Paid and organic search campaigns take a back seat to other marketing channels like content creation at large enterprises because many still find it too difficult to prove the return on investment -- especially for search engine optimization (SEO), according to a new survey released Thursday.
The report -- from Enterprise Marketing Survey 2016 of 500 enterprise marketers -- suggests that more than "90% of enterprise companies undervalue search marketing and risk losing key customer segments." That may be because 18% said measurement of ROI remains the biggest challenge for these non-paid ads that appear in listings on organic search engine results pages (SERPS).
Some 14% cite finding a reliable agency or consulting firm as the second-biggest challenge, followed by 13% who cite upfront costs; 13%, managing demand marketing platforms; 13%, technical skills; 10%, keeping up with best practices; 10%, finding tools and solutions; and 9%, content creation. B2B research firm Clutch, and R2integrated (R2i), a digital agency, collaborated on the research that took place between March and April 2016.
The findings suggest that results from campaigns can take months, making it difficult to prioritize. About 28% of search marketers say traffic volume is the most important metric they use for SEO, which is counter to what industry experts recommend, per the findings.
Only 2% of search marketers said they will focus on paid-search campaigns only. Some 18% said they will mostly focus on paid search with some organic search, while 53% said they will have an even mix of paid and organic, followed by 20% who will mostly support organic and some paid, and 6% who said organic search campaigns only.
Some 28% see traffic volume as the most important SEO metric; followed by 23%, leads and conversions; 19%, onsite engagement; 16%, keyword ranking; and 15%, impressions, awareness and sentiment.
While incoming traffic from search is simple to measure, it does not provide a clear indication of success. More important, per the report, is the value that traffic drives and the leads and conversions it can provide.
Content creation will become an SEO's top priority within the next six to 12 months because it is the least challenging and the most measurable. Some 34% said they will create quality content that earns links, followed by 28%, on-site and technical SEO; 20% social media to support SEO; 14, local search; and 3%, guest blogging on other sites.