Insights into online marketing can come from strange quarters, even from strange recipes. Bear with me while I tell a story that began at a wedding reception in Toronto a few months ago. I was standing beside a delicious buffet served in a wonderful Canadian garden when a young lady asked me if I had ever heard of turducken.
Why did she ask me? Did the rate at which I was consuming bacon wrapped chicken livers suggest I’d be a turducken aficionado? Perhaps she mistook my gray hair as a sign of wisdom (actually, it’s just a sign of advancing age). In fact, until she uttered the word, I had never heard of turducken. But I didn’t want her to know that, so I bluffed: “Turducken? In what context?”
(For all I knew, Turducken could be the name of a band, or a dance, or something you do in night clubs when you’re not dancing. The last thing I wanted to do was appear uncool. I mean, if the kids were going turducken later, I wanted to be invited along.)
Fortunately, my bluff was not called. A handsome young guest, whose cool factor was apparently not in doubt simply blurted out, “What’s a turducken?” That’s when the young lady said: “Turducken is a chicken cooked inside a duck cooked inside a turkey.”
In a further stroke of luck the young man decided this turducken thing was a hoax and he began to question the lady’s sincerity. That gave me a chance to whip out my Treo and Google it, earning several cool points as I flashed the result with great chivalry. The young lady was right. Google had spoken. Turducken is real.
And so the story would have ended, were it not for two things: my wife’s health, which has not been too good lately; and Thanksgiving, which kind of crept up on us this year. That is why, a few days ago, I was sitting at my computer wondering: “What could Stephen cook for Thanksgiving dinner?” In the past I’ve managed to cook several chickens; a few Christmases ago I roasted a goose, but to be honest I have never tackled a Thanksgiving turkey. That’s when turducken came to mind!
So I Googled it. As expected, the search results were sprinkled with words that suggested one could order turducken online, for immediate delivery, pre-cooked if necessary. Indeed, it looked like several vendors were vying for my turducken business. So I began to click away.
And that’s when I found the turducken disconnect. If you are trying to sell turducken online, anyone who searches for turducken and clicks on your paid search placement should be greeted by what? Yes! Turducken. It doesn’t have to be an animated turducken. It doesn’t have to be a talking turducken. It doesn’t even need to be a specially-priced turducken (although that could be a good way to convert first-time visitors into first time buyers). The point is, we should see a turducken not a sausage. And we shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to find our search target. Most online shoppers are not lazy, they’re just busy. If I Google turducken, show me your turducken and I may well order one.
Now, I realize that turducken is not, as yet, a major segment of the online food market. So is it fair to pick on fledgling online retailers who haven’t yet learned to hook their search engine marketing efforts to custom landing pages and behavior-based visitor-metrics? Maybe it’s not fair, but the turducken disconnect is not confined to regional cuisine.
When I Googled “cooked turkey” I got a paid ad proclaiming “Roasted Turkey…Gourmet Prepared Turkeys. Memorable Meals since 1957.” It took me to a page totally bereft of turkeys. Of course, it’s not just online food retailing that suffers from this problem. Time and again when shopping online I click a search result that leads me to a page only vaguely connected to my search string.
Given the amount of money companies are spending to be at the top of the search result stack, it’s a real pity they don’t spend just a little more on converting that initial click into an engagement, a conversation, and a better chance at conversion. Merchants who don’t keep an eye on what happens post-click are not going to get results as good as those who do.
And thus endeth the fable.
The moral is hopefully clear.
Don’t waste your money on search results
If you don’t know how to take it from there.