7 search and display tips for niche products

If the web is a global marketplace, then why is nobody searching for the products you sell? Low volume can't always be solved with more hair product. In terms of digital advertising, low volume will undermine most search engine marketing campaigns before they ever get off the ground. Before you get slapped with an LSV (Low Search Volume, for the uninitiated) and save a lot of money on un-clicked SEM ads, consider spinning your sad twist of fate back in your favor: You're not unwanted, you're just niche.

Niche products and services can be defined as having a small or specialized audience, having perhaps no audience, or being so ahead of the curve that consumers just don't know that they need your product -- yet. Remember, Etsy built its digital brand on aggregating niche products that put a tidy profit in its suede, hand-sewn wallets. Don't give up on digital advertising as a means to sell your niche product. You can do this.

For marketers and digital media buyers of niche products and services, your ideal customer is likely to declare, "I never knew I needed this until you told me I did," or "I never knew such a product existed."

To succeed in digital advertising for a niche product, you really need to accomplish two things. First, utilize digital adverting (in many forms) to explain why your product is needed and by whom, and second, get your search ads in front of the potential customers that have a distilled interest in your product.

In setting your expectations with niche search marketing, consider these points:

  • Take time to do your research and understand the nuances of the niche audience.
  • Experiment and build volumes of data before making knee-jerk changes and reactions.
  • Integrate mainstream products into the mix and drive customers to blended landing pages that feature niche and mainstream products.
  • Everything takes longer. Be patient.
  • Seek quality of leads over volume of leads.

Rely on long-tail keywords

Long distance runners may require certain niche products to support their passion, as is common in many niche sports. Using this as an example, runners often turn to the web to find new products for the care and maintenance of their feet. However, they may not specifically know what they're looking for. As a digital marketer, your target customer may not know your product exists, let alone what to call it in a search scenario. However, customers may find your product in a search for a related product -- perhaps a family of somewhat-related products -- that could have your data analysts mining for gold in the long tail, broad match keyword strategy. Example: Who knew that socks can contain copper ions in the yarn that can kill bacteria and fight fungus? It's true. A runner might search for "socks for long distance runners" triggering a search result for copper socks. While the keywords were not specifically used, a broad match of long tail keywords would suggest that "copper socks" is associated with a family of products a runner may desire -- but never knew existed.

Tailor your ad copy to the solution, not the product name

When prospective customers encounter your search ad -- perhaps as the result of a long-tail keyword association -- they may not immediately tune in to the relevance of the ad to their need if they don't recognize the product name or purpose. For this reason, utilize the ad copy to pitch the solution, not the product name. For example, the ad title: "Relief for Arthritic Feet" could appeal to a runner with arthritic feet that used a term related to arthritis in the long tail of a search. Because foot pain is a common ailment of arthritis sufferers and athletes alike, this could be an ideal grab for a shoe manufacturer.

Try remarketing to bouncers

As a niche marketer, you can't afford to let a single prospect bounce from your website without making a call or a purchase. Make the most out of each visitor by having a remarketing strategy that allows you to continue to advertise to them, long after they've left your website. Remarketing is a relatively new method for using cookies to track prospective customers once they've come and gone from your site. Simply put, a small pixel of code embedded in your site flags the visitor for future advertising efforts and cookies their browser. Once the visitor leaves your site the cookie will continue to trigger your ads (both search and display) wherever your ad network is being utilized.

Use ad copy to relate to your target audience

Some manufacturers of niche products sell to a lucrative, though small audience of loyal customers. Despite your best efforts, this audience may always remain small due to factors beyond your control. (Perhaps you sell a medical solution useful only to people infected with the illness or malady, and customers are temporary until cured.) A customer in this scenario may not be familiar with your brand nor recognize it in an ad. One solution is to tailor your SEM ad copy to speak directly to the buyer, such as "Attention Asthma Sufferers" versus the typically best practices offering calls-to-action, such as "Buy now," "Best price," or naming a medicine manufacturer in the ad such as "Alvesco."

Broad match your keywords

For niche products and services, minimize your use of exact match and branded keywords. This is particularly strategic if you feel your product names are not in your customer's search vernacular. Instead, emphasize broad match and modifiers to do the work. Besides, if your products are truly niche, the organic listings should allow a customer to find you by name, as search results will be low and specific to your brand.

Compliment your search ads with a strong visual display campaign

Long tail keyword conversion may be too slow/low volume of a response for some clients and CMOs. To expedite the move from long tail to keyword specific or even low-cost brand terms, consider pairing your niche campaigns with a powerful display campaign to get your brand introduced to the prospect and to build an association with your niche brand. A strong display campaign can grandfather the terminology set away from long tail and directly to your branded product terms where consumers will know you by name.

Beware of the niche client that doesn't know it is niche

Niche digital marketing is very surgical. Therefore, it's best to council your client and set proper expectations before employing this strategy. The long-tail keywords and specificity of the ad copy will return high-quality customers, though low in number. However, if your client runs a niche product line, chances are the client will already understand. Beware of the client (or CMO) that expects high volume/high quality leads for niche products.

Sandra Leung is search and account manager at TRAFFIQ.

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