I just had an interesting conversation with a prospective client.  He called and wanted to hire us right away for search engine marketing services, but I ending up explaining that search advertising is not a good fit!

Yes, you read that correctly.  My company provides AdWords advertising services and I convinced this prospect that it was not their best opportunity to drive business.  I’ll explain why soon.  The point of this article is bring up a very important fact: all digital marketing tactics are NOT appropriate for your current business situation.

Yes, SEO, social media, email marketing, online advertising, and most other tactics do work to profitably generate leads and sales, but not for every business.  Unfortunately this topic is not discussed as much as it should be.  So here are the questions you’ll want to answer to determine if search engine marketing is appropriate for your business right now.

Marketing Action Plan

 Are Your Ideal Prospects Searching For Your Product or Service?

This is obviously a critical question when considering search engine marketing tactics like SEO and Google AdWords search advertising.  It’s so simple, yet often overlooked. First, is anyone searching for your product or service?  This can be answered using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool.

If no one is searching, then it doesn’t matter how much you invest in SEO or search advertising because it’s not going to drive sales.

What if you find people are searching?  Then your job is not yet done.  You need to take this a step further and make sure your ideal prospects are searching.  By that I mean people searching who are looking to make a purchase and who also fit the criteria for your ideal customers.

For example, just because there’s a lot of search for “scanners” doesn’t mean those people are likely to buy your $100,000 document management solution that helps companies go paperless.

OK, so how about if you find people are searching and you are confident they are mostly your ideal prospects?  Sorry, but you’re not done yet…

Next, we need to look at the estimated cost per click of those keywords.  Can you afford the advertising costs or are the keywords too expensive based on your customer lifetime value?  This is where things started to break down on my call with the prospect who wanted to hire us immediately.

When I looked at the estimated cost per click of the keywords versus the value of his customer, things just didn’t make sense.  He would have needed a 9% visitor to sales conversion rate just to break even!  That’s simply not going to happen.  Typical conversion rates online are closer to 1 or 2%, not 9%.  So Google AdWords was not going to work no matter how much work we put into research, copywriting and optimization.

That leaves SEO as an option, but it’s important to keep in mind that SEO is not a short term solution.  If you need sales tomorrow, then SEO is not going to deliver on that time frame.  The amount of time depends on where you are ranking currently and the strength of your competition.  This can range from 3 to 6 to over 12 months in very competitive markets.  Of course, once you’re ranking, then you reap the benefits of all that traffic at no extra cost.

During my call it was clear this prospect didn’t want to wait around for SEO.  He wanted sales yesterday. :)


What If Search Engine Marketing Is Not a Good Fit?

You may have just gone through the exercise above and realized search engine marketing (SEM) is not a good fit for your business.  Now what?

Of course, there are other digital marketing options like display advertising, social media marketing/advertising, and email marketing.  Those may be a good fit.  Plus, there may be ways to improve your off-line marketing tactics as I discussed last week in 3 Ways Online Marketing Can Boost Your Offline Marketing ROI.


Need Help Navigating All Your Options?

I’m offering a special low price on my guide to create an effective online marketing plan called: The Online Marketing Action Plan. In this guide I walk through a process to identify your best marketing opportunities for your current business situation.

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