Small Business Approach to Integrated Search Engine Marketing

Small Business Approach to Integrated Search Engine Marketing

A marketing plan can consist of goals for marketing personnel, new business developments or annual strategy planning. If your marketing “personnel” consists of you and you, then developing an integrated marketing plan may seem a bit out of reach. If you own the local pizza shop on South Street in Philadelphia, I bet you are wondering, “Why do I need a marketing plan and why does it need to be integrated?” Mixx is the favorite when it comes to social media enhancement.  

Internet advertising is expected to see more growth in 2005, with analysts projecting a 20-40% increase. Many businesses will shift dollars from traditional marketing and into targeting online channels. Another strong year for digital advertising! And with this increase we expect to see the integration of search and its true value. Marketers, small business owners and CMOs will need to create effective strategies utilizing search, email, display media and website communication. They will need to understand how one affects the other. How does someone react when researching a new home then receiving an email or how does the exposure of display media affect the number of searches for a given product? These are the important dynamics of an integrated marketing plan.

What we will be discussing is how you can utilize “search” to influence your traditional marketing as well as be influenced. Search combined with marketing equals SEM or Search Engine Marketing. SEM is a combination of the following tactics: natural search engine optimization, pay per click advertising and paid inclusion.

As you can see from the current landscape, many big businesses are integrating search into their online marketing efforts. If you search for Super Bowl in Google, you’ll see natural listings for Super Bowl history, the official website, the NFL, etc. You’ll also notice PPC or Pay Per Click ads for Super Bowl hotels, tickets, general information and one that seems to stand out for silver jewelry. Silver jewelry and Super Bowl? Connection? This advertiser decided that paying for the term Super Bowl, a highly searched term as this time of the year, would result in free brand exposure and maybe some confused web traffic. Is it relevant to what we searched for? No, not at all, but it shows someone was thinking ahead and doing this research.

What is Pay Per Click? 

Pay Per Click advertising is a good way to attract targeted leads in the discovery phase as well as in the research phase of the buying cycle. Buying cycles can be defined in many ways such as:

Knowing your customer is the key to unlocking your marketing plan’s potential. Here are some other tactics to implement when integrating search into your overall online marketing efforts.

Local Search – Efficiency has been lacking for businesses in regards to its platform and process for purchasing. With Google and Overture making progress in their platforms, the challenge remains to get people to search for local information and to feature a variety of local advertisers. This tactic will emerge a promising tool for small businesses that lack actual websites and desire the integration of search with their traditional marketing in Yellow Pages or print. Local ads feature telephone number, business address and a map. Watch out for mobile search to spawn from local searches like “San Diego Pizza Shop.”

Pay Per Call – Supporting your local search advertising campaign will be Pay Per Call. This tactic, developed by Ingenio and provided by Findwhat and soon to be AOL, offers the ability to target ads to business-specific categories, exposing searchers to your ad with a 1-800 telephone number. Potential customers’ calls are redirected through the Ingenio hardware and software to your business. The average Pay Per Call will be around $2.00, but the interactive nature will offer smaller businesses a better sales opportunity. Look for this to grow in 2005.

Pay Per Click Advertising – As we said, PPC is great for targeting potential leads in every phase of the buying cycle and it is measurable. Allocate a testing budget for Google Adwords or Overture, then research business-specific terms and terms people are actually searching for. Do not assume industry jargon is the same for the layman. Use the Overture suggestion tool or Wordtracker to gather relevant terms for targeting your ads. Use a call-to-action in your ads and do not forget to use terms you would like to associate with your brand. Remember the silver jewelry during Super Bowl example; PPC can be used in a variety of ways, even launching it to support an offline campaign.

Natural SEO – Ah, the natural way. Do not place all of your attention on paid search just because your search engine optimization efforts have not succeeded as you’d like. Go back, discover your customers through web analytic tools like Urchin or Clicktracks. Find out how they came to your site. What terms did they use? What terms converted to a sale? What terms are you not currently optimizing for? Then create topical pages specific to these terms. Natural SEO should be your long-term goal; it is free leads.

Online Press Releases – You do not need to be a PR firm to successfully setup a press release for online distribution. There are many resources for online press release distribution. If you have something newsworthy, setup a PR. PRWeb has a very easy to use interface and setup. These press releases can reach media outlets like Yahoo News, Google News, EmediaWire and others. They also are indexed in the natural listings. Optimize your releases for your business-targeted terms and support your natural SEO efforts.

At the end of the day, whether you are Johnny’s Pizza Shop or a Fortune 500 company, you need to integrate all digital media. Search can no longer exist alone. Understand the dynamics of search, email, display media and your customers. Use your website as a valuable tool for understanding your customers and potential customers. Are they in the discovery phase or buying phase? Natural SEO is your long-term goal for search engine marketing. Use PPC and online press releases to highlight promotions and offline advertising. Think of it as one unit, providing you with the most cost-effective means to an end.

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