Taking a Second Look at Search Marketing

Search marketing has become a very effective data acquisition channel for targeting audiences and driving revenue. It is the largest slice of the online advertising pie generating $35 billion in revenue yearly. It continues to progress as advertisers add mapping, site links, call tracking, location-based targeting, and day-part segmentation to their campaigns. Moreover the evolution of the market means capturing and analyzing the data that each channel generates becomes a pre-requisite for marketing success.
As online marketing transitions to become more social and localized, marketers with the right data aggregation and analytic solutions can be assured that their efforts will become more efficient and streamlined enabling them to drive the best ROI.
Success drives competition. More and more advertisers are vying for the search audience, which increases paid search rates. To maximize spend, they are leveraging search professionals to benefit from advanced technology like bid management and call tracking to generate and optimize cost effective keyword portfolios.
Advertisers are also taking advantage of the growing local market with Google Places. This is a sound strategy considering that close to 300,000 businesses are on Google to bolster their local search presence.Mobile searches conducted on Android grew 300% in the first half of 2010 alone. With social, local and mobile, there are more places for search advertisers to advertise. Winning search will demand leveraging expertise in all search enabled platforms.
In terms of PPC and organic search, coordinated programs produce better results. I recently read “Marketing in the Age of Google” by Vanessa Fox and in it she highlighted case studies showing that combining paid and SEO drove higher click-through rates, conversion rates and revenue.
Increasing numbers of brands are incorporating social into their search marketing mix. That’s absolutely a good thing. They understand that social users are more likely to trust their friends than brand advertisers. Social search can capture user intent and improve the relevancy of search results. However, brands have to shift their thinking slightly from solely measuring engagement to measuring their desired ROI. To quantify returns on your social search investment, it’s critical to align with professionals who can help you determine the right metrics to analyze for your particular industry and business objectives.
Also, I think brands are too quick to dismiss tracking offline activity. According to Forrester Research conducted for 2009, $917 billion in retail sales were “Web influenced” as opposed to $155 billion sales carried out online. This means that user searches drove consumers to call centers or storefronts. The significance of this study shouldn’t be overlooked. It suggests search marketing can influence not only the digital space but offline markets as well.
Bottom line for brand marketers is that if they want to capture market share from the competition, they must capture the data from all consumer engagement channels (search, social, mobile, local, store fronts, call centers, etc.), which will help them understand and optimize their marketing efforts.
Jonathan Shapiro is CEO of MediaWhiz.

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