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Training: The In-House SEO/SEM Marketer’s Trump Card
A recent Forrester research report, US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007 to 2012, concludes that all marketing will become interactive over the next five years, with no single channel dominating the scene.
We’ve seen some evidence of erosion in the ad spend for traditional media this year, as the latest TNS Media Intelligence report shows a decline in U.S. ad spend for newspapers, radio, and broadcast TV. However, Internet spending increased 17.7 percent to $5.52 billion over the first six months of this year. This supports Forrester’s contention of the shift toward interactive advertising.
Forrester predicts the interactive marketing spend will increase to $61 billion by 2012, and that interactive marketing, coupled with its technological advances, will drive the customer-centric model, demanding integration of all marketing efforts to achieve optimum results with less emphasis on media buying.
Interactive marketing drives growth
What does this have to do with in-house SEM training? Forrester believes four interactive marketing areas will drive major growth: search marketing, online video ads, social media, and mobile marketing—all of which require serious attention and aptitude for search marketing and optimization skills.
Yet, our interactive industry is still young, and we don’t have a lot of trained personnel to provide the skills needed to fuel this growth. With the barrier between traditional and interactive marketing dissolving, Forrester predicts a 27 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the interactive marketing spend over the next five years. Currently, interactive marketing accounts for 8 percent of all ad spending, and this will increase to 18 percent of total ad budgets in five years. Search marketing is slated to triple in five years. The search category is increasing at 26 percent CAGR and will reach $25 billion by 2012 (Forrester Research).
In-house versus outsource
The question of whether it’s best to outsource search search marketing or bring it in-house has created ambivalence for years, and is currently a topic covered in many industry conference sessions. Research shows at least two-thirds of U.S. businesses prefer to keep SEM in-house.
Reasons can vary, but basically, there are special challenges in executing SEO strategies, especially when it comes to integrating recommendations with other marketing and IT activities among multiple divisions. When it comes to paid search, different departments or divisions can be targeting the same or similar terms, resulting in these units competing against each other for keywords when there is no centralization. The trend is definitely toward in-house SEM, and the headhunters have their jobs cut out for them.
The challenge of in-house search marketing
One of the most difficult challenges marketers face with in-house search marketing is the management, organization, and training of personnel. Very likely, in-house training for SEO, PPC, developers, graphic designers, copywriters, and brand managers will be the norm in the next couple of years, if not sooner. Businesses continue to develop in-house search departments, but if they proceed without SEM/SEO training, they might as well begin their dissolution process in 2008 because their competitors have been and will continue to ramp-up in search knowledge transfer.
Search Marketing: To illustrate the effectiveness of in-house training, I can report that by implementing SEO best practices in-house training in January 2007, a national retailer increased year-over-year, non-brand keyword organic revenue 258 percent in Q1 and Q2 (the company chooses to remain anonymous). Their success is only one of many in-house training success stories. Smart firms will put SEO best practices in-house training on their to-do list today.
Online Video: Increasing consumer adoption of online video will result in a dramatic 72 percent increase in online video ad spending to $7.1 billion by 2012. Forrester Research states, “More customer-centric online video applications will increase the medium’s appeal for consumers and marketers.”
To quote The Weather Channel‘s search marketing manager Derek Fulford, “…applying SEO basics to your video content will put you ahead of the curve.” Derek has done an excellent job of improving his company’s web site organic search results and raised its Quality Score for Paid Search in the process by complementing video with text-based content.
SEO video best practices being developed today should be on your list for training sessions as soon as possible. Derek was able to revise The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth strategy to increase the average daily number of video views to 275 percent.
Social Media: As one of interactive’s emerging channels, social media will reach $10 billion in ad spending by 2012. Mainstream adoption will drive spending in social media, mobile marketing, game marketing, widgets, podcasts, and RSS. The social media ad spend alone will reach $6.9 billion (Forrester Research).
Social Media Marketing (SMM) is known to have significant impacts alongside best practice SEO/SEM. As CondéNet Director of Marketing Sandor Marik said recently, “SEO best practice just gets you in the game… involvement is needed on all levels. Traditional Web publishers are challenged as target audiences are drawn to blogs and social networking sites. While professional quality content does present unique value, publishers have to employ the tools and practices of the ‘long tail’ to stay visible in the ever-increasing volume of Web content.”
Social media sites also tend to generate a large number of links that vary in quality (in terms of anchor text), while niche blogs tend to provide paid text ads and contextual links with high quality anchor text pointing to specific category and sub-category pages.
The Social Media Marketing best practices being developed today should be on your list for training sessions immediately. The natural link building power we’ve witnessed so far continues to be remarkable.
Mobile: Mobile marketing will reach $2.8 billion by 2012. As consumers become increasingly dependent on personal computing handsets, they’ll start handling more transactions on their mobile devices (Forrester Research).
Currently there are 2.8 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, and 233 million were documented in the U.S. in 2006. High penetration of devices that receive input anywhere-anytime provide 5 percent CTR, target specific audiences, have the ability to build customer databases, and generate buzz, a few of the many reasons to be prepared for this next wave.
In-house training on executing mobile marketing content sponsorships, location-specific targeting, and opt-in SMS campaigns should be on your list for training sessions now. Mobile is about interaction, trust, pull, targeting, relevancy, opportunity, and integration with media; it has unquestionably rolled out.
In the face of these challenges, your best response is to be proactive with your basic and advanced in-house SEM/SEO training objectives. Get help now or prepare yourself for mediocre results. I don’t mean to alarm; however, one of my core values is to empower clients. I like to provide my expert opinion based on the best information that can help marketers make informed decisions—the power of “the agency recommends.” And there you have it
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. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.