If you want to grow your business, increase revenues and drive down your marketing costs, then there’s no better way than Internet advertising, particularly our favourite – Search Engine Optimisation. But having the ambition of growing your business with an online marketing strategy is one thing – being able to get results is quite another, and there’s lots of minefields out there for the uninitiated.
So to get your digital marketing efforts off on the right foot, here are the six essential steps you should follow if you want to ensure your Internet Marketing is profitable. These six steps have been distilled from working on hundreds of our own websites, plus our clients websites to find out what type of digital marketing works, and more importantly – what doesn’t.
6 Steps to Growing Your Business with Online Advertising…
Step 1: Determine Who Your Target Market Is
This is a critical step – and is often overlooked by business owners who are eager to ‘get out there and sell something’. All too often we see business owners who engage in digital marketing just because some media salesperson turns up and sells them on a publication, website or other online marketing strategy, rather than taking a good hard look at their customers to discover the best way to attract more of them.
The Obvious Truth – What Most Media Salespeople Won’t Tell You
Most media sales people are focused on one thing – and it’s not your business profitability. The often overlooked but obvious truth is that lead generation, i.e attracting new customers is the most expensive of the five ways to grow your business. Often the best way to grow your business is through getting your existing customers to buy more and buy more frequently from you.
Other inexpensive ways of growing top line revenues include encouraging referrals from existing customers, forming strategic alliances with other businesses and using an online marketing strategy such as email marketing. These marketing strategies are often overlooked by most business owners because they require more thought and planning than just ‘buying a quarter page ad in the Yellow Pages’.
This advice may sound counter intuitive – especially coming from Internet Marketing experts like A+ seo online reputation management, who run a business offering Search Engine Marketing to businesses who want to rank higher on Google. That’s true. We often tell clients that digital marketing, particularly SEO is not suitable for their business because their customer (the most important person in your business) doesn’t buy or look for information about your business online.
If you’re unsure whether Internet Marketing is the right strategy for you, then ask yourself these 6 questions to find out.
Are Your Customers Online?
- Are new customers coming to your business via your website right now?
- Are your competitors consistently (3 to 6 months) spending money on online advertising (particularly Google AdWords)?
- Are your competitors engaging in SEO? (sometimes hard to find out – ask us, we can find out for you)
- Are you’re top customers (top 20%) coming from your website or other online marketing methods?
- Are you finding that print publications are less effective each year and more customers are coming from your website?
- Are your customers researching their purchases online before they call you or visit your business?
- If you can answer Yes to at least four of these questions, then Internet marketing could be a smart bet for your business.
Step 2: Determine Where Your Customers Are Online
When you’re looking for new customers, no matter whether it’s online or offline – you want to fish where the fish are. Some Internet advertising strategies are more valuable than others. Typically our New Zealand SEO clients find that many of their new business comes from Google, particularly the organic search results.
Make a list for yourself. If you could only use one way of getting customers from online advertising sources, which one which you pick? If you could pick two or three, what additional online marketing strategies would you choose?
Here is the top seven list that our Search Engine Marketing clients typically pick:
- PPC or Pay Per Click (usually Google AdWords)
- Organic Search Results or SEO (predominately Google, especially in New Zealand)
- Email Marketing (particularly regular newsletters)
- Social Media Marketing (Facebook and Twitter)
- Banner Advertising (mainly our advanced clients who have exhausted other methods)
- Affiliate Marketing (mostly our international clients)
- Blogging (rarely used strategy – requires a lot of time and effort!)
Step 3: Find Out What Your Customers are Looking for Online
Imagine if you could find out exactly how many people are searching for your product, service or business on search engines each month. Imagine a database that shows the past 12 months of data, including how much your competitors are paying to show their ad in the search results? And what if I told you this awesome tool was free? Yes, free. It’s the Google Keyword Tool and you can use it to find out what your customers are searching for online.
Type in a few of the potential things your customers could be searching for online. If you’re a plumber, try a few variants like ‘Plumber Auckland’ and ‘Plumber North Shore’ to give you an idea of local customers. There’s too many things about this tool to discuss here, but if you have a burning question, then feel free to call us and we’ll point you in the right direction.
If you see a sizable number of searches for your main keywords each month (at least 500 people per month across New Zealand), then your next step is to…
Step 4: Determine if Digital Marketing Will Work for Your Business
Not every business is suitable for online marketing. In some industries, business is done primarily face to face or by referral. Often times, particularly in retail, customers what to touch, feel and see their purchase before they lay down their cash.
Search Engine Marketing will work for most businesses, it’s just the degree to which your customers are predisposed towards buying online. If you sell to a very finite market, say CEO’s of companies with over $5 million turnover, then Internet marketing may not be the best bet. If you sell to a very localised market, say if you own a corner dairy where 80% of your customers come from a 1km radius around your store, then Internet Marketing is unlikely to boost your monthly turnover.
But for the majority of businesses, Internet advertising is a viable and often hugely lucrative online marketing strategy that can yield big returns if done correctly.
Risky Strategies for Promoting Your Business Online
If you sell something that people want to see and touch before they buy, then Search Engine Marketing may work, but only indirectly. This is ok, as many customers research their purchases online before visiting your retail store. Some of our clients are trying to educate the market, selling potential customers of a new way of solving their problems rather than the conventional solution (This is a tough way of making money by the way). I call this the ‘switch’ where a customer searches one thing and finds you before you ‘switch’ and sell them on your solution. It can work, but it’s an added degree of complexity that you don’t want if you can avoid it.
Here’s the Litmus test: Don’t experiment. If a growing segment of your new customers are coming from online sources, then it will work for you. If they aren’t already and they aren’t likely to, then Internet Marketing is best left alone.
Step 5: Use Google AdWords to Test Your Market (Yes, Before Trying SEO)
Google AdWords, in our opinion, is hands down the best online marketing strategy in the world. While we don’t offer Google AdWords consulting or management to new or existing clients, we use it ourselves with our own websites. We often recommend prospective SEO clients who are new to Search Engine Marketing that they use Google AdWords first, then come back to us once they have tested their market. What happens is that you quickly find out whether Google traffic is resulting in new enquiries. You’ll know this immediately, within the first few days. You can start with as little at $10 and you can start, stop and pause your ads at any time. Within a few weeks you’ll know which keywords are resulting in the best enquiries and will have much more confidence that SEO can work for your business.
So if you’re thinking about getting up on the organic listings and you haven’t tried AdWords, then your next step is to open an AdWords account and start paying for clicks.
From our experience working with hundreds of clients, here’s the pro’s and con’s of both SEO and PPC from a business perspective.
Advantages of PPC (Pay Per Click or Paid Traffic)
- PPC is Instant – Within minutes of setting up your PPC campaign you are literally off and running, getting targeted traffic and potential customers to your site.
- PPC is bite sized and affordable in small dozes. PPC is like a running tap – you can turn it off and off at any time, you can turn it on full blast or set it at just a trickle, and you can fill your bucket up as much or as little as you want. Its for this reason alone that PPC has proven so popular with small and big businesses alike. You can get started with your lunch money without having to take a punt on an expensive Yellow Pages ad that doesn’t end up working.
- You can track and test with ease – With PPC you can test new keywords and test if your website is converting traffic into buyers easily. It’s simple – you put money into PPC and see if more money comes through your till as a result. If it works, then you can ramp it up or look into SEO for those keywords. If not, then you can change tack in the same day and try something else. No other medium of advertising allows you this flexibility.
- PPC will help (somewhat) with your SEO efforts. PPC will lead to more people coming to your website. This means the Search Engines will see your site has a pulse, people are staying there a short (or long) time relative to other websites. It essentially gives the search engines, particularly Google more data to play with, which ‘could’ improve your organic ranking.
Disadvantages of PPC
- There is a limited amount of traffic available from PPC, for the simple reason that a limited number of people click on paid ads versus the unpaid natural listings. The interesting thing is that people are moving more and more towards the unpaid or natural listings, with some Internet Marketing experts stating that the split is 95% unpaid and 5% paid traffic.
- Even though there is a limited amount of traffic, there will usually be enough to max out your daily budget (if not much more)
- PPC can be ultra competitive and lead to click fraud. In highly competitive markets in this dog-eat-dog world, there are people willing to click on their competitors ads, just so they can move their ad up higher. We’ve even heard or stories when companies in ultra competitive markets such as insurance and mortgage broking will employ teams of people across various IP addresses to click their competitors ads. Google in particular has done a good job a limiting and punishing offenders, but there will always be an element of this in the PPC game. It’s just a fact of life on the Internet.
Despite these disadvantages, PPC is a still a fantastic online advertising medium. Google has done a great job with it’s AdWords service and the only reason more people don’t use it is because, as discussed previously, there are no Google AdWords sales reps running around signing up businesses (although there are cold calling telemarketing companies that provide PPC management services – we’ve heard some horror stories here).
Advantages of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
- There’s more people clicking on the organic or natural listings than the paid listings. Typically 85% organic and 15% paid.
- People give more credibility and trust to the websites in the organic search results.
- Depending on the SEO Professional working on your website, your website can stay in the top 10 long term with little or minimal maintenance. SEO makes the search engines think your website is an authority on the subject or keywords you are targeting. This means that in time you will get more traffic from a wide variety of ‘long tail’ or very long search queries that other websites just don’t get.
- SEO will improve your PPC campaigns by lowering your minimum bids and improving the conversion of your site.
- While there is a sizable investment to get your website into the top 10 and to #1, the actual traffic you get from the organic listings is free compared to paying for every single click via PPC.
Disadvantages of SEO
- The relatively large monetary investment in SEO. Here at A+ we tend to be more expensive than other SEO companies (by design). This is because we guarantee your ranking improvement, we work fast to move your website up quickly up the rankings.
- SEO may not be suitable for your business for the simple reason that there are not many people searching for what your business has to offer. This doesn’t mean there’s no demand for your services, it could just mean your customers don’t buy from the Internet. They may prefer to be referred, buy in person by physically browsing or look through offline methods. In this case, it’s best to test via PPC to ascertain whether this is a sizable market for your business or not. The good news is – we’ll tell you whether there is a market or not and whether SEO is a viable option for you.
- SEO takes time – especially for brand new websites in highly competitive markets. It’s not an instant strategy to get customers. Don’t expect to see a massive improvement in your rankings traffic and enquiries in the first three months (except maybe with A+’s SEO experts working on your site)
- Search Engine’s Change – Every search engine is trying to out do the other (particularly Google) by improving their search engine results. This means these search engines are changing what they like and don’t like in websites. This means you’ll need to keep your trusted digital marketing agency by your side.
- SEO is very time consuming if you do it yourself. Most people don’t realise how much work is required to push a website into the top 10 and eventually to #1. For difficult markets like ‘mortgage brokers’ it is a Herculean effort requiring not just brawn, but also brains. If your time is work is worth more than $20 a hour, there’s not much point doing SEO yourself.
Step 6: Get up the Natural Search Engine Listings for Free Organic Traffic
Note that this is the last and final of the six steps. Some prospective SEO clients call us wanting to jump straight to this step, even before they have a website up and running. Before we begin working with a new client we always recommend they go through these five steps before even considering Search Engine Optimisation. There are many reasons for this, the main being we want new clients to educate themselves on the benefits of SEO and understand if it is right for their business.
We only do SEO for clients who know and understand that Google traffic is profitable for their business.
Looking for an Internet Marketing Expert?
If you know Search Engine Marketing is right for your business and want to generate more qualified visitors to your website, you need to get in touch with an online marketing expert like A+ SEO. For more information on how we can help you through online advertising, give us a call on 09 478 7783 or fill out the enquiry form below: