Aside from having an aesthetically pleasing website optimized for conversions, the success of any online campaign is derived from utilizing cost-effective marketing solutions. Obviously, certain marketing solutions will work better than others depending on the services or products of your business. However, the key is trying what has worked for others, analyzing the results, and finally making subtle adjustments. I’m going to systematically break down the 5 most reliable and cost-effective forms of marketing that have proven to yield exceptional results for our clients.
Search Engine Optimization
I mention SEO first considering that on average, it has proven time and time again to be the most cost-effective of all potential solutions. Search Engine Optimization, for those that don’t know, simply means to increase your online exposure through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The reason that SEO is so effective is due to the fact that you are connecting a user that is proactively searching for the services/products that you have to offer. This type of traffic yields the lowest bounce rate, highest engagement percentage, and typically the highest conversions depending on your business. Now that we know why search engine optimization can be an effective tool for procuring customers, we need to discuss how a website is actually optimized so that it may organically show up in search results for users.
The two methods used for increasing search engine rank are known as on and off page optimization. I won’t go into meticulous detail, but on-page optimization can range from including and submitting a sitemap to adding a short, but descriptive meta or title tag. You want to include content that is both engaging for the reader, but optimized for search engines. A good example of this is what we refer to as keyword density; search engines are looking for keywords within your site that are relevant to what the search engine user is looking for. This is done by strategically including keywords that you wanted to rank for within your content, but doing it in a way that makes sense to the reader. New content is by far the most important aspect of on page optimization and expedites the ranking process. By continually adding content to your site, it shows Google that you’re actively engaged and offer value to their users giving you preference over your competitors. Off-page optimization can range from submitting your site to directories such as dmoz.com to building backlinks to your website. There are a lot of competitors in your area, so Google wants to know why you’re so special. Think of a backlink as a vote for your website;every time that someone includes a backlink on a third party website, it shows that you offered something of value. This example is a bit rudimentary, but the more backlinks pointing back to your site, the more weight you’re going to have in search engines.
To summarize, SEO provides the highest quality of traffic, thus naturally being the most cost-effective solution, if done at a reasonable price. The reason for this is that aside from paying an SEO firm to rank your desired keywords (or doing it yourself); you’re not paying for each user that organically ends up on your website, unlike if you were to pay for traffic coming from an advertising network.
Pay Per Click Marketing
PPC is the same concept as search engine optimization, only you pay directly for search engine placement.The most commonly used networks areAdwords meaning Google placement or the Microsoft adCenter meaning Bing or Yahoo placement. This method is most commonly used for either receiving instant exposure while you’re organically optimizing for desired keyword phrases or when a phrase is so valuable that you want to saturate both the organic, paid, and Google Place results served to the user. Considering that paid search placement takes 24% of the market share for search results, you can quickly see why it’s a solution that shouldn’t be overseen. Clicks can range from $1 to as high as $15 depending on the level of competition. Your site, if designed properly should convert at least 5-10 percent of that traffic. So, let’s say for examples that you pay $5 per click with a 5-10 percent conversion rate. That would equate to a $100 – $50 cost every time that someone picks up the phone and contacts you. Depending on your business, you will see variations on the return being the sole reason that every bid price for each keyword phrase is different. PPC marketing might not be as cost-effective as search engine optimization, but does serve its purpose and yields a high rate on return with calculable results.
SMM is arguably the future of online marketing and with Facebook’s audience exceeding 500 million users and recently integrating with Bing, it’s a safe assumption. Social Media Marketing can come in two different forms and that’s either paying directly for exposure or actively engaging your audience. The success of your campaign is derived from knowing which networks you should be pursuing and how to optimize your exposure. The results are going to vary based on the services/produtcs that you offer and how you go about networking with your potential customers. For example: let’s say you are a coffee shop and trying to find the best social medium to expand your company awareness. Chances are your clientele would less likely be on LinkedIn and more likely on Facebook. In opposition, if you were a business litigation lawyer, your success would be much higher engaging the audience of LinkedIn.
As we’ve seen on any social media websites, there’s always the option to purchase direct traffic from the network, rather than having to spend all your time engaging your audience. Testing ad campaigns for social media marketing is fine, but you need to keep in mind that users are going to these websites to socialize and aren’t necessarily looking for a product or service. On average, a user needs to see a product or service 7 times before making a decision as to whether they’re interested. With that said, paying for exposure on these networks can be profitable, but brand awareness takes time and it might be awhile before you start seeing measurable results. It’s always recommended that you actively engage your audience and become the authority in your industry. So get it out there and start engaging on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
As we all know, reputation is a very important factor when considering a lot of business is generated through referrals. The more trust and reputable your businessis in the public eye, the more long-term success that you’re going to have. Reputation was once done by word of mouth, but since the advent of the internet, everything has changed. This medium has transcended into the form of reviews, ratings, and testimonials. Sites such as Yelp, Google Places, Mywot, and the BBB play a large role in the determining factor of someone’s decision when doing research. With that said, every potential customer needs to be treated as a possible negative review if they aren’t treated with the highest level of professionalism and respect. There’s the old saying that if a client has a good experience, they tell 3-5 of their friends and if they had a bad experience, they tell 10-20.
In the event that a negative comment is made towards your business, there are actions that you can take to counter this. If a negative review about your businessdoes show up in your search results, there are SEO services out there to help negate any unwanted reviews. Most users only go2-3 pages deep in the search results, so keep that in mind when positive reviews are optimized and negative reviews are de-ranked. With that said, It is advisable to continually monitor the search results of your business considering that often times,customer reviews will show up on the first and second page.
If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your website, you might as well be flying blind. This tool gives you a world of insight about the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns. By knowing your most effective marketing medium, subtle changes can be made being the difference in thousands if not hundreds of thousands in revenue each year. Google Analytics can tell you anything from how many visits your site receives a day to the search engine keywords that you’re receiving traffic from. By knowing your bounce rate, page views, and the time each visitor spends on your site, you’ll know exactly what is or isn’t working to drive your business the most customers.
By incorporating each of these marketing solutions into your online campaign, you will save a lot of time, frustration, and most importantly money. Keep in mind that these strategies are meant to be vague in nature and to quickly give you a vast perception on solutions that simply work, if done correctly. I should also mention that every industry is different and while search engine optimization might be highly profitable for business, social media marketing may be more profitable for another.