By Erin Skinner, Senior Pay Per Click Analyst, ROI Revolution, Inc — As the years move on, it becomes more and more apparent how big of a part the Internet is going to play in the success of small businesses. In the current economic downturn that we're all struggling to get through, using the Internet to market your marine business is not only a good idea, it's a necessity.
There were over 60 million searches performed last month related to the boating industry just in the United States on Google.com alone. Do you know how much of this Web traffic made it to your site? If you aren't advertising on the Internet, you are simply leaving money on the table for your competitors to steal.
If you have a company Web site, you've already completed step one. The next step is to get more visitors to the site who are willing and able to spend money with you.
Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN/Bing offer advertising programs where businesses can advertise to people who are searching on those engines. This is a key benefit of online advertising, because you are positioning yourself in front of people who are actively looking for what you sell.
To facilitate these programs, the search engines display ads on the top and right side of their search results. You've probably seen them, and not even realized they were ads. This form of marketing is often called Pay-Per-Click, because the advertisers only pay when their ads are clicked on. Also, daily budgets can be set to prevent runaway spending.
The most important part of using the Internet to advertise your business is that everything is trackable and measurable. Unlike with other forms of more traditional advertising such as phone books, billboards, etc., using the Internet holds your marketing initiatives accountable for profitability.
Using these online advertising programs is relatively simple, and easy to set up.
- First, you should determine an extensive list of terms called keywords that your potential customers who need boats, accessories, or repair services would use to find you on the Internet such as "used fishing boats," "boat seats," "fiberglass boat repair," etc.
You should organize these keywords into ad groups by theme as specifically as possible. For example, you could group brand names or accessory types together. This will come in handy when writing your ads.
- Then you create text ads that are relevant to each of the keyword groups you've created. These ads will lead searchers to your Web site. You'll want the text in the ads to be as relevant as possible to your keyword lists, so that a high number of searchers will actually click the ad and visit your site. Creating the ads is very simple, because the search engines provide tools that will help.
- After creating the ads, you specify how much you are willing to pay for someone to click on your ad. This will determine where the ad will display on the results page after the Internet search is made. Your competitors will more than likely be bidding on the same terms, so some keywords are more expensive than others.
It isn't always the best idea to bid as much as you possibly can so that you will appear in the first spot on the page. Sometimes, the top spot is not the most profitable, and it will take time to find the right positioning for you. There are also tools provided by the engines to help ensure that your ads only appear in the positions you specify.
- Now you adjust the campaign settings to best fit your needs. Most search engines allow you to geographically target a specific area if you're a local vendor. You can also determine if you would only like to show your ads during specific times of the day. Budget and ad serving settings are also selected at this point in the process.
- Activate the ads, and you're on your way to more traffic and ultimately more sales!
Search engine marketing is never a "set it and forget it" situation, and there are best practices to follow. Advertising on the Internet takes constant monitoring and optimization. In return, the profits that can be realized from advertising online are immense. If you're not already taking advantage of the Internet as an avenue for new business, you should ask yourself, "Can I afford not to?"
Erin Skinner is a Senior Pay-Per-Click Analyst at ROI Revolution, a Google AdWords Qualified Company, located in Raleigh, N.C. For more quick tips, visit www.roirevolution.com/3PPCtips.
Where to get started:
While there are many search engines that have search engine marketing platforms, the three biggest are Google, Yahoo!, and MSN/Bing.