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10 December 2023

Using internet to find customers and help them find you

By Husam Jandal

In business-to-business and business-to-consumer business environment, the most important factor in the equation for success is customers. Profitability depends upon a steady steam of enthusiastic prospective clients who are eager to learn how you can help them solve their problems and make their lives better.

With the fact that the Middle East has scored the highest internet growth in 2009, and the UAE with the highest advertising spend in the region… so where should you allocate your marketing spend to find those customers? When you look online, the sources are practically infinite.

Sponsored search

Pay-Per-Click, commonly abbreviated as PPC, is paid advertising with a budget-friendly twist. Rather than paying a pre-determined rate for an ad, with PPC, you pay for every person who clicks through an embedded link to reach your site. If you're familiar with Google sponsored links and the highlighted ads on Google search pages, you're been exposed to pay-per-click advertising.

The competition in PPC can be enormous and that can affect prices and return on investment significantly. You have to pay a lot more for a 'hot' search term... meaning one that many people use a lot such as 'real estate' or 'weight loss' or 'hotel booking' or 'shopping malls'. The challenge here is that if you invest your PPC marketing dirhams in a less popular search term, you'll pay less for clicks, but there may be fewer people exposed to your message, so you'll end up with fewer potential clicks.

This again is an area where the services of an internet marketing expert may be worth the investment.

Pay-per-click advertising delivers a menu of advantages including one of the greatest benefits any business can hope for: highly targeted messaging. PPC allows you to target niches by keyword, keyword phrase, or geographical location. PPC also delivers immediate results. You put up an ad and in a matter of hours, you can track whether or not your ad is generating traffic for your business.

Most importantly, from a cost perspective, PPC is much more effective than traditional advertising model. In traditional advertising, rates are based on the number of people who see an ad. With PPC, you pay fees based on the number of people who actually click on your ad.

Search engine optimisation and keywords

There are many ways to optimise a site so that search engines list your web address higher in the rankings they return. One strategy is to optimise specific keywords to your website. This optimisation process should focus on the words and phrases that are used by your target audience. This is usually done by search engine optimisation specialists who set the directions that will be seen by search engines.

Working with keywords takes time and energy. And unfortunately, it may not pay off with results unless you have the time and resources to do comprehensive and accurate market research. You cannot do effective SEO without first developing a blueprint that clarifies exactly which keywords will be key motivators.

Keywords have a hierarchy of importance in every niche. Some keywords are typed in by people looking for facts, others by educated shoppers, and others by prospects that are ready to buy. This second group is where you find 'money keywords,' the words and phrases people type in when they are further along in the buying cycle. Without the appropriate market research or the guidance of an online marketing expert who specialises in search engine marketing, you may be unable to identify those money words. If that happens, you won't be making an investing in SEO; you'll just be wasting your money.

Another strategy to improve your website ranking on search engines is to link with other sites. Search engine spiders move from site to site across the Internet by following hyperlinks. The more high quality and high trafficked sites you have pointing to your site, the more important the search engine will think you are.

Link-building and leveraging the links you have is beneficial, but it can also be time-consuming. For many companies, working with a team of digital marketing experts who are up-to-date with technology and trends is a sound answer. The savings in time and the increase in link success more than offsets the modest cost expenditure.

Content marketing

The key 'driver' behind internet use is content. When they log on, consumers are looking for information, not immediate sales pitches. So give the people what they want. The phrase 'content marketing' refers to creating and sharing information as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into buyers.

'Content' goes far beyond the words on your website. Content includes but is not limited to: blogs, forums, videos, demos, and animations, product/service reviews, Facebook/MySpace fan pages and groups, Twitter Tweets, newsletters, autoresponder courses, and other electronic info-sharing, articles, whitepapers, case studies and webinars.

Unlike interruption marketing (which includes advertising and direct mail), content marketing revolves around delivering information with independent value that creates trust, credibility, and authority for the business that provides the content.

Online lead generation strategies can help established businesses and new start-ups, alike, find and attract the buyers they need to succeed. Of course, some are better (and more expensive) than others. That's why it's important to develop a Conversion Architecture that includes the right combination of landing pages, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media marketing, and a 'mix' of communications delivery systems and strategies designed to reach your audience.

Considering that customers are the lifeblood of business, tapping into the expertise of a lead generation specialist makes a lot of sense.

The author is digital marketing consultant at WSI. The views expressed are his own


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