Emerging Technology

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: Don’t waste your money on AdWords

Patrick Stafford /

AdWords are a great way to get business. Cheap and effective, they’re a simple way to get eyes to your website, and are used by businesses both large and small to dominate an industry online.

But you may be using them completely wrong.

Last week, a company called WordStream broke down each industry that spends the most money on AdWords. At the top is the finance industry, followed by retailers, travel and education businesses.

But although these companies might be spending the most, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re spending that money right. As SEO experts point out, you may end up spending a bundle for a very broad keyword like “insurance products” but if you think a little deeper, you can make your money go miles for you.

Instead, localise your content. In place of “insurance products”, type in suburbs and locations, such as “insurance products Gold Coast”. This way, you’re buying cheaper keywords that are more likely to convert into sales.

It’s tempting to go after huge, broad keywords, but they may not get you anything. Start small, and then move outwards, and you may find your sales increase.

Work the supplier relationship

This week the ACCC has taken action against another company it believes is engaging in retail price maintenance. The company, which sells cosmetics, is accused of pressuring two online retailers to sell products at particular prices.

This is an ongoing issue and one the ACCC is taking extremely seriously. Chairman Rod Sims told SmartCompany last month there are a number of investigations ongoing regarding businesses that are putting the boot on retailers to make them keep prices high.

But there’s hope here. Many retailers have said that while some suppliers were hesitant at first to supply online businesses, they’ve eventually come around.

If you’re dealing with suppliers that are putting pressure on you to change online prices, you shouldn’t lose hope. Focus on establishing a relationship with the company. Over time, you may find the pressure begins to ease.

Be captivating with your online content

If you’re making your business through online content or apps, take warning – some new research suggests consumers aren’t as willing to pay as much for it as they did a few years ago.

The new Consumers and Convergence Report from KPMG shows more than 90% of respondents said they didn’t pay to access content, and only 1% said they would if given the option. That figure was originally 11% last year.

The number of people who want to pay for online content and apps is falling. However, there are a growing number of people that would be willing to pay if the content was rich and relevant.

If you’re making your business through apps and online content, you can’t just throw up a paywall and hope it works. Instead, the research suggests a “try before you buy” method may work, or even half and half.

Give your customers a trial for free, and then offer some paid content once they enjoy what you’ve offered. If you charge them straight away, they won’t respond.

Keep remembering to backup

This week, backup provider Acronis revealed a piece of research that found more businesses are realising how important it is to keep your data protected. In fact, the figures showed adoption of virtualisation increased by 21% in the SMB community, while adoption of crisis management and backup techniques doubled.

The survey questioned over 500 Australian respondents, mostly within the SMB market.

This is a clear indication more businesses are figuring how why backups are so important. This cannot be ignored any longer – small businesses have no excuse.

If you haven’t organised a backup method or a way to protect your data in the midst of a crisis, then you have work to do.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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