Search Engine Optimization...
We don't recommend putting all your eggs in one basket - but it makes sense to fund your marketing plan with the investments you consider most cost effective. As each (marketing) channel reaches its maximum potential, then additional slices of the marketing budget are brought into play until you reach the point of diminishing returns.
That being said… consider these difference between a keyword optimized website, a Yellow Pages ad, and a print ad campaign in a high end magazine.
Initial investment - will vary for a Gateway style (SEO enriched) website… but for the sake of comparisons, let's set the original development figure at $4,000 (actual figures vary from $1,500 - $7,500 for the most part). Compare this with your Yellow Pages or Print ad. Typically, if you have the ad professionally developed, expect to spend between $1,000 and $3,000 for "mid range" businesses. After that comes recurring investment.
Recurring investment - is generally low for a website. You will have monthly hosting fees of $20 - $50 and, from time to time, some minor tuning or adding additional link partners or listings. These investments are usually measured in hundreds of dollars instead of thousands. If you are aggressive, and you should be, you might spend an additional thousand or two each year in expanded coverage for your website.
For the Yellow Pages in print and magazine Print Ads - you are looking at recurring monthly costs in the thousands of dollars. To completely cover a county of 2M - 3M - it would not be hard to spend $3,000 - $6,000 per month for Yellow Pages (rough est. Orange County, CA Consumer Yellow Pages). A high end print publication covering several hundred thousand homes might carry a monthly ad fee of $1,500 - $6,000. If you do the math - that is a significant annual investment for what amounts to fairly limited market reach and limited message space.
Message space - the amount of content you are able to put in your message… is almost unlimited for a website.
If your site is properly constructed - then it is a rich repository of information with well developed "calls to action" throughout and placed at those points where your visitor and prospective customer is most likely to be motivated.
Your Yellow Pages and Magazine Print Ads will be little more than a quarter to a full page. Most likely - done in four colors and competing with other ads and content within the document and often on the same page where they are placed. While message scope can be compensated for to some degree - the "hit" volume you get is still going to be based on conversion rates and your total "market size."
Market size - is how many prospective buyers of your products and services can potentially be exposed to your message. For your Gateway website - that pretty much encompasses the entire population of Internet users who might be seeking your offering at any given moment. According to Internet World Stats (http://www.InternetWorldStats.com) in North America alone for 2004 - there were 222,165,659 active users of the Internet - and at that, just representing 5.1% of the total worldwide users.
If your offering has broad enough appeal - the potential market is enormous. Compare this with the published circulation of the Yellow Pages or Magazine Print Ad… likely to be well under 1% of the Internet user market. Another issue of market size to consider is the length of your message's "shelf life."
Shelf life - is simply how many days or weeks your message is "within reach" of your prospective market and potentially able to make an "imprint." This is a common problem with Yellow Pages and Magazine Print Ads.
Most magazines are "old news" within a week or two… depending upon the circulation cycle. Add to this their tendency to get buried under other magazines, newspapers - or simply be thrown out… and you have a fairly short shelf life for your, say… $2,000 per month ad.
Yellow Pages are somewhat different. Often, they are placed where they can be found throughout the year and referred to regularly. This is not always the case, though. Most of the time - Yellow Pages become, and remain, "lost" or "misplaced" to a certain degree - and are therefore unavailable. As the number of Yellow Pages publishers continues to proliferate, however, a different type of "shelf life" measurement begins to take place - that being the passive competition of "reach" for whatever retained Yellow Pages is the closest at any given moment. In addition, it's not always easy to find something in the Yellow Pages. A lot of page flipping and thumbing can be frustrating - in particular when you just can't seem to guess what category the product you are looking for is placed under.
Search engines make the "find it" process much easier.
Compare Yellow Pages and Magazine Print Ad with a successfully positioned website and it's not hard to make the decision.
First - the Internet is always "there"!! I know of very few instances where someone has misplaced the Internet in their home or office. It's always right "there" sitting just behind your keyboard displayed on your monitor. Of course, you might forget the name of the website you're seeking… but then, that's what search engines and "Favorites" and desktop bookmarks are for.
Without dragging this discussion out too much longer, let's look at one last advantage your Gateway website has over your printed media Ad expenditures… "flexibility."
Flexibility - the ability to modify your (ad) message as conditions change. Not much need to discuss this one. You're stuck with your Yellow Pages ad until next year - and your Magazine Print Ad until next month. Print ads have to deal with the concept of "deadline" for publication. No such situation exists for "virtual" technology. Your website is digital "clay" that can be tuned, modified and added to daily. And... every disbursement is an investment that stays with the website and lasts for the duration of the message as determined by you.
Call for a 'no obligation' consultation...