Search: Why It Matters More Now Than Ever

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Synopsis — Search has become such a vital link in the chain linking end-users to the products and services they want or need that is difficult to remember a time when it wasn’t there. In this article, Robert J. Murray of iProspect  discusses the inextricable link between certain parts of the marketing ecosystem and search. With surveys carried out by iProspect showing that over two-thirds (67%) of online users are there as a result of an offline channel, and that 39% of those offline-influenced searchers wind up converting, it’s clear that marketers need to be sure to support offline initiatives (TV, radio, print, direct mail, display, etc.) with search.

Rob not only discusses the interaction between offline and search, but includes some useful tips on how to capitalize on this relationship. In tough economic times, coupled with an incredibly competitive landscape, it’s imperative that small business in particular pay attention to every part of the marketing ecosystem if they are to be successful in competing for the limited dollars out there.

The complete article follows …

Search: Why It Matters More Now Than Ever

In today’s economy, efficiency is a top priority as marketers strive to accomplish more with less. At the same time, search lies at the center of the marketing ecosystem and is ideally suited to help marketers with this goal. How so? Whether marketers invest in TV, radio, print, direct mail, display — or all of the above – they are essentially doing one thing: creating demand. In turn, that demand generates a lot of searches.

Fortunately, search is the most highly effective means for capturing the demand marketers create via their other efforts. As a result, it has the power to improve the efficiency of each of these other channels. In fact, iProspect research shows that 67% of online users are driven to search by an offline channel, and that 39% of those offline-influenced users ultimately convert. In other words, marketers who fail to support their offline initiatives with search stand to miss out on two-thirds of their audience and a sizeable conversion rate. But the close tie with search is hardly limited to offline. iProspect research also shows that 27% of Internet users who initially respond to online display advertising do so by launching a search rather than directly clicking on the ad. Clearly, media creates the demand, and search captures it.

Surprisingly, search’s ability to capture demand goes beyond what’s generated by a marketer’s other channels. Specifically, search also allows marketers to capitalize on their competition’s media spend. For instance, if a competitor launched a major offline initiative but failed to support it with search, a savvy marketer could quickly ramp up a search campaign so they can be found when users turn to search to find more information. In effect, search allows marketers to eat the competition’s lunch.

But beyond being an adept capture mechanism, search is at the heart of today’s marketing ecosystem for another reason — it can inform your other channels. In doing so, search has the power to greatly improve their performance. For example, if a marketer is developing a new display campaign but isn’t sure which call to action will resonate best with users, she could leverage search to test different messaging. Tapping into search in this way would allow her to determine which messaging had the highest clickthrough rate, so she could apply it to her display efforts and have the campaign hit the ground running.

Lastly, today’s marketing ecosystem revolves around search because it is a great form of protection for a marketer’s other media investments. In other words, search can help you get the biggest bang for your buck. In fact, smart marketers consider it as “insurance” for their other marketing efforts. In essence, given a user’s propensity to turn to search, marketers who fail to support their efforts with it are not only ignoring user behavior, but also leaving themselves vulnerable to competitors. In addition, they are putting themselves at risk for the adverse branding implications that occur when someone searches for your organization or brand, and it is nowhere to be found in the search results.

But understanding the importance of search is one thing; capitalizing on it is another. Here are a few tips to help marketers leverage search to boost the efficiency of their overall marketing efforts.

  • Integrate Search Into Your Overall Marketing Plan — Today, integration is no longer optional — it is an absolute must for marketers. In fact, failure to integrate could translate into a competitive disadvantage. Marketers need to develop a holistic marketing plan that leverages search’s ability to capture the demand their other channels will surely create.
  • Break Down The Silos — To facilitate integration between channels, marketers must work to break down the silos that exist in marketing organizations. Operating in isolation does nothing to boost the performance and overall efficiency of an organization’s marketing spend. It is incumbent upon CMOs to work to get channels to collaborate and work together.
  • Share The Data — One of the best ways to facilitate integration between channels — and break down the silos in the process — is to share data. Fortunately, search marketers have a lot of meaningful data to offer. Ideally, they should share their most profitable keywords, messaging, and calls to action with other channels, and encourage them to incorporate them into their efforts. Likewise, each channel should share information with the search team to keep them apprised of upcoming initiatives. This will ensure that search can be there to capture the demand that other channels generate.

Overall, in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, the advantage will go to the organizations that approach marketing holistically and leverage the power of search to boost the efficiency of their efforts.

About the Author

Robert J. Murray is Chief Executive Officer of iProspect. He is responsible for formulating the firm's corporate structure as well as managing the company's operations. With more than 20 years of strategic consulting and financial analysis expertise, Murray is also in charge of developing and negotiating strategic alliances, identifying acquisition opportunities, and evaluating the company's capital structure.

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