As consumer behavior changes, the ease of finding information becomes one of the most important elements of a marketing strategy. Technology advancements are making it easier to find information based on a greater understanding of the nuances related to what consumers are looking for (associated words, concepts, locations, people). With this change, paid and organic search optimization becomes the crux of facilitating a positive consumer experience and presenting the key information for a brand’s message, product information, or service details.
Here are some other key reasons to plan for search as a marketing foundation:
- Your consumer. Consumers are specializing in how they search, and as marketers we must adapt. Consumers are growing more adept and demanding at seeking and sharing the right information, at the right place, and at the right time. Search is universal, reaching over 85 percent of the population daily; in an average month there are over 21 billion searches across the Internet (Google, Pew Internet survey).
- Good experience, goodwill. Consumers are becoming more demanding and have less patience for a bad experience when seeking information. By managing the search experience, marketers have more control over the delivery of information to consumers.
- Search is a media chameleon. Search can effectively play both a branding and an acquisition role. Consumers look for information at all stages of the purchase decision-making process; whether initially searching for generic product details to comparing several different brands to looking for a location to purchase. With the appropriate attribution and measurement approach marketers can credit and value the role of search.
Aside from a standalone tactic, search is the best environment to take advantage of demand driven from other media channels. Why increase presence with traditional branding tactics (e.g., TV, print, display) without having a plan to capture volume from increased brand inquiry?
- You can be a control freak. With search you can control the distribution of information down to the offers, message formats, and experience along with the real estate in which this messaging is being displayed (e.g., with effective SEM/SEO you own a good portion of a search engine results page). Outside of standard search, emerging contextual and keyword opportunities in social also allow a degree of control of paid messaging via video, tweets, posts, etc.
- Social feeds the frenzy. The growth in social content and conversations means there is more content feeding into a user’s search experience. Search results are being impacted by this information, especially with the likes of Google+ and Bing’s social reinvention; they are enhancing their algorithms based on feeds from social data. It’s best to prepare and embrace the change vs. thinking about it after the fact.
- Mobile enabled, easily and efficiently. As an industry, we talk a lot about the growth of mobile and tablet devices; this also translates to search activity. Mobile search is currently accounting for 25 percent of all search activity to date. It is cost effective and the smaller screen provides more ownership of the real estate on the search engine results page (SERP).
- It’s all about distribution. Search can be a distribution vehicle for many different formats; it’s a great way to ensure visibility for brand-related content or editorial coverage. SEO should always be enlisted to provide best practices in ensuring searchability related to non-traditional content and video assets.
- Everybody else is doing it. Your peers and competition are probably smarter than you think. It is important to monitor the marketplace, identifying the what, where, and why of others in this space. Competitive search data is a good research point to provide secondary knowledge for strategy – crucial to enhancing and differentiating your own marketing efforts (e.g., bidding, conquesting).
- Best testing platform. Search (primarily paid) is a very quick and efficient testing platform. The volume typically allows for quicker testing with relatively large amounts of data to ensure conclusive results. It is a great platform to see response on creative copy, messaging formats, and landing pages; just keep in mind that testing can impact performance so you should structure and set expectations appropriately.
- Indicates brand health. Query volume and search demand related to a brand, product, or service are good indications of a consumer’s awareness of your product. Oftentimes, increases in mass media can correlate directly to a lift in search volume. Using search as a brand check is an efficient way to monitor impact and change.