Kerry and Patricia McNamara spent years planning out their retirement years. “Patricia was raised in Savannah Georgia,” said Kerry, “and we decided years ago that when I retired, sink the retirement money into a small Irish restaurant there.” They found the perfect location for their new restaurant, bought a small home with a view of the Savannah River, and six weeks after Kerry received his gold watch, their new restaurant was open for business. Two months after that, they were in danger of losing their business, their home and their retirement dreams.
“We soon found that the restaurant market is pretty flooded in Savannah,” said Patricia. “We worked so hard. We put fliers on doors, bought a billboard, took out advertisements in the newspaper. We had a detailed marketing plan,” said Kerry, a dejected look on his face. “We were kidding ourselves. The world had changed, and our plans were for a different time. We quickly realized that we just had no idea what we were doing, and that nearly cost us the business.”
Kerry and Patricia made a common mistake. They knew about the traditional means of marketing, but they had never heard of search engine optimization, and that is how marketing is done in a digital economy. Shoppers these days are deciding where to eat based on internet searches and reviews more than newspapers and billboards. Particularly in a crowded market like Savannah, Kerry and Patricia needed their website to stand out, and they had not planned on doing any online marketing. The only thing that kept them from losing their restaurant was their savvy decision to bring in a social media reseller to move their brand up to the top page of searches for Savannah restaurants.
“I had no idea what search engine optimization was, but I soon got quite the education,” said Kerry. He learned that 79 percent of people say they click on natural search results. 80 percent actually avoid the sponsored search results. Lesson number one was you can not buy your way onto the first page of a search. He also learned how ineffective his earlier marketing was, as traditional advertising only has a 1.7 percent close rate, compared with an Seo close rate of 14.6 percent.
“With search engine optimization,” said Patricia, “we are now able to reach the 93 percent of customers who start web surfing with a search engine. We learned that on average, 39 percent of a business comes from net searches, and we were not getting them.” They hope to continue to stay ahead of the trends. “Our Seo reseller is teaching us about tablets and smartphones and how we can use them to get customers,” said Kerry. “We will not make the same mistake again.”