strategy you can use to scale your business.

Maybe you've ever wondered which is better between Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing...

Truth is, there is a lot of confusing information floating around about these two.

That’s why I rolled up my sleeves and uncovered some of the latest strategies that will help you...

And what I discovered is that you don't have to spend a ton of money to increase your brand visibility.


Then you’ll be even more surprised when you discover that you also don't need a specific qualification or possession, like knowledge, skill, or experience, to make these two work.

Read on to find out which one's best for your business...

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Let me explain it briefly...

Search engine marketing is used to increase your brand's visibility on search engine results pages or SERPs.

This is different from SEO or search engine optimization, which is an organic digital marketing tactic.

Usually, search engine marketing is referred to as PPC or pay-per-click.

This is one of the best options if you want to rank higher on search engine result pages.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

It's usually associated with Pay Per Click, which I will dive deeper into later.

But are you wondering if it's the same with SEO or Search Engine Optimization?

Well, in terms of their goals, you could say they're the same. Each of them helps your page rank on the search engine results pages.

Because Search Engine Marketing is a paid search. Search Optimization is not.

Now, let's get into the other option.

What is Social Media Marketing?

If you want to increase brand awareness and build a loyal community... Social Media Marketing is your gal!

Why? Because you can sell your products and services through social media. You can use different platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram ecommerce.

 But... I'll speak more about that later. (Be sure not to miss it. ?)

So, now... let me discuss with you.

How is it different from Search Engine Marketing?

Differences and Similarities of Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Differences and Similarities of Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing

What makes each of them special?


Both Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing have the potential to be your best ecommerce marketing strategies.

But there are differences that you should take note of.

Social Media Marketing is...

  • Free. Not entirely free, but it doesn't cost anything to start your account. You will just need to put your budget on branding identity, product photos, graphic designs, etc.
  • Using social media platforms. Which means you can connect with your customers anytime.
  • You're not paying when someone visits your accounts. Unlike in Search Engine Marketing, you need to pay if someone clicks on your ad.

And the differences of...

Search Engine Marketing is...

  • It's paid. As I said, Search Engine Marketing is a paid strategy. To make sure that you are on a higher rank, then it costs you money.
  • Using search engines to advertise. The most popular search engine is Google if you want to promote your website.
  • You're paying for every click. If you're using the Pay-Per-Click tactic, then you will have to pay even for irrelevant clicks. Yes, even if they didn't convert.

Such differences, right?

Let's look at their similarities!

Similarities of Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing

  • Cost-effective. Even if you use Search Engine Marketing or Social Media Marketing, you can still get results.
  • Increase your brand awareness. Both of them will increase your brand awareness because you are putting your brand out there.
  • Drive traffic to your website. Whether you use paid search or Social Media Marketing, you drive them to your website through your ads and content.
  • Attract people interested in your products. People who will click your links or visit your platforms are genuinely interested in your products.
  • Generate leads. And because you are attracting interested people to your website, you are going to generate leads.

To put it simply, they can help you achieve the same goals. It's just a different process for each of them!

But here's the catch...

SEM and SMM Pros and Cons

Nothing's perfect...

Even Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing!

So, why don't we take a look at each of their pros and cons?

Search Engine Marketing Pros and Cons

Search Engine Marketing Pros and Cons


  • Targeted people. You can target people who are searching for specific keywords. It means you might be driving traffic from people who consider buying your products.
  • Immediate results. And because you are ranking higher on search engine results pages, your ads are easier to see. If your goal is to drive traffic, then most likely, you can see results already.
  • You can do it on your own. Setting up your ads in Google doesn't take much time. You can actually set it up on your own.


  • Competition. There are so many brands trying to advertise on specific keywords, so competition in Search Engine Marketing is challenging.
  • Not suitable for long-term growth. If you're thinking of growing long-term, this might not be the perfect option for your brand.
  • Not sure if you can generate sales. People can click, but you're not 100% sure if they will buy from you.

So... do the pros outweigh the cons?

Hmm... let's get into the next one first!

Social Media Marketing Pros and Cons

Social Media Marketing Pros and Cons


  • Less expensive. As I said above, it's not entirely free. It can be less costly if you're not going to boost your posts, but you still need to pay for some things to keep your accounts running.
  • You can build a community. Social media has billions of users. If you find your customers, you can create a loyal following.
  • You can connect with your customers/audience. And because social media is accessible, your customers can reach out to you in case they have concerns. You can also build genuine relationships with them.


  • Takes more time. Social Media Marketing requires more time to get results, unlike in Search Engine Marketing.
  • Publicity risks. Social media is a big place. If you post something and other people outside your target market see it, it's hard to build a good reputation again. Remember, internet users now are more sensitive.
  • Needs more work. As compared to Search Engine Marketing, running your social media platforms take more work. You need to create posts, strategize your content, engage with your audience, etc.

Do you already have an idea which one do you like the most?

Don't make any decisions yet! I still have more to discuss.

But now that you know the pros and cons of the two to e-commerce, let me give you some tips!

Search Engine Marketing Tips

1. Target the right people

If you're advertising through paid ads... would you want to pay a higher cost without even generating sales?

Oops, that sounds bad!

As I said, even without sales, your ad can cost you as long as your prospects are clicking on them.

That's why you need to target the right audience. So you can set the proximity of your Google ads for ecommerce.

Let me tell you what you need to consider when working on your keyword planner:

  1. Location targeting. This helps you choose a specific location where you want to show your ad.
  2. Demographic targeting. You can target your audience by analyzing their behaviors, age, gender, etc.
  3. Device targeting. This helps you choose which device you want to show your ad, such as desktop, tablets, mobile, etc.

Remember, advertise to the right people! Don't let those clicks go to waste.

My next tip is...

2. Research your keywords

What's the use of your campaign if you're not going to research your keywords properly?

That's why this is very important when setting up your campaign.


  1. Broad match. Prospects can see your ad even if they search for a broad keyword. For example, you are using "pizza delivery service" for your campaign. They might still come across your ad if they search "pizza delivery."
  2. Phrase match. This is for when your prospects are searching for phrases on the internet. Let's say your keywords are "pizza delivery service," they might still see your ad even if they search for the words "Domino's pizza delivery service."
  3. Exact match. If you want to show your ads to people searching for the exact keywords, you can use this.
  4. Negative match. Do you want your ads to show up to irrelevant searches? If not, then you can put specific keywords. Let's say you don't want to associate your brand with the word "worst," then Google ads are less likely to show your ad to people searching with that keyword.

And my next tip is...

3. Have a great website

Listen. This is very important.

Driving visitors to your website is not easy... and you're going to drive them to an unpleasant website?

That's a no-no!

Having an incredible, well-functioning website is one of the best ecommerce marketing strategies.

That's why don't expect them to convert into paying customers if your website is loading slowly and hard to navigate.

So, let me tell you what you need to make sure your website is running smoothly.

  1. A fast-loading theme. Your website visitors will not wait for longer than 3 seconds. That's why you need to make sure that your page loading speed is very well.
  2. Easy to navigate. If your features are all over the place, your customers might lose their patience! So your website should have the features that truly matter.
  3. Enhance their mobile experience. Having a great website also means that it's mobile-friendly. There are a lot of internet shoppers using mobile, so make sure to take advantage of this.

It's not that hard, isn't it?

Now you know some Search Engine Marketing tips, let me give you more!

Social Media Marketing tips

1. Optimize your profile

Since this is not Search Engine Marketing where you can choose your prospects, it's important to optimize your profile.

This includes:

  1. Having a clear bio or description. What are your products? Who is it for? If they see this, they would know if you're what they looking for! You can also add your location, how to order, a call-to-action, etc.
  2. Posting nice visuals. When people are scrolling their social media, a nice visual can captivate them. Or if you're using Instagram, having an excellent feed can help, too!
  3. Writing captions that speak to your audience. Do you want your audience to relate and engage with you? Then you should know how to speak their language.

So, the reason why you're optimizing your profile is to attract people who find your brand interesting. Or who will like your social media profiles at first sight?

My next tip is...

2. Create a winning content strategy

"Content is King"

Sounds familiar, right?

I'm sure you hear this quite often...

It's because you can use content to promote your products, educate your customers about the industry, and even engage with them!

I know it sounds exciting, so let me tell you a few tips on how you can do this!

  1. Create content that your audience might enjoy. So depending on your target customers, make sure to create content that will understand and relate to. This will also excite them and engage with your brand.
  2. Join trending topics. Join online conversations. But make sure that it's relevant to your industry!
  3. Strong brand identity. Having a solid brand identity includes a consistent color palette, designs, etc. This will help you stand out from the competition.

Already have an idea of how to create a winning strategy? I have one last tip!

3. Take advantage of the tools

There are reasons why social media giants built those tools...

For your brand to use them!

Seriously, these tools are beneficial because you can see how your audience are reacting to your content.

  1. Use insights tools. If you're using Facebook ads for ecommerce, you can utilize their Business Suite. You can see the overview of your insights.
  2. Use a professional dashboard. Instagram ecommerce can be helpful, too. It has several tools you can use to manage your social media. Like insights page where you can see your audience, what time they're mostly online, etc. There are also tools such as Shop Feature, Reels, and Instagram stories.
  3. Use new features. If a platform releases a new tool, try using it because people want to see how others use it. And that's a great way to showcase your products.

Again, use the tools to analyze your audience's behavior.

These will play a significant role in the success of your campaigns.

Speaking of successful campaigns...

Successful Search Engine Marketing/Pay Per Click Campaigns

Now, let me show you how successful Search Engine Marketing campaigns are done!

You wouldn't believe how creative they are!

First off...



Image Source

Snickers bid on commonly misspelled words on Google.

So if you searched for words like [wether], [gool], [ness], [amazin], [definately], [wierd], [vacum], [moonsoon], [publically], and [face], their "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign will greet you.

The result? In just three days, the campaign received 558,589 ad impressions.

And another one for Search Engine Marketing is...

Samsung S6

Samsung S6

Image source

When Samsung launched S6 at the same time as the iPhone 6s, they decided to bid on the keywords.

So when people were searching for iPhone 6s, they saw the "Awkward You Obviously - Mean S6" ad.

Want to know the results? The campaign had a 1,316% Click Through Rate and 30+ media mentions.

If you think these examples are already impressive, wait because I have more!

Successful Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Before you decide between SEM vs SMM, let me give you examples of successful SMM campaigns!

The first one is...



Weetabix is a cereal brand, and it tweeted "the controversial breakfast Twitter can't handle."

As you can see, they put Heinz Beanz on top... Yikes!

It has received hundreds of thousands of mixed reactions. And some brands are also participating in the conversation.

The tweet has 37.2k retweets, 68.8k quote tweets, 132.3k likes, and 21.6k replies.

Next is...

Girl Scouts Cookie Program

Girl Scouts Cookie Program

Image Source

A non-profit organization, "Girls Scouts," sells cookies to fund their community.

So the goal for this campaign was to increase their application downloads. This would help their customers find their cookie booths to support the organization.

They used Twitter to promote this campaign. And the result? 19,500+ Twitter-driven app installations.

These examples are so creative, right? You just have to think out of the box!

So... What's Best For Your Ecommerce Store? SEM or SMM?

These are probably two of the best ecommerce marketing strategies.

So, let me help you decide.

If you're okay with short-term growth but faster results, Search Engine Marketing might be perfect for you.

But if you want to foster a community and connect with your audience genuinely despite extra work, you can go for Social Media Marketing.

It doesn't mean you can't do both, though! If you have enough time and resources in your hands, you can totally smash these two! They have different benefits anyway.

So... I hope I answered your question 'What's the best way to market my ecommerce site?'

Ready to scale your business?

Whether you're using Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing to promote your business, the goal remains the same.

It's to scale your business.

But what if your ecommerce website doesn't look engaging?

Of course, your effort will be down the drain.

So why not scale your business using a fast-loading and customizable theme?

A theme that will help you generate sales...

A theme that will help your customers have the best experience...

Sounds good, right?

So what are you waiting for?

Scale your business with Debutify - Today!

14-Day Free Trial. No Code. No Credit Card Required.

Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes is the CEO at Debutify. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies, and mentoring programs.

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