SEM vs. Social Ads: Where Are Your Conversions Coming From?

Executive Summary:

When it comes to driving traffic to a website, the primary two online methods are through search and through social. For a nutrition company focusing on meal prep services, the main goal of the website’s traffic is to result in a conversion, specifically, purchasing a meal subscription. Today’s Business ran advertisements through both social media (Facebook and Instagram) as well as in our search engine marketing (SEM) efforts for the client.

Within a month of these campaigns, the results were as follows:

  • About 15,000 total sessions to the website
  • About $13,000 generated in revenue
  • Over 700 forms/signups completed

Pros of SEM:

The following types of SEM campaigns were run for the client:

  • Remarketing (Display)
  • Brand
  • Competitors
  • Remarketing (Search)
  • Various keyword campaigns such as “meal delivery,” “weight loss delivery,” etc.

As a whole, we found that SEM was most effective in producing the desired conversions for the client. Through the course of these campaigns, 54 transactions were completed, resulting in about $9,000 in revenue for the client. Social ads only produced 1 conversion during the same time. The most successful of the different kind of SEM campaigns proved to be Brand campaigns, responsible for 70% of the revenue generated. This type of campaign involves the search engine user directly searching for the name of this specific meal prep company.

Pros of Social Ads:

In social media marketing, advertisements were run on the Facebook and Instagram page of the client. Social ads resulted in more sessions driven to the website, as compared to SEM. (5,067 vs. 7,878) Although the users coming from social media were not purchasing subscriptions right away, they were converting in other ways such as filling out nutrition analysis forms and signing up for promos or the client’s newsletters. These types of conversions almost doubled coming from social ads as compared to SEM. (431 vs. 238)

These conversions through social ads are valuable to the client in that they serve an educational purpose. These users are doing their research but also express interest in the client, since they voluntarily provided their information. Now the client will stay top of mind for the potential customer.


Both the SEM and the Social Ad campaigns were designed to drive traffic to the client’s website with the same goal in mind. As you can see, the benefits of the two differed in how the users then performed once on the website. Both of these are beneficial to the client and work hand-in-hand. While SEM is responsible for most conversions, social ads served as an educational tool that led the interested user to volunteer their information to the client.