Weathering the storm of a recession with SEO and PPC
With the winter months dragging ever-so-slowly forward, and the markets showing very little signs of improvement in the foreseeable future, many online retailers are rethinking their strategies to weather the storm and continue a long-term drudge through this lousy economy. Or are they? Don’t be fooled! While most stocks are plummeting to 25 year lows, online retailers are able to go further than ever before, with less than ever before.
What can you do to ensure your business stays afloat while all others sink like the Titanic?
Your first step is probably to reexamine your expenses. Online business really thrives on traffic, so advertising should probably be the last of your expenses to feel the pinch. However, your money may be better spent developing long-term success in the future, rather than short-term gains right now.
Re-invent your online advertising strategy
This isn’t as hard as you might think. Retooling advertising strategy enables you to take a time out, weigh your options, and reinvest your time and money into worthwhile causes. Here are a few trends emerging in this troubling economy:
- Retailers are looking to the web for business development. Why? As spending decreases, people sit at home waiting for irresistible savings before parting with their cash. Bricks and mortar companies will circulate coupons, ignite viral campaigns, and pull people from desktop to storefront.
- E-commerce sites with little to no offline presence often make the most of a loyal online following. What better way is there to sustain revenue than appeal to a loyal fan base of existing customers?
- Anyone with any kind of online presence knows to rethink their websites. That means redesign, retool, reinvigorate. It’s 2009, if you aren’t measuring online success using analytics, you need to wake up.
- Evaluate time invested in long term search engine optimization (SEO) versus short term gains through search engine marketing (SEM).
- Speaking to SEO, you should definitely scour your log files for help, analyze Google Webmaster Tools reports, dig through referrer logs, and kick start your long term online growth curve.
- Speaking to PPC, consider pulling back on aggressive PPC campaigns that just break-even, and start optimizing conversion for incremental gains on easy-win keywords.
Test, test, and test again
The more you test, the more you learn about your customers, products, employees, partners, and industry. Information is power, and all the valuable insight you gain through brainstorming questions and testing for answers ensures long-term growth. Get in the mindset to learn something new everyday by:
- Asking lots of questions, even ridiculous ones, then finding ways to figure them out
- Seeking successful websites in other industries and adopting what works
- Looking to your own people, asking for honest advice on how to improve the business – it’s their future too
- Tweaking content and voice to your target market
Even small changes can make big differences.
For example, one long-time client of mine finally asked me advice on web design and usability for their site. I responded by asking them who their target market was, to which they replied, urban city folk, sometimes in remote regions that lack certain urban amenities. A small group of people, but very precise. Their website had imagery and terminology that applied only to urban/corporate viewers, and their site was a heavy download for anyone with anything less than basic broadband. Quick and easy fix, right?
The future doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, often the simplest solutions work best. For more information on any of the topics above, I encourage you to read the categories on this blog and countless others.