There was a time when finding a service involved flipping through a heavy old Yellow Pages. Now, your 100g smartphone that makes that whole operation obsolete– in coalition with Google, of course. We don’t mean to state the obvious, but search engines play a starring role in customer acquisition. So, how do you work with that?

90% of customers surveyed by Forrester Consulting claimed they used search engines at every stage of the purchase cycle. This cycle follows customers from their exploration to conversion, through their phases of competitor comparison, through to actual purchase. But how do these journeys really look? And how does search feature at each stage?

Let’s break down it down. Let’s assume someone is at the very start of their search for an accountant.They don’t have a current accountant and have never approached one before. At the start of the exploratory journey, they will be using quite general search terms.
 

The Search Begins

They might start with “accounting firm melbourne” or they might even start with “how to choose an accountant”. So you need to optimise for both of these terms. But when you get your digital marketing team on it, what are they going to do about it? The first term might seem obvious– your website probably has the term “accounting firm” all over it. But you probably don’t have a “how to choose an accountant page”.
Getting some quality content marketing on your site will do wonders for your search visibility: write that article! Write other articles matched to other queries people might have: “accounting firm cost”, “easy tax returns”, “what is a tax return?”. Engage a content marketing agency to help get the ball rolling and to make sure your content is search optimised.

This kind of marketing will benefit you in the long run, but won’t put you on the first page of Google overnight. And if a marketing agency promises to do that, they’re using dodgy tactics… But what if you want traffic right now without reverting to black-hat strategies?

Find out what we mean by ‘black-hat strategies” here.
 

Impatient? Google gets you.

Google AdWords is the rocket ship to the top of Google’s search results. However, in businesses with longer sales cycles (such as financial services), you’re not likely to get a direct conversion from your traffic. But at least you can quickly climb the search rankings tree and be noticed by potential customers. When comparison time comes, you’ll be on their minds, which puts you in with a fighting chance.
 

Search + Social

But Google’s not the only information giant out there. 20% of those surveyed said they use social search to find new brands, products or services. And 21% head to the brand’s social media to engage with them. Obviously, this depends on your industry. But just because a restaurant’s got the advantage over an accountant on Instagram, doesn’t mean you can’t find your niche and be effective. So, if you’re not already, you need to be keeping on top of all the channels you’ve got a presence on. And if you’ve got no channels, it pays to build them– this is where you need a social media strategy to ensure the efficacy of your search strategy.

And social can be a great channel to get your content out while you build your organic search. Even if your audience is small, you can still reach a big audience. And content is the key.  70% of customers in the aforementioned study said that multiple social channels– including blogs– were valuable informants in the exploratory phase. So, if there is a publication in your field or a social media personality that speaks to your audience, approach them with your content. Or even a sample of your product. This will up your brand recognition, improving your chances being the name people search for when looking for services like yours. See how the parts work together?

“Integrated approach” sounds like an empty buzzword but it’s exactly what you need. Paid search + organic search + social + influencer marketing– that’s the standard you need to measure yourself against. It’s achievable. And it’s worth it.

For more information about how this all works, send us a message! We’ll be in touch! Form below…

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