It’s September the last month in 3Q 2010 and many businesses have to meet their third quarter scorecards while ramping up fourth quarter activity in light of their year-end goals.
According to Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, there are specific actions you can take using your Web site to connect with customers, convert them and gain some fast wins.
Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how a company can utilize its Web site to cost-effectively and quickly attract customers to drive growth.
How can you use your Web site to boost sales fast?
Bar none, the best Web strategy for sustained growth is an integrated and holistic approach. However, many times I’ve advised companies who need to shore up sales quickly before they can redesign or build their Web site or fully deploy the Web initiatives they need for ongoing success. In this situation, the tactic to apply first is paid search.
Paid search is advertising online through major search engines such as Google AdWords or Yahoo/Bing search. It uses a bidding system to show your ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) to people searching for the keywords relevant to your product or service. Today’s Internet opportunities offer a variety of applications of paid search, from targeting via keywords entered, to demographic and behavioral aspects in social network advertising (like Facebook), to advanced techniques such as remarketing, which enables branding on par with a national footprint specifically focused to your familiar prospects.
Why is paid search the fastest way to connect to prospective customers?
Paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) ads are shown to people who are actively searching the Internet using the terms (keywords) describing your product or service. You are not interrupting them in their daily lives; you are offering an answer for their query at the tips of their fingers. They are already in the ‘I have a need, and am researching how to solve it’ or, ‘I am ready and motivated to buy’ phase of their purchase cycle. When paid search is implemented correctly, you can reach them at their time of need, connect them directly to your product or service information and generate the lead, or, in eCommerce situations, close the sale then and there.
What are the distinct advantages of paid search?
In addition to the extremely targeted nature of paid search, it is:
- Quick Paid search programs can be up and running in one or two business days. This gives you the ability to advertise in 48 hours or less to people who are actively looking for your products or services. While this is a very quick way to advertise to your target customers, I strongly advise that you invest the appropriate time for strategic analysis, structuring and set-up to make sure you are bidding on keywords that will convert to customers, not just clicks to your Web site.
- Separable Using paid search does not require that you have a fully functional Web site. Your ads can be directed to landing pages with lead-generation forms or an e-commerce shopping cart connection. This aspect is especially useful when a Web site is not programmatically capable of handling forms and payment integration, doesn’t allow fast access for the edits needed in paid search campaigns, or just isn’t built yet. So even if your current Web site was built years ago, and the programmers or administrative functionalities are not easily accessible, you can still access effective online marketing for your business needs today though I would earnestly recommend you invest in a current professional Web partner to grow your business.
- Effective Paid search is cost-effective because you only pay for those people clicking on your ad who are more poised to become a lead or customer. Traditional media impressions-based pricing can’t touch this targeted cost advantage. It’s marketing-effective because your ads can put a result on page one of the search engine results pages today which is never a guarantee with organic search engine optimization (SEO).
Numerous case studies have shown that consumers often don’t distinguish between paid and organic (non-paid) search results. So an up-front page-one result in this case is just that, no matter the sponsorship status. When your search result shows in both organic and paid positions, your ownership of multiple pieces of real estate on the SERP strengthens a searcher’s likelihood to click through to your offering, both statistically and psychologically. Many consumers who recognize a sponsored-result distinction express preference for clicking to PPC results because they know the company paid to get their attention and probably has a more exact answer for what they are looking for, versus what Google or Bing thinks they are looking for.
- Trackable Paid search also gives you results at the speed of the Internet. You can review your performance metrics, such as click-through rates, impressions, ad spend and conversions, almost as fast as they happen. This allows fast results and fast indicators of the adjustments needed to fine tune for improvement, enabling your marketing to turn on a dime if needed.
So what’s the catch?
Paid search has distinct advantages for specific situations. It is by no means a cure-all. Paid search results stop the moment you stop funding them, and the tactic will reach a maximum/optimum point before diminishing returns. Paid search can be expensive depending on the competitiveness of your keywords, and as you are testing and refining to optimal performance. Also, it does not assist in achieving ‘organic’ search engine benefits.
Paid search is one food group in the proper Web nutrition of growing a business. A smart, successful business benefits exponentially from an integrated marketing strategy with multi-faceted Web and offline elements.
For a snapshot of Bayshore Solutions’ integrated Web marketing methodology, click to: www.BayshoreSolutions.com/method
Kevin Hourigan is the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions. Reach him at (877) 535-4578 or www.BayshoreSolutions.com.