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The Role of Search in Integrated Marketing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It is self-evident that we are living in a time of extraordinary economic upheaval. To succeed in this uncertain environment – and be in position for success when the world economy stabilizes – marketers must embrace the concept of smart, measurable, integrated marketing.
So how should a marketer take advantage of online to encourage and measure a promotional (or any) campaign’s success? Following a few basic rules is a great way to start. Part one of this two-part series will cover the basics, while part two will take a deeper dive into each section.

Rule #1: Fish Where the Fish Are

Traditional marketing relied on a wide net approach. Media like television were (and are) great at reaching many people, but even when you narrow the focus by targeting to certain demographics, advertising messages would reach a great many people with no interest in the product. (This sort of waste is what John Wannamaker meant when he said that he knew half of his advertising budget was wasted, but he didn’t know which half.)
The advent of online media, though, allowed companies to be where their customers are and to take advantage of their interests at relevant points of engagement. A key component of reaching these already interested customers is search advertising. For instance, this year, for the first time ever, more people searched for “coupons” than for “Britney”!

Rule #2: Be a Savvy Search Marketer

The role of search in direct response is obvious; you want to be there to scoop up demand when it’s expressed. However, what’s usually underestimated is the effect search advertising can have on brand building. As companies work harder and harder to communicate the value of their brand to target audiences (and as consumers choose how they spend each dollar more carefully than ever) it is paramount that marketers ensure their brands are present when a consumer is searching – whether searching for the brand itself or searching related terms. For instance, if you’re selling baseball bats, you not only want to be sure to appear when consumers search for your brand name, but also when they search for “baseball,” “baseball bat” and maybe even “sports. While closing the sale is critically important, that moment will never come if you don’t build the brand first…and search can help build that desire.

Rule #3: Beware the HiPPO

Most marketing decisions are made based on the HiPPO: (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) . Better, though, is decision making based on data. This is another area where online media shines. It is no longer necessary to make decisions guided by the boss’ “gut.” Instead, marketers can make well-informed decisions and act on them in real time.

Rule #4: Measure, Measure, Measure

No other medium has ever offered such immediate and deep data on the effectiveness of advertising spend. Using (often free) tools, advertisers today can test copy, offers and geography. They can know the sources of their traffic and how they are performing relative to each other. They can know which of their website pages are most effective and “sticky.”
These very high-level concepts can guide marketers toward strategies that offer unprecedented certainty.

Posted by Tim Reis, head of Google's East Coast CPG Practice.
Tim is also a co-chair of PMA’s Digital Center of Excellence and is an incoming PMA Board Member.