May 16, 2007

How adding usability can create marketing relevance

You may have heard: vertical businesses are the new trend for e-commerce - thanks to their natural advantage in niche marketing. While a large scope, horizontal, business can do anything a small vertical can – it is much more SEO/marketing intensive.

The new horizontal stores I see these days always have one thing in common: a lack of relevant content for both browsers and Google. In the past, when metatags were more important, these stores performed well in the search engines. And at the time, they were relevant to what the users wanted.

But as the internet continuously grows; Google continuously finds new ways of identifying the most relevant content for its users. Relevance by itself is not enough for your business to succeed these days – you must be able to communicate that relevance at faster than light. For this reason, it is imperative you match your navigation, titles, and page headlines exactly with what the visitor is searching for.

Sites like this have no chance of advertising via Google anymore - not even for PPC advertising. Why? It is just a laundry list of products; none being named after keywords users are typing in.

How many people do you think are typing in the category headline: ' Skin & body cosmetics'?

Answer: 0

How about the headline on the product page: Indulona Antibacterial


The 800+ customers searching for 'anti aging cream' everyday will never find this store through google; even though, they sell that exact product. Too bad this store didn't conduct any keyword research when planning their information architecture :(

What if your information architecture is just to vast? Well, in that case, I recommend adding another navigation scheme:

Now we have two navigation schemes. 1) clicking on the product names to the left 2) browsing through the category image pages. Remember, different users browse in different ways, take a look at Victoria Secret's website if you want elaboration.

Aside from increasing usability; this type of category page gives you more marketing latitude and opens up the doorway to countless niche markets. In addition, Search engine marketing, and PPC marketing are once again possible to compete in.

Example of a landing page that exploits a new marketing niche

For that brave spammer out there who has sent me 5 billion unsolicited Viagra emails in the past 10 months. You will be part of my spam box always…

Unfortunately, I don’t think my spammer friend ever achieved the 0.00036% conversion rate typical of SPAM email. Considering a competitor using PPC advertising would convert traffic ten to hundred thousand times better than him: does he even have a chance of breaking into the industry? The answer is no. The only businesses that profit from Spam are the bulk email companies peddling it.

Is there any chance for an underdog to compete in the online Viagra market? After all, several hundreds of companies compete over the keywords of Viagra and erectile dysfunction. That online niche is completely filled to capacity.

To find a new online niche for Viagra; it will be necessary to uncover a traffic stream with needs that are met by the benefits of Viagra. To find such a traffic stream: conduct some keyword research and scrutinize the different keyword phrases being Googled.

Keyword Research for Viagra

Current niches

  • Viagra ~ 1.4 million
  • Erectile dysfunction ~ 350k

Untapped niche markets

  • Making love ~ 200k
  • Kama Sutra ~ 1 million
  • Sex position ~ 500K

Next step is creating a relevant landing page for each of these search terms. We are going to illustrate this with the keyword ‘Kama Sutra’. Although Viagra may not be a relevant product to everyone searching for 'Kama Sutra’; the non existent PPC demand for this keyword means dirt cheap advertising and a superior ROI.

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Enjoy sex on a new plane and take Kama Sutra farther than ever before. Discounted Viagra empowers you for a new level of love so strong that it will burn itself into your memory.

Untapped marketing niches can be found everywhere on the net. Although it is hard for us to see right now; e-commerce is still in its adolescence and is immature when compared to conventional retail. After all, keywords are scarcer than even the trendiest retail stores.