SEO and traditional marketing

How do we differentiate between the traditional way of marketing products and services Vis-à-vis Internet marketing (especially Search engine optimization, SEO)?

Traditionally selling or introducing a product to a customer happens essentially through a face to face meeting with the potential customer. Marketing a new and existing product or service to the target audience involves advertising on Television, radio, newspapers, hoardings and billboards etc. In Internet marketing, marketers use similar ways of reaching out to their target audience, like, YouTube, ads on internet radio sites, PR sites, online newspapers, magazines, banners, Pay per click ads etc.

Sales people can meet with a potential customer face to face. That gives them the advantage of deciphering the potential customer’s expressions, judge the direction in which the conversation is going and bringing it right back on track by using persuasive techniques like using relevant data, providing testimonials, offering discounts, discount coupons, and addressing any concerns… SEO functions in a similar way.

SEO optimizes a website or webpage for search engines, and humans, and also optimizes the content for social networking sites, videos, and almost all the mediums of reaching out to potential customers, such that, when a searcher types in search terms in a search box, the search results show up the SEO optimized pages, optimized videos, optimized social networking pages etc. This is the first step for SEO. The 2nd and one of the most crucial steps is persuading a searcher to click on your page/ video from among the top 10 results. This is when a sales person knows that he has been successful in capturing the visitor’s attention. Once in the website, the visitor needs to be guided through steps that will bring the visitor close to and to the action that is required to be taken in order to convert. Capturing your visitor’s attention, retaining it, and converting your visitors is the 3rd most and the final crucial step for SEO. This is where your content needs to get persuasive, and convincing. Unlike a sales person, you can’t see your visitor; the sales person can fathom the expressions of the potential customer and engage the potential customer in meaningful conversations. The salesperson can skillfully change the course of the conversation and try another way of convincing the potential customer.

In the absence of a real person guiding your visitors and explaining everything to them, the content of your website has to second as a salesperson. You website has to be pre-emptive and provide FAQs, testimonials, presentations, videos, online chat, toll free numbers for your visitors. The links should be displayed in such a way that these links can be easily located by the visitor. Anything that you feel a potential customer will need to know, before deciding on buying your products / services, should be made readily available. SEO is all about optimizing the content and presenting it in such a way that it is user friendly. At no point should visitors feel lost or confused. We do not want them clicking away, no way!

Because of the absence of personal touch in the electronic medium, it is even more critical that the data is presented well, and is interactive. Getting your visitors to register just so that you have a readily available marketing database, does not go down well with online visitors. If it is indeed required, make it a simple process.A sales person typically helps out the customer by completing the forms, and assisting the potential customer on these tedious tasks. Asking for the email id only and assigning a default password in order to complete the registration process may be a good idea (I was pleasantly surprised when a shopping website did exactly that).

The idea is to be user friendly, informative, and sensitive to your visitor’s needs.

Tough? Not really.

A successful salesperson does not call it quits until all means of convincing the potential customer have got exhausted.

So what do we do to replicate that in the online world?

The answer lies in providing continuous assurance, information, and assistance to the visitors.The online world these days is so interactive that it is no longer impossible to get as real as possible in the virtual world!