Joe Friedlein considers the significance of search and explains why the first rule of dot.com marketing will always be joining up the dots
There is an increasingly loud buzz around ‘joined up marketing’ as marketers learn the hard way that you really should be planning your marketing activity with the involvement of all disciplines. Not only will you be more efficient, but you can create some truly compelling cross-channel campaigns that support each other in the way that multi-channel marketing should. But while joined up marketing should be a natural aspiration, it is fair to say that a lot of organisations still struggle, to some degree, to really make it happen.
This is especially true for larger corporations where different marketing disciplines are often managed by different teams working with different agencies, and where overall control is often lacking. Speaking from personal experience, I still laugh at the memory from my client-side days of a member of the TV advertising team coming up to me (a member of the online marketing team) one evening to check that ‘the’ website was ready. Not knowing what they were talking about, I politely asked and found out that a TV campaign was going out the following day and driving traffic to a website that did not exist as nobody in our team had ever been told about it. Perhaps a more extreme example of unjoined up marketing, but it does still happen.
Integration in search marketing
Online marketing still struggles to get the focus that it deserves in some organisations, where TV advertising is still seen to be the pinnacle of marketing activities. Within online marketing, search is often the poor cousin and arises as an afterthought once a new website has been designed and built.
I am biased, wearing my search marketing hat, but it never fails to amaze me how many organisations do not really integrate search into their marketing mix and how many missed opportunities I see on a day to day basis. So here are some specific examples of how search marketing should be woven into everything that you do.
Integrate with PR
In my opinion, SEO’s most natural partner is PR. Yes, there is a necessary technical competency that is required to be good at SEO, but the ability to identify the sites that you should be engaging with, and an ability to create the ‘hook’ that is needed to attract links is really an old school PR skill.
SEO is still lumped in with the techies far too often and it amazes me that SEO and PR teams are not working more closely. PR activity can help SEO through online distribution of optimised press releases, but true SEO and PR integration should extend to the ideas that drive marketing activity.
PR is about managing your brand. SEO is increasingly about building your brand authority online. Work with your PR teams to discuss future trends and ensure that your site quickly becomes an authority in your field and you should find that your search rankings start to head in the right direction.
Integrate with web design and development
The phrase “we have just launched our site and want you to optimise it” is one I dread more than any other. While it is possible, it is so much easier and more efficient to consider search from the outset.
A good search marketing consultant will review a site’s architecture to ensure that it will accommodate natural landing pages for the keywords that are being targeted. Working with an SEO agency during the site build will ensure that it is built to be ‘search friendly’ from the outset rather than having to go back and change things.
SEO should not be an afterthought – make sure that your SEO team is working with your design team and you will soon realise that it really doesn’t require any additional work, just a consideration of search engines.
Integrate with PPC
It would be natural to expect that SEO and PPC teams are fully integrated, but this is not always the case and I frequently see PPC campaigns being run in isolation from the SEO work. This should be the easiest of integrations to achieve and it is critical to ensure that paid and organic search teams are working together.
Equally, if you are in-house and use separate agencies for your SEO and PPC work, it is essential that they are talking to each other (or, at the very least, you are feeding back information from each discipline).
Paid search (PPC) is arguably the best (and certainly the quickest) way to test the effectiveness of different keywords for search marketing campaigns. This analysis can then be fed back to the SEO team to ensure that the most appropriate keywords are targeted through organic search and avoid wasting time learning from (slower) mistakes that may be made when selecting keywords for natural search.
By integrating your paid and organic search, you can perform gap analysis to identify important opportunities for natural search – which keywords are working well through PPC but not currently ranking well?
At the same time, should any changes be made to the PPC campaigns when organic results change? What is the optimum level of spend? Without closely integrating both disciplines and forcing knowledge share, you will never know the answer.
Integrate with offline (especially TV)
There can be no denying that offline marketing increasingly pushes people towards an online presence. Not only do you see ads encouraging people to visit a url, it is not uncommon for an ad to encourage users to ‘Google’ a particular phrase.
This is great as it demonstrates the acknowledgement that search engines are a key research tool, but it is extremely important to make sure that your SEO team are aware of the ads some time in advance so that all efforts can be made to ensure that your site does actually rank for the phrase that you are encouraging people to search for. Without that basic level of integration, you run the risk of your competitors ranking before you, which is not smart.
Working closely with offline marketing teams will also allow a search team to understand more about competitor activity and there may well be opportunities to jump on the back of competitor campaigns and score some quick wins. PPC, in particular, can be a potent tool for piggy backing off competitor ad campaigns and raising your own profile.
Joining the dots
There can be no doubt that search marketing is here to stay. I suspect that Google would agree. Ignore it at your peril. More importantly, do not consider search as a last minute activity. It is most effective when it is integrated with every step of your marketing activity. Joined up marketing is intelligent marketing. Be sure to join up all the dots, but I would encourage you to consider search as a very important dot.