I was reading an article the other day about the expected increase in local search advertising over the next four to five years. According to a report by the Kelsey Group, local search advertising revenue will increase to $1.3 billion by 2013, up from a conservative $20 million this year. The increase sounds staggering, considering the figures go against conventional theories that this down economy will be around longer than expected.
But as I thought about it more, I believe the increase in local search advertising will be significant regardless of the economy and the main reason why: the Smartphone! With more and more people using Smartphone technologies like the iPhone, the Blackberry, and Palm, I expect to see a big increase in local search marketing over the next few years. I cannot put a dollar figure on it (The Kelsey Group already has), but just look around and the signs are all over the place. The technology with the web based, super fast 3G network phones makes it much more palpable to use your phone to search the web. The screens are larger than ever, they are in full color and have full keyboards! We are moving toward a time where it is actually less convenient to walk up stairs and turn on your pc, than to simply jump online from your Smartphone. When you are truly “on the go”, these phones can completely replace your home computer for online functionality. Instead of calling for information (say goodbye to 411), you can just as easily go online from your phone to find whatever you need — you are doing a local search!
If you are a business owner, you ought to get onboard with local search marketing as soon as possible. Make sure you have your local listings in Google Maps and Yahoo’s local business listing formats. You might find your business is already there, and if so, make sure all the information is up to date and accurate. If you are not listed, be sure to add your business listing and provide as much information as they allow you to put in your profile. If they allow a photo, use a nice picture of your building, or use your company logo. While you’re at it, check some of the other local business finders (think Yellow Pages online and similar sites) and make sure your company information is accurate and up to date on those sites as well. Remember, more and more people are using these Smartphones every day and they will be one of the biggest drivers in local search activity over the next few years.
We have all heard the clichÃ©’s by now: perception is reality or you only get one chance to make a good first impression. In my opinion, clichÃ©s become just, that because they are so true. When it comes to search engine marketing, these clichÃ©s apply across the board. If you build a nice looking site, have great search engine rankings in both the natural and paid listings, then you can position your business no matter how small, as the big player in the market because perception is reality. If you are managing a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign and drive traffic to a poor landing page with no relevancy, little or no content and no action items for the visitor, most likely they will bounce from that page. You only get one chance to make a good first impression with that visitor, so make sure it is engaging and memorable.
Next time you are developing an online strategy for marketing your business, think about those concepts. In the online arena, you do not have to be intimidated by the 800 lb gorilla in your industry. In fact, some of those large, “well established” companies make the biggest mistakes in online marketing. They may have the huge TV budget and the 50,000 square foot showroom, 20 VP’s and 1000 sales people…but in online marketing, and PPC campaigns in particular, every business is fighting for the same limited space. If you build it they will come is a great line from the movie Field of Dreams, but in online marketing that is not true. In reality, if you build it and build it well, make sure you drive relevant traffic to your site and you can compete with any other business online.
In addition, be sure to think about what “face” you want to put on when a visitor arrives, because as I mentioned, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Your landing page should be relevant to the keywords you used in the ads that generated that visitor. Make sure the page loads quickly, has optimized, keyword rich content, and most importantly a clear call to action. This is your chance to make a good first impression, so don’t blow it by haphazardly choosing a landing page with a poor design, slow load time, and no calls to action. The downside could be huge if you don’t make a good first impression with your landing page. For years to come those previous visitors may be searching online and possibly pass you by, because their impression of your business was uninspiring.
I recently created a vertical marketing campaign for a client and was very impressed with the options Google offers to manage this type of strategy. It doesn’t seem like too long ago that a proposal of this size would have constituted multiple media buys across many networks and websites and the management of the program would have been a major task. Just keeping up with all of the different invoices from each media buy was a full time job, not to mention that each network or site had its own way of reporting results! With Google’s Placement Targeting program you can create a robust, wide reaching vertical marketing campaign and manage the program all in one place!
The advantages from both a management perspective and the ability to reach your precise audience with Google’s Placement Targeting program are substantial. I was able to create a campaign targeting over 50 specific vertical sites for my client and manage the program all within one interface. I didn’t have to spend time going to each website to negotiate 50 different media buys and I was able to get consistent reporting for the entire campaign. My client was impressed by the extensive list of sites available to them within the Google Content Network and particularly liked the idea of one invoice to cover the costs of the entire campaign. Within the Google Content Network, depending on the publisher’s site, you can place targeted text ads, banner ads, or even video. We were able to leverage these different types of ad formats, testing regular text ads, banner ads, and videos across many of the sites we utilized during the campaign.
The final results are still pending, but it is certain to be a campaign we will look to build upon in the future. With the flexibility and options available within the Google Placement Targeting program, I was able to offer my client an easily managed vertical marketing campaign. The next time you consider a vertical marketing campaign think of all the advantages a “one stop shop” solution can save you in time and effort.