5 Ways to Master Enterprise Search Marketing

To say that search has evolved over the last 20 years would be an understatement. In the past few years alone, Amazon has surpassed Google for product searches, and now over 50% of consumers begin product searches on ecommerce sites.

Social media, too, has transformed the way people search. Facebook for example, processes billions of keyword searches a year, while Pinterest has developed a rapidly growing paid search offering. So how are enterprises supposed to keep up with the ever-evolving world of search? We have you covered.

Here are some actionable steps to discuss with your leadership team and agency partners to evolve your search program. These recommendations are based on Catalyst’s 20 years of search marketing experience helping clients strategically adapt to the ever-evolving search landscape.

We've also recently explored this same topic in a webinar which can be listened to here.

1. Define Your Search Landscape

Between social platforms and the rise of voice search, it’s clear that search now exists in new places – we can even search on multiple platforms while we’re driving, cooking, or taking a shower! There’s also significant cross-over between search and e-commerce.

So what does all this mean? It means that how people search is continuously evolving and search marketing programs have varying goals, audiences, and strategies across different advertisers.

In order to build a successful enterprise search marketing team, your organization must define what search is and what it means for your business. Search looks different for every company, so how you and your CMO think about search ultimately determines how the program is targeted, structured and executed.

To do this, Catalyst focuses on these four elements: team, technology, process and integration.

2. Build Your Dream Team

Before technology can be of any use to you, you need people to operate it, decipher data and make decisions. At Catalyst, we’ve found dividing strategy and execution responsibilities into multiple roles – everything from senior director to head of search to search associate – leads to the most successful search programs. When one team member is juggling multiple roles, the search program suffers. Put someone solely in charge of search strategy execution, for example, and they’ll be able to master that specific skill set. When the time for a promotion rolls around, they’ll be more prepared to move up into a strategy development role.

This also creates bandwidth for your most senior search roles to own communication with other parts of the organization. We find communicating horizontally into other departments and vertically into the C-Suite is critical when it comes to scaling a search program and getting buy-in. However, for that to happen someone within the search program needs to own that responsibility.

Depending on scale of the accounts and the number of platforms and sites, you should also include managers and entry-level associates to create redundancies and ensure proper coverage. Creating a tiered structure within your search program also make vacancies easier to fill because you’re looking for one or two skill sets versus four or five. Manager and associate positions will also increase tenure as it gives your team a professional runway with a very clear and defined career path.

Additionally, we’ve found that there are other less traditional search roles that are essential to the success of the search program. For one, website development resources are critical to increasing the sophistication and effectiveness of your team and search program. These roles are responsible for creating automation and helping to make use of APIs from the technology your teams use every day.

Data analysts add another layer of sophistication to insights and reporting. We work with so much data in search, so having a dedicated resource to help manage the data and pull out insights will allow your team to operate at a higher level and maximize the use of your marketing stack.

Project managers are also critical, especially to brands that operate globally, invest across multiple channels, want more integration, or have a desire for an “always on” approach to testing. At Catalyst, we performed over 50 tests across more than 30 markets for one of our global clients last year, each involving multiple stakeholders and channels. This would have been impossible without a team member dedicated to overseeing the success of project and coordination of resources.

3. Curate Your Technology Stack

Too often, larger brands make the fatal mistake of not including the search or marketing team members in technology decisions. The result? A technology stack that doesn’t align across departments and marketing channels.

IT and procurement have an important role to play, but they don’t always understand all the ways in which the technology will be used, or the business requirements of other teams using the technology. Investing in training and working with your IT teams can help bridge the gap. The more knowledge sharing and communication that occurs, the more likely the right questions will be asked early enough in the process when it comes to decision on technology. Set a precedent by beginning these discussions in the C-Suite and working your way down.

Even when you have a perfectly aligned technology stack there will always be other search-specific technology that doesn’t perfectly “plug-in.” At Catalyst, we’ve built a data management platform called FUSION, which runs workflows that connect our clients’ technology stacks to other search technology like SEMRush and Brightedge, in an effort to bring the data into one central place. If you have dedicated development resources within your search team you can help ensure you’re able to take advantage of any technology your team uses.

Additionally, when you integrate search data with business and cross-channel data, spotting valuable trends and insights becomes much easier, which in turn saves your team time.

4. Establish a Process

We like to say we are “platform agnostic” – we don’t believe in one single platform. That’s because many platforms have the functionalities needed to get the job done; it’s the processes you establish and how you implement the technology that truly drives success.

One solution we’ve found impactful in defining and communicating process both inside and outside of the search team is through the development of a playbook. A playbook should answer questions like:

  • What is your search strategy?
  • What are your business objectives?
  • How is each account structured?
  • What are you optimizing toward?
  • What is your testing methodology or framework?
  • What are your learning objectives?
  • How do you measure success?
  • How do you calculate revenue and profit?

Documenting every process will ensure better communication with other teams, while also saving time when it comes to onboarding new employees or agency partners.

Because these documented processes will be shared across departments, including a glossary will help those unfamiliar with search understand the content and search terminology.

5. Put it All Together

Because search now spans multiple platforms, channels and departments, technology and processes must be tightly integrated to improve communication and efficacy. 

At Catalyst, we cross-train our teams on multiple buying platforms such as Amazon, Walmart and social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest. Not only is this exciting for the teams, but it also provides the knowledge necessary to think about strategy across the consumer journey.

Your customers also don’t differentiate between channels when they are looking for something online, so aligning messaging, tactics and audiences across channels is really important.We worked with an automotive client to integrate channel messaging and attribution for search and social. In doing so, we found that consumers who interacted with both search and social campaigns had a 4-5X higher conversion rate. Integration helps you avoid many problems such as funnel blindness, misallocation of funds, and inconsistent messaging. It also will provide more of a full-funnel view of performance, allowing you to move beyond last-click attribution.

In Conclusion

Search is the world’s largest, free and most accurate consumer panel available. Through search, you can understand the exact language your customers use to search for your (and your competitors’) products and services, providing you with invaluable insights into the messaging that will resonate with your audience and in turn make the sale.

So evaluate your organization. Do you have the proper team members, technologies and processes in place? If not, it’s time to work with the C-Suite and educate them on the value of search so you can get buy-in. Then, you can establish a roadmap to get your departments out of their current silos and align their goals and practices to master your organization’s enterprise search marketing program.

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