Growing Your Business With Online Marketing Techniques
This guest blog was contributed by Gerad Hoyt.
The world isn’t flat anymore; business and the world are changing and evolving faster than ever before. Is your business evolving along with the world? In the aftermarket space, many think that some of the newest marketing and customer interaction tactics don’t apply, like using social media and Internet searches (Google search, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) to reach customers, but the truth is far from that. Today’s online environment is geared toward the consumer, giving aftermarket products that provide extended choices for pricing, quality and service ample opportunities.
As a remanufacturer or reseller, you may think that social media is a total waste of your time. If you’re trying to emulate big brands, then you’re absolutely right. Big brands thrive on brand awareness and use social media as a conduit to facilitate and lead conversation, an approach that doesn’t make much sense for most in the aftermarket.
Instead of trying to follow in the footsteps of the OEMs, use social media to facilitate reviews and showcase your level of service, quality and/or price advantage. Quality, service and price are the primary factors consumers actually care about. So ask yourself: Do your customers like your quality? Do they like your service? Are you cheaper, or do you have some kind of value add? Do you have personality? Although the world and business have changed and continue to change, buying behavior hasn’t changed much from the old days. People still buy mostly based on if they like you, if they have heard good testimonials from their peers or if you’re cheaper – except now they don’t need to necessarily know the people that already like you; they just need to know that people like you! Social media is a great way to showcase your customer base and use that as your branding.
Now on to the big boy in the online arena, Google (I know Bing, Yahoo and other sites are used as well, but come on: Internet searches and Google are often synonymous). There are way too many in the aftermarket not using search engine optimization to their advantage. Online searches serve people who are ready to buy, so if you’re not in it, you need to get in it right now! I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but if you want to utilize the huge opportunity present in Internet searches, you should look at hiring an online marketing/SEO specialist either in house or through an agency. If you don’t believe that there are tons of people looking for what you have, here’s some data straight from Google:
Some of these keywords only have a few hundred or thousand searches per month, but this is only a small set of terms, and even a few hundred or thousand every month could be directed to you and could positively impact your bottom line.
Gaining success in online search engine optimization certainly isn’t a walk in the park, but there is a real lack of competition for some of the very specific phrases. For example, I did a search for “HP LaserJet M2727nf MFP ink” – a highly targeted phrase that, if searched, reveals a fairly obvious intent: The searcher wants ink and wants it now. For this, I’m going to focus on the shopping results, mostly because research shows that for searches where shopping results are shown, about 5 to 6 percent more people will click the top results (where the shopping items are). Here’s what the results look like:
Looks like big boys are taking up all the positions, but upon closer inspection, the listings on Amazon and Buy.com are actually from Powerwarehouse. While it’s great to see an aftermarket provider in the space, no one else is there!
So now that you see where you can win with online shopping results, here’s an insider tip that I see almost no one taking advantage of: linking up your physical location with those shopping results. Google is placing more importance on local results and is now integrating them in a lot of search results. For those that are serving their local area, you can now show up under some of the bigger terms with your Google Places page. While this is great news, most don’t know that they can actually integrate Places accounts with the products they sell. Here’s how that looks:
The little ticks below the products are the links between the local results and products, which help people who want to go to a physical location and check the products out. The problem is very few people/companies in the aftermarket are using it; nearly all the companies in these results are big-box stores that usually carry limited quantities of these products. This is an opportunity ripe for the picking. All you’ll need to do is set up a Google Places account and get a product feed out using the Google Merchant Center (check out the links for more info).
There are tons of opportunities ripe for the aftermarket; can you take advantage of them? And do you have other marketing strategies that are working for you? Share them in the comments below and continue the conversation.
Contact Gerad at GHoyt@docstar.com
Gerad Hoyt is a marketing specialist for docSTAR Document Management, headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y. DocSTAR offers a variety of document management systems ranging from introductory, cloud-based models to enterprise, workflow-enabled systems.
Posted on May 10, 2012