Your customers are moving. Not house to house, but from one shopping mindset to another. The days of phone books and physical window shopping are slowing down. They’re not gone and might not ever disappear completely, but if you want to be where your customers are, you’ll follow them, and race your competition to where more and more customers are doing their product research and purchasing-the internet. Here are the three biggest areas we see ROI in our online marketing efforts at HireAHelper.com.
1. SEO-Search Engine Optimization
For most of you, SEO is either a brand new concept and you had no idea what that acronym stood for before today OR you hate the term and closely associate it with all that is evil online. The truth is, SEO is a tool, and just like any other tool, it can be used for good or evil. SEO gets a bad rap from evil practitioners, called Black Hat SEOs by those of us in the industry. They do just about anything they can to get their website to show up in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing-almost always focusing on practices that violate each search engine’s policies. White Hat SEOs do just the opposite-they follow all of each search engine’s guidelines to ensure that their website is easily read and indexed by the search engines. They also create useful, helpful, share-able content, tools, e-books, etc. to earn links from other sites. In turn, Google and the other engines reward this level of ethical optimization with rankings in their search results and lots of visitors.
But how do you get in on the SEO action???
If you don’t have the luxury of employing an in-house SEO, do it yourself! It’s actually fairly straight forward. Read through the Moz intro to SEO, start writing unique content for every page on your site, start blogging about your most common customer questions, pricing, and competitors, and finish it all off by networking with industry partners to share tips, links and resources with each other’s social audiences. Setup a free Google Analytics account and find the report that shows you how many visitors are coming to your site from Google non-paid organic searches (aka SEO). If this report shows no visits, your site isn’t getting indexed or displayed by Google. That intro to SEO from Moz I mentioned will help you diagnose why. Then watch the visitors roll in. The more helpful you are as a resource in your blog and website content and with your industry partners, the more customers you’ll see coming in from Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
2. PPC-Pay Per Click Advertising via Google Adwords
I’m not necessarily endorsing Google Adwords as the best ppc ad platform in the world, it’s just the one we’ve come to know and love. If you can squeeze together a little bit of a budget to spend on the “Sponsored Ads” in Google’s search results, it will do two things. (1) It will tell you a lot about your customers and what keywords trigger their spending habits. You can then focus on those keywords when writing new content for your SEO goals (don’t over-do it, trying to hard to use a keyword in SEO will get you in trouble with Google). (2) As you play with your various campaigns you’ll get better at optimizing for different keywords, target markets etc. and should start to see a positive ROI fairly quickly depending on your margins and industry (some industries are HIGHLY competitive in the PPC space, such as insurance, and as such the cost per click of relevant keywords is absurdly high). It’s tempting to try and show up for big, one and two word phrases like “moving companies” or “rental trucks” but those short, high search volume keywords will cost a bundle. Try, instead to build campaigns around longer phrases that your real customers are using to search for your product or service. You’ll pay less per click and the clicks you do get will be people more likely ready to buy what you’re selling.
3. Direct Customers to Your Website
Our 2nd largest source of online revenue actually comes from customers typing our website directly into their internet browser. If you can get your website listed on all of your real world marketing materials, receipts, confirmation notices, and brand mentions, the customers you get to type that in will come ready to purchase. There’s something very important that happens when a potential customer hears about your brand, makes the effort to remember your website name, and goes through with actually visiting it online. A switch turns on. Putting that much effort into remembering your brand signals to their brain that you’ll be a trustworthy source to buy from.
BUT-one of the most important places you can put your website is not in your billboard ad copy, it’s in the minds of past customers. Getting a customer to come back to your site after their initial purchase is one of the best ways to build your brand and your online presence. Customers will end up bookmarking your site, visiting often, and checking out more of the site-all actions that lead to consistent referrals to friends. Make sure new customers are so pleased with their first experience dealing with you that they come back. After they come back again and again, they’ll start bringing their friends.
The bottom line
The web is growing almost faster than we can track. Consumers are getting more comfortable everyday with being able to find what they need online-for everything from moving labor to lawyers-every industry is seeing customers moving to make purchases online. Are you there, visible and ready for their questions as they research? Are you easy to find either through SEO or PPC (or both)? Your customers and your competitors are headed there. It’s a race. Make sure you’re there first so that you can establish yourself as the authority on your product or industry.
Where are you at in the relocation from real-world to web marketing? What’s your favorite source of online customers? I’d love to hear about your progress in the comments.