As 4th quarter (Q4) earnings are tabulated, companies who experienced record growth as a result of SEO are eager to initiate their online marketing objectives for the first quarter of 2009.
SEO is Official
To say that search engines and SEO have arrived in full-force in 2008 as one of the must-have marketing tactics for businesses globally is an understatement. What once appeared as a pseudo science (internet marketing and SEO) now occupies the forefront for commerce around the world as one of the most potent discoveries ever implemented for increasing profit margins in the history of business. If your first Quarter 2009 marketing budget does not have a place for SEO, it’s not too late to make adjustments.
From Past to Present
Just as companies have always embraced each marketing medium (print, radio, television and now online marketing) those who fail to see the importance of online positioning for their business are poised to lose untold fortunes to competition from failing to grasp search engine optimization as a viable marketing alternative.
The transaction is simple, search engines send pre-qualified traffic already interested in your product or service to your website. Today’s savvy online consumers are not the same consumer from 10 years ago who you had to educate through branding.
The new breed of consumers are intelligent, nimble and armed with information (as a result of the accessibility of research, reviews or resources) who already know which make, model# and how much it should cost. You must (a) reach them when they are intent on purchasing and (b) provide the most value in order to win their business. In essence they are simply looking for the best deal from a website/company who is clearly positioned as a brand leader online.
Why Brand When You Can Engage?
Why waste money branding when you can engage visitors, test variables and refine your offer instead? Instead of spending thousands of dollars to find your ideal consumer (from traditional broadcasting), that same money can be spent honing your website for relevant traffic through acquiring visibility across multiple keywords with a proven track record for performance in search engines.
Similarly, aside from organic / natural search results with so many other types of optimization like user optimization (streamlining your message) can be used to reach your target audience through pod casts, forums, social media optimization, video optimization and the like. Companies really need to think outside the box when engaging a cross-platform viral online marketing campaign, the extent of its success all depends on how you embrace the market holistically.
The Message is Simple, Give People What they Want!
Search engines give people what they are looking for and businesses who follow this trend (giving consumers what they want without fluff, just features and benefits) will be some of the most successful stories in 2009. Some things never change despite the medium (television, print, radio, etc.) if make the consumer happy, they will spread and promote your brand as enthusiast/evangelists.
Instead of just bombarding the masses with a one-size-fits-all, blanket approach, businesses should plant seeds through using trickle down / drip marketing tactic to virally influence early adopters. By influencing brand leaders (through reviews, giveaways, promotions, or traditional PR with a twist) a company can position and influence a market – from the top down.
The more early adopters who embrace “and purchase your products or services” are essentially agents of change that inspire others to purchase and follow suit. Finding those ideal dream consumers online can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and traditional marketing budgets.
Search Engine Positioning is Branding
The power of appearing for highly trafficked keywords is the equivalent of big brands spending millions of dollars in alternative marketing mediums to achieve the same result. The biases are stripped down with internet marketing as transparency is tested by reputation and everything is essentially in the hands of the consumer.
Businesses are more accessible than ever as a result of being online. Claims about products or services are instantly investigated from scouring blogs, feeds, forums or search engines for accurate information. This is the age of the soft launch, in this new economy, reputation matters and credibility is currency for reaching a larger target audience.
One thing is certain, your either in or your out as far as online marketing goes. Every day that you sit back from the sidelines and look at your competitors strengthen their foothold in an industry. The more difficult it will be to bypass them on your way to the helm of search engines.
Don’t Get Left Behind
Learn from the mistakes of others, remember the yellow pages?, what about VCR tapes or pagers? the market passed them by. Change and evolution are inevitable, however, you must embrace the medium while you can in order to develop authority and rankings in your niche as a result.
The market only has room for 10 companies at the top for any given search and with over 8 billion searches conducted each month now is the time to get started snatching up as much low hanging fruit as possible until you have enough authority to conquer competitive keywords or have the SEO budget to compete.
Plan for the Future
The message here is to (a) plan ahead 3-6 months in advance to allow the SEO to settle in (b) measure results and gain feedback from your target audience and (c) provide more value than your competition. If you can accomplish all three things harmoniously, then you will have successfully migrated the focus from offline to online marketing.