It took me awhile to realize that paid search was not a game! Really.
Paid search is big business and potentially a large amount of a small
business marketing budget. But like many people, I jumped in headfirst
and was enamored with tweaking ads, trying new keywords and spending my
company's money. My early ways were more PPC Gunslinger than
responsible Marketing Manager. Then, slowly over time, you realize that there are eerily similar parallels between paid search advertising and the face-to-face sales process.
Search can be compared to a sales process that includes stages
like prospecting, bonding and rapport, up-front contracts, and the
close. There is obviously more to sales than that, but for the purpose
of this post, we’ll keep it simple. Let's take a look at some of the similarities between PPC and sales.
Prospecting is finding qualified prospects at the right time in their
buying cycle who may have interest in your product or service. In paid
search this is called keyword research and targeted ad content. What
would my target audience be searching on to find the answers to their
questions? Will their search be different depending on where they are
in the buying process? (also known as The Funnel in paid search) What
problem can I promise to answer if they click on my ad? Using your ad
content to show the searcher a solution to their inquiry is the key to
this first step. Give them a reason to engage you and your brand.
The process of getting to know your prospect and building a
relationship. With a phone call you get more than a nanosecond to make
this happen. With paid search you get less. The bonding and rapport in
paid search comes from the landing page experience. You’ve hooked the
prospect with an alluring ad - now you get a few seconds to find a
common ground with the user during their interaction with your landing
page. The trick here is to give the searcher what they’re looking for
out of the experience. Are they looking to buy? Do they want overview
information? Are they looking to contact someone? You should know this
from the keyword. For instance, did you advertise on Topps Baseball
Cards or did you advertise on 1982 Topps Mint Baseball Card Set? The
more specific the user gets the more detailed they’ll want information
on their given interest. The more vague they get, the more they’re
looking for an advertiser to lead them. Either way, you have a shot on
the landing page to create a bond with the searcher. Don’t lose them!
Up Front Contract
In sales, this is where you and the prospect agree on what the next
step should be. In paid search, this is your call to action. On your
landing page, the correct call to action can make or break the sale. If
you have a giant button saying BUY NOW when all they user wanted was
some basic information, you’ll likely lose them. Again, its back to the
keyword. What do you anticipate the searcher will want from your page?
What call to action will lead them deeper into your site? If you and
the searcher agree on that next step, you’ve set the up front contract
and are ready to proceed.
In the sales process, this is that glorious moment when you put the
purchase order in front of the customer and they sign. In Paid Search,
this is called a conversion. Was the goal of your ad a sale, a lead, or
just a certain amount of pages viewed on your site? Whatever the goal
(and there has to be one), its been met by the searcher. If you nailed
steps 1-3, step 4 should come easily as long as you keep giving the
searcher what they’re asking for.
As a small business marketer, you can win
at Paid Search and compete with companies 100 times your size if you
keep in mind the traditional sales process.
November 6, 2007
Patrick Schaber is currently the Director of Marketing for Transition Networks, Inc – a data networking hardware manufacturer. His experience working for both large and small organizations has given him keen insights into many facets of marketing including, email marketing, advertising, search engine marketing, social media and more. Along with trainings and industry speaking engagements, Patrick authors his own site, The Lonely Marketer, which focuses on the diverse activities and culture related to the small business marketer.