As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, May 2008.
Financial-service-providers spend more money on online advertising than any other industry, according to The Nielsen Co. The investment seems to be paying off.
Online advertising generated more than $25.5 billion in overall revenues in 2007, according to a national technology-analysis company. And financial-services companies, including commercial banks and loan companies, ranked second in revenue generated.
How can you interact with the people who search online for commercial financing every day? How can you get your business message in front of potential clients and generate sales opportunities? Through online lead generation with pay-per-click or search advertising.
The search environment presents a powerful opportunity for you to generate exclusive, qualified leads in real time. It also holds great promise of steady growth in the future.
In general, online lead generation has five key elements:
Ad copywriting and placement
Return-on-investment (ROI) measurement
Know how to implement these elements in your online marketing plan. Then you can get started in developing your online business.
There are two types of search results that are returned when someone searches online: organic listings and sponsored listings.
"Organic" refers to listings that return naturally -- primarily, because their content is relevant to the search phrase used and because of the listing's popularity.
Sponsored listings, on the other hand, are those placed by advertisers that pay to have their ads appear when a user types in a certain keyword or phrase. Advertisers are charged when a searcher clicks on these ads.
Using Google as an example, let's say that someone types in "commercial mortgage broker." Google will return what it determines to be the most-relevant and -popular organic listings on the left side of the search-engine-results page. Sponsored ads will appear at the top and right sides of the search-results page.
Selecting the right keywords
One keyword-tracking agency found that in January 2008 alone, more than 24,000 online searches used the phrase "commercial loan" on one major search engine. And there are literally thousands of search-phrase variations used in the commercial lending space today.
As such, conducting keyword research is one of the most-important activities you can undertake to generate leads online. Although organic listings are technically free, they are not automatic or guaranteed. If you want to achieve high organic placement, you should invest significant time and energy into keyword research.
Think about potential customers searching for commercial financing online. What keywords might they use to find your Web site or business listing? What is everyone else using?
Some of the common phrases used in tens of thousands of commercial-financing-related searches daily include "commercial real estate financing," "commercial loan broker" and "mortgage broker." More-specific terms may include "medical building loan," "hard-money loan" or "franchise startup loan."
To attract targeted visitors, find out which keywords searchers are using to find Web sites related to your business. Then target those keywords for promotion and optimization.
To get an idea of how much competition that you face for each keyword or phrase, for example, find how many people per month are searching for each particular keyword. Then find out how many competitors are bidding on the keyword and how many paid-search results are returned with the keyword.
There are many free keyword-research tools available (see sidebar on Page 2). But other techniques are crucial to building a keyword list, such as:
Analyzing Web site log files;
Conducting competitive research;
Studying customer communications; and
Researching keywords and phrases on the major search engines.
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