Thegood news: eMarketer projects 17.4 percent growth in US internet ad spending this year compared to last year. The bad news: the amount estimated to be spent this year was downgraded by a billion dollars ($24.9B vs. $25.9B). Should we be worried? Not really, because internet ad spending will likely continue to grow at the expense of traditional media. Still, it’s always wise for in-house SEO/SEM teams to strengthen their marketing efforts.
Previously, I wrote about the importance of in-house teams utilizing all relevant search marketing tactics for maximum ROI (see "Total Search Marketing," Part 1 and Part 2). This month, I’ll cover the importance of using offline media to enhance the effectiveness of your in-house search efforts.
I’m sure everyone is aware of the ubiquity of URLs on TV, billboards, print, radio, direct mail, etc. But did you ever stop to think how these offline ads influence online search behavior?
The Influence Of Offline Marketing On Search Behavior
A 2007 iProspect survey revealed 67 percent of search engine users were influenced to conduct a query on a search engine in the previous six months as a direct result of exposure to offline marketing. Of that 67 percent, 39 percent ended up buying a product or service from the company that brought about the original search with its offline ad.
Increased conversions are a pretty powerful statistic. But it’s not the only reason to use offline media to enhance your online search campaigns. It costs less to process a transaction online than to process it in-store or by phone or mail. The more your offline efforts drive consumers to search and convert online, the better your company’s bottomline.
Are marketers getting this? Not really. A new iProspect report conducted by JupiterResearch (now owned by Forrester) shows that only 55 percent of search engine marketers are integrating their search marketing efforts with offline channels. Maybe the other 45 percent just don’t realize the power of offline ads to drive consumers online and sometimes convert.
There can be a number of reasons for failing to integrate online and offline marketing, such as not enough budget and not enough human resources. A lack of senior management buy-in is also a factor, as well as the fact that separate groups manage search marketing and offline marketing efforts.
Integrating Offline With Online Marketing
Most companies that have in-house SEO/SEM teams will also conduct traditional marketing campaigns. But how often are the online and offline campaigns integrated? This requires close coordination. For instance, you need to coordinate the keywords, messaging and calls-to-action within your offline campaigns to match the keywords, messaging, and calls-to-action that you find most profitable within your SEO/SEM campaigns. This kind of integration technique can produce more conversions and better marketing ROI for all campaigns.
Many companies find this a difficult endeavor, especially the way online and offline marketing teams are siloed and each team has its own specialized marketing tactics. The one advantage the online team has is the availability of data that can be used to show the offline team how they’ve optimized their messaging to maximize ROI. That’s a task your in-house SEO/SEM teams can undertake to gain buy-in for the marketing integration process.
It’s important to plan ahead with any kind of marketing, and more so when you’re coordinating your offline and online marketing efforts. Usually, the URL is what counts in offline marketing, because the consumer has to remember this to use it online. Get creative, help trigger memories that relate to your brand and non-brand terms. If consumers hear your ad on the radio, they can’t just reach over and type it on their mobile right away. They’ll do it later when convenient and input what they remember. This is how branded terms can help.
By working basic keywords related to your campaign into your offline ad URL, you could help strengthen your marketing campaigns in other channels. For instance, a hypothetical radio campaign for American Express with a URL like "myamericanexpressrewards.com" is too long to remember. However, "American Express" and "rewards" are two fairly memorable terms. You can optimize and buy these keywords and link them to your offline campaign landing page. This should improve the results of your radio ad and likely drive conversions on your site.
That’s just one example with a radio ad, but the same principle applies to TV, billboards and many other offline channels. Use the ubiquity of URLs in the environment to enhance both your online digital and offline traditional campaigns.
Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and in-house consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for the strategic implementation of search engine marketing activities within Red Door’s Internet Presence Management (IPM) services. John Faris, who co-authored this article, is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Analyst at Red Door Interactive. Faris’ primary role is to create initial SEO recommendations and execute strategic recurring SEO for Red Door’s Internet Presence Management clients. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.