As a business owner looking at this beautiful venue for shopping, the first thing that comes to mind is, “where are all the people?” The buildings are beautiful, the weather is beautiful, it seems like the perfect place to shop. Many businesses are still asking themselves the same question about their web presence. Most digital marketing companies will approach a business using acronyms like SEM and SEO and SMM and sell several different services that they posit will “help increase your ranking on search engines” or any other of a litany of a la carte internet marketing services. The problem is one set of acronyms alone is not the answer to bringing in new business in an increasingly internet-based, consumer driven world. What is really needed is a look your business’s entire digital real estate offering.
In 2014 Google teamed with Millward Brown to conduct research on the state of the internet with respect to purchasing decisions. The article brings up many results that should open any business owner’s eyes. First of all, 89% of B2B researchers are using the internet during their purchase process. There was a time when having a website as a qualifier that a business was legitimate when one handed out their business cards was enough. The purchasers were older and less accustomed to searching the internet. From 2012 to 2014, however the number of millenials researching B2B sales grew 70% from 27% to 46%. In fact, Google went on to say that not marketing to millenials and understanding the type of content and media channels they are using is a huge mistake.
In many business settings websites were built for the C-level “decision-makers,” new research shows that non-C-suite researchers actually have more influence on the purchase decision than the C-level execs do. While growing your brand is important, research shows that 71% of researchers begin their search with generic keywords. Most purchasers are looking for a product, not your brand. When someone does engage with your site, they have generally conducted 12 different searches, and Google has shown that its paid advertising is proving to be a bigger part of the research gathering stage.
Researchers are going mobile as well, with 42% of B2B researchers using smart phones during the purchase process. This is a growth of 91% in the last two years alone. As phones get bigger and bigger, mobile optimization is going to be increasingly important to consumer engagement. In addition, researchers are increasingly using video during the research process. In fact, 70% of purchasers and researchers are using video, an increase of 52% over the last two years.
Business owners should glean from this research that digital real estate is more valuable than ever before. Purchase decisions are being influenced and made by people that have grown up with the internet. The most important question a business should ask is whether they are marketing to this changing audience. Digital real estate is a holistic process that includes your digital storefront (website), which won’t be taken seriously if it is lackluster. As the Google report indicated, general searches through search engines are providing a bulk of the traffic, so your digital storefront must be located on main street with proper signage.
This is the piece that a simplistic digital marketing company would call “SEO.” Without optimizing properly, there is little hope of customers ever finding the website you have built. When customers do find the store, there should be friendly, engaging, informative clerks and salespeople inside to provide a great customer experience. This is equivalent to customer conversion through engagement through video, social media outlets, and other informational tools to get to the magical 12th search that converts the customer. By focusing on the holistic digital real estate model, the business is ensuring that both its traditional storefront and its digital storefront are equally set up for success.