Economics, Technology

Why Move Part of Your Ad Budget To Web?

Ive’ officially changed my opinion on web advertising: it’s time to set the record straight.

Ok, you are probably thinking, “of course this guy is going to suggest that I move my ad budget to web: he’s a web consultant!”

Well, I may be a web developer, but I’m also a businessman and a pragmatist. Believe it or not, only a few years ago, I was privately NOT an advocate of web-based “paid” advertising… I would even suggest to my friends that using other traditional forms of advertising to drive traffic to your website was the preferred path to success, and I still agree with that for the most part. But as always, technology is changing the rules.

If you are one of the businesses out there still on the fence about whether web paid search advertising is going to help, I assure you that it will. I’m not suggesting that you drop all your ad buys in other channels, but web absolutely should be part of your mix now that it has matured to a highly focused and affordable means of attracting new customers through a concept called Geo-Targeting.

The maturity, effectiveness, and value of the new methods of Geo-Targeting mean that now is the right time to reposition part of your ad budget to web.

Most traditionally successful local businesses discovered a simple truism at some point in their journey: local advertising works. If you are selling a product or service in Nashville, then advertising in the local media or using signage was an effective way of building new clientele and giving your operation a shot in the arm. I know, a lot of people think that their reputation and word of mouth gets them all the gigs they could ever want, but if they didn’t try advertising, they are probably missing opportunities such as: doubling their market share, attracting larger clients or getting to choose from a wider pool of clients.

Local advertising used to work like this: you or your ad agent would make an ad buy with a local paper, multimedia, or billboard company and hope that their creative department would create an effective message that would convert customers. If you didn’t go that far then at least you might have forked over the dough to pick up a yellow pages ad so people referring to the old directories would find you when they were looking for service. These purchases were based on the number of impressions they claimed to achieve, and you judged their long term performance by the number of new clients you garnered.

While these methods continue to work, research shows that consumers are increasingly disregarding traditional advertising and using web search to not only find local, but to help them make their decisions on which products or services to use. Everyone I know (not just IT professionals, mind you) hops on Google to find their next local merchant or restaurant. The Yellow pages and phone book business is largely a thing of the past.

While traditional advertising is still highly effective when it comes with branding, you should always expect the modern consumer to follow up with a search on you and your industry to get more information and compare offerings. Don’t you?

Now that Internet search is moving into the pockets of consumers everywhere through iPhones and Blackberrys, local targeted search advertising is a smart investment for any serious business. Your budget can be very tight and still hit the right market segment through Geo-Targeting techniques. By definition, it should pay for itself if managed correctly.

Local Web Advertising Is NOT Hiring A Designer!
Many people have been through the process of working with a “web designer” who may have charged them to build a nice or not so nice website. Regardless of the price or quality of said web pages, chances are they saw little or no new business coming from it. As an industry insider of over a decade, I can tell you right now that 95% of the web designers out there have little experience when it comes to the realities of web marketing. I know this first hand, because most of my professional career has been spent doing what I do best: design and programming. While this is the fun geeky stuff, the business side of search placement requires… well… good business experience! Most designers don’t do much here for you because it’s not cost effective nor implied by the “service” they provide, and many don’t know the first thing about it.

The Goog News: Local Search Has Matured
Imagine every small fry local designer with a computer connection trying to game the internet to gain the best search results. That is exactly what has been happening for the last 15 years. As the web came to prominence, it became increasing difficult to find a standard, fair path to success for local businesses to advertise. Enter Geo-Targeting.

Geo-Targeting allows knowledgeable web professionals to focus a well planned advertising campaign for local products and services to a specific market AND geographic area. Because the campaign is focused, you can specifically hit the exact market you want. Because people are LOOKING for you, your marketing funds are not wasted on blanketing the city with annoying signs or commercials that people may not care about!!

Geo-Targeted & Keyword targeted advertising IS unquestionably smartest way to advertise these days. If you are not doing it, then it’s time that you consider it.

Remember: geo targeting works on smart phones too, so just think about how critical this marketing technique will become in the next decade!

What Makes A Good Campaign?
A successful local web marketing venture will involve careful keyword placement, a high Quality Score with the advertiser (a technical term), and most of all, well designed and optimized landing pages that lead to conversions. These skills are a must, so if your current web pro has limited experience in this field, convince them that its a good idea to “collaborate” with a search placement professional (like me). We don’t have to take their client away: normally I have no need to redesign your website in order to get top results.

You can lead a horse to water… but if the design is lousy…