Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Well, for those of you who were wondering, I think it's now fair to say that the Internet is King - cartainly when it comes to drumming up business for UK based companies.  As I have written previously, the old, dated and hard to use Yellow Pages seem to be dead and buried with Google and Yell bringing more enquiries than the paper directories ever have done.

How do I know this?  Well, the statistics that we generate for our customers tell us so.  More and more of my clients are learning that their website is the key to a long and successful business.  If - and it's a big if - it's appealing, attractive and gripping enough for their customers with rich content and calls to action.

Understandably, UK businesses have been a little slow to harness the power of the Internet with many adopting the "I have a web page" mentality, without fully appreciating that just having a website is no longer sufficient.  You may have a website, but so do your competitors and if theirs is better looking, has richer content or is easier to find then you lose.  Surprisingly, whilst many busineses will happily plow thousands of pounds into Yellow Pages advertsing, they seem to make little or no investment in their websites - and this is proving to be madness.  

For those clients where we have monitored call traffic, justification of investing into a quality website with killer web copy, great graphics and a fabulous build is quite easy.  Many have found that whereas they would get 10 calls from 'traditional' advertising, their website is bringing them 100 calls.  A 10:1 ratio is not uncommon and many of my customers are getting 20 or even 30:1.  One client has reeived over 4,000 calls (yes, calls - people wanting to speak to them on the telephone) from their website alone.  A website that cost them just £3,000.  Compare that to an investment of £2,850 in Yellow Pages that has so far brought them just 72 calls.  Where would you invest your money if you had that information at your finger tips?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Just where should you advertise these days?

As I speak to my customers, something is becoming increasingly obvious. Advertising is changing, or at least the way we respond to advertising is changing. Historically, and I'm going back 20 years or more, the first choice for many people was the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages was arguably perfect for its day. A big bound book of businesses, held alphabetically and by classification that covered my local area. If I wanted a plumber at three in the morning to fix a leak in my ceiling, there was really little other option in to turn to the famous yellow book.

Of course, there was no Internet back then, and so the choice as to where to look for businesses were somewhat limited. However, now things are quite different. I can access the Internet and search for whatever I choose from home, from the office, from my mobile phone, from Internet cafes, from virtually anywhere and the limitations of the Yellow Pages (it's big, heavy, hard to use and I have to have one to use one) are removed. Thus, the Internet seems to be the place to be, certainly if I want to appeal to today's buyer.

So if the Yellow Pages is so last century, and the Internet is the place to be, just what kind of advertising should I choose. Well, the problem with advertising on the Internet is there's simply too much of it. Think about it, how much do you actually pay attention to and how much do you ignore. The Internet is user driven and users never want to sit through endless advertising hence, when they have control they choose to simply ignore it all together. I'm guilty of it myself and have developed "banner blindness". I tend to look at the words and not the adverts. I'm sure many of you are the same.

The way these banner ads are paid for is by how many times they have served on pages, i.e. how many users the advert is displayed in front of. So, if your ad is shown to 10,000 people and everyone ignores it how many sales you think you'll get? I don't think banner ads are for me.

However, I do believe that the Internet will generate significant levels of interest from my business, and so I'm just about to embark on a Google pay per click campaign. Something which has been in the media now for a long period of time, and something which, by all accounts, generates quite a good response to those people who use this kind of advertising for their business. After all, Google's argument is the only people who will see my ad of those people who were searching for my product or service.

We'll wait and see!

Monday, 31 March 2008

0800 aint what it used to be!

Move over 0800. 0845 is now first choice for business telephone numbers!

Recent search engine statistics for February 2008 show that online purchases of 0845 numbers outweighed 0800 numbers by a factor of 3 to 1. WOW! 3 to 1. That's not just big, that's HUGE!

When you look at why 0845 is the number 1 choice though, it becomes increasingly obvious as to why it's taken the lead spot.

Simply put, 0845 is sensible whilst 0800 spells risk. Consider the following.

1. 0800 is clearly open to abuse. If an employee's partner discovers that they can speak to their other half at work FREE OF CHARGE, then why wouldn't they? Imagine that. Not only are you paying staff who don't produce anything, they cost you more money to receive (possibly) lengthy phone calls from unscrupulous partners. If they knew their call was going to cost them somnething, they would be less likely to make calls as readily.

2. It attracts the dreaded bargain hunter. If people aren't prepared to pay for a telephone call when enquiring about your products or services, are they going to want to pay full price for anything - or are they expecting a bargain?

3. Salespeople will target 0800 numbers as it keeps the cost of cold calling down. Paying to receive unwanted sales calls...hmmm.

4. 0845 is only the cost of a local call anyway, it's hardly going to break the bank given the competitive prices of calling locally these days.

Of course, both 0800 and 0845 allow you to monitor call levels, so from a monitoring point of view, are still exceptional tools for business.