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Natural Search Seen As A "Growth Area" As Local Search And Mobile Search Gain Traction In UK Markets

Jul 8, 2008
British online marketing consultants recently released their "Online Lead Generation 2008", detailing business attitudes regarding the effectiveness of natural search, paid advertising (pay-per-click) and e-mail marketing in generating consumer leads. A whopping 94% of the businesses polled indicated that generating online consumer leads through online marketing and Internet advertising was seen as a "growth area".

The size of this number indicates just how bullish the business community has become about the rise of e-commerce and the efficiencies and effectiveness of online marketing to consumers who are evermore comfortable making purchases and purchase decisions online. Despite, or perhaps because of stalling economic growth across much of North America and Europe, there has been a significant shift to near unanimity in seeing online marketing as an advertising/marketing strategy that is here to stay. Last year, only 84% of respondents indicated that they viewed online marketing as a growth area.

Natural search, the process by which search engine optimization specialists configure web pages, page content and the Internet's web domain to ensure that a web page is ranked and displayed prominently in the search results on Google, Yahoo! and other search engines was seen as the top means of generating online customer leads, followed closely by sponsored advertising (the pay-per-click advertisements that appear as "sponsored results" on Google) and e-mail marketing. Interestingly, although natural search was seen as outperforming pay-per-click, businesses still spent more of their resources on pay-per-click Internet advertising,

How to proceed with online marketing is becoming perhaps the business-critical for small businesses as consumers switch to their laptops and mobile phones for information about local products and services and the effectiveness of advertising in traditional print, TV and radio diminishes. Recent polling results released by Nielsen/NetSurvey in conjunction with WebVisible show that 86% of internet users search for local products and services online - up from the 70% of internet users who were looking for local products and services over the Internet in 2007.

And looking is turning to buying - not only online, but offline as well. The Nielsen/NetSurvey/WebVisible results show that 90% of the consumer transactions that were initiated through online local searches were completed offline. Evermore technologically proficient consumers and search engine programs that are increasing the ability of consumers to find local products online quickly and easily - be it a local movie listing, restaurant or apparel shop - either from home or from a new generation of mobile phones with GPS technology that pinpoints the consumers geographic location in real time is changing the way people shop.

Consumer research released this month by JupiterResearch supports the view that more and more consumers are turning to the Internet as a preferred method for finding the goods and services they wish to purchase. Polling results from JupiterResearch indicate that there is a 1:6 ratio between purchases made online and offline purchases that are initiated by consumers researching the product or service purchased online.

Given these trends, it is no wonder that businesses large and small are turning their attention to online marketing as an area with potentially huge growth. That companies are still spending more on their pay-per-click advertising rather than focusing their efforts and resources on natural search and search engine optimization is likely an indication of a lag in response to changing consumer behaviour.

The most popular categories of products and services that consumers are currently searching for online tend to be larger ticket items, according to survey results released by Opinion Research Corporation. Over eighty percent of persons searching for goods online reported searching for travel, recreation and leisure goods as well as electronic goods, while fifty-five per cent reported researching clothing and automotive products, while only 24 per cent reported searching for food products. However, with the rising predominance of local search and burgeoning mobile search by consumers tapping into the trend towards smart phones with Internet search capability, online marketing seems destined to become a top marketing tool, if not the top marketing tool, for companies large and small as the responses of businesses to the E-consultancy/Media-Clash online lead generation survey indicate.
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