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16th March 2009
By Andy

PPC Search marketing is a huge, and still growing, area, which grew by almost a third between 2006 and 2008, according to IAB estimates. Almost 60% of all online ad spend is spent in PPC search – with the vast majority paying for smoothies and massage chairs at Google HQ.

While PPC search remains one of the most cost-effective ways to gain conversions, the landscape is changing as the discipline begins to mature. Historically, any PPC search campaign – even one which was poorly organised – would still be likely to work well.

These days, due to increased competition, costs per click (CPC) prices are getting higher and higher, and PPC campaigns need to be a lot more competitive to succeed, particularly with non-branded keywords.

The integrated approach

Advertisers need to think more broadly to ensure that their online campaigns are up to scratch. As well as considering many more online advertising arenas, they must also leverage their interconnectedness.

While PPC marketing will aid a company’s ability to acquire new business and may generate a reasonable ROI on its own, its potential can be increased by using the best performing keywords as anchor text links when carrying out link building exercises. If search terms perform well in a paid search campaign, you would be well advised to improve your natural search listings for the same terms where possible.

Similarly, competitor and customer analysis can inform all areas of your thinking by giving an idea of where you stand in the wider market, and potentially gaining first person feedback from the very people you are targeting with your online marketing strategies.

A more connected online marketplace…

Here is a brief explanation of some of the areas businesses need to invest in to compete in today’s more connected online marketplace, and the reasons why they mustn’t be neglected. It’s important to remember that whilst each of the below is certainly a specialism unto itself – the real value is from a cohesive blend of them all seamlessly working together with common cause.

Social

In August 2008, Facebook reached the auspicious landmark of 100,000,000 users. Social spaces are booming, and anyone marketing their site needs to get on board. Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Reddit, social networking such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, social tagging such as StumbleUpon or Flickr, blogs & online discussion forums that target your audience, all of these are important portals which, used correctly, can improve your presence online.

Online Advertising

New developments in technology are creating a world where online advertising can be increasingly targeted to relevant consumers. For example, as a result of behavioural advertising, it is now possible to target users according to their actual behaviour online, not only by what page they are looking at. Tracking this customer behaviour can once again inform your thinking in other areas of your campaign.

Tracking & Analytics

The tools now available to us to enable advanced tracking and analytics are like gold dust to savvy marketers. Not only is it fascinating on a human level to try and decipher the moods and habits of your cherished visitors, it is also crucial work if you want to leverage the information available to you.

Email & CRM

Gaining new business is always great, but it’s often a lot easier to sell to those customers you have already won. Opt-in email marketing and email newsletters are two useful methods of keeping the relationship you have with your customers fresh and up-to-date. It also allows for you to communicate with users on their own terms, allowing for a two way communication – rather than simply enforcing on them your generic, default marketing messages.

Natural SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is a term incorporating a huge range of activities, including link development, improving the code and content of a site and article and press release distribution. The importance of using these tried & tested methods to gain and maintain good rankings on the major search engines cannot be underestimated, as many a business is made or broken by their positions on the search engines.

Content

The written word is the lifeblood of the internet, so content is always a major part of an online marketing strategy. Using the keywords and phrases your target audience is already searching for when they are looking for your products or services in all areas of your campaign, as well as on site, will reduce bounce rates, increase targeted traffic and ensure the right people engage with your brand.

Usability

Once you’ve done all that hard work bringing in the right people to your site, it really would be a shame to put them off with poor usability. No matter how many visitors you get to your site, you may as well not bother unless the site itself is capable of gaining conversions. Therefore making sure the design is uncluttered, the navigation easy to understand and there is a clear path to checkout is vital.

Andy