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RELEVANCE
by: Cary Christian

 

There are certain concepts in business and marketing that are so esoteric they do not receive a lot of attention.  They are usually mentioned in passing during discussions of more well-known topics, but rarely are examined in terms of their pervasive influence on everything you do.  This is because they are utterly simple in concept.  So simple, their application is often overlooked when business plans and strategies are put into place.

 

Relevance is one such concept.

 

Of course, everyone knows that their business or product must be relevant to a customer's needs before that customer will show interest.  Most online marketers know that keywords used to describe their website must be relevant to their content.  Intuitively people understand that the subject of an email should be relevant to what is discussed in the body.  You probably will not see a cooking site plastered with pictures of golf courses or computers.

 

Most people do understand the concept of relevance and apply it properly in general terms to their business operations.  So where is it that people go wrong?

 

Consider the search engines, including the pay-per-click varieties.  People become so engrossed in maximizing traffic that they resort to "tricks" to get more.  Granted, most of the search engines will not give any advantage to your site if your search terms are totally irrelevant, but what about the borderline?

 

Let's say you are searching to find the symptoms of an allergic reaction to a new medication your Doctor prescribed for you.  You navigate to Google and type in your search term.  You get thousands of hits, of course, and begin wading through them looking for the information you need.  What you find are lots of sites advertising medications that contain virtually no information on allergic reactions other than possibly a manufacturers blasť warning that tells you absolutely nothing.  How do you feel after visiting ten or fifteen of these sites and you're still no closer to finding the information you require?

 

I realize searching can be an art, and if your search term is not properly crafted, your results will not be as targeted.  But many of these sites will appear in the search because they have bid on the keywords you're searching for.  When someone bids on "allergic reaction to medication" because they sell medications online, they fully understand that you will not find the information you are searching for when you reach their site.  They just want to get you there under the mistaken assumption that a certain number of these visits will result in sales.  They are bidding on every keyword or phrase that comes anywhere close to their product even if it takes a massive stretch to get there.

 

Tricks like these represent self-defeating behavior.  People get so caught up in generating traffic that they misapply the concept of relevance and are oblivious to the associated penalty that results.

 

How can anyone believe that they are going to make a sale or make someone want to do business with them when that person has obviously been tricked into wasting their time?  Imagine it as a conversation between a customer and a pharmacist:

 

Customer: "I'm breaking out in welts and sometimes my eyes get so swollen I can't see.  My Doctor just put me on Quinine.  Could that be the problem?"

 

Pharmacist: "Hey, we sell Quinine!  In fact, we have the best price in town?  Why don't you transfer your prescription to us?"

 

The customer is going to wonder if the pharmacist has been dipping into the drug supply!  It's no different online.

 

Unless you keep the concept of relevance in the forefront of your thinking, it's easy to make this type of mistake.  You are always being told to bid on as many keywords as possible related to your product to get adequate coverage.  That advice is valid.  Just don't take it to the point where you're bidding on irrelevant keywords.

 

Your business has a theme.  Your website takes its theme from your business.  The content on your site follows this theme.  Your search engine listings and any other advertising you do are based on your content.  And so it goes all up and down the line.  Relevance is everything to the customer.  They are looking for a product or information that will solve a particular problem they have right now.  Provide what they need and they will love you, buy from you, bookmark you and come back for more.  Trick them into wasting their time and they are lost to you forever.

 

On top of that hefty penalty, you PAID for the advertising that drove them away!  You control your costs using the concept of relevance also.  Rather than make your advertising, especially your paid advertising, as broad as you can, focus it intensely on what you are able to provide.  Use it to more finitely target the visitors you are attracting to your site.  The volume of visitors to your site is not what generates sales; it's the volume of well-targeted visitors to your site that matters.  What's the use of having 100,000 visitors if your sales conversion ratio is 1 in 1,000?  You have to pay for the 999 out of 1,000 that do not buy just as you do the one who does.

 

Let's assume you are using a PPC engine to generate traffic and you do not target at all.  Your goal is to get as many visitors as possible to your site.  You get the 100,000 visitors at 10 cents each for a total cost of $10,000.  You make 100 sales (1 in 1,000) of a product at $50 each.  You made $5,000 but it cost you $10,000.

 

Instead, you intensely target your PPC listings, and pay a little more to do so, and get only 5,000 visitors at 20 cents each for a total cost of $1,000.  Your sales conversion improves to 1 in 100 visitors, so you make 50 sales of your $50 product.  You made $2,500 and it only cost you $1,000.  Using relevance to target your market made you a $1,500 profit and worked out $6,500 better overall.

 

I realize that this is just an example, but it will always work this way.  Highly relevant targeting of your advertising efforts will generate more goodwill, more customers, more REPEAT customers, lower costs and more profit.  Always.

 

 
© Copyright 2003
 

 


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