It's About Who You Know

Since I became a search marketer, I have met some amazing people.  I have established friendships with coworkers, peers and partners that over the years have created a steadfast foundation for my business.  The people I know are my referral stream.  While I am not a well-known brand per se, one could say these connections have formed my personal brand.  This top of mind consideration among industry friends had made it very clear to me that it's all about who I know.

The same is true for advertisers.  As we enter the holiday shopping season, search marketers are anxiously planning away and anticipating strong year over year growth.  For long-time sophisticated search programs, this presents an interesting conundrum: Where is this growth going to come from?  While you can continuously build out keywords, this is usually going to deliver incremental volume at best.  Sure, new products present greater opportunity, but only if searchers know those products exist.  In this case, it's all about who they know.

In an increasingly social online universe, virtual word of mouth can be powerful or devastating.   The key to harnessing this referral stream is being ahead of it.  Just about everyone is planning to spend more on search in Q4.  In fact, many ecommerce businesses bank on single days in November and December that surpass entire other months of the year.  So, how does you plan differ from your top competitor's plan?  What is your advantage?

The biggest advantage you can have is top of mind consideration.  This can and will impact performance of branded and non-branded terms.  Think of the levers we can move in search.  By focusing on click rates and conversion rates you can beat out your competition, but this doesn't come from ad copy and landing page testing alone, it matters who knows you.

As you appropriate additional dollars to your search team, think about how they can best be using it to generate this top-of-mind consideration for your brand.  Encourage the holistic ROI goal and make sure people already have you in mind when they turn to that search bar and type in a query.  If you want the click, want the searcher first and optimize the entire path to getting there.  If you want to knock it out of the ballpark this year, then get to know your prospective customer.  After all, it's not just about who you know, it's about who knows you.

Tags: search
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1 comment about "It's About Who You Know".
  1. Olivia Mckinsey from McKinsey Media , October 22, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.

    Well put. "It's not about what you know, it's about who you know" is definitely a mantra that works in this case. Organic brand keyword growth has a maximum potential that is far below what can be achieved by incorporating additional tactics and mediums. It's the combination of the two that will drive the most efficient results on a grander scale.