Search Optimisation Vs Expanding Your Sales Team

Let’s look at some recent research.

‘Selling’ to Architects

In 2013 RIBA Insight found that 85% of specifiers preferred to find product information online. Research concluded in 2015 by SpecifiedBy suggests that this figure is as high as 99%.

These figures show that specifiers are not waiting to be sold to. They’re proactively gathering information online, educating themselves from the comfort of their desk. Probably before you even realise.

Again, from the recent SpecifiedBy research, product information is mainly sourced via Google (58%).

The Role of the Merchant

2014 research by Builders’ Merchant News showed that 71% of merchants view ‘Online Trading’ as a threat to expansion in the next three years.

79% of those surveyed agreed that ‘Price Competition’ will also be a risk. I have no doubt that online stores will have a big part to play on this point.

Merchants are recognising the effect that digital will have on business, yet many haven’t taken the step to sell online.

As customers become more confident purchasing online, merchants who don’t move with the times may get left behind. I believe we’ll see more manufacturers building direct relationships with customers as a result.

Do you sell your products online yet?

From my own experience developing I can see real benefits for construction product manufacturers who give E-commerce a go.

Digital Alternatives

Manufacturer’s generally have an external team ‘selling’ to architects. Considering the stats above, would budget be better spent on brand and website development, rather than another addition to this team?

I would say so.

If the merchants you deal with aren’t moving with the times, is it worth hiring another sales rep’ to run up-and-down the country chasing sales? Maybe. But would investing in E-commerce be more cost-effective in the long run?

I would say so.

What I’m trying to show here are digital alternatives to another expensive addition to your sales team.

(By expensive I’m suggesting the cost for a new member of your ‘on-the-road’ sales team could soon reach £100,000 once you factor in salary, car and expenses. This budget would go a l-o-n-g way in digital marketing).

But, if you’re not knocking on their door, how do specifiers or customers find you? This is where search optimisation comes in.

What’s the point of Search Optimisation?

For me, the aim is to become self-sufficient.

If customers can find you online you become less reliant on outdated and expensive: exhibitions, product directories and print advertising. And potentially, you could have less sales staff on the road.

So getting your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation or Search Optimisation) right can not only put you in front of potential customers, it can also save you money in the long run.

But I’ve heard ‘SEO is dead’

I’ve been learning and practising SEO for 10 years now and can honestly say the subject shows no signs of slowing down – on the technical front at least.

True, search optimisation is more accessible and for some part, easier to implement now than it was 10 years ago, but here’s why I believe the practice won’t ‘die’.

As Google’s algorithms evolve to become more user focused, the number of ranking factors increase. According to Moz research, in 2013 this number was over 100!

Most Marketing Managers would take one look at this and think, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And who could blame them?

They’re too consumed in overseeing the company’s marketing operation to be bogged down with the technical aspects of improving site speed or optimising web content.

Not all marketers are techies and this is why SEO will not die as a practice.

SEO for non-techies

The good news is there are procedures you can put in place to make a start with your search optimisation. You never know, this may be enough to push your website towards Page 1…

(1) Consistency

When you link back to your website use exact terms and check your spelling. Consistency is also important when it comes to branded products. Here’s an example:

At Cubicle Centre we have a brand for junior-aged children – Brecon. To most, Brecon means nothing so I made the decision to consistently attach a sub-heading to this product.

For years I have titled, linked and referred to Brecon across the web as:

Brecon – Junior School Toilet Cubicles

Consistency here has resulted in this product ranking online for several different searches:

  • brecon cubicles (#1)
  • junior school cubicles (#1)
  • junior school toilets (#1)
  • school toilets (#4)

(2) Clarity

User experience is important. Google calculates how happy users are with your content with metrics such as ‘Bounce Rate’ and ‘Session Duration’.

Winning points here stems from being clear about your target audience.

If your audience is non-technical, help them understand your products in plain English. Ensuring users can access this information in three clicks or less is also good practice.

(3) Content

This brings me nicely onto content.

To make your content searchable – make it accessible.

If you have useful product information for users, (descriptions, measurements, performance data, colour options), don’t hide it.

Don’t hide it in downloadable PDFs or behind a login. Put the information on the product page in an easy to read format.

As a final tip, be sure to add a meta title and description to each piece of content you create. The meta title is still an important ranking factor so spend time adding these to every page on your site.

Google Search Engine Result

Google displays meta titles (blue) and descriptions (grey) in it’s search results.

So there you have it. Three steps to making a start with your SEO. Implemented correctly, this could be the best addition to your sales team this year and beyond.

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