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Reaching those hard-to-reach verticals

Search marketing, whether through SEO or PPC advertising, works brilliantly. Its biggest weakness, however, is that it doesn’t always fall into line with the ways in which companies have set up their own sales operations. For example, let’s say ‘blue widgets’ are primarily bought by customers in the automotive and pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors. All you have to do is assure you have a good presence in Google for searches on ‘blue widgets’, take people to a page which shows that you supply blue widgets for both sectors, and let them click through to information specific to their sector. Job done, enquiries guaranteed.

However, what happens when the sales department declares: “This year, we want to spend all our advertising budget on the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector”? You can’t use search advertising to target one sector and not the other. Nobody searches Google for ‘blue widgets in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector’. Of course, you could continue to advertise against ‘blue widgets’ but display an ad which says ‘Blue Widgets for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing’. This would result in your click-through rate being halved as you were avoided by the automotive sector, but that’s what you want. However, halving the click-through rate would cut your ‘quality score’, so the cost-per-click would rise, and you’d end up spending the same money as before on the half-as-many clicks. (Or you’d probably end up spending half as much as before on a quarter of the clicks).

There isn’t a perfect solution to this. Search marketing just isn’t great at vertical industry sector targeting. Perhaps only direct mail (on- or off-line) can do this, and that’s a different exercise, which is very hard to make cost-effective nowadays.

If you did want to try something, it could be worth investigating LinkedIn advertising, if the market sector is big enough. Of course, only a small proportion of professionals within a sector regularly look at LinkedIn, but you could say the same about almost any advertising. We find LinkedIn advertising to be expensive for what it is, but if you need to be seen to be doing something, it’s better than most of the alternatives. Best of all, however, is to try to avoid fixating on specific sectors.

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