It has been an eventful year in terms of marketing, especially online with big changes to the Google search algorithm, use of ad-blockers and the way people search for products and services. Before creating your strategy for advertising in 2017, there are a few things you need to consider.
Where are your Customers?
We all rely on clients and consumers of our products and services, and when it comes to connecting with them online, we need to research our ideal audience, and assess the way they find us. While for years we have said that Google search is the essential location to get found, we know now that consumers are using mobile devices more as well as apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor. This means that simply showing up on Google will not guarantee you get found by your customers.
Its a bit like radio advertising. It is no good advertising on commercial radio stations when your ideal or most likely potential customer is listening to their own private playlist or hanging out with Triple J. It becomes a wasted investment. Same goes with your online ads. You might be showing your ad to thousands of people, but are they buying?
Focus on your product and the people who have bought it so far. How have they found you? For example, our services have always been through referrals and social media, so we invest time and money in connecting with people through email and social media content. If your audience is looking for you or your service, you need to ensure they can find you.
Many consumers now search on specific applications such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or local searches. This means that you need to be across all media associated with your product or service, and control what is being seen – contact details, reviews, feedback and possible negative content.
Is SEO really worth the money?
The short answer is yes. It is. SEO or search engine optimisation once meant getting you to page 1 of Google search. It still kind of does, although smart digital agencies are doing the research and including local content as well as citations to service finders such as the before-mentioned Yelp and TripAdvisor apps.
It needs to be more about inbound marketing than outbound marketing. Rather than throwing your brand out there to any one who will listen, throw it in front of the people who are looking and eager to buy or connect.
In recent SEO campaigns for our clients, we have been focusing on location based content, links from reputable sites in related fields, and blog posts that target a specific audience. This will not only help you get found on specific search apps, it will also still create relevant links that will improve your ranking on Google search. Its a bit of a WIN-WIN situation.
Is SEO a better investment than Pay Per Click?
Both have their merits, although for a long term investment return, SEO is the clear winner as it builds on trust and reputation through quality article content and links on reputable sites. Pay Per Click will create almost instant traffic, and can be very targeted, although will stop instantly when your budget runs dry. Another nail in the coffin for online ads is that more people are starting to use ad-blocking software to stop seeing pop-ups and banner ads. Google is even going so far to avoiding sites that have automatic pop-ups, especially on mobile devices.
It comes down to user experience as well. Take off the business hat for a minute and think about your online travels. Do you click on banner ads? Do you hate those video ads that just start playing, will you click on the Click-Bait looking ads on top of search results? What do you trust more, an organic listing on search or a directory, or an ad that is a paid placement?
SEO means listing your business in the right online local directories, creating content that makes you an authority in your field, sharing of posts to create popularity and links, social bookmarking and user generated content. All the things that search engines like Google are looking at to determine rank. Just like a viral piece of content, if your brand is trusted and popular, or at least looks that way, it will rank better.
In investment terms, this mean focusing on creating helpful and shareable content, guest blog posts about your services, press releases about what you offer, and local listings where consumers can find you. These are permanent and quality links and brand association that will stay even if your budget for one month or two drops.
Consistency is key, and although your budget might look like a roller-coaster ride, keeping a minimum SEO campaign in place is paramount to helping you rank better. Not only does it help rank, it will increase your traffic flow as it builds more links to your site, and helpful articles about your product or service.
We usually recommend our clients use a reasonable mix of the two, although with ads being kept strictly to text based search ads. With a campaign that targets your ideal audience’s search terms, we can deliver traffic that is more likely to engage with your website or brand, which ideally will increase your business’ bottom line.
Getting found in 2017
A lot will change in 2017, and how people find or search for you is one of them. With Google search focused on mobile consumers, and search terms looking more like sentences, we will need to rethink keyword strategies and campaign targeting.
With services like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, search terms are more like spoken word rather than specific terms. For example, people are more likely to ask their phone “find the closest jeweller that sells pink diamonds” than they are to just say “pink diamonds“.
It is all about anticipating what your ideal customer will do. Are they tech savvy or will they find you in a newspaper ad. No matter where they are, you need to be sure your brand shows up when they are looking for your product or service. How you do it depends on you.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas for how you will run your marketing campaign in the new year. I would love to hear your opinions on the changes in search, your use of ads and SEO, or what you plan to do in 2017 with your marketing.
Yours in marketing. Dave.