If you are a business owner or executive, you probably spend a considerable amount of time and energy thinking about how to grow your business and particularly your sales.
Once you have exhausted all the normal methods of contacts, clients and referrals a common question arises: where will your next sales and leads come from? Increasingly, the answer to that question is that they will come from online marketing.
Businesses and consumers are now regularly turning to search engines and web sites to research companies to buy products from or do business with. Recent reports reveal that
89% of consumers use search engines such as Google or Bing to find information on products, services, or businesses before making purchase decisions. In the B2B sector 70% of enterprise purchase decisions begin on search engines.
If your company appears in the top results of the search engines for the queries your prospects are searching, you have a high chance of gaining new business.
There are a number of questions that often come up in considering how to grow your business using search and online methods. Here are some of the key questions and answers:
Are you aiming to generate sales or leads? There are generally two types of marketing activities online. Direct sales of products or services (eCommerce) is appropriate if what your products or services can be easily packaged and presented. Lead Generation is typically the goal of online efforts if your business has a more complex sales process, as most business-to-business sales usually do.
What are the growth and profit drivers of your business?
In determining what areas to focus time and money on it is important to identify the profit drivers and growth drivers of your business. Are there certain products or services that are high
margin or lead onto other business? What are these? Are they clearly displayed on your website so that they can be understood and products sold or contact initiated?
What are new customer’s worth and how much can you pay for them? In growing new customers and investing money in marketing and advertising, it can be a nerve-wracking process seeing money go out with no guarantee of new revenues coming in.
The goal of your online advertising should be to identify the value of new business, what the maximum amount that can be paid for it and acquire new business for less than the maximum amount. If that can be achieved the business has a viable online growth strategy with expected returns on monies spent.
Can you track results? What are your technology skills in house? One of the principles in online business is that if you cannot track it you cannot measure or scale it. How do your customers respond to your efforts? Whether it is a phone call, form fill out or purchase, tracking each activity back to the source is vital in optimisation of efforts and allocating resources.
Setting up your web site to track correctly can require some technical expertise and some time. If you do not have the resources in house to do this, you will need to find a partner and allocate budget for this. Usually this is 90% a one-off effort.
Should I not focus efforts on free SEO rather than paid ads?
This is a common question because paid ads can appear expensive. Our experience is that paid search can often offer better value by providing more feedback and better control and targeting with less customer effort.
One of the problems with focusing only on SEO efforts is that you often do not know what search queries will drive your business forward and you can spend a large amount of time and money focusing on activities that you later prove not to be beneficial because your customers do not look for your business in that manner.
There is very little control with SEO. With paid ads there is a large level of control, both in choosing keywords and geographical targeting as well as measuring results that come in.
Many companies find that it is more effective to spend money and acquire customers with paid search and use that data to optimise free search, growing the business in a much more customer focused and data driven manner.