Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Where Search Marketing Comes Up Short

  |  October 5, 2009   |  Comments

How can marketers reach consumers who don't know what they are looking for?

Nailing search is crucial to your business, but it's only half the battle. True, search is absolutely necessary. You have to get it right. It has the power to drive incredible return on your marketing dollars. It is table stakes in the ever-changing game governing the digital marketing ecosystem. And many marketers have, for the most part, figured it out. If you haven't, you're likely leaving money on the table -- or worse, handing revenue to your competitors. If you're among those who have got it covered, nice job.

It should be simple, really: search is helping consumers find what they are looking for, efficiently and accurately. Done.

But what do we do with consumers who don't know what they are looking for?

When consumers don't what they're looking for, it's not a search experience. It's a discovery opportunity.

Discovery is an experience that contains a bit of magic. It's finding an unbelievable deal on a product, being the first person in your group to post that wicked funny viral video to your Facebook page, or learning about a hot new band from your custom Pandora page. It's the unexpected and highly relevant surprise from a brand you've come to know and trust. Better yet, it's the same from a brand you're not familiar with. In the analog world, it's the wine recommended by the sommelier that, incredibly, matches the entire table's varied meal choices. Or the perfect suggestion above and beyond what you're looking for from your personal shopper at Nordstrom. We've all had these experiences. And as different as they may be, they share one remarkable thing in common: tremendous power to creating lasting and vividly detailed memories. Memories help build relationships, and relationships build brands.

So why don't more brands focus on creating discovery experiences in addition to enabling search? Helping our consumers discover things they didn't know they were looking for is a key part of what we should be using new technologies to accomplish.

The Web is overflowing with companies trying to enable this across a variety of different verticals:

  • Music: iLike, last.fm, iTunes (including the Genius feature), Pandora, and more.

  • News and Web miscellany: Digg, StumbleUpon, and even Twitter.

  • Video: YouTube, Hulu, and pretty much every other streaming video player are all hot on the trail of discovery.

  • Shopping: Amazon's collaborative filtering may well be the shopping pioneer of discovery, but more and more players are catching up, including fashion sites like Polyvore, Like.com, and more.

These brands are going out of their way to enable the discovery experience for consumers, and consumers have clearly indicated they love it. And yet, beyond the retailers above, I can only think of a few marketers really leveraging the discovery opportunity.

Discovery may well be harder to handle. It may be finding close contextual relevance or tapping behavioral targeting in a smart new way. Maybe it's a visual search triggered by an item snapped with a camera phone. Or perhaps a surprisingly relevant link delivered by scanning a QR code (define) or a Microsoft Tag. Could it be a unique, immersive digital touchscreen experience that guides the customer through a series of choices to determine preferences and then delivers the right thing at the right time?

It's not a search result. It's the unexpected. It should surprise and delight. In an exploding and increasingly fragmented media landscape, discovery can be the means to a powerful and lasting connection. And the good news is that in many cases, the very technologies that are causing fragmentation are also enabling unique ways to deliver on this discovery opportunity.

P.S.: If you've got examples of marketers getting this right, I'd love to see them. Feel free to comment here.

What do you need to know about real-time bidding (RTB) to start using it? Join us on Thursday, October 15, 2009, at 1 p.m., for a free Webinar on the basics of real-time bidding to help advertisers and their agencies understand RTB's capabilities and advantages.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeremy Lockhorn

Jeremy Lockhorn leads the emerging media practice (EMP) at Razorfish. The team functions as a think-tank on new technologies and next-generation media, and operates as an extension of current client teams. EMP is focused on driving groundbreaking marketing solutions for clients. Jeremy is a filter, consultant, and catalyst for innovation - helping clients and internal teams to understand, evaluate, and roll out strategic pilot programs while reinventing marketing strategies to leverage the power of emerging media. Jeremy joined the agency in 1997 and is currently based in Seattle, WA. His Twitter handle is @newmediageek.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...