Internet Marketing News Flash
MSN Previews Personalized
NewsBot, the personalized news search and aggregation service
that MSN has been testing in a number of countries in Europe,
Asia, Latin America and Africa has gone live in the United
Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves Bow Local
Two major search providers have rolled out new local search
offerings. Yahoo! bowed a beta test of its local search platform,
and Ask Jeeves debuted a partnership with Citysearch to provide
local content on its results pages. The news follows closely
on the heels Google's own local offering, introduced in March
and also in beta testing.
Ask Jeeves Teams With Citysearch
Ask Jeeves and Citysearch announced a partnership agreement.
Under the agreement, Ask Jeeves, Inc. will license Citysearch's
local content and business data to help power Smart Search
results for local searches on Ask Jeeves.
The Strategy Of Search
There's a reason not every chess piece moves the same way.
Together, you can use the tactical advantages of a knight,
a queen or a rook to execute your strategy. There are chess
players that react to every move as it comes, playing the
game at a purely tactical level. This is the way most of us
start (and pretty much still the way I play). You don't think
ahead to what the next move could be. Strategy plays no part.
Each turn, you look at the board and make what appears to
be the best move.
Now, if your heart is set on becoming a competitive chess
player, you probably won't go too far with this tactical approach.
At some point, you'll have to start playing the game at the
strategic level. You will need to look at the big picture,
and explore the possible impact of all your opponent's future
In my opinion, search marketing is a game that's been played
at the tactical level for the past 8 years. Strategy hasn't
really been part of the game. That's going to have to change.
What's a Search Tactic and What's a Search Strategy?
Sometimes it's difficult to determine the difference between
tactics and strategies, especially in a situation where everything
is still relatively new. Let's imagine you're doing search
marketing for an accounting software developer. A search tactic
would be achieving a top 5 ranking for "small business
accounting software" on Google, or bidding a certain
amount for "accounting software packages" on Yahoo.
Even measuring conversions and making necessary adjustments
would be considered a tactic. Each of these is analogous to
a single move in a chess game. Even if you're doing all of
the above, it's still a collection of tactics. There's not
an overlying strategy.
A strategy would entail looking at the target customer and
really understanding how that target customer would research
accounting software. Let's create a quick profile. The target
customer is the owner of a small business who's looking for
more powerful accounting software than the entry level package
she currently has. She typically researches larger buying
decisions online. She usually uses a search engine to help
find information about a product or service fairly early in
the buying cycle. She prefers unbiased information sites to
With even this rudimentary level of understanding, you suddenly
have a much larger picture of the strategic approaches you
can take. You can research the best potential keyword choices,
understanding that the target will likely use many iterations
of the query. You can see how other marketing channels might
affect your search strategies. You have a good understanding
of how your target customer will react with paid and organic
listings. Now, you can start to look 2 or 3 moves ahead, anticipating
what the customer might do. And, as you do so, you start to
move from tactical marketing to strategic marketing.
The Questions You have to Ask Your Customer
To use search strategically, you have to ask your customer
some specific questions about their use of search engines
in regards to your business:
- Which search engine do you use?
- Where do you first look on a search engine results page?
- Would you use a search engine when looking for the product
or service I provide?
- When would you use a search engine?
- Why would you use it?
- How would you use it (what keywords or series of keyword
queries would you use)?
- What other sites would you visit during your research?
- What would you be looking for to cause you to click through
to one site rather than another?
- What would you be hoping to find on the site once you
did click through?
This represents the bare minimum of information you need
to start to get some understanding of how your customer will
use search in their buying cycle.
Survey the Competitive Landscape
Now, you can begin to see how you'll compete for the user's
attention against other sites that may be listed for the prime
keyword queries. Understand that searching is usually an iteractive
process and you'll have to intersect your customers awareness
at least once in this process, and hopefully more often.
Go to the primary engines (the first one is almost guaranteed
to be Google) and look at the first place your target customer's
eyes will go. See what other sites are currently showing here,
and what they're offering to your customer. Is it what they're
looking for? Click through on the most promising links and
see if the competitors fulfill the promise once the searcher
lands on the site.
Can you see the strategic perspective, rather than a purely
tactical one? Suddenly, strategic objectives become much more
important than the ones you've probably been obsessing about.
Position is important, but the text in the listing is at least
as important. Being outbid by your competitor on the sponsored
listings becomes less irritating if you know that it's the
organic listings that represent the prime real estate.
Why Search hasn't needed Strategy until Now
Eight years is a long time to be doing anything at only a
fraction of its potential. I believe it's a testament to the
power of search that it's been providing good, and sometimes
exceptional, results with this tactical approach.
Most search advertisers have been quite happy with their
results. If you happen to get a good position on a high traffic
word, you're going to generate a lot of traffic, no question.
And for many marketers, this has been good enough. But as
search matures, the thinking that goes into maximizing the
potential of it has to mature too.
The Missing 40% of Search Marketing
The best marketers understand that there are 5 strategic
steps to marketing:
1. Understand the Customer
You have to have a good, general understanding of your customers.
You have to know how they live, what motivates them, what
their pains are and what they care deeply about.
2. Understand Your Customer's Feelings about Your Product
Now, you need to know how your target customer feels about
your product specifically. What motivates them to purchase?
What pains do you solve? What hot buttons do you have to push
to encourage the sale?
3. Find the Channel to Reach Them
With target customers identified, you have to find the most
cost effective means of reaching them. What channels will
deliver the message to the right person, at the right time,
at the right price?
4. Deliver the Message
You've got the medium, now you have to craft the message.
Here you find that magic match between your target customer's
needs and motivators and your product or service's benefits,
relative to your competitors.
5. Establish an ongoing Relationship
It's not enough anymore to just close the sale. You have
to work towards building a relationship with the customer.
You have to maximize the lifetime value of that customer by
giving them a reason to continue doing business with you.
Search marketing has largely ignored every step except 3.
We've been obsessed about rankings, without considering what
the ranking means to the business or the potential customer.
Yes, rankings are an important tactic (Atlas One Point's latest
release on the effect of paid search rankings on click through
rates seems to confirm this) but only when taken as part of
a bigger strategy. You have to know the right keywords, the
right engine, the right place on the page, and the right text
in the listing to capture the attention of the customer. You
can only do this if you understand the customer. Then, after
you've captured the click, you have to deliver the right information
on your site, and nurture the lead into a prospect with the
right conversion triggers. Again, it comes from understanding.
Search marketers have to start looking beyond simple rankings.
Strategy is Hard Work
It's not easy to think strategically. When you approach things
on a tactical level, you have the luxury of focusing on the
task at hand. With a strategic approach, you constantly have
to be making decisions based on a delicate balance of a number
of different factors. Every choice has to be made with an
understanding of the impact it has on all the other factors.
When it comes to search, you not only have to be aware of
the entire search process, but also how all the other channels
might affect the consumer's use of a search engine. Is there
a television campaign running that might generate additional
or unique search engine usage? Will the story that's running
in a newspaper create more traffic through search?
The pay off comes with the dramatic improvement in effectiveness.
When search advertising budgets climb to thousands or hundreds
of thousands of dollars monthly, the time invested in crafting
your strategy will pay you back several times over. And once
you make the move to thinking strategically, it will give
you a whole new perspective on how to use search as a marketing
channel. It will also put you far ahead of your competition.
About the Author:
Gord Hotchkiss is the President and CEO of Enquiro, whose
goal is to push the search engine optimization industry forward
both in terms of measurable results and client satisfaction.
* * *
Keywords are the basic foundation of search engines placement
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How to increase the ROI on
your PPC campaigns
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the most cost effective
(and just plain effective) ways to get laser-targeted traffic
to your website. For just pennies per click you can have your
offer placed in front of only those people who are truly interested
in what you have to offer.
There is a problem with PPC however. Return On Investment
(ROI) can be quite low if your ad campaigns aren’t designed
properly. In a nutshell, you need to make sure that enough
people who click on your ad make a purchase to allow you to
end up with a healthy overall profit!
Here are a few tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your
PPC ad campaigns:
1. Write clear and concise ad copy that tells the potential
customers EXACTLY what they will find after the link is clicked.
Since you have to pay cash for each and every click, you want
to limit the clicks to those people who are truly interested
in what you’re offering!
2. Be creative with the keywords but be precise in the ad
copy. While you want the ad copy to be very precise in describing
your offer, you want as many people as possible to see the
ad in the first place.
Using several variations of the wording in your key phrases
and synonyms for your keywords you can ensure that your ad
will be displayed for a wide variety of search terms. Then
your laser-targeted ad copy will “weed out” those
who just aren’t interested in your particular offer.
3. Link the ad to the EXACT landing page of the offer described
in the ad, NEVER to your home page. If your prospects have
to search for a link to the offer, they simply won’t
do it in most cases. The web is all about instant gratification,
and the “back button” is used extensively when
people click on a link only to find something that wasn’t
described in the ad.
4. Test, test, and then test some more! The key to maximizing
the ROI of any ad campaign is testing, and PPC is no different.
Set up test campaigns using various keywords/phrases and different
ad copy. Analyze the results after a few days, and then drop
the ads that perform poorly and expand the ones that do well.
5. Experiment with the bid prices for your keywords. For
example, you might well find that a bid of $0.35 results in
almost as many clicks (and customers) as a bid of $0.55! This
means you save 20 cents on each and every click! Remember,
your ad doesn’t have to be displayed in the top position
for it to be effective.
About the Author:
Rick Rouse is the owner of RLROUSE Directory & Informational
Resources, one of the fastest growing Directories on the web.
and submit your URL!
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