The 2 main topics in every SME business owner’s head are how to improve productivity and how to improve sales. Productivity remains a key challenge due to the difficulty in hiring talent, and in the current economy downturn, the competition for sales increases towards a shrinking pool of buyers.
As a SME, the above is exactly what we are going through as well. But barely 6 months ago, we decided to take a step back and review our marketing strategy (or the non-existence of one) and came up with a plan. A strategic marketing plan which we can execute within the means of our capabilities and lean team.
6 months down the road, we now see a 300% increase in the number of qualified leads and almost 50% are inbound leads (meaning that the customers knock on our door). Times are tough and I have been taught to give in advance, with strong belief that the future would provide for much more than I can give now. I have decided to write up this article on SEO and SEM – The SME Marketing Strategy That Works, and hopefully many SMEs can benefit from this, whether you are potentially our customer or even our competitor (Singapore is a small place, but the market is big enough).
Are there any SME Marketing Strategies that work?
SEO is a strategy, that if executed correctly, would increase the number of qualified leads flowing into your company and also potentially position your company as a leader in the industry.
Here’s number 1.
Want to buy a pen, car, or a boat? Looking for a precision engineering company that can help fabricate your products? Nobody flips the phone directory anymore. Typing the keywords “precision engineering company” into the Google search bar is 10x faster than flipping to the correct page. Besides, what could be better to gauge a company’s credibility than checking out their website?
Today, SEO is the lowest cost of marketing as customers are already searching for the relevant product or service, which means they are almost ready to buy, just a matter of from who. If your website is on page 1 of Google when customers are searching for your product/service, they are given the opportunity to find out about your company, product and service. And if your website has compelling content and looks credible enough to build trust with the customer, good chance they will send you a request for information or even pick up the phone to call your company.
Pay-per-click ads vs Natural ranking
When a Google search is done, up to 4 pay-per-click ad results are shown on top, followed by 10 organic results, and at the bottom of the page up to 4 pay-per-click ad results. While pay-per-click ads can bring faster results (paying to show up in page 1 of Google), they can be very expensive due to the fact that you need to pay for every click and you need to bid a high price in order for your ad to appear at all (highest bidder’s ad will appear first, and when their daily budget is expended, lower bidder’s ad will show up).
Let’s do a simple calculation assuming a monthly pay-per-click budget of $1,000 (based on $10 per click) for 6 months and a monthly SEO budget of $1,000 for 6 months.
In a 6-month period, your pay-per-click result is 600 clicks ($6,000/$10) or in other words, 600 potential leads. Very easy to calculate, yet prone to heavy competition on the cost per click and limited upside tied directly the budget.
But assuming you engage professional SEO services within a 6-month period, your company’s website would have reached page 1 of Google. And when you are on page 1 of Google, as an organic result (as opposed to pay-per-click), this means unlimited amount of potential leads will see your website and you are not prone to pay-per-click competition!
While SEO can deliver better results in the long term, it would be a more complete strategy to execute both pay-per-click ads and SEO. And then once your website rises to page 1 through SEO, you can put the pay-per-click ads on hold.
Be it pay-per-click, or SEO, it’s important that your website is able to give your website visitors confidence towards your company and able to deliver compelling messages about your company, products, services. Compare your website with your competitors’ websites, look at the good ones, why are they better than yours and how can your website improve? Look at the bad ones, would you buy from them? Some websites portray an image that their company might not even be around anymore. It’s worse than having no website.
In summary, SEO and pay-per-click ads work.
As this article is mainly focused on sharing, I wouldn’t want to end this with a sales pitch. But if you do have any questions or need help in executing your marketing plans, feel free to reach out to me for a non-obligatory discussion.