Search marketing is a highly effective and efficient medium on its own, but when integrated with other marketing channels, the returns can be exponential.
However, for some reason, search continues to be separate. Distinct. Not part of the whole. Why? Because marketers, agencies, and even some search firms get myopic about search, and fail to push it as a strategically important component of marketing. Unfortunately, this short-sightedness creates missed opportunities, as search has huge strengths that can be leveraged to help achieve overall marketing goals. Marketers need to realize that failing to integrate search with all of their other marketing channels is sheer folly.
Proof in the Pudding
Consider this. One of our clients was running a radio ad with an 800 number offering a free consultation. We saw this as an opportunity to integrate search into this channel. We advised our client that a percentage of potential respondents might be uncomfortable responding via phone, and counseled them to include their Web address in a few ads in specific cities for a limited test. Once this practice was implemented, the client's Web traffic spiked. Clearly, some respondents were more comfortable utilizing the Web site as a first point of engagement, and later turned to the phone for the free consultation and ultimate purchase. This is a good example of how search can be used in conjunction with another marketing channel (even an offline channel like radio) to move potential customers through the purchase cycle.
So what's a marketer to do to integrate search into other channels so it can contribute to overall marketing goals? First and foremost, you need to gain some perspective. Take a step back. Have a look at your company's overall marketing goals. What are they? Is it marketing's job to increase store traffic? Is it to cut selling costs and increase sales by selling products via the Web site? Is it to increase loan applications or resumes over the Web site? Whatever the goals, you need to be specific about them, and know how each channel will contribute to those goals.
Once you have clarity on this, you can begin to looks for ways to integrate search into your different channels. Look for opportunity. Be creative. Think like your customers. If you're doing a billboard campaign and the goal is to generate loan applications, does it make more sense to have an 800 number on it, or a URL? What about the verbiage in your ads? Are you utilizing your most successful online keywords in your offline ads? There are more opportunities to leverage the power of search than you ever would have imagined. You just need to look for the opportunities to integrate search as a strategic and integral component in each of the channels that your organization is using to accomplish its overall marketing goals.
But with all that said, I want to point out that I'm not so naïve to think that search marketers always have access to the folks running the other channels. And we all know that even if the access was there, they still might not "play well with others." Marketing fiefdoms are definitely a problem that needs solving. Perhaps an issue to tackle in a future article....
Search is a strategically important component of the "marketing whole" and should be used in concert with other channels to meet overall marketing goals. Search has huge strengths that can be leveraged effectively. Integrating it with other channels is an opportunity you can't afford to miss.