As Blogged about in my post, Seven Blogs You Must Read And Other Useful Know-How - Montreal Gazette Column, I am now a Contributor for the Montreal Gazette. Every two weeks in the Business Section (on their Business Observer page), I'll cover something changing the landscape in the business world from a new media perspective. In my second column - published today - I look at the power of Search Engine Marketing served through the wisdom espoused by Avinash Kaushik (Analytics Evangelist, Google, Blogger over at Occam's Razor and the author of Web Analytics - An Hour A Day).
My original title for this piece was, Is Your Sales Rep Some Yahoo Named Google?, but it did not make the editorial cut. I also didn't have a chance to talk about the realities of click fraud. I thought about adding it in, but decided it might be too confusing or scare some businesses who have yet to dive into Search Engine Marketing. I don't think click fraud is a legitimate reason to not get this into a solid media diet.
Here's the article (with links and tags):
Hire a sales rep named Google - The key to selling on the Web is a few clicks away.
The whole model for how advertising is done is extremely messed up. Never was it more noticeable to me than at a recent speaking engagement I had at Google's head office (aka The Googleplex) in Mountain View, Calif.
What blew me away was watching Avinash Kaushik speak. Avinash has what could well be the best job title ever. He's the "analytics evangelist" for Google.
Simply put, he helps Google define what metrics equal success in all of its product offerings. He's also responsible for evangelizing these online metrics to Google's clients. Beyond that, Kaushik writes an amazing blog, Occam's Razor, and is also the author of a great book called Web Analytics: An Hour a Day (Sybex, 2007).
But it's when he speaks that you begin to realize that business as we know it is changing beneath our feet.
Google is making its billions from pay-per-click contextual advertising. When anyone does a search using the Google search engine they'll notice either coloured sponsored search results at the top of the page or additional search results on the right-hand side of the page. Both of them say "sponsored links" - meaning a marketer has bought specifically targeted keyword ads that only appear when a user searches for those specific terms.
It's powerful because you're "catching" a potential consumer while they are in active search mode, and you only pay for that ad if the user clicks on it. (Granted, the system is so robust that if your ads are not converting into clicks, Google will automatically boot you off the system).
It's the perfect dream for advertising - match your products and services up to consumers who are looking for them.
Think about that for a minute.
How much money does the company you're with now spend on traditional advertising? It could be TV, print, radio, billboards or whatever. Here's the thought process: "let's take out an ad in hopes that some of our potential consumers will see it, remember it and then think of us if they're looking for what we're selling."
During that process, do you know how many thousands of people have searched online for information or pricing on the exact same products and services?
Are you there?
Yep, thousands of potential customers (maybe more) are raising their hands every day and saying: "Hey, I'm looking for you!" and yet most marketers look at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's search engine marketing opportunities as an after-thought. Most businesses would rather put their advertising dollars against media that is - pretty much - a hope and prayer. Most businesses don't even know if their traditional advertising campaigns worked until they're over.
Avinash calls this a "crime against humanity," and while he might be overdramatizing the situation for effect, his point is made: Most businesses are not present enough in the search engines and they're leaving big money (and clients) at the table.
It's not that all of the search engines have figured out a better mousetrap for sales and marketing, it's that they've managed to place their messages with potential clients when they're in the mood for them.
What it boils down to is a sales funnel unlike any other. These search engines act as virtual sales representatives, making their presence known and felt by how well structured those few sentences are when someone types in a keyword query related to your product or service. If you're wondering where the No. 1 source of traffic to your corporate website currently comes from, you don't have to bother to look at your Web analytics package, I can tell you right now: it is the search engines.
Just how big is Google? According the to the U.S. Search Engine Performance Report - Q2 2008 put out by Efficient Frontier on July 17, 2008, Google accounted for "77.4 per cent share of U.S. search marketing dollars, while Yahoo captured 17.8 per cent of spending and Microsoft Live Search maintained its 4.8 per cent share."
The cost-per-click pricing may be going up, there might be more and more competition in the search engine marketing field, and the price of conversion may not be as good as it was when there were fewer players in the space, but can you really afford not to have all of those amazing Google, Yahoo and Microsoft sales reps working the virtual phones for you day and night?