5 Reasons SMBs Should Focus on Search, Not Social for Customer Acquisition
Author: Jay Taylor, Search Engine Watch, February 12, 2013
Social media is all the rave, and for good reason.
Fortune 500 companies are showing that social can be a very effective marketing tool, particularly when it comes to brand awareness and engagement.
But how effective is social media when it comes to customer acquisition for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)?
SMBs are increasingly placing emphasis on social media marketing as a customer acquisition tool, while placing less emphasis on search marketing. Here are five reasons why this is a mistake, and why SMBs should focus on search, not social when it comes to acquiring new customers.
1. Search Gets SMBs in Front of Prospective Customers Who Aren't Already Familiar With Their Brand
Unlike Fortune 500 companies, most SMBs don't have the resources to invest in brand awareness campaigns that can take months or years to pay dividends. New customer acquisition is the primary objective, and search allows SMBs to get in front of prospective customers who aren't already familiar with their brand, but are in need of their products or services.
While organic search takes time, paid search allows SMBs to get in front of prospective customers immediately with ads that are contextually relevant to their search query. So, even if the prospective customer doesn't recognize the name of the company serving the ad, that’s OK, because that company is advertising a solution intended to meet that prospective customer’s immediate needs.
2. Searchers are More Likely to Convert Into Customers
People use social media to, well, socialize. People use search engines when they want to find something.
When was the last time you went on Twitter to look for the nearest hamburger joint? Now, when was the last time you used Google to find a local restaurant?
The fact that searchers are actively searching for the products or services you offer makes them much more likely to become a customer than someone who simply likes your Facebook page. The person who likes your Facebook page may eventually become a customer, but chances are they did not like your page because of their intent to purchase.
3. Search Allows Customers to Easily Find Your Business on the Go
Search engines make it easy to find information such as phone numbers and directions to local businesses on mobile devices. In fact, 88 percent of people who search for local information with a smartphone take action within a day, such as calling or visiting a local business, according to Google.
Additionally, 77 percent of smartphone users use their device for search. So, even if you do not target a local customer base specifically, mobile search provides an excellent opportunity to get in front of prospective customers.
4. Social Media Marketing Isn't Easy
Some SMBs tend to gravitate to social media because they perceive it as being easy and inexpensive, while perceiving search marketing as just the opposite. However, a well-executed social media campaign is no easy task, particularly if the goal is new customer acquisition.
On the other hand, if an SMB is using their company’s Twitter page to tweet about how good lunch was today at the office, then yes, that is easy and inexpensive, and also ineffective.
5. Search is a Proven Customer Acquisition Tool
Whether organic search or paid search, there is little argument that search marketing is an effective customer acquisition tool, and mobile search has only enhanced its effectiveness.
Conversely, there is still much debate regarding the relationship between “likes” and purchase intent, and social media’s effectiveness in general when it comes to customer acquisition. When working with a limited marketing budget, as most SMBs do, it makes sense to utilize a proven customer acquisition method.
The truth is that search and social are not mutually exclusive. The lines are blurring between them.
The most effective digital marketing strategy would utilize both search and social to their maximum potential. Yet, the reality is that most SMBs don't have the necessary resources to do both effectively. So, when the primary goal is customer acquisition, SMBs should focus on search, not social.