Are Your Search Terms an Epic Gift or a Disappointing Downer?

Woman opens birthday gift
There's just something special about giving gifts. Whether it's for an anniversary, birthday, Christmas or just because, making somebody's day with the perfect gift is just as good as receiving one.

We're willing to bet you love seeing the reaction of somebody important opening a gift you put a lot of thought and effort into. But, of course, sometimes gifts fall flat, and it can be pretty disappointing if the recipient doesn't like your gift.

Giving gifts is a bit like optimizing your website for search engines. Are the people you love (customers) going to get what they're looking for? Are they going to like it? What happens if they don't?

Here are some search engine optimization (SEO) tips if you need a little help giving the right gift.

Do Some Research

What do they want? Jewelry makes a nice gift, but so do power tools. If you want to get somebody a special gift, you need to listen for some hints they might drop or do some research on things they like. All the good intentions in the world can go sour if you give a gift that wasn't well thought out and they don't like it.

When you want to make your website a premium search engine destination, do some research about what your potential customers might be looking for. Do they frequently use questions in the search bar? Are they looking for specific products and services, or are their searches more broad? Use what you learn to come up with the terms most likely to generate traffic to your website.

Make Them Look Good

You don't wrap a gift in newspaper or leave it in a brown paper bag — unless the gift is for your grouchy uncle and you didn't really want to buy him anything anyway. The wrapping paper might get torn up and thrown away, but a nice-looking gift can remind the recipient that you care enough to put effort into how it's wrapped.

You need to package your search terms nicely if you want them to actually do their job. A block of text with random search terms mixed in won't tell anybody what your company can do. The terms need to flow with your content seamlessly so potential customers can actually get useful information from you website.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you try to get the perfect gift and wrap it up nicely, you still get that empty "Thanks!" paired with a halfhearted smile. Somebody might need soap, but that can be a disappointing gift compared to what they really wanted. The important thing is you need to recognize your gift-giving failure and do better next time.

While a loved one will (hopefully) still love you if you get them soap as a gift, SEO that doesn't generate traffic is much more costly. The good news is that there are ways for you to measure your SEO impact. Be sure you're using a service that can show you what people are searching for when they land on your website. Being able to tie those search terms to conversions is an even bigger plus.

Giving gifts is great, but a successful SEO strategy can make it feel like your birthday every day. How do you measure the impact of your SEO? Let us know in the comments.

Bringing Balance to Your Marketing: Loyalty vs. Acquisition

Scale with money
In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, it was believed that Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the two sides of the Force. When it comes to your marketing, are you balancing your existing customers with your quest for new customers?

More than 10 years after the Star Wars prequel trilogy concluded with (spoiler alert!) Anakin becoming Darth Vader, people still debate about what "bring balance to the Force" actually means and whether Anakin/Vader fulfilled the prophecy or not. The debate over whether customer loyalty or customer acquisition is more important has been just as cloudy, leaving business owners wondering how to balance the two — or if they should be balanced at all.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each side of this marketing debate and how we can bring balance to the brand.

Customer Loyalty

Pro: The 80/20 rule has been around for more than 100 years and has been used to claim that 80 percent of a company's sales come from 20 percent of its customers. The rule is the cornerstone for many customer loyalty programs that are designed to make sure the customers who purchase the most continue doing so. If your most loyal customers are a crucial part of your revenue stream, why wouldn't you offer them incentives and make them feel valued?

Con: When you're planning on launching a loyalty program, be sure you know the associated costs and if the potential revenue is worth the investment. Does an expensive app that occasionally gives away a free product, prize or discount lead to more revenue? Depending on your industry, loyalty might not mean what you think it does.

Byron Sharp's book "How Brands Grow" was released in 2005 and used data to dispel some of the notions businesses have long had about customer loyalty. More recently he said, "We are loyal switchers. We don't feel disloyal to Kellogg's if we buy another cereal." Basically, don't put all of your cereal in one bowl when it comes to who you're targeting — because they won't always purchase from you.

Customer Acquisition

Pro: While loyal customers might be the cornerstone of your business, you can't make your building bigger without adding more bricks. New customers are still a critical revenue stream whether they end up being hyper-loyal or not. You didn't get that loyal 20 percent without acquiring new customers to begin with. Plus, new customers are needed to sustain growth.

Con: Acquiring new customers is expensive compared to retaining existing customers. Because you've already earned their trust, existing customers are much more likely to buy from you, reducing marketing expenses in the process. According to the book "Marketing Metrics," the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent. That means you'll probably see less return on your marketing campaigns targeted at new customers.

Finding Balance

Maintaining loyal customers is important, but as you can see, balancing who you target can be a critical part of growing your business. While conventional thinking and research indicates that there's more revenue to be gained from loyal customers, you simply can't ignore future revenue streams, and loyalty programs can be expensive. Loyalty can also be fickle even with incentives.

To find the balance that works for your marketing, be sure you know where your revenue is coming from. Track incoming calls and web traffic from your various campaigns and sort them based on whether you were targeting existing or new customers. Once you know the value of each and every conversion, you can better balance your efforts.