Finding new customers is a critical objective for any business. No matter what kind of marketing a business uses to meet that objective, from business cards to web sites, success requires understanding a couple of marketing fundamentals for building an effective Search Marketing strategy.
Where are your customers?
Where do your customers look for information to help them make a purchase? If it’s a simple purchase, one with no big perceived risk, a phone book might be the only place a customer looks. If those are your customers, then your business needs a phone and a listed number. If you focus your marketing attention on giving your customers the best possible service by phone, you are on your way to successfully meeting their needs and winning their business.
For a more complex sale, there can be many touch points along the way from early consideration to final sale. Not only that, but each individual marketing medium can offer several different touch points during the course of a sale, with messaging tailored for different stages of the buying process, as well as the different people within the buying audience.
Do your customers read newspapers? Do they watch TV? Do they spend time on social networking sites, and which ones? In other words, where do they congregate and how can you be there with them?
The important thing to remember as a marketer is that you need to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. To do that, you have to understand who your customers are, where they go for information, and what they do next.
How do they decide to buy?
Buyers commonly do research online to learn more about solutions, products and vendors, as well as find information on pricing, reviews from customers, instructional videos and more. Business-to-business purchases also routinely involve several people. You might think of them as categorized into three main types: doers, buyers, and bosses.
The “doers” are the people on the frontline, and they are often where the need for a purchase is first recognized. They are the people who will likely be working with your product or service on a regular basis, and as such their influence can be keenly felt at the beginning of a purchase cycle.
The “buyers” typically enter the purchase cycle a little later on. They have different needs than the “doers” who will be using the product. The buyer wants to know about pricing, guarantees, support, and the vendor’s credibility. In other words, their job is to mitigate the risk associated with a purchase and protect the company from making a costly error.
The third type of person that can be involved in a complex sale is the “boss”. The Boss can enter the picture at any stage, and they will look at a transaction from a different perspective again. Their considerations might include stockholders, company directors, and longer term information that other company members don’t have access to. Combine all three types of people into a purchase decision and it’s easy to see how complex a complex sale can really be.
Search is a common denominator
With all the different variable behaviors that your customers may engage in, one thing that’s clear is that online search has become a mainstream source of information for everyone. Need a part number for a piece of machinery? Google it. Want to see what people are saying about a product? Look at Twitter. Do you want to see a product demonstration? Look it up on YouTube. Need to see pictures of a product in use? Search images on Bing. The list goes on and on.
The key point for marketing is that when customers are searching online, they’ve got to be able to find you there. Depending on the nature of your business and clientele, here are three basic steps to consider in building your online search strategy:
- Optimize your company web site to be search engine friendly.
- Start (and maintain) a company blog. Search engines will reward your site, and new and existing customers can find a good blog a valuable source of information that will help establish your company’s reputation as a leader.
- If your company web site is not showing up in the search engines for important search terms that are relevant to your business, consider a paid search campaign to increase your online visibility.
Karl Hourigan is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Mediative. Mediative is one of North America’s largest integrated digital marketing companies. Their results-oriented marketing network is supported by industry thought leaders and a data-driven platform.