Marketing Gets an SEO Makeover
Is it time for a makeover?
Every so often I have this urge to make myself over. Change my hair. Overhaul my wardrobe. At the very least, buy a shocking new shade of nail polish. It’s a common conundrum for those of the fairer sex, though I wonder if there’s an equivalent drive in men, too. If there is, I suspect it may be behind that exhaustingly competitive need to have the newest, coolest toy on the block. But that’s just a theory.
The point being that sometimes makeovers are something we choose to do, and sometimes they’re forced upon us like some foul tasting medicine that’s going to cure what ails ya.
A couple years ago the IBM Institute for Business Value published a (at the time) unique assessment of how the Web 2.0 world would change advertising. The paper was titled “The end of advertising as we know it” (PDF — a summary PDF is also available).
At the time, October of 2007, the authors proposed that in the five years to follow, the advertising industry would witness a period of fast-paced and full-scale change that was unparalleled in the previous 50 years. Two years later and looking back, I think we can all agree.
In the paper, they identified four main ways that change was happening in the advertising and marketing industries: attention, creativity, measurement, and advertising inventories.
In 2007, the attention of consumers was shorter than ever before and, thanks to technology, it had become so much easier for the consumer to tune out ads. Consumer creativity was booming, thanks in large part to mushrooming outlets for amateur and non-professional content publishing. Suddenly, almost every action of the consumer was measureable. And the former monopoly of ad platforms was opening up to a free and choice-filled marketplace.
It was a strange, new world. And just when you thought you had a handle on it…
Two years later, and it looks like the change foreseen by IBM was just the beginning. The evolution isn’t over. Adaptation is just as important now as it was yesterday and the day before.
Thankfully, for the sake of this conversation, IBM’s framework for categorizing the change still apply. So what does evolving attention, creativity, measurement, and advertising inventory mean today?
Way back in 2007 (:P) IBM warned businesses that consumers were “increasingly exercising control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising.” This is obviously true today, but since then, SEO strategies have emerged to tackle this obstacle. Enter the Engagement Object™.
When losing a conversion happens as fast as a click on the back button, the burden lies with the business to keep consumer attention on the site. Address this by including compelling and engaging content on the site, including videos, podcasts, graphic images, maps, polls… Whatever the means, marketers need to keep visitors engaged and active on the site.
Thanks to the Web, content publishing became a thing of the masses. No longer are there elite publishers talking to a captive audience. Instead, every Internet user is a potential content producer. Not only is the potential there, but Internet users are usually more than happy to contribute.
In SEO, consumers’ penchant for creativity can be leveraged through user-generated content, such as customer reviews. Along with the benefit of gaining keyword-rich, relevant content, customer reviews increase a site and brand’s trust and credibility factors.
Now, this next verse is same as the first verse. Two years ago IBM described the newly-emerged clamoring of the advertising industry for data. The demand for measurement rose from the novelty of an environment where everything is measurable.
Lucky for marketers, this aspect of advertising on the Web hasn’t changed much. We’ve advanced our focus — for SEO it’s no longer about page views or rankings, it’s about conversions and ROI. But the value placed on measurement hasn’t faded. Analytics and web intelligence should be the backdrop of SEO efforts, after all.
When IBM originally wrote their paper, online advertising platforms were in a state of flux. For so long, media advertising (online and on other channels) was restricted to the big players, the big networks, and the big names. But eventually there came a leveling of the playing field for ad platforms and the diminishing of an “ad space that was once proprietary”.
In the same way, content control has become democratized. Consumers have a say over the media messages they listen to. If they don’t want to hear it, it’s easier than ever to tune out. So instead of forcing the message, a portion of online marketing strategy revolves around delivering the message to a voluntary audience. When a consumer is looking for you, is open to your message, and wants to hear more about what you can offer them, where do they turn? A search engine. There’s no better player in this space than SEO.
When you feel the pull of progress, don’t push it aside. Evaluate your marketing and the changing world that it lives in. Then decide: Is it time for a marketing makeover?