SEM for emerging markets

by Donna Fontenot December 15th, 2006 

Over the years, I've occasionally wondered what it would be like to do search marketing in other countries – especially those that aren't on the cutting edge. Today, I got that question answered by an SEM firm based out of Portugal. What follows is their story. Thanks for sending it to me, btw.

Why invest in SEM in small to medium European markets

According to SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, the investment in SEM in the US will reach 11 billion dollars in 2011.

Let's face it. When it comes to new technologies and adjusting to new technology, no one can beat the US. It's a very big market and there is an infrastructure built to progress new ideas and especially to invest in new industries.

The "start up" never works that well outside the US, and most of the time it's not even because of financial matters. Americans think "future" always, even when they vote conservatively.

So SEM seemed a logical thing when search engines gained importance in the sales process. People research things online – people will shop more and more online or at least will make decisions based on web research.

But that's easy.

Let's talk SEM in emerging markets.

When should one begin to think about SEO and PPC? Does it really pay to advertise online, when most of the country you are targeting does not use the Internet for shopping? Or when parents there are hesitant to discover the online world, because they still look at the tv remote with suspicion?

When you talk about the UK, France or Germany the problem isn't the same. But let's consider much smaller and underdeveloped markets: Portugal, Greece, etc…

Portuguese advertising marketI can speak about the Portuguese market because our company is Portuguese. We are considering other markets, but for now we have to stay within the confines of Portugal.

When we have a meeting with a potential client, imagine a hotel manager, we try to make him realize the benefits of investing online. He can attract custumers at a very low cost, his website should work 24/7 in that task and he should be proactive in influencing people's minds when they search for hotels near his.

He immediately looks at us and asks the killer question: "do people search for hotels online?".

We nod yes with a nervous smile. Sure they do.

Maybe not a lot of them, but some do. We can even tell you roughly how many. And you can think about attracting foreign costumers at a low cost. And we can provide estimates; promise certain results, concrete objectives. Do other marketing campaigns give you that? As a cool side effect, your brand image will get a makeover.

Hum… he looks interested, but unconvinced.

To give you an idea, the online advertising investment in Portugal was a mere 30 million euros in 2005 (23 million dollars). 5 million euros (3.8 million dollars) in PPC ads.

No wonder the hotel manager is reluctant. No one invests in online marketing!

So why should he?

Two words: "Low, Low cost". Ok, three words. Sure, our market is small, but that means you can have a dominant position with a smaller investment. And if you look forward, the market will grow, and your company will be prepared. If you play your online cards right, you will be a leader.

The risk is very small too. PPC can be done with very low budgets, as low as 1 euro a day (3.8 dollars). Yes, that's for the entire daily budget, not just a keyword. That's emergent markets for you…

Low cost = big results. That's our pitch.

And even if the costs are low, we, as an SEM company will make sure they will get even lower. And that the right keywords are researched, contents created, new customers attracted.

In 2006 the growth of online adverting in Portugal will be 26%. That's massive. Above European average.

Did he know that people that research for the keyword "holidays in Lisbon" could be interested in hotels? He didn't. But they are. We recommend a landing page with info about the city, interesting tourist routes, where to eat, what shows to see…

He likes the idea.

We have experience doing SEO and PPC in the Portuguese market. We even do Spanish PPC. So rest assure – we tell him – we'll deliver you results, measurable results in a short time and we have a long term plan for your online future.

He finally looks convinced and smiles.

The nervous smile comes off our faces and we shake hands. It's difficult to get clients for SEM in Portugal, but it will only get easier in the future.

As for all emergent markets, the difficulty local SEM companies go through are not that different. First educate your potential customer and he will understand your pitch. He should, because you give added value to his business, that's your role.

At the end of the day, he will have a smile on his face.

Slowly he will gain more custumers online. And when the market is mature, he will think in disbelief how he didn't see how important online adverting would become.

N. H.
SEO consultant.
www.searchmarketing.pt

If you speak Portuguese, check out this site about SEO: http://esquilloseocontest.home.sapo.pt/

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