Getting Support for Your Search Marketing Activities

  |  November 24, 2008   |  Comments

Four steps to build a compelling business case for search marketing initiatives.

Have you ever had trouble gaining internal support (and a result, resources) for your search initiatives?

Is your manager, CEO, or marketing VP one of those old-school marketers who doesn't "get" online, or believes that the channel doesn't make sense for your category?

Many of our clients struggle internally to get sign off on search projects because their boss isn't convinced of the value. It can be extremely frustrating and can lead you to consider throwing in the towel. But, my fellow online believers, your boss can be converted.

I'm going to help you pull together a compelling business case for search marketing, so you can achieve that internal buy-in -- and the necessary dollars that go with it -- to make your search initiatives a success.

Follow these four steps:

Step One: Educate

Start by educating the decision maker on the rationale for online. Use quantitative research and statistics proving that your audience is on the Web and that the Internet is a viable channel.

Try using studies such as the Pew Internet & American Life Project to help justify your undertaking. There are stats available on the Web at sites that don't require you to buy the study.

Throw in statistics specifically related to search: how many people use search engines, how frequently, how do the results of these searches influence decision making.

If a study relates specifically to your industry and its usage of search, that's even better -- use that! For example, our company works with a lot of pharma companies and we often have to convince them that health care professionals can be reached online. The ePharma Physician study helps us do just that.

Step Two: Quantify

Underline the importance of having a presence in the search engines by quantifying how much searching is taking place in your category.

Provide explicit data to show that X number of people searched for your product or service in the past 30 days, and position this as a missed opportunity for the brand or company.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is free and enables you to see the volume of searching and the level of competition in your category.

Perform what I like to call "voodoo" or "back-of-the-napkin" math -- i.e., even if we captured and converted 2 percent of these searchers, we could gain X number of new sales leads every month.

Put the search investment in the language of business; always relate back to the bottom line.

Step Three: Degrade

Now you have to show that your company or Web site is poorly positioned in the search engines (which is likely if you haven't done any search marketing to date). Basically, you have to make your boss groan at how badly positioned your company is, and how much opportunity or share of voice is being wasted.

Use free or subscription-based tools to help you do this. In "Free Tools for Competitive Search Intelligence," I listed some tools that can help you understand how your competitors are faring in terms of search -- and demonstrate your site's relative lack of search savvy.

In terms of paid or subscription tools (which, let's face it, aren't likely going to be an option if your boss isn't convinced of search's value), I really like and often use comScore Marketer. I profiled this tool in "A New, Improved Search Marketing Tool." It's also great for illustrating how poorly you're performing relative to your competitors.

In the end, if all you want is a quick-and-dirty solution, manual is best way. Visit Google, type in the search terms you uncovered in step number two, and take screenshots of the SERPs (define).

If you can show that your site isn't coming up for the important queries, but your competitors are, that's the perfect ammunition to convince your non-believer that investing in search marketing is warranted.

Step Four: Substantiate

Now it's time to prove that search marketing actually works. Present some relevant case studies and success stories of sites you've worked on in the past or take examples from your industry, so that you can provide evidence.

Sites such as Search Engine Watch and MarketingSherpa often feature case studies of successful search marketing programs.

Once you've sold them on the potential results, they will be more than happy to shell out the resources (both in manpower and dollars) to dedicate to your search initiatives.

Getting support for your search initiatives is as easy as one, two, three, four. Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to making everyone in your organization search believers.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies Chicago December 8-12 at the Chicago Hilton. The only major search marketing conference and expo in the Midwest will be packed with 60-plus sessions, multiple keynotes and Orion Strategy sessions, exhibitors, networking events, and more.


Julie Batten

Julie is a member of the senior strategy team at Klick Health, focused on online media and digital. Julie initially established and led the media practice at Klick for several years, relinquishing leadership to expand beyond media into additional digital tactics. She brings a wealth of experience in search marketing, digital media, and all facets of digital strategy to bear, helping Klick's clients develop innovative digital solutions. As her role has evolved, so have her contributions to ClickZ, which she has been writing for since 2007.

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