You have a product or service, and you need people to find out about it, and raise awareness. Are you ready? Let’s explore a little bit of that process today.
Inbound marketing is great for increasing your marketing return on investment – MROI. I’ve explored it quite a bit this year, especially in the wonderful, automatable HubSpot CRM. However, as good as SEO can be, it’s even better when it’s part of a broader strategy. You often need to couple solid inbound like SEO with paid advertising – SEM, or search engine marketing.
First, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, and identify what will wow them about your product or service.
Not just at the surface level - spend time on this. What makes your product or service different? If it’s not better in some way, whether your UX and design for your e-commerce site are better, your materials and design are superior (making it easier to build consumer confidence and good feelings around your brand), you’re positioned in the right place at the right time (an umbrella sales stall that you man for the 30 minutes your local main street gets lake-effect rain from Lake Erie every day?) or you or your product are more effective (tangible, real-world benefits), no-one outside of a few friends and family members will care enough to choose you over something or someone else. If you don’t know what’s special or unique about what you have to offer, you need to stop and figure it out. Why will people be excited and want to advocate for you?
Second, you need to determine what platform you’d like to use to help prospects discover you. Two examples are Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.
In pay-per-click, or PPC, you try to get people to click on your link, for terms they’ve searched for that you bid on. On Google search (there are challengers like Yahoo and Bing, but the king of search still reigns supreme) you can pay to have words people search for trigger an ad, which you will pay Google money for if they click on it.
More popular, vague terms cost more than longer, less-searched for terms. For example, let’s say you make ginseng snacks. Bidding on ‘ginseng snacks’ as a keyword that you will show up for on the first page of Google search results will definitely cost more than if you target something like ‘how to make ginseng snacks’, ‘types of ginseng snacks’, or ‘ginseng snack recipes’. And here’s a cool thing: ranking for the longer-tail (more obscure) keyword also helps you rank for the shorter-tail (more vague/popular) term. Google AdWords is a balancing act between popularity (ease of ranking), price (how badly do you and others want to rank), and how well you’re already ranking with organic SEO (which is influenced by a multitude of things – and can theoretically be free, or almost free).
How is Facebook different? Well, what if I search for ginseng snacks, and click it – but just on a lark – because I hate ginseng (no I don’t), and never intended to buy it? Anyone could see your ad, click on it, and you wouldn’t be sure from that interaction alone whether or not they’d ever become a customer of yours, or know much psychographically about them beyond the standard audience data you might have from something like Google Analytics. With Facebook, you can segment like crazy, meaning that you can drill down to a small slice of their 1.5 billion-plus users. You still pay to place PPC ads, but you have more control over who sees them.
Another benefit? Ads on Facebook are more visual, which may mean that you can start shaping consumer perception of your brand more powerfully than with mere text alone. Also, Facebook isn’t that expensive when we go back to the point about segmentation ability.
Quality over quantity! Don’t blast out information about who you are and what you do until you’re sure of what makes you unique, and ready to make people happy. Once you do know, use your advertising budget wisely by pairing SEO with SEM, and taking advantage of the relative strengths of each platform. Additionally, don’t just set it and forget it. If you can A/B test to weed out underperforming campaigns, CTAs, and AdWord buys, do so. Continually measure against your past performance, and aim for long-term health by investing early and often in how you cultivate the reputation of your brand in the minds of consumers.
“If you know the enemy and know thyself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu