“Qualified”, “showing intent to buy”, “high conversion rate” and many other phrases are used to describe search engine marketing. As a $16 billion industry, Search Marketing including SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC ads (pay per click) represent a substantial opportunity for small businesses to connect with customers at the moment they are looking for products and services to buy.
Even though Search Marketing presents an attractive opportunity to grow online sales, many businesses are too busy running their companies to stay on top of future trends. To that end, here are three search marketing trends worth paying attention to:
1. Online & Offline Marketing Integration – Forrester Research estimates $917 billion worth of retail sales in 2009 were “Web-influenced” in contrast to $155 billion of consumer goods sold online in the same year. Small businesses must pay attention to customer search online influencing offline purchases as well as the influence of the in-store experience on searching and purchasing online.
2. Mobile Device and Local Search – Companies must recognize consumer trends towards mobile search with the proliferation of smart phones. The web experience has definitively extended beyond the personal computer to mobile devices such as iPhones, Blackberries and iPads. Marketers must understand their customers’ use of mobile search and what the marketing opportunities are.
Companies that serve customers in specific regions or with geographically specific needs must be present in local search results, map results and specific geo-location queries. Segmenting potential customers through geo targeting with paid search advertisements will help focus the right ads on the right customers.
3. Social Media Advertising – Savvy small business marketers are increasingly realizing that the opportunity to reach customers extends beyond traditional paid search into the booming social media space. Having surpassed Google as the most visited website for the week ending March 13, 2010 and with over 400 million registered users, Facebook offers a significant audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Social networks like Facebook can provide online marketers hyper-targeted advertising opportunities that can tap into new customer segments and serve as a complement to other paid search programs.
Whether it’s incorporating online and offline influences with search marketing, diversifying PPC advertising networks, leveraging local and mobile search marketing or extending advertising programs to include social media, small business marketers that capitalize on these trends will gain a competitive advantage. Of course, if they hire an online marketing agency like TopRank Marketing, that advantage may come even faster.
This post was excerpted from my article that was originally published on American Express OPEN Forum. Be sure to visit 5 Search Engine Marketing Trends That Impact Your Business for the other 2 trends.