Commentary

Are You Maximizing Your Search Efforts With Email?

I was astounded to see the results of a recent Email Experience Council survey  in which marketers ranked search marketing near the bottom of seven marketing channels for its synergy with email.

No great surprise about the top-ranked channel: 38% of respondents rated direct mail and catalogs as being email's ideal marketing mate.

But search pulled only sixth place at 4%, barely above TV/radio (2%) and below blogs/RSS (19%), SMS (text messages, 17%) and social networks and Internet ads (10% each).

What stunned me about the results was not just search marketing's pitiful ranking, but that emerging channels such as SMS and social networking, both still in their infancy, would out-"synergize" such a proven dominant channel as search.

I would even venture to guess that a large percentage of the EEC respondents and readers of this column acquire more customers and leads through search than they do direct mail or any of the other listed channels.

Using search for lead acquisition and email for lead nurturing is truly the digital marketing dream team. But the EEC survey results belie that conventional wisdom.

Why Search and Email Belong Together

Email can actually extend your search pay-per-click (PPC) spend and significantly increase your PPC ROI. On average you're likely converting 2% to 5% of your PPC clicks. That means that 95 of 100 people visiting your site are not taking the primary action you want them to.

But what if you could convince another 5, 10, 15, 20 or more of those hundred visitors to your landing page to at least opt-in to an email relationship? Perhaps they aren't ready to buy, but are still interested in your products or services.

Then, you use email to nurture those relationships over the ensuing months and years and convert another 2% to 5% to customers from that original group that visited your landing page. You've in essence doubled the ROI of your original PPC campaign spend.


Said another way, if you're not integrating your email and search programs, you might be leaving significant dollars on the table and failing to energize your email program. Whether by design or as a byproduct, you also actively grow your email database and can potentially reallocate some list-growth dollars toward additional email marketing resources.

Key to PPC (or any online ad channel) email integration is, of course, the landing page. It should be designed and written to demonstrate a clear value proposition so that a high percentage of those who don't take the primary desired action, will sign up for your email program. The key here is to balance your copy and layout so that you don't detract from your primary goal.

Once you have their email address, you can nurture these
"not-ready-to-buy" people using email drip campaigns, newsletters and trigger-based emails.

The search and email synergy also goes well beyond PPC. For B-to-B marketers and publishers that send out content-rich newsletters, archiving and republishing articles and news on your Web site can be a huge boon to your natural search results.

When you optimize your email content for search engines and target important keywords, you greatly improve your natural search engine rankings. This in turn enables you to reallocate PPC budget for those keywords that rank high naturally and drives additional leads and conversions without any out-of-pocket costs.

Blogs and social media are proving to have strong ties with email. But in my opinion no other channel, not even venerable direct mail, can match the ROI and synergy of integrating search with email marketing.

What do you think?

Until next time, take it up a notch.

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