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Last week I was reading a 1 year-old article that had enough relevant information to warrant being brought back to life in 2015. The author, Adam Stetzer of Searchenginewatch.com gave a grim warning to local and small business owners in regards to the “SEO hype”. Now, there are plenty of points that I agree with him on, and a few that I don’t; like suggesting that SEO is somehow now the new hype. Perhaps in the world of small business owners, SEO is now becoming an understood and talked about term, but by no means is this a new global trend.
SEO is “search engine optimization” and in a nut shell the efforts of your SEO strategy will yield free or “organic” traffic delivered by the friendly search engine people at Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Free traffic is what every local business owner wants, the problem is that to generate this coveted free organic traffic comes with an uncertain time frame and results. Therefore, SEO should not be your primary marketing effort.
PPC is The Best Starting Point for Small & Local Business
Small business owners reluctant to dive into a full-blown digital marketing campaign due to its complexity, will find solace in PPC due to the likeness of previously go-to, but now archaic, advertising channels like the Yellow Pages. PPC or paid advertisement by way of placing ads on search engines, allows customers to secure new business rapidly. You can expect to see result almost immediately after launching a well-organized and planned PPC campaign. This is partly why we generally steer inexperienced customers to PPC advertising. PPC allows us to show our clients results within as little as 24 to 48 hours. This helps build trust and familiarity with one of the components of the digital marketing plan.
A warning about PPC advertising for small businesses: It is just as easy to set up your first PPC campaign as it is to blow next month’s mortgage payment in 2 or 3 days. Setting up PPC campaigns take knowledge, time and a lot of research. There are several components in the marketing plan that I could safely hand over to the client… this is not one of them. Hiring a professional marketing firm with a solid PPC track record will invariably save you money.
What about SEO?
I’m not suggesting that SEO plays 2nd fiddle to PPC, because it doesn’t. Organic traffic will always trump traffic you have to pay for. However, it’s important to understand that SEO requires that you be committed to it for the long haul. The fruits of your labor will be evident within time, but you must be patient and keep planting those SEO seeds. Depending on how competitive your niche is, a good SEO firm should be able to show you some positive results within 3 to 6 months. However, realistic expectations should be between 6 and 12 months for solid results. This is why it’s good to start with a solid PPC campaign to help you jump-start your online marketing campaigns and enable you to slowly build out and execute your SEO strategy.
Social Media and SEO
Social media has had a more difficult time proving direct ROI and Google’s recent announcement affirms that Twitter and Facebook do NOT get special treatment in the algorithm. While social media quickly merges with PR and customer service, 46 percent of marketers believe it is crucial to their business. Social media is not a separate component in your marketing mix entirely. It is actually tightly woven within the SEO fabric of your marketing plan. As you grow your SEO efforts, your social media campaigns need to grow with it.
What About Email Marketing?
Some marketers believe that email marketing is old and uninteresting. This is a grave mistake. Having personally managed and grown a strategic email marketing plan that was yielding over $3 million in yearly sales, I am a firm believer in email marketing.
By some estimates, the average ROI for email marketing is $44 for every $1 spent, when executed correctly. Email marketing amplifies all other activities as users are brought back after an email address is captured via PPC, SEO or social media.
Email marketing technology is inexpensive. Any small business that isn’t actively maintaining and growing at least two email lists (prospects and existing customers) doesn’t have their house in order.
Data shows that the migration to online marketing generally starts with the wrong product (i.e., SEO).
Furthermore, integrated strategies work much better than stand-alone initiatives, but small business budgets are prohibitive.
Finally, the oldest tool in the drawer (e.g., email marketing) is often overlooked.
Small businesses should be guided by statistics, which clearly suggest starting with PPC advertising, because it works. As trust with the Internet develops, they will naturally seek a lower cost-per-lead. At that point, they can migrate into content marketing – launching social media and email marketing simultaneously to build an integrated online marketing strategy for the decade.
Need help or guidance in mapping out your local marketing strategy? CAE Marketing can help your small business.