How to advertise to vertical market sectors

Although there’s little that search advertising is not good at, perhaps the main one is targeting vertical industry segmentation. That’s because potential customers search for products, and don’t specify what industry they’re in when they make that search. If they want blue widgets, whether they’re in aerospace, mining or farming, they search for blue widgets. Of course, you can show an advert for ‘aerospace blue widgets’ to everyone making the general ‘blue widgets’ search, but your clickthrough rate will be low, and your cost-per-click may subsequently be scary.

Unfortunately, from time to time nearly all sales directors – possibly without any evidence that it’s a good idea – decide that their company’s sales and marketing organisation will now be exclusively focused around industry verticals. So how do we cope without sacrificing the advertising medium that’s now the mainstay for most sensible businesses?

What we normally suggest is not to worry about the vertical segmentation at the advertising stage, but let the prospects point to their industry once they’ve got to the site. So prepare all the resources covering every vertical, and list the verticals on a landing page, so the prospects (having responded to a general ‘blue widgets’ advert) can instantly click on their sector.

OK, so now we’ve got our aerospace prospects to a page about aerospace blue widgets. But what should go on this page? Of course, a lot of the material will be recyclable across the different sectors. However, within each vertical’s page(s), we have the opportunity to use relevant images, quote testimonials from recognisable customers and focus on the benefits of our blue widgets for that sector. This is something a product-based approach can’t do. It’s a lot of work though, and I wouldn’t volunteer to go down this path unless I had the time and resources to do it properly, but those companies who’ve done this well often end up with some really impressive web content which can be built on even further.