SEO & Online Marketing for Small Business: Let Customers Seek and Find

It seems many marketers still find “search” to be the engine for successful advertising and branding campaigns.

In a recent survey of senior-level marketing and media execs conducted by Forbes, 75% of respondents ranked SEO and email/e-newsletters as their top digital marketing tools.  Likewise, SEO and email also ranked high in terms of effectiveness in generating conversions (48% for SEO and 46% for email/email newsletters).  Pay-per-click also ranked high in terms of use and success for participants of this survey.

Use of ad networks, attempted by 40% of total respondents, proved to be the lagger among digital marketing components according to this survey, with 44% of those who tried them indicating results did not meet expectations.

Mind you, this survey was definitely of the big biz – big budget variety; approximately 44% of respondents have $1MM+ digital marketing budgets.  Big bucks in the budget let companies try a variety of tactics, while most of us must pick and choose with more scrutiny.  Nonetheless, the information and insights are translatable for any of us.

This survey is a good reminder that SEO is still numero uno for many CMOs.  While social media (aka “viral marketing” for purposes of this survey) is the media and marketing darling of 2009, companies aren’t—and shouldn’t—disregard the value of investing in optimization for search engines.  And ditto that fact for email/e-newsletters; though these aren’t the newest, shiniest tools in the shed, they’re still helping collect the harvest for many marketers.

For many small businesses constrained by lack of staff, budget and time, it’s smart to make SEO point A on their marketing maps.  Truth is, social media tactics require plenty of hands-on nurturing in order to be effective, and that can be challenging for small businesses and sole proprietorships.  Worthwhile and effective as they may be, social media tactics may need to shuffle down in terms of priority to ensure room for the traction-building of a good SEO effort.

The big biz respondents of this survey measure success of any digital marketing tactics primarily in terms of “conversions or sales.”  70% stated that a bolstered bottom line (“conversions or sales”) was the best assessment for success, with 52% ranking registrations/subscriptions to their sites as the second important measure.  For businesses big or small, the pay-up and the sign-up offer the best pay-off.

What are the take-aways of this survey for small biz?
– Digital marketing should sell ‘em or sign ‘em up—now!
– Make sure customers can find you through SEO.  Let them come to you!
– Make sure you can find your customers through viral marketing/social networks and other tactics.  Find ways to go to them!
– Let your bottom line be the bottom line; measure ROI to ensure time, effort and budgets are spent well.

Searching for more details, ideas or solutions?  Let me know what you need to know to take your small biz big time.  Meanwhile here’s a link to a helpful article with some practical ideas.

5 Essential Steps to Make Your Site Search & Social Media Friendly


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