Holistic Search Marketing
It’s been ages since I wrote anything anywhere near interesting or controversial so I thought I’d sit down and have a go and see where it leads me. 🙂
We often hear the word ‘holistic’ bounded about these days. Increasingly (and rightly so) companies are looking to connect the dots and put together the various pieces of their marketing puzzles.
The challenge for many is that they aren’t quite sure themselves, they are looking for people and companies who can sit down and explain to them what fits where and why.
How Does PPC affect Organic CTR’s?
Just recently I was having a discussion about PPC and it’s relationship with SEO in the SERPs, specifically, does a PPC listing help organic clickthrough (CTR).
It was very late and I’d had quite a few beers and was very stuffed with Chinese food but even so, we managed to get to a point whereby we discussed a variety of other questions which such a question begged, namely that it depends on the vertical, the user, the PPC position, the Organic position, the brand, the creative etc.
In other words, there is no simple answer other than yes, quite probably. PPC helps organic CTR.
The Pie is big with lots of flavours
I used this example because it’s relatively fresh in my mind and has a natural segue to the core question. SEO and PPC are indeed just a part of the online marketing pie – there’s also Online PR, Social, Affiliate and Display too – All are related, very few large corps can do one without any of the others as there are lots of inevitable overlaps and blur lines – It’s right today in these frugal times that marketing managers looking to maximise the impacts of their budgets, should be asking probing questions like – Should you do one w/ out the other? What aspects of each inform the other? Where should they target their budget to get the most bang for their buck? How will you track ROI for them? Which piece of the pie will deliver the most? Yet answers to these aren’t always as clear cut or as straightforward as we’d like. Many of them require scrutiny and analyses of the pieces used and the pieces that are likely to come into play. Not many big corps still really *get* online. Many struggle with the idea of a unified strategy, preferring to go with the segment that’s the most tried and tested.
No surprise there either, why would they direct positive ROI spend anywhere else – it’s all about ROI after all Rob you dummy!
Well yes and no. Yes because absolutely, if company X invests 100k and gets 300k of sales from a single Channel then the jobs a winner, it’s a no brainer, right? Yet no, because to do so is to take ones eye off of the ever shifting fluidity of the other channels out there. 2k On PR could deliver 50k worth of Organic Serp positions, as could 10k invested into Affiliate, Display or PPC. Whilst it’ll usually be on a case by case basis, there will be very few scenarios where wholesale investment in one channel would be a sensible online strategy.
Some of you reading this might be asking, “yeah ok, but what about offline” and of course you’d be right to ask too! Why wouldn’t a good agency consider offline, they’d be mad to ignore the impact of a good TV, Radio or Paper Media campaign. Your agency or individual (if they were any good) should be falling over themselves to get access to your analytics package to advise upon strategy or to demonstrate past impacts through retrospective analyses.
Yet how many today do? How many companies can actually sit down and give a coherent definitive overview and strategy and deliver on budget? My guess is not too many. It’s a good reason why that on many projects, you’ll find quarterly or monthly inter agency reviews, whereby agency A will sit down with client and agency B, C and D and all attempt to discuss the strategy w/ out giving away too much IP to probable or likely competitors. Yet for the companies who can provide that full 360 overview, who can clearly demonstrate how and why doing X will deliver Y to the bottom line, who can clearly show how aspect XXX strengthens the position of strategy component Z, the benefits and potentials to win new business is huge.
To state the obvious, it’ll be the companies who are demonstrating these traits and abilities who’ll grab the most market share – companies who invest in their people and think outside of the box with experience and insights are the ones who forward thinking businesses will want to trade with. Businesses that recognise that having six or seven different relationships to manage is a whole lot more time consuming and draining than one.
Companies like the one I work for (plug plug) who can step up and deliver, should do really well as a result. 🙂
Any niche can make money
I was on twitter earlier and saw a tweet from Patrick saying that you can’t earn a commission from a car blog.
Whilst I get what he is saying on the traditionally available content and relationship route (CJ.com ) etc, the reality is though that (IMO) you can of course, make money from virtually any subject all you need to do is create the relationships with the suppliers and do what you choose to do well.
It’s an interesting subject and very evident throughout most SERP’s. Successful blogs and sites with developed affiliate models are doing very well indeed, just go do a query for anything, you might find this site called ebay or moneysupermarket or amazon.
The great thing about online is that you don’t need a million quids worth of stock to earn a pound note, you just need to get the positions and add the value. The value add part being the hardest.
It could be interesting to explore it a little and see where it all goes. So let’s look at the thing and consider the sorts of questions someone should ask himself, what are his options, is it a closed playground, those kinds of things.
Local or Global – Macro or Micro Choosing a Start Point
Does he specialise and zoom on in to a particular facet of his target, or does he go broad and address a wider sphere? What will be his USP? How can he improve on what’s out there? Will he get a ROI? How long will it take? Will he lose his investment? Are just a few of the questions our imaginary Mr X would need to ask himself.
He might want to cast his net wide and have as broad a platform as he could. Let’s say he has a blog or a site where he talks about eggs. He talks about the sizes, the types, the suppliers, the politics, the news items, the market, the industry in general. As part of this offering, he might also set up up a little egg wholesaler directory of suppliers categorised into localities and specialisms and discuss the relative merits of each, giving suppliers an option to appear high or low in the offering for a small fee.
Sooner or later he’ll have a resource that’s textually rich. He’d soon find his site ranking for related phrases like “Egg wholesaler location”. Once he’d attained the rankings, it’ wouldn’t be so difficult to persuade people of the benefits of paying that little extra fro a premium slot. Newspapers and offline media do it that way everyday, it’s worked well for decades. Pixel space versus column inches, there’s very little difference, it’s about bums on seats and eyes on the message.
Alternatively, he might want to keep it all reasonably tight, focusing on a sub aspect of it all. He might want to develop the whole agricultural angle; developing relationships with farmers, the impact on prices through drought affecting crop yield, the environment, animal welfare. Drawing stories and strands globally, through the creation of forums and community tools, enabling producers to share and debate ideas and topics and ethics and what not.
Whatever he decided, if he done it well, injecting passion ,enthusiasm and added value to the space for those people with the need, he’d soon find himself earning money.
I picked eggs as an example as it is a topic that on the face of it, isn’t that interesting to most people so is probably a whole lot harder to monetise than most. It’s probably a whole lot more fun to look at something that’s closer to home or perhaps easier to think of in terms of practical everyday applications with mass appeal.
Developing the offering and doing things better than your competitors
A look at any vertical out there will show you that there are various levels of maturity. Take forex or finance as an extreme example and you’ll see that it’s a very developed space. Loans, stocks, shares and trading is one of those areas that offer huge potentials for return with lots of products and offerings. Content that empowers investment decisions is one of those premium facets that people pay for, people want choice, people want options, they like to feel in control of their purchasing decisions; a site that assists in that process is a definite asset.
I like the mybuilder.com idea, it’s a great site to use as an example in illustrating this point. A very simple concept, attempting to answer a question that’s asked a 1000 times a day by a 1000 different people worldwide. “Do you know where I can find a good, painter, decorator, plasterer, tiler etc?”. This site puts people in touch with tradespersons who can bid for jobs and services, read reviews of their work and find answers to their needs. Give it a few months, with the right SEO and they’ll be ranking for terms like “where can i find a plasterer in london?” and other such questions.
It’s very niche, very targetted and very useful – Whilst the gumtrees and the craigslists of this world have their place, much of what they offer is presented poorly or just too damn anonymous to be trusted. People want to have confidence in an offering after all, no one wants to get burned.
A look at the search volume for related terms is kind of tricky to measure definitely (people search in diverse ways) but to keep it general there is obvious volume out there for related terms
If they were to buy this traffic on exact match from google then they’d be looking at these kinds of CPC’s. The table below shows CPC and volume data for UK specific traffic for the search term followed by location, so ‘builder in London’, ‘plumber in london’ etc.
Multiply these globally and add in a little phrase variances and the potential for such a tool becomes a little more obvious for all stakeholders, owner, service provider and user.
At the moment, gumtree and craigslist get the volume for these searches (dependant upon locale and query) , simply because they’ve been around longer and have better authority scores and link citations. Yet a look at the difference in offering shows a huge disparity between what is presented SERP wise and what is known to be out there.
Search for Builder in London and Google gives you lots of choice, but not very much else to go on. The sites it returns are a mix of local results (google local) and other basic one service offering type business, directories or advertorial services. This isn’t a bash Google type post, I’ll save that for another day; however what I’m trying to say is that in terms of what is presented, the options are still limited. There are no ‘confidence’ builders, there isn’t anything in that SERP to differentiate a poor service provider from a good one. I’m still left to do the whole research and due diligence thing myself.
A click through to Gumtree shows a random offering of things. Various providers, but nothing that really installs any confidence, nothing to make me think, cool – I’d have to email them and ask them questions and ask them for references and do all the usual due diligence.
The type of site that I’d like to see there isn’t there though, I just happen to be lucky in that I know it exists already.
The Mybuilder.com site is far superior in that enables people to sign up and register and offer their services and for people seeking such services to review and put out quotes for tender. I can select by area or service type and I get an ebay style profile page with reviews and feedback and price guides and various other bits of information that I’d use to help inform a decision.
Confidence is increased and as a result I’m more likely to purchase or enquire.
So what am I saying? Without sounding like an advert for mybuilder.com, I am saying that within the SERPS there are hundreds upon hundreds of opportunities to do things better and succeed. Mybuilder.com has taken a commonly asked question and developed the idea further, fulfilling the need that exists.
Go ask any lazy travel affiliate marketer out there today about Google and bar raising and you’ll get a good idea of the facts around how you just can’t afford to lay back and rest on your laurels. You have to keep pushing the technology, you have to offer service and usability over and above those of your competitors because if you don’t then you are just a click away from some SERP evaluators death clicks somewhere, and heh, if you need an idea then maybe you can go to Y! answers for inspiration (caution contains potentially offensive textual material of the dumbest kind)
Agree with what I say? Disagree even? Do feel free to comment. 🙂