Many companies have yet to get involved with search marketing. At Search Engine Strategies New York, panelists on the “Putting Search into the Marketing Mix” offered compelling reasons for including search as a fundamental component of a marketing strategy.
The panel was moderated by Gord Hotchkiss, President & CEO of Enquiro, with speakers Curtis Dueck, Account Manager, Epiar, Bill Mungovan, Director of Search Marketing, Carat Fusion and Misty Locke, President & Co-Founder, Range Online Media.
The overlying theme of the session focused on why a company should take part of their marketing budget and use it for search marketing. Gord was moderating, and had a very nice introduction about the entire process. He discussed how search can be the ‘fundamental glue’ for your entire marketing process. Often advertising exists in vacuums, and search can tie that advertising together to create a comprehensive marketing campaign.
Curtis Dueck’s presentation was a fascinating account of using search data to improve marketing. He covered two types: Search Informed Marketing (SIM)—using search data and intelligence to improve marketing, and Search Frequency Research (SFR)—Introduction and sample research applications
He began with pre-internet marketing. Before the web, there was a circle that consisted of:
- Buy ads
- Get more distribution
- Sell more products
- Make a profit
- Buy more ads
Dueck considered this the basic supply and demand mode. However, the market intelligence about seeing demand was limited. If one can’t see the demand for a product, one doesn’t really know how to start marketing.
Next, Dueck looked at today’s marketing and how demand has changed now that media, commerce, and industry have become decentralized. This brings us to search frequency research. There are three types of research:
- Focus groups. The sample size is small and it’s very demanding in terms of human hours.
- Surveys and polls. The sample size is larger, and human hours are less demanding than focus groups.
- Search research. The sample size is as large as the internet, and the human hours are low, and it’s the only research where the data source is a pull instead of a push.
With search marketing, there’s a lot of data which can be gathered. However, data is useless unless you’re willing to act upon the results. Companies need to be willing to provide what the market is demanding and be willing to change to fit those needs.
To provide the intelligence, one needs to gather the data. This is done through search frequency research. Search frequency research is a method of gathering search information:
- People enter phrases into search engines
- Companies gather information around a selected topic
- Analyze the phrases (often in the 100,000s) to gather insight into the short and long tail of search
- Look for trends, patterns, oddities, and ultimately meaning
Once you have this information, then you can begin to act upon looking at your product set and see if you are meeting the consumer demand.
In addition, with business research, you can also gather insight into what people are looking for in conjunction with branded terms. Curtis went through an example of what auto brands people are searching for when looking for EGR and PCV valves. It turns out that Ford leads these searches by a wide margin. That’s the basic data. The next step is analyzing why Ford has so many more searches for those valve types. Is it because those models have problems with the valves so people need to find replacements? Or is it due to other reasons?
When one sees the results of not just ‘Ford PCV valve’ but ‘explorer PCV valve’ one can start to understand that a particular model is what’s driving the much of the search volume. This research could be used by Ford to help people find the replacement parts, or that it’s the major problem with that particular vehicle.
The data can also help with consumer feedback. Since consumers are searching for ‘customer issues’ it’s one way to find both good and bad items about a product. The above data could be used by Consumer Reports to show customer concerns.
The above point is quite interesting. Searchers are typing in their concerns, feature requests, problems, and product benefits into the search engines. Search data can be used by businesses to understand how people view their products and brands. Without the data, there is no action. With good data, one now has the information to make decisions and act upon those decisions.
Bill Mungovan took the agency perspective, starting by talking about the dollars available. $20 billion will be spent online in 2007. Half of that spent on search. However, while those numbers look big, they aren’t. $150 billion will be spent on offline marketing. Online marketing is still a small piece of the advertising pie.
Because search is a small, yet growing, slice of the pie, more traditional ad agencies are beginning to adopt search marketing—the ultimate form of pull marketing. Search demand changes based upon external factors. It’s important to understand what influences the changes in search demand.
Mungovan illustrated his points with a case study on Hyundai. Their goal was to maintain a 100% share of voice on branded terms. They were putting together a full marketing campaign which included several media types such as network, radio, newspapers, online display, and search.
He walked through a timeline showing how search changed based upon other advertising efforts. The main point was to illustrate that search isn’t flat; there are many other factors, including advertising, that can influence search demand.
When Hyundai ran television ads, online display ads, and other advertising types, the search volume for branded terms increased. When those ads stopped running, search volume decreased. This illustrated two points: First, that search doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Search demand changes due to external factors, and a company can change their total search volume and measure results, by integrating search into the traditional marketing mix. Second, consumers do search online for more information about a brand when they see advertising. One can increase their search voice through various means.
Mungovan illustrated a few points to take home when one incorporates search into the marketing mix:
- Allocate enough search budget to capture the increased search volume
- Connect with offline media plans before client approval
- Map keyword bundles to overall goals, not just lower-funnel acquisition efforts
- If your client doesn’t allocate enough budget to search, a competitor or an aggregator will gladly take that volume
Mungovan’s final statement was that search is still cheap. When comparing search marketing to traditional marketing, search is one of the least expensive options. One should be taking full advantage of the increased search volume that offline advertising campaigns create to control your voice and capture your full market share.
Misty Locke had several points to make, and they were illustrated via case studies. The first point was that her firm wanted to prove that branding can lead to non-brand spend. And that non-brand spend can lead to an increase in brand searches. Can one increase brand searches by pushing non-brand terms?
When Range started buying non-brand terms to try and increase brand searches, the brand searches did not immediately increase. It took a while for the brand searches to pick up. However, after a consistent brand message was delivered through non-branded terms, the brand searches began to steadily increase. It seems, a company can increase brand searches through buying non-branded terms.
However, one of the major challenges comes in measuring results. Three-quarters of online marketers aren’t confident that they are getting a good return on their online advertising investment. This confidence comes from what they are measuring. Misty put a nice chart on the screen that showed various measurements and how many marketers are using those measurements. Here’s a list of possible metrics:
- Deep direct response measurement
- Lifetime revenue per visitor
- Lifetime profit per user
- Moderate direct response measurement
- Online purchase
- Call center calls
- Revenue per order
- Profit per order
- In-store purchase
- Call center purchases
- Light direct response measurement
- Click throughs
- Online registrations
- Brand interaction
- Site interaction
- Brand metrics
The reason advertisers aren’t confident about their online marketing return is because they are inaccurately measuring ROI. Currently only 15% of advertisers have consolidated all online and off-line consumer data. 39% do not actually measure online sales, and fully 85% percent of advertisers who strive to increase brand awareness through online advertising do not measure brand metrics.
However, 31% of internet users have gone to a search engine as a result of seeing an online ad. This tells us that the potential for good search marketing ROI exists, however, one must measure it accurately.
Misty then went through several case studies that illustrated search marketing can increase ROI and brand. What’s important is to measure everything appropriately. This even includes measuring in-store sales.
Her case study for Pier One showed that a combination of search and online display ads increase in-store revenues. Online advertising can trigger off-line behavior, or it can trigger online behavior.
First, one needs to lay out the goals of the campaign. Second, one needs to determine how to measure success. And last, one needs to execute. Online search works. It’s a matter of understanding what metrics need to be measured, and then putting the proper methods for gathering that data in place.
During Q&A, Misty made one other important point. She found that removing brand terms from paid search leads to a lessening of total traffic, even when you are in the number one natural search position. The reinforcement of brand terms between both paid and organic listings lead to a higher brand lift and more site traffic.
Putting Search into the Marketing Mix was a very interesting session. If you are involved in both online and offline advertising, understanding how they influence each other is critical. It’s important to take advantage of search marketing to ensure you have captured the entire audience demand for your product.
The second take away is that one must measure results. It can be very difficult to measure online and offline interactions. However, if you don’t measure them, then you don’t have a true understanding of how they influence each other, and how they are truly performing.
Most importantly, the data is critical. If you need data about your market, search intelligence data will give you insight into consumer behavior, wants, and needs. This also ties back into measuring results. If you don’t understand how offline traffic drives online sales, or vice versa, it can be almost impossible to allocate budgets appropriately.
Search is the ultimate form of pull marketing. Non search advertising drives search demand. You are spending money. Searchers are looking for you. Consumers are telling you what they are looking for. Are you taking full advantage of search marketing?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.