A Call to BtoB Marketers — Integrate Search Now!

Regular readers of Strictly Business undoubtedly know that search marketing does not happen in a vacuum. Instead, it both impacts, and is impacted by, other forms of marketing. In fact, search has the inherent ability to both capture the demand created by other marketing channels, as well as to drive prospects who seek products and […]

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Regular readers of
undoubtedly know that search marketing does not happen in a
vacuum. Instead, it both impacts, and is impacted by, other forms of
marketing. In fact, search has the inherent ability to both capture the
demand created by other marketing channels, as well as to drive prospects
who seek products and services online to convert offline. So why then do
BtoB marketers make it so damn hard for prospects to connect the dots
between their search marketing efforts and their other marketing

The problem at hand

An August 2008 JupiterResearch survey of search marketers sponsored by
iProspect sheds some light on the reason. The survey revealed that only 55%
of search marketers intentionally integrate or coordinate their search
marketing efforts with their offline marketing efforts. The study also found
that of the 55% who do integrate or coordinate their search and
offline campaigns, only 26% of them use the same keywords and messaging in
both channels.

Given that lack of integration or coordination, it’s easy to understand
why prospects might get confused. For example, a prospect might very well
read a print ad running in a trade publication, or view a TV ad, or see
signage at an airport, and remember something about the ad, and then perform
an online search based on what they remember yet not find the
company who ran the ad. Why? Because the offline ad read “enterprise
security solutions” while the website and search marketing campaign focused
on “large company security systems.”

So what’s a marketer to do?

The solution to this dearth of integration is simpler than you might
think, and it starts with a mere walk down the hall.

If you’re a search marketer, you’re essentially the goose with the golden
egg as you hold the results data from your campaigns that can be used to
inform your offline colleagues as to which keywords and messaging have
proven most profitable in your search marketing initiatives. Given that,
walk down the hall and show your offline colleagues the numbers. Compare and
contrast the keywords and messaging that are driving your search results
with the keywords and messaging being used in each of your offline channels.
Are they in sync? If not, suggest a limited test of an offline campaign
where the messaging is aligned and measure the results. Odds are that you’ll
prove your point very quickly.

But the walk down the hall isn’t just for search marketers. The offline
ilk would be wise to also take a stroll especially considering that another
JupiterResearch survey found that 67% of searchers were driven to perform
searches as a result of exposure to some form of offline marketing. Of this
group, 39% eventually bought. As an offline marketer, wouldn’t you
like to lay claim to those results that your efforts are producing online?
And if you had the power to do so, wouldn’t you take steps to further
improve those results? Integrating your messaging is a vital step in making
that happen. Given that, if you’re responsible for your organization’s
offline channels, walk down the hall in the opposite direction — in search
of that golden egg — and then follow the steps above.

The road can be bumpy

As with any worthwhile endeavor, there will certainly be obstacles along
the way to get these two pieces of the marketing mix to work together.
Hopefully, winning the hearts and minds of colleagues can be overcome by
simply presenting the data — and suggesting (and possibly offering to fund)
a limited test to prove the power of integration. But numerous other
obstacles may also surface — chief amongst them are the human and monetary
resources required to make integration work.

There’s no doubt about it — it takes more time and effort (especially the
first time around) to coordinate and integrate multiple initiatives than it
does to pursue them in isolation, and that time and effort does not come
free. And depending on the circumstances, such as redesigning an ad, or
reprinting a billboard or direct mail piece, or rerecording a radio spot,
there may also be direct costs associated with bringing your offline
messaging and search messaging into alignment.

In anticipation of these obstacles, start at the top. Present the data to
the CMO — or the head of the business unit — or whomever is responsible for
the bottom line results for the product or service line that is being
marketed. Show them the optimal keywords and messaging used in your search
campaigns side by side with the messaging of your other channels and point
out the lost opportunity of one failing to drive results for the other.
Better yet, show examples of where your competitors’ search marketing
efforts may be more in line with your offline messaging, and ask why your
organization is investing in driving searchers to their websites.

A final word

While a lack of integration between search and offline initiatives is not
unique to BtoB marketers, the fact that the typical BtoB purchase is a
multi–step, multi–channel experience that can flip from online to offline
and back multiple times throughout the sales funnel makes integrated
messaging all the more important in this environment. Ideally, you want
prospects to recognize your brand, your products/services, your messaging
and your look–and–feel regardless of the channel in which they engage it —
and you want to make it easy for them to move among channels without being
sidetracked. By identifying the optimal keywords and messaging from your
search marketing campaign, you provide yourself with the tools to align your
messaging across all your channels and help maximize the results produced by
them all.

Bill Muller is Chief Marketing Officer at iProspect. He is responsible
for creating the strategy and overseeing the implementation of all
marketing, public relations and sales support initiatives for the company.
Bill has nearly 30 years of marketing management experience, including:
online, database and event marketing; field sales support; and lead
generation. He joined iProspect in 2002.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Bill Muller
Bill Muller is Chief Marketing Officer of cross channel marketing intelligencse software company, Visual IQ. He can be reached at [email protected].

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