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Developing a search engine advertising strategy
How to take advantage of explosive growth in search engine marketing?

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Nothing scares a business leader more than a situation in which she or he has to buy a product in a market where demand exceedsAdvertising cost comparison that clearly demonstrates how cost effective search engine marketing is. supply.  Prices rise by the hours. At least that is what is happening with search engine advertising right now and the reasons are pretty simple. Take a look at the chart on the right that shows how cost-effective search marketing really is.  To support our findings, NetRatings is reporting that during the period May 2003 to 2004:

  • Three out of four Americans are now online and every other American household is now accessing the Internet using a broadband connection. (While they do not specifically discuss this in their study, wireless networking in the home is exploding as well enabling Americans to access the Net almost anywhere within the home and in the proximity of their homes, which means more use of the Net).
  • 85% of Internet users relied on search engines to navigate the web.
  • As many as 1.2 billion searches were performed in the US in the month of May.
So what are the implications if you are an advertiser?

Since search advertising today largely works on a bid system, you will have to pay a lot more if you want to bid on keywords like "dieting" or "travel". Therefore, you will need to rethink your advertising strategy. While print and television ads are good at creating brand awareness and will bring people to brick-and-mortar stores, if you have an online business, chances are they are relatively less effective. iProceed.com research shows that when shoppers are ready to shop online they are more likely to rely on search results or their previous shopping experience to pick the website to buy from. There are other innovative strategies that you can employ to drive shoppers to your website, e.g. affiliates that do a great job of directing traffic and are less costly.  (Related article:  Ask Jeeves' entry into contextual advertising makes search engine advertising competitive)

You will also need to take a few additional steps to take advantage of the increasing number of shoppers using search engines so that you can truly turn it into a strategic growth opportunity:

  • Make your website is search-engine friendly. iProceed.com research shows that unless you used a web design firm from the Stone Age or your webmaster came from the caves, your website is probably already optimized. If not, there is no need to pay a search engine optimization (SEO) firm. Basic search on the Internet will give you enough tips that you can use to make minor changes in your HTML code.
  • Develop a product portfolio that allows you to attract shoppers to your website using less expensive keywords. Then dazzle them with a memorable shopping experience. Hopefully, most of them will come back and buy your high-margin products and will also recommend you to friends and family.
  • Use other simple techniques to drive traffic to your website, e.g., links from other websites and interesting content, both of which improve your page rank and allow visitors to find you from a natural search without the need for them to click on an ad.
  • A search only produces visitors and leads.  You will still need to convert these potential customers into shoppers.  If you have a website that is not aesthetic or is difficult to navigate or is not working almost 100% of the time, not only will these potential shoppers run away, they may never return.  So invest the resources necessary to make your website as good as you would make a real store look inviting and pleasant.

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