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Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.

direct mail, traditional marketing

Testing a New, Old Marketing Vehicle in a New Year: Direct Mail

Like all businesses, Results Communications and Research must regularly engage in diverse, but integrated, marketing and business development activities to develop new and grow existing client relationships. Asking for referrals from current or former clients or other business connections — particularly, former co-workers who have witnessed first-hand the quality of our work — far exceeds other activities in generating new work for our marketing consulting firm/agency. Nonetheless, we can’t rely solely on our connections to keep our work plate full. Most organizations can’t. So, what better time than the start of a new year to implement a new marketing campaign that employs and centers around direct mail — a marketing vehicle much less used in the past 10 years, but one that is regaining popularity because of its demonstrated effectiveness.

direct-mail-image

A key reason behind our very recently “dropping” a direct mail piece (in this case, an over-sized postcard) to a targeted list of New England organizations was to witness first-hand how effective at generating inquiries and discussions about our services this “traditional” marketing activity would be in this digital era — when supported by follow-up activities, such as phone calls and e-mails, of course. While our Principal has significant experience with implementing, managing, and analyzing direct mail campaigns from past corporate roles in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the majority of the prospecting campaigns we’ve run for our own and client businesses in the past few years has had one or a series of e-mail blasts as their focal point vs. a printed piece delivered by U.S. mail.

Other motivators for testing and revisiting the direct mail waters were:

  • We personally welcome receiving “snail mail” vs. e-mail for the following reasons:
    • It’s a nice break from viewing everything on the computer screen for our eyes
    • Holding a sturdy postcard or direct mailer in our hands brings back fond memories of the old and simpler way of doing business
    • We can file this printed piece in a relevant tangible vs. virtual folder and easily retrieve it. Sure, you can file an HTML e-newsletter/e-blast in an appropriate in-box folder, but when it’s particularly busy, most people don’t have the time to do that, and in this fast-pace world, it always seems to be particularly busy.
  • We’ve read/heard that others like to receive snail mail for the same reasons we do.
  • Direct mail won’t get relegated to a spam or junk folder by your intended recipients’ e-mail services’ filtering mechanism.
  • Individuals receive far less postal mail these days, so, unlike e-newsletters and e-blasts, a direct mail piece is not one of a hundred (or much more!) communication pieces received each day competing for attention in the e-mail sea.

direct-mail-backWe look forward to sharing our experience with testing this new, old marketing vehicle with you in 2Q2017! May you have the opportunity to pilot both brand new and old new forms of marketing and development activities in the new year to determine what is most effective in generating new customers and clients for the particular products and services your organization offers.