Where is Search Engine Marketing in the Marketing mix?

Hello guys,
It’s Chandler!

I realize that i start to get a little bit obsessed with a holistic approach to online marketing, so bear with me.
Today is again it is about a holistic approach, but not only between different online channels but a combination of online and offline.

Recently I came across a very article about “Search in the overall marketing mix” on Search Engine Watch by Pat Stroh.
It is just simply concise and beautiful!

The underlying idea that Pat highlights is that not only we need to consider all the online channels but offline channels as well when it comes to optimizing PPC (pay per click) campaign for clients.
There are many times that even though there are no changes in terms of bid price, ad copy (creative), advertisers still experiences a significant changes in their paid search campaign.
In order to address this situation, according to Pat, advertisers need to look at the whole marketing picture to understand, find out the relationship between different marketing activities, how each has an negative or positive impact on each other.

This idea is not new; however, what Pat beautifully does differently is that he implements this idea, model these relationship by carefully, selectively analyze tons of data, time line of different activities… etc
Hence he is able to explain the relationship by concrete numbers and more importantly able to forecast the changes and use these forecast to further optimize client’s paid search campaign.

It’s an article that i recommend Search Engine Marketing Professionals should take a look.
I experience first hand that, in order to do and achieve the level of accuracy and sophistication as Pat mentioned in his article, it is in no way easy.

It depends on many factors:

  • Advertisers must use a very good analytic tool which offers a high level of flexibility, not only just user segmentation, ability to track user’s journey, near real time data etc…
  • Secondly, you need to have a very good understanding of the overall local market where the client campaigns are running. At the same time, a good understanding of customers’ behavior in a particular industry is essential.
  • In order to take advantage of valuable information gathered from these in dept analysis for future campaign, excellent keyword tool needs to be in place. Keyword tool that is able to generate thousands of long tail keywords.
  • Bid management tool will play a key role as well since it will make the whole different especially on large scale on how you optimize your bid price.
  • Clients themselves also need to be very well versed not only on Search Engine Marketing alone but generally on online marketing knowledge also since everything that agency wants to implement need to be approved in advance by the clients.
  • It takes time to build an accurate forecasting model and also to understand the markets, so i think the most important factor is the people (ya a team of professionals) who manage the campaign, selectively analyze all the numbers and implement changes. I truly admire their analytical skills because i know it’s not easy at all. You can be easily overwhelmed by too many numbers or focusing too much time on a single tree and losing the whole forest.

And as a true professional as Pat Stroh is, he follows up the article with another post equally amazing.
The title of the new article is “Is your Paid search campaign is part of a Mix or a Mess
In this article, Pat uses a questionnaire with scores to help advertisers/SEM professional to find out what kind of MESS (Media Energizing Search Score) they are in?
This article again acknowledges the need to have a holistic view on all marketing activities, both Below the line (BTL) and Above the line (ATL)

I won’t copy and paste the whole article here but rather recommend all of you who are reading this article to visit the link above, take some time off and really assess your running campaigns, current strategies or even your knowledge about Search Engine marketing in particular, Online Industry, Marketing Industry in general.

The sad fact is from my observation, all most 90% all Singapore campaigns, companies have their MESS score of 30+, which stands for “It’s good that you’re reading this article, if just to realize how really far behind you are. How are you doing surviving?”

The reasons why this market is still so far behind with regards to online advertising are simply beyond the scope of this post. From time to time, i have mentioned here and there some of the reasons i think contribute to the current landscape. One thing for sure is the lack of education and talented professionals.
Below are my honest answers for Singapore markets with regards to all the questions raised by Pat:
(Please take note that all the questions are with regards to Search Marketing activities…)

A. How many types of “other media” (TV, radio, direct mail, online display, etc.) do you run?
ANS: 2. Several different types of media (radio, newspaper, direct mail, and online display)

B. Do the media turn on/off (pulse) over time, or it is a consistent (trickle or barrage) over time?
ANS: There is no clear cut answer that applies to all advertisers for this question i am afraid.

C. Is your historic media activity shown at the day, week, month, quarter level?
ANS: 4. Quarter

D. How much historical media and search data do you have?
ANS: 4. None or 3. Less than one year

E. To what extent does your company do geo-targeted, experimental media tests of the media mix?
ANS: 4. Experimental media test? How?

F. Are you trying to squeeze another 5 or 10 percent of efficiency out of your search efforts? Or do you suspect there are large efficiencies remaining to be exploited using ad copy and landing page tests, as well as elementary budgeting optimization?
ANS: I have no idea what your question is about or 1. Running paid search campaigns has been a constant struggle; we depend on the search engines to give us good advice.

G. Do you have dedicated teams of analysts with a background in forecasting and predictive modeling?
ANS: 1. Our search campaign manager is the analyst.

H. To what extent does your manager want results NOW, as opposed to supporting long-term projects with no immediate payoff?
ANS: 4. I really shouldn’t be reading this article, because the CEO recently searched for a term and did not see any ad from your campaign.

I. Do upcoming media plans change so much that it’s like a constant fire-drill of last minute cancellations and updated insertion orders in the media buying department?
ANS: 4. Run! I just got another email from the EVP of Marketing shifting the media budgets.

J. Is your marketing coordination agnostic about the channel (online, offline) of conversion, as long as it’s the most efficient as possible?
ANS: 3. The EVP of Marketing recently read that more money is moving toward online and search; my budget is going up!

Those with the score of 0-9, from Pat, it means “Congrats! You’re setting the pace for your competitors. They are coming after you, and want to take your house and job away. A consistent focus on coordinating your paid search with other media efforts should continue to yield dividends. Look for further processes efficiencies, and testing or analysis that clears up any lingering gaps in your knowledge.”

I need to stress again here that by no mean and in no ways that i express nothing but true admiration towards true marketers in Singapore. The Singapore economy is growing at an amazing rate of 9% for Q3 2007 so obviously most of the marketers are doing an excellent jobs in hitting sales, getting more clients locally and overseas.
The answers i give are strictly within Search Engine Marketing activity only and shouldn’t be treated as a guideline to project any forecast or to deduce any pre mature conclusions.

Well, I will end today post about Search Engine Marketing in the Marketing mix by using the conclusion by the guru himself:
In summary, the incorporation of media mix information into your paid search marketing is not without preconditions. There must be a reasonably rich set of data available, and the resources (analysts) to carefully examine it. Additionally, your organization can not be impatient or expect major increases in their efficiency (above and beyond the basics).

Cheers and Good night!

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