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I have been trying to target people in Ohio with Adwords but the volume is very low, even with a 6% CTR (search) on my ads. The reason the volume with Adwords is so low is because that there are not a lot of people searching for this service. Mainly because they have not realized that the service can exist on the net alone.
Adwords is also quite expensive. I typically have to pay 0.50 a click to stay in the top 3. My conversion rate is quite good, around 10%. But the service is cheap and Adwords ends up costing me slightly more money than I make. Which wouldn’t be so bad, the service is the kind of thing people would come back for again and again, if only I could reach “critical mass”.
I’ve tried to do link building but I have basically hit a brick wall. My demographic is extremely wide. Almost anyone living in Ohio has a potential use for this service, including children and old people. Only a handful sites are even related to mine. Those sites are my competition and aren’t willing to link to mine. Most of the hobby type websites which are specific to Ohio have also been reluctant to link to my site. Not because they don’t like the site, but because they don’t want to link to an unrelated web site. Of the Ohio specific directories only a handful are free and those are usually a specific type of directory i.e. Directory of Hotels in Ohio. The business directories all seem to charge and are just too expensive to justify the cost (typically several hundred dollars). In my experience, directories rarely send much traffic anyway.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring in a lot of visitors from a specific state?
there are not a lot of people searching for this service.
No one general solution to this problem; kinda depends on your ability to think out of the box with respect to what you're selling.
For example, given your numbers and knowing zilch about what you're selling, I would possibly try an AdWords test for "ohio state fair". Most of the people searching for that term will be from Ohio, search traffic for it is going to picking up in a couple of months (you can find other seasonal events; this is just an example), and I'm pretty darn sure you can own it for a lot less than $.50/click. Maybe one-tenth that or less.
Given your stated numbers, I would sure be testing a whole lot of different ads. Sometimes a small change in wording can generate a 2x change in response, which sounds like all you need to put you over. $.50/click sounds high -- better ad copy can also get you the same position for less per click.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring in a lot of visitors from a specific state?
Create content that a) Google likes, b) offers something of use to citizens of that state, and c) is highly specific so that it can rank well without a huge amount of effort.
But really, if you're that close to breakeven just using AdWords, I would focus on improving the return and testing a wider keyword net. Sounds like you're close enough that just some persistance and exploration will do it for you.
I will certainly be looking into alternative keyphrases in an attempt to tone down the costs and testing new ad copies. Although, I think the ones I use are already quite good. ;)
Unfortuantely, writing content for the site isn't really much of a consideration. The service is what it is and there is only a little bit to really say about it. It might be worth setting up a site or a blog though that just covers Ohio specific topics.
If the site is new and sandboxed in google my observations are that this is a method for unsandboxing.
State/regional traffic for a term/geo description is small. In many cases the traffic will be dramatically smaller than the national term.
Say the term is "hiking clubs" Traffic volume for Ohio hiking clubs might be 1-5% of the term for hiking clubs. (probably similar to the percentage of the Ohio population to the population of the US or smaller (the world).
Study the heck out of keywords. There is usually a great number of terms related to the number 1 term that searchers use ie; hiking club, hiking clubs, walking clubs, walking groups, etc. etc.
The secondary terms are called the long term. Searchers will search on the long term at a huge amount. Often the sum total of the secondary or long tail terms far outweighs the volume of searches for the single most popular term.
Do extensive keyword research.
I don't think this works as well as it did in the past but in various forums there are endless new directories being advertised. go to digital point forum. Every week there are new directories to add your links to. If the term is relatively non-competitive bls from the directories with proper anchor text may do the trick for google rankings.
Google up sites that take articles and press releases for free. Write an article about this service including the keyword Ohio (several times) and how it's available. This should provide you with more backlinks and it gets picked up over and over.
there are directories out there that provide me free traffic. I only list in free directories and it's really amazing how much traffic I do get from them. Funny that the one that comes up in the top ten in my keyword searches provides the least.
Find forums that discuss Ohio and possibly your service. Participate for a while and see if they edit out dropped urls. If they don't, then drop yours in. If they do, contact the moderator and ask permission first. Sometimes, that's all they want.
Marketing at the Local Level
It's been mentioned above to make sure you have a physical address. I might suggest including that physical address in a standard footer on all pages of the site. It should follow the standard postal format for your country. You should also include a telephone number, 800 number (if available), fax number and a link to contact you (no spiderable email addresses).
Depending on the product and/or service, local ads are a big plus. Those could include newspapers, magazines, local hangouts, cable TV, radio, etc. The possibilities for promoting at the local level are almost limitless.
Some additional tips for local marketing...
Be sure to utilize plenty of local terms throughout your copy and make it look and read naturally. Don't force the terms.
Be sure to use those local terms in links throughout the site.
If you have local business partners, set up pages for them. Not just a link on a page, but an entire page, let them advertise, for free or paid. This is a great way to generate local content while scratching your business partners backs. Hopefully they will reciprocate. If not, don't worry about.
Does the company being promoted have vehicles out and about? If so, get them wrapped and emblazon that web address on the front, sides and back of the vehicle. This is great viral marketing, especially if you have a vehicle that stands out like a sore thumb! When the vehicle is not in use, park it in a high visibility area so the web address is clearly seen.
Local sites are much easier to promote and require less online activity and more traditional activity. Trust me, it pays. I work in both a traditional and online environment and get to combine both strategies as I work mostly with regionally specific clients.
All documents produced by the company should have the web address printed on them in a visible area. It usually is on a line by itself along with a generic email address like sales@ or info@.
Back to the website...
I can't reiterate enough that you need to carefully craft your content to be localized so you can dominate local searches.
Provide a directions page. Link directly to a Google Maps interface with the client address. List four or five different ways that the visitor can arrive to the client location. For example...
If you are coming from the 405 S...
If you are coming from the 5 S...
If you are coming from the 22 W...
If you are coming from the 55 S...
If you are coming from the 73...
Be sure to carefully craft your mapping instructions. Use full street names, city names, etc.
There's much more and I'm sure others are going to share their strategies. :)
You might also work with locally targeted websites: (Local)County.com, if it exists, might be a place to place some ads. I've got a few county domains that people type-in in sufficient volume to interest me in building a local site . . . someday . . when extra time is deposited in my temporal account.
I made an observation about how applying address and phone number seems to work to unsandbox local sites within google.
Actually that is a valid topic within this forum area and possibly for a different thread.
There are comments within this forum about a google patent for local websites. Check the references. There is a thread at cre8asite that references the google patent and discusses it. Check it out.
The topic deserves mention within this forum which is the most active forum for local optimization I have found.
I'll address the unsandboxing observations separately.
Regardless, the wide suggestions made above do work.
the service is the kind of thing people would come back for again and again, if only I could reach “critical mass”.
Can you get customers to buy more than one 'go' at the service at one time?
For example, when I get digital photos developed online, I can pay in advance (at a reduced rate) for a bulk load of photos, then gradually use up the credit on a number of small photo orders over time. I.e. they want to lock me in, but they're willing to give me a reduced price if I'll accept that.
Can you get customers to buy more than one 'go' at the service at one time?
That's an interesting idea but not really quite right for my site.
A big thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. There's certainly a lot of good information in this thread. One thing I discovered today was that advertsing on local newspapers' websites is often much cheaper than advertising in the paper itself. Most the ones I checked out had cheap CPM rates for anything other than the home page. That's a good way to brand yourself.
Where I live, local news agencies are often talk a lot about trust. Having an ad on a site that the users trust can lend more credibility to your own site.
Having an ad on a site that the users trust can lend more credibility to your own site.
Most definitely and trust is one of those top factors for local buyers.
Take care of them first time around and the ball starts rolling from there.
"Hey Mick, where'd ya get that from?"
"Oh, go to dubdubdub..."
Another thing about Ads. You can't just run them once or for short periods. Longer durations, multiple ads, 3, 6, 9 months, etc. When it comes to traditional marketing in magazines and such, you typically run the ad from 4-6 times before seeing the results, it's that trust factor you mention.
If the subscriber sees the ad in one issue, they may think nothing of it. If they see it again in another issue, it might catch their attention. Third issue, their looking to see where you are. Fourth issue, their calling to learn more about the product or they are online reviewing your website. Fifth issue, their probably ready to buy and they've already familiarized themselves with your company and product. Here come the sales!
Operator, this is an emergency!
There's an old disco song with that phrase. It just came to mind as I was thinking about operators on duty. Local buyers want more of a personal touch. You'd be suprised at the sheer number of locals who are going to pick up the phone and call you as opposed to using the website. We still haven't made that transition into a total trust environment and there is a generation out there that absolutely needs to talk to a real live person during normal working hours.
Put those phone numbers in the visitor's face and make sure you have someone answering the phones during the times you specify. And yes, you'll want to list your hours of operation along with your daily time schedule. If you are open on weekends, THAT IS A BIG PLUS!
Think about adding a LiveChat feature. Yes, they do work and visitors better see you online during the hours you say your online. Repeat visitors will notice and will use the interface if they have a question.
One suggestion would be to write articles on your site related to news or activities in your state. If you can somehow relate current events in your state to your service, then you're golden. Find out what is popular in your state right now and write information related to that topic. If you can advertise on Adwords , then you'll get very cheap traffic. Be sure to provide a link to you service, of course!
Also, advertising on local news websites can be a cost effective way to promote your service. Most of them are pay per impression, but your looking for brand/service awareness right now. Don't worry about running a short term deficit. If your service is useful, then "word of mouth" will kick in and you'll be doing great.
...but a direct mail campaign to every address in a zip code is quite inexpensive. Think a newsprint flyer...
Really? I guess I might be behaving differently then the majority of the people. Once I pick up mail from my mailbox, anything that is not an envelope or post card goes straight to trash (I even don’t look at it since there is usually a lot of ‘junk’). Then the second round of filtering begins – any cc offers go to shredder, and anything else that I deem junk (usually takes me 1s per piece of mail to decide). The rest of the mail I will actually look at.
What I did notice that works, for me, is if I find a flyer on my front door’s doorknob. It forces me to actually take it and I end up look at it. So for an example if a (local) restaurant is sending out their menu, and they mail the flyer it will end up in trash bundled with the rest of ‘junk’ (without even looking at it). However if it’s on my doorknob, most of the time I’ll save it for the time when I am in the mood to order it.
I wander how much ‘doorknob’ service actually costs., i.e someone to distribute your fliers.
Someone already touched on this, but a direct mail campaign to every address in a zip code is quite inexpensive.
Ah, the Shotgun Approach, or the Throw it against the wall and see what sticks approach. Both are effective if the product and/or service warrants that type of marketing.
My traditional career revolves around advertising and marketing, that's my bread and butter. I've been involved in a host of mail campaigns since 1990. I see what works and what doesn't based on industry.
For those who do not qualify for the Shotgun approach, the next option is to focus on those trade magazines. These are double optin subscribers and a very targeted audience. You can't get much more targeted than an industry magazine.
I always recommend full page right facing ads if available and if budget permits. I recommend at least running the ad in six issues (if monthly). Use custom URIs and email addresses for tracking (this is a must).
When coming at this from the Shotgun approach, there is a limited trust factor. And, if you do them bulk mail (third class), most are going into the bin, especially with larger companies that have mailrooms. Use a first class live stamp for maximum sub-conscious impact.
Definitely a great concept and one that I promote to my local clients. We've taken it a step further and in some instances have included a detachable business card, refrigerator magnet, calendar, etc. This takes the effectiveness of the campaign to a new level. Almost everyone will take a magnetic fridge calendar and put it up. Especially if it is usable and doesn't contain an over abundance of marketing lingo. These are great for restaurants or anything where the user references it on a regular basis.
A sure way to get your recipients' attention is to go the extra mile and do something totally different from what everyone else is doing. A plastic envelope. Frosted with tone on tone colors. High quality materials that cause oohs and aahs from the recipient. First impressions are lasting ones. Do it right the first time around! ;)
Of course all of the above is relative to the product and/or service. If the product is high dollar, you'll spend the extra bucks to produce a high impact mail campaign.
If the product and/or service is low dollar, you'll opt for the inexpensive post card, door hanger type campaigns.
For high dollar products, you can't use the inexpensive approach to marketing your products if you expect to attract the high quality buyer with money burning a hole in their pocket! :)
I doubled my earnings by building pages targeted to the major metro areas. I found that the same people who are looking for (in your case) Ohio whatevers are also looking for Columbus, Cincinnatti, Cleveland, etc. whatevers.
I have taken it down far below the really giant cities, but there is a point where the traffic does not support the effort.
A little research at the Census Bureau also helped. In some cases, Alphaville has just the same demographics as your statewide audience; while Betaville is so different you might as well avoid it.
This is an interesting thread. Thanks for starting it.