September 2011

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Maximizing Google Alerts to Improve Your Marketing

The trick now is not to forget the value of having good positioning statements, but to use today’s technology to gather the data necessary to help produce the right statements to the right audiences.

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor


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In today’s Social Media driven world companies can often become obsessed with Social Media tools in their Marketing Campaigns.  Some will contend that Facebook is the way to generate new business while others will put their money on Linkedin or Twitter.  In my opinion this point could be argued almost indefinitely, but none of these Social Media tools can replace the core marketing concept of Positioning.

Let’s start by looking at what the definition of Positioning is from Wikipedia:

In marketing, positioning has come to mean the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization.

The growth of high-tech marketing may have had much to do with the shift in definition towards competitive positioning. An important component of hi-tech marketing in the age of the world wide web is positioning in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, which can be accomplished through Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO. This is an especially important component when attempting to improve competitive positioning among a younger demographic, which tends to be web oriented in their shopping and purchasing habits as a result of being highly connected and involved in social media in general.

Now looking at that definition as it results to a younger demographics’ purchasing habits is something that all companies need to consider, but as marketers start to apply competitive positioning on the web they run into a problem of words.  How many words can they use to convey a message? Twitter for example limits Tweets to only 140 characters. A standard SMS text message is 160 characters.  A Facebook ad, which must include a title and body, is limited to 25 characters for the title and 135 characters for the body. That means that marketers need to continually develop, and redevelop, a campaign to ensure that they are correctly positioning the statements that they are using to successfully get a user to click.  This click on a link or ad takes a customer to the landing page that you want them to see, and the landing page needs to be intriguing enough to make a customer do one of a few key things: register for something, download something, or request a quote or more information.  This is what is called a conversion in marketing terms.  The campaign converted a prospect into a lead for sales because it convinced a potential customer to tell you who they are, what they want, and how to contact them. 
The entire process sounds simple enough, but it is actually extremely complex.  Due to the accelerated rate of information transfer through the internet, mobile devices, and television; marketers need to capture the attention of a potential customer in around three seconds of them viewing an advertisement.  If anyone reading this article thinks that number is a little off, simply log in to your Facebook page and actually look at the ads on the right hand side.  When was the last time you clicked on one?  Exactly!  That makes the positioning of a particular product more important than ever.

Positioning of products and services is always a challenge for any marketer.  Finding the perfect phrase that will catch the attention of your customers is not always as easy as it appears.  Sure there are some marketers who make it seem completely seamless, but it really is an art form.  That is not to say that there are not tools out there that anyone can use to take their emails, advertising, and product positioning to the next level and the greatest thing of all is that it is absolutely free.

Enter Google Alerts

In my mind Google Alerts have always been extremely under rated.  In previous articles I mentioned how Google Alerts can be used to track and monitor the online presence of their company, their own name, or some of their products.  Essentially any website that Google indexes and searches will pop up in your Google Alert and let you know where you, or your company appears on a particular website.  Then you can simply follow the link and see where it takes you, and what positioning you used in headlines, keywords etc. to get picked up by that website.

When I take on a particular project I will often ask clients for common key words that are used in that particular vertical as search terms to find products or services.  Next I plug these keywords into Google Alerts and wait to see what comes back in returns.  The return of Google Alerts will help identify some of your competitors in a particular niche or vertical.  If one single website or domain name keeps appearing then they are probably the competition.

Now that you know who else is competing for your customers, as a marketer, you can study the way that they have positioned the products that compete with yours.  You can look at their Social Media feeds and ads and develop an effective strategy to ensure that you let customers know that you are different from your competition, and why the differences in your products are better.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Side Tip – A little known tip about Google Alerts that I use a lot is the ability to track who links to your competitor’s website.  By creating a Google Alert using an example search term such as: will essentially enable you with the ability to be notified every time someone links to your competitor’s website.  This can be a very useful tool when looking to see what OEM’s and companies are partnering with whom. Sometimes this function of Google Alerts is overlooked, but I have found it to be extremely useful over the years. 

In the above paragraphs I have talked about how to utilize Google Alerts to essentially “gather intel” about search terms, relevant terms, and your competition.  All this data will come in extremely handy as you craft positioning statements and ads for Social Media websites as it will provide you with the intel about what people are searching for, and how your competition is positioning the features of their products.  

Bonus Features of Google Alerts

Wildcard search – I learned this technique from a webmaster a while back.  If you use an asterix  * when you conduct a Google Search it can represent any word.  What that means is if you make OPC Servers for example, and you want to know what Blogs and Forums are saying about them you can set up a Google Alert based on the search term like:*is the best OPC Server on the market, or you can say *best HMI SCADA System if that is what you are looking for.  Sure you will get a lot of information, but there will be some gems in there.

Answering Questions on Forums – This is a very time consuming endeavor for any marketing team, particularly if you are monitoring external forums and have a limited number of people, and hours in the day.  Leads from this source can be good as the people in forums are asking for help regarding a specific problem that they are having, and your company may provide the solution.  What I’ve done in the past is set up Google Alerts by using questions as the search terms.  Since Google indexes forums, and blogs, if I can use the proper search terms (like the data that I collected earlier in this article) I can get alerts when those questions are asked.  For example: A search term like: “how do I improve my marketing in North America?” will yield companies and individuals looking to either bring products to market in North America, or North American companies who are looking to take their marketing to the next level.  I can simply follow the link, answer the question, and provide them with my contact information and website.  With luck I’ll get a new client.  Be careful with this method because your inbox is going to explode. Using “” quotes will tell Google that you are looking for something specific and you will get a drink from the fire hose. Still it is a valid technique that may bear fruit for some.

This article has talked about how to use Google Alerts to assist in the positioning of products and statements to attract customers and hopefully turn them into leads.  That’s the goal of every ad and campaign that anyone has either written or pushed send on.  The trick now is not to forget the value of having good positioning statements, but to use today’s technology to gather the data necessary to help produce the right statements to the right audiences.


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