This article will explain some of the advantages of online marketing via search engine results page (SERP) and then provide several business case examples of using SERP and potential opportunities.
Since the mid-1990s businesses have sought answers to how to improve sales by taking advantage of the many facets of online (internet) marketing.
You name it, it has been tried; email, banner advertisement, pop-up, pop-unders and search engine marketing (pay per click) has crowded the information highway. Some have proved successful and some have been proven foolhardy, regardless of the outcome, they have all been repeatedly tried and are still in use.
Companies, like Amazon.com, have become online marketing legends. Others, like Netflix.com are so successful that they are pushing their brick and mortar competition to the brink. However, the biggest success story by far has been Search Engines; especially its star company of the industry, Google. Google commands an amazing 76% global market share of the two and a half billion daily online searches. They have become so dominant that their name is synonymous with the Internet itself, on a daily basis everyone hears the words “Google it” and knows exactly what it means.
As a business person, you should embrace the powerful steamrolling opportunity that Google’s search engine results page presents and use its success as a competitive advantage.
Before I discuss the advantages and give examples of online marketing via SERP, I want to briefly talk about the alternatives.
Your business has several other marketing mediums (print, broadcast and mailings) that you currently use or have used in the past. All of them have several things in common, higher cost, low ROI (because of cost) and the most important thing, getting your audience attention is difficult.
Your message must be repeatedly heard before you get customer awareness. Studies have proven a newspaper advertisement requires a daily eight week cycle before a customer recognizes your product or service. Radio and television advertisement require a lower number of repetition but the costs are much higher.
The “six-hundred pound gorilla in the room” that all of the above have in common is that the customer MUST be ready (or close) to a buy decision in order for your marketing to prove effective.
That final point is the most important point because if your prospective customer does not remember your name when it is TIME to buy, your marketing dollars have been wasted.
The advantages of online marketing, and I must again point out I am referring to organic search engine marketing (not pay per click) is that it is FREE, global, 24/7/365, and your customer is READY TO BUY.
A recent Pew Internet report found that the primary use of the Internet is email (60%) with search engines in second at 49%.
When people use search engines (remember 250 billion daily searches), an amazing 52% are shopping, and already primed to make a purchase.
EVERY business or organization can benefit from having their websites listed in SERPs, however, you have to go one step further and aim for a page one listing because 99% of searchers do not search beyond the first 30 results, with an astonishing 97% not going pass first three results.
If you think your efforts are sufficient, try a couple minor experiments:
1. Search for your company or organization using your specific company name. What page are you on?
2. Search for your company or organization WITHOUT using your specific company name. What page are you on?
If you are not page one, top ten, you still have work ahead of you, because you are only close, and will still get overlooked.
Now, let’s discuss online marketing by examining a few business cases.
I. Business: Charity (Non-profits)
Case – Most charity websites purpose is to provide information to educate its visitors and increase awareness for the cause. Charitable donations and volunteerism has decreased over the past few years due to economic downturn.
Opportunity – Since charities are all fighting for the same dollar, it is important for your organization to be “front and center” during any search. Although most people may have their favorite non-profit, you don’t want to risk that first time donor selecting your competition. Whether goods, services or cash donations, online marketing can affect the ease of donation and greatly improve your donation intake.
II. Business: Legal
Case – Eventually, we all need legal advice, but unfortunately we can’t all call our “Cousin Vinny.” Legal firms mostly use traditional mediums, word of mouth advertisement and a large dependency on local telephone books. The monthly marketing budget is usually very high because of attempts to increase their geographic range.
Opportunity – the Internet is almost always at our fingertips and accessible through home, school, work or mobile devices, unlike those “Yellow Pages” that are lost in the house. Increase your “findability” and increase your revenue.
Case – Consider that lawn sign on a property that you quickly drive pass. You recall the company name and location of property but nothing else. Your at-home “Yellow Pages” are useless because the property was not in your local area. Your next step is an Internet search. Unfortunately, that property is multi-listed and they find your competitor first. Another revenue opportunity lost.
Opportunity – This is similar to Legal example, by utilizing online marketing you can increase your geographic range, while dominating your local area. Online marketing will allow you to take advantage of niche marketing without production cost increases associated with other marketing forms.
IV. Broker (Mortgage, Insurance or Financial)
Case – This business case is simple because you and your competition may represent the same or very similar product lines. A potential customer may have already researched (via Internet) their product of interest, and is ready to buy. This is the easiest sell you will ever make; all you have to do is answer the call or incoming email. However, your website is on page seven, when the customer searches for a broker (remember that 97%). You have to be on page one of SERP to compete.
Opportunity – This opportunity emphasizes maximizing your product or service niche via online marketing. In a very competitive area, focusing on narrow search terms will reap high reward.
V. Human Resource (Personnel) Recruiting Firms
Case – Majorities of recruiting firms have built their business based on relationships and therefore their website’s content is purely informational. This can prove to be a missed opportunity because many businesses are slowly economically recovering and are looking for potential partners to supply valuable human resources. Ironically, the economic conditions of the past few years have also closed many of the recruiting firm’s competitors and growing companies are looking to replenish their vendor list or looking for new suppliers at more competitive costs. The economy has also created an increase in career movements and many job seekers search for alternatives to the mega-job boards such as Monster and CareerBuilder.
Opportunity – Use your website as a marketing tool for talent acquisition along with expanding on your overall online marketing.
Increase emphasis in your niche, not only in your website’s content but also in your search engine activities.
VI. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)
Case – Aside from selling your product, one of the most important aspects about MLM is building your network. You have to constantly recruit even as you make sells in order to succeed. Unfortunately, you are even competing against your “up” and “down” line for the same talent. Think outside the box, especially in these economic times where people are looking for different sources of income.
Opportunity – “Kill two birds with one stone.” Along with your normal product marketing activities, recruiting online marketing can prove very prosperous. Assure that your website can be easily found by focusing on search engine marketing.
In closing, do not let easy opportunities evade you; you have already worked hard to build your business and website. Increase your marketing focus in the area of online marketing. Simply, reallocate your existing marketing budget and efforts. Online (search) marketing costs are the lowest of any mediums and proven to have the highest ROI; it represents the perfect “win-win” situation.