by: Cary Christian
There are certain concepts in business and
marketing that are so esoteric they do not receive a lot of attention.
They are usually mentioned in passing during discussions of more well-known
topics, but rarely are examined in terms of their pervasive influence on
everything you do. This is because they are utterly simple in concept.
So simple, their application is often overlooked when business plans and
strategies are put into place.
Relevance is one such concept.
Of course, everyone knows that their business
or product must be relevant to a customer's needs before that customer will
show interest. Most online marketers know that keywords used to
describe their website must be relevant to their content. Intuitively
people understand that the subject of an email should be relevant to what is
discussed in the body. You probably will not see a cooking site
plastered with pictures of golf courses or computers.
Most people do understand the concept of
relevance and apply it properly in general terms to their business
operations. So where is it that people go wrong?
Consider the search engines, including the
pay-per-click varieties. People become so engrossed in maximizing
traffic that they resort to "tricks" to get more. Granted, most of the
search engines will not give any advantage to your site if your search terms
are totally irrelevant, but what about the borderline?
Let's say you are searching to find the
symptoms of an allergic reaction to a new medication your Doctor prescribed
for you. You navigate to Google and type in your search term.
You get thousands of hits, of course, and begin wading through them looking
for the information you need. What you find are lots of sites
advertising medications that contain virtually no information on allergic
reactions other than possibly a manufacturers blasť warning that tells you
absolutely nothing. How do you feel after visiting ten or fifteen of
these sites and you're still no closer to finding the information you
I realize searching can be an art, and if your
search term is not properly crafted, your results will not be as targeted.
But many of these sites will appear in the search because they have bid on
the keywords you're searching for. When someone bids on "allergic
reaction to medication" because they sell medications online, they fully
understand that you will not find the information you are searching for when
you reach their site. They just want to get you there under the
mistaken assumption that a certain number of these visits will result in
sales. They are bidding on every keyword or phrase that comes anywhere
close to their product even if it takes a massive stretch to get there.
Tricks like these represent self-defeating
behavior. People get so caught up in generating traffic that they
misapply the concept of relevance and are oblivious to the associated
penalty that results.
How can anyone believe that they are going to
make a sale or make someone want to do business with them when that person
has obviously been tricked into wasting their time? Imagine it as a
conversation between a customer and a pharmacist:
Customer: "I'm breaking out in welts
and sometimes my eyes get so swollen I can't see. My Doctor just put
me on Quinine. Could that be the problem?"
Pharmacist: "Hey, we sell Quinine!
In fact, we have the best price in town? Why don't you transfer your
prescription to us?"
The customer is going to wonder if the
pharmacist has been dipping into the drug supply! It's no different
Unless you keep the concept of relevance in
the forefront of your thinking, it's easy to make this type of mistake.
You are always being told to bid on as many keywords as possible related to
your product to get adequate coverage. That advice is valid.
Just don't take it to the point where you're bidding on irrelevant keywords.
Your business has a theme. Your website
takes its theme from your business. The content on your site follows
this theme. Your search engine listings and any other advertising you
do are based on your content. And so it goes all up and down the line.
Relevance is everything to the customer. They are looking for a
product or information that will solve a particular problem they have
right now. Provide what they need and they will love you, buy from
you, bookmark you and come back for more. Trick them into wasting
their time and they are lost to you forever.
On top of that hefty penalty, you PAID
for the advertising that drove them away! You control your costs using
the concept of relevance also. Rather than make your advertising,
especially your paid advertising, as broad as you can, focus it intensely on
what you are able to provide. Use it to more finitely target the
visitors you are attracting to your site. The volume of visitors to
your site is not what generates sales; it's the volume of well-targeted
visitors to your site that matters. What's the use of having 100,000
visitors if your sales conversion ratio is 1 in 1,000? You have to pay
for the 999 out of 1,000 that do not buy just as you do the one who does.
Let's assume you are using a PPC engine to
generate traffic and you do not target at all. Your goal is to get as
many visitors as possible to your site. You get the 100,000 visitors
at 10 cents each for a total cost of $10,000. You make 100 sales (1 in
1,000) of a product at $50 each. You made $5,000 but it cost you
Instead, you intensely target your PPC
listings, and pay a little more to do so, and get only 5,000 visitors at 20
cents each for a total cost of $1,000. Your sales conversion improves
to 1 in 100 visitors, so you make 50 sales of your $50 product. You
made $2,500 and it only cost you $1,000. Using relevance to target
your market made you a $1,500 profit and worked out $6,500 better overall.
I realize that this is just an example, but it
will always work this way. Highly relevant targeting of your
advertising efforts will generate more goodwill, more customers, more
REPEAT customers, lower costs and more profit. Always.
© Copyright 2003