Fairfax / Newcastle Herald column July, 2015
I sympathise with small-business owners and marketers who must navigate an increasingly complicated range of options to promote their business and attract customers, especially in the fast-moving digital world.
It seems that every few weeks there is another compelling new site or app that marketers are raving about. Last year photo app Instagram and short video app Vine were the cool places to be.
Already this year Meerkat had the early buzz for streaming live video, but only weeks later Periscope stole its thunder and market share. Now everyone in advertising land is trying to work out his or her Periscope strategy.
Meanwhile, your kids are all on Snapchat and major brands are following.
Of course, media loves the shiny new start-ups and give them coverage and buzz that far outweighs their actual audience numbers and the poor marketer is torn deciding where to invest their budget.
But the truth is, as cool and exciting as some of these new players are, they aren’t going to create lots of traffic or sales or inquiries for most businesses. Sure, there will be a few success stories in the media, but for the average business there won’t be much reward.
Instead, business owners and marketers should ignore the latest fads and stick to what really works online; creating good content and being found in search.
The truth is that 93per cent of online experiences begin with a search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and here in Australia Google reigns supreme with an amazing 98per cent share of the search market. That is a lot of eyeballs searching for answers.
So it makes sense that being found in search, mainly on Google, is still by far the most cost-effective strategy that exists online for attracting new customers. It has been so for years now, even if the cool kids have moved on.
Being found high up in the search-engine rankings can open the floodgates of traffic to your website. Certainly, over the last 10 years managing marketing for dozens of companies around Australia, I have not seen another form of promotion, advertising or online exposure that has the consistent staying-power and return on investment that optimising your website for search provides. Nothing comes close.
Best of all, leads generated from search are much more likely to buy from you due to the actual nature of the activity. These people are actually searching with the intent to gain information and buy. This isn’t a passive activity; they want answers.
All you have to do is make sure that your content is found on page one of Google for that search to be in the running to win their business. You don’t need to do anything particularly fancy, creative or clever, you just need to be found.
So if I had to give one piece of advice to anyone struggling to decide how to market their business online it would be to ignore the latest fads and start publishing useful content online that answers what their potential customers are searching for. Provide quality content with solutions, tips and helpful advice. It could be a blog post, a video, an infographic or a simple web page. Then just make sure it is optimised properly for search.
These days being found online in search engines for your products, services and benefits is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity in today’s competitive marketplace. I can’t say the same about any other of the latest digital apps and sites.