By Garrett Geib, President, SkyRocket Group, Inc.
I recently tried to contact a prospective technology solution provider to see whether they would be interested in the marketing services we offer. The company’s web site was badly in need of a refresh; the phone number listed on the page was incorrect and the copyright notice read 2009. This was probably one of many costly mistakes for the business.
In today’s digital era, your web site acts as your virtual business card, allowing interested parties to learn more about your organization. Research from the Pew Internet Research Center has revealed that approximately 60% of adults research a product or service online before making a purchase, reaffirming that having a professionally designed web site with up-to-date information is crucial to channel partners looking to generate new business online. You can guarantee that anyone considering doing business with your organization will check out your business and its offerings online.
While it is important to have a web site that is attractively designed and clearly conveys what products and services you offer, any web designer you consider hiring should be talking at length about how they integrate online marketing efforts with web development. After all, having a beautiful web site is irrelevant if no one can find it through search engines, such as Google and Bing. In essence, it’s like putting a billboard in your basement — it may look nice, but no one is going to see it!
While having an up-to-date and informative web presence is the vital first step, channel partners also should have a solid, long-term strategy for building out their online presence. According to research from comScore, Google is the predominant player in search, with a 66% market share (just over 12 billion searches per month), followed by Yahoo! and Bing with a combined 28%. Therefore, we recommend that any search engine optimization work performed be tailored towards Google’s algorithm.
A comprehensive online marketing strategy should include a mix of tactics including search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to reach prospective customers. SEO hierarchy dictates that “content is king” and “link building is queen” — the more pages your web site has, and the more other sites are linking to it, the higher your ranking will be in the search engines.
Most channel companies possess two distinct characteristics: they are regional in nature and often specialize in specific applications or industries. Therefore, we recommend implementing a geo-targeted SEO strategy that will help you “own your backyard” for the keyword terms you care about most. If your company is a “total solutions provider” focus on solutions or applications rather than product brand names when conducting SEO research. This will result in generating more profitable lead opportunities in which the end user is looking for hardware, software, services and ongoing technical support.
Remember, SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time quick update. Typically, it can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to begin seeing results, so patience and commitment are a must. Companies looking for immediate results can augment SEO efforts with pay-per-click advertising. In turn, you can place text ads on search engines and immediately rank high for keyword terms you care about and only pay when a prospective customer clicks on your ad.
In today’s digital era, it also is important for your organization to have real-time access to products, sales and customer information at their fingertips. Therefore it is becoming increasingly important that your web site is designed and optimized for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This strategy enables your personnel to easily show clients information about products and/or services on the trade show floor or at a client site.
As potential partners and prospects begin to utilize mobile and online resources to research products more frequently, companies in the channel must tap these outlets to improve brand penetration. Leveraging SEO, SEM, and optimizing your web site for mobile platforms will increase awareness of your company, as well as its products and services. These tools also will encourage prospects to learn more about your company’s offerings and eventually engage with sales.
Since 2002, The SkyRocket Group has successfully operated as a marketing department for many small businesses throughout the country. The company links creativity with technology by providing a mix of marketing services across channels.
The SkyRocket Group offers an outside perspective on how to integrate effective marketing programs into current business strategies to achieve growth and revenue goals.