Search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search marketing can be highly effective traffic drivers for your website. They can be a core aspect of your marketing mix. For some companies, Search can even be responsible for driving the vast majority of revenue.
So, how can Search potentially hurt a business, and actually do more harm than good?
If you haven’t built a rock-solid marketing foundation for your business first, Search could be driving prospective customers to a poor experience. In these scenarios, Search would be creating a crowd of people who dislike your brand, meaning you’ve lost them as prospects – both now and in the future.
To fix this and ensure your Search initiatives are teed up for success, avoid the following three common mistakes in launching Search campaigns:
Mistake #1: Launching Search with Weak Branding
What does your brand represent? What differentiates you from the competition? What’s your positioning in the market? Is your brand “likeable” among your target audience?
You think of Apple, and you think it’s a great brand. Now, think of your own brand. Is it a great brand – or just OK? Is it clear who you are and what you stand for? Are you likeable and relevant to your target audiences?
Building a strong brand – one that really sells – is important. With each incremental visitor that you touch with your brand, you must ensure a great experience or you risk losing customers (and possibly even your reputation). With solid branding, the business results from your Search efforts will improve dramatically.
Mistake #2: Launching Search in a Silo
Some companies dive head-first into Search, believing it to be a magic pill. However, Search is a capture mechanism, and typically only serves as one step in the overall marketing funnel. If you ignore the other steps in the funnel, you’re probably going to under-perform, no matter how exceptional you are at Search Marketing execution.
In other words, even if your Search efforts are driving traffic, you still need to be a good marketer, period. Consider:
How are you building awareness?
How are you generating word-of-mouth?
Is your messaging attracting the right audience, at the right time?
Have you explored everywhere you need to be, online and offline?
Have you integrated your marketing across channels, vehicles and customer touchpoints?
Have you nailed the close – have you given potential customers every possible reason to select your company’s products or services?
Are you doing enough cross-selling, upselling and post-sale marketing…
Mistake #3: Launching Search with a Weak Website
Is your website the ugliest thing in the universe? Is it hard to navigate, with a frustrating “maze” of information? Is “inconsistency” the only thing that is consistent about your site? If so, it’s time for a site overhaul.
When assessing your site, look at your website’s conversion rate. If you need a microscope to find that number, you’re not ready for Search. Why invest money in driving traffic to a site that’s underperforming? Instead, first focus on conversion optimization, ensuring that you’re matching your visitors’ needs. Once you know that your design, messaging and calls-to-action will lead to boatloads of conversions, it’s a great opportunity to invest your time, energy and money on Search.
Remember, Search Marketing can drive a great deal of traffic to your site and conversions for your business. However, you need to first build the right platform for your Search initiatives so that campaign results will effectively propel your business forward.
By Tom Shapiro