If you´ve been following, in this space, Ken Robbins´s suggestions for how small retailers can become e-tailers, then maybe you´re well on the way to getting your Web site designed, uploaded and on the Worldwide Web. Good for you. Once you´ve accomplished this, your next important question is how to help customers find your "store" on the Internet.
It´s simpler than you might think, says Robbins, specialist in search engine marketing and online retailing. "Advertising on search engines [Google or Yahoo, for example] is the perfect small-business medium. On Google, you can place an ad and have it up by this afternoon." And, you can control how much you spend by pre-setting the amount you are willing to pay every time a potential customer clicks on your advertisement. That may well be as little as 50 cents per click.
You also can tell Google Adwords when you want your ad to pop up. Robbins uses a pressure washing business as an example. "I can tell Google that I only want my ad to appear when somebody types in Gainesville Pressure Washing, so it´s targeted. My heavens, I would want every one of those people to see my ad and click in."
Robbins taught friends of his who own a Tennessee boarding school how to advertise on Internet search engines. "Now," he says, "they get every single one of their students off of Yahoo. It´s their entire marketing budget. I helped them build a keyword list of the words their ads should come up for. [That means that when people type in, say, Mountain Boarding School, the school´s ad pops up.] If we´re talking about small business, it almost always revolves around geography and a local city name."
You may enter as many keywords as you want into your search engine account. Remember, you are charged only by the number of times people click on your ad. The more specific a keyword, the better, Robbins says. "It´s going to pay out better." Check out Yahoo for search term or keyword suggestions.
Back to the boarding school example. When an advertiser sets the price it is willing to pay per click, this set price determines how high up the ad appears on the search engine page results. So, once again, say that you type in Mountain Boarding School. If it´s high season for parents to be locating schools for their children, the school increases the amount it pays per click, so that its ad appears very high up on the list of Web sites the search engine turns up. During the off season — when parents may not be as serious about making a final selection — the school decreases the amount it pays per click. And, thus, its ad does not appear as high up on the page of results.
Typically, though, says Robbins, president of Atlanta-based Response Mine, locally based small businesses advertising on search engines have a pretty low cost per click.
In the next Retail Strategies, more tips from Ken Robbins, when he discusses pay-per-call advertising