A Look into the State of Search Marketing 2012
The State of Search Marketing Report 2012 by Econsultancy and SEMPO hit our inbox recently, and the survey data gives us a glimpse into some of the big challenges many companies are facing now and what’s important to them.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the emerging themes — ROI and attribution being one of them. As you’re reading this, I encourage you to think about ways you can help companies overcome some of their biggest challenges in digital marketing.
Whether you’re an in-house marketer looking to get buy-in or an agency/consultant looking at your approach to services, this data gives a glimpse into the psyche of companies, their challenges and opportunities in Web marketing.
The Challenge: ROI and Attribution
A common theme among the survey data shows companies are still facing challenges in measuring the ROI of individual disciplines like SEO, paid search and social.
From the data, it’s seems as though many companies are at a turning point where they need to break down the barriers between the disciplines to realize the true value of their digital marketing efforts.
It’s apparent companies are striving to understand the purpose of each discipline, what metrics and goals to track, how it works in a symbiosis with the others, and its role in the big picture of ROI.
A need for attribution modeling to get a better understanding of how each discipline is contributing to the bigger picture seems to be an answer to many of those challenges.
It seems like many companies are almost there, and a new perspective on their efforts might help them solve many of the common challenges we are seeing reported in the SEMPO State of Search Marketing 2012 results.
The Data: A Closer Look
Challenges Managing Search Engine Optimization
Top three challenges:
- Measuring ROI of SEO efforts.
- Optimizing destination pages.
- Staying abreast of search engine indexing algorithms and technologies.
How you can help meet these challenges:
- Find ways to define purpose, set goals and KPIs for your campaigns in a way that’s meaningful. What do you want your SEO to be able to do for you? Then you can begin to discern what SEO can and can’t accomplish, and where other disciplines fit into the mix.
- Make sure that those efforts to drive people to your site are not wasted on pages that don’t convert. This is where content and user experience are key. Is your page set up so that the main content is easy to find? Do you offer engaging, useful and relevant content that delivers on the promise of your keywords?
- If you’re an agency, consultant or evangelist for SEO, think of ways you can help key people/clients stay apprised of and understand the important algorithm changes. If not a simple conversation, what content can you create and distribute to clients/prospects/internally to keep people up-to-date? Google makes hundreds of algorithm updates per year, some of them very impactful, some of them less significant. Use discernment in which you speak to and how it relates to the bigger picture.
Challenges Managing Social Media Marketing
Top three challenges:
- Measuring ROI from social media efforts.
- Getting budget for social media efforts.
- Integration and measurement with other online/offline marketing channels.
How you can help meet these challenges:
- No longer is social media an argument of “should I be doing it?” But you do have to know why. If you know why you are participating in social media and why you are choosing the channels you are, the measurement part is a lot easier because you have goals.
- The need for budget for social media and integration of social into other online and offline marketing can go hand-in-hand with attribution modeling. If you know the value of your social to your entire digital campaign, it becomes easier to know how to allocate resources and budget for it.
Social Media and Search Marketing Alignment
Many companies still don’t view their search and social marketing as a unified effort. The report findings state:
“There’s a divide in how companies and agencies view search and social. With each year, a greater percentage of agencies report treating social and search as interrelated reaching 58% in 2012 On the client side, below, there’s been little movement in the last two years. Part of that divide is simply in exposure; agencies are more likely to have direct experience with the impact of social influence on search traffic, as well as with the impact of social signals on page relevance/ranking.”
For more information on the relationship between search results and social, check out the following articles. But remember, the value that social can lend to your search marketing goes beyond rankings – it can allow you to uncover opportunities for marketing content and participating with your audience in new ways:
- Search Engine Watch: How Much Do Social Signals Play Into Google Rankings? (June 2012)
- SEO Newsletter: Understanding Search Plus Your World (January 2012)
SEO, Paid Search and Social Media
It’s no surprise that many companies embrace paid search because of its perceived simplicity in assigning ROI. The data below shows once again, a need for clearly defined goals for each channel, then attribution modeling to determine their value within the entire marketing strategy. For more on multichannel attribution, check out our liveblog coverage of the session, “Measuring Profit and ROI across Channels” at SES San Francisco in August 2012.
Use of Social Media Sites
The following slide shows where companies are spending their resources in terms of social channels. Top three channels are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Next is YouTube followed by Google Plus, interestingly enough.
When choosing social media channels, many factors need to be weighed. Take into account its potential impact on search results, where your audience is and if there is a good fit between your business and that channel.
For more on how to choose and optimize social channels and strategy, here’s some reading:
- LinkedIn for Business Parts 1 through 3 (May 2012, Bruce Clay, Inc. blog)
- Using Data to Drive Your Google Plus Program (April 2012, Bruce Clay, Inc. blog)
- I’m a B2B Company, Should I be Using Pinterest? (March 2012, Bruce Clay, Inc. blog)
- 8-Point Approach to Building a Social Marketing Strategy (June 2012, Bruce Clay, Inc. blog)
Factors in New Channel Adoption
This data gives us insight into some of the concerns companies have when adopting a new channel. If you’re an in-house marketer looking for buy-in, or a agency/consultant, think about ways you can address these concerns before going in for the buy. Additionally, what content can you create around your argument that will help support it?
Significance of Trends and Technologies
This reveals how companies responded to perceived impact of trends and technology updates.
This data seems to say that many companies are still unsure on how to approach their SEO in a way that is algorithm-proof, so to speak. When companies chase algorithms or don’t have a good understanding of quality SEO, they are ever at the mercy of Google’s updates.
For more on refocusing SEO efforts from an algorithm-based approach to something more strategic, check out this article: How to Survive Google Algorithm Updates (May 2012, SEO Newsletter).
And of course, mobile is top of mind for many, with good reason. Google has been preaching mobile for quite some time now, and wants us all to think about the mobile experience we’re creating for our users. Here’s one tidbit from Google’s Avinash Kaushik at SES San Francisco in August 2012:
For more on mobile:
- Business Optimization in a Digital Age: Avinash Kaushik SES SF 2012 Keynote (August 2012, Bruce Clay, Inc. blog).
- Navigating the New Multiscreen World (August 2012, Google Mobile Ads blog).
- What Your Site Should Do About Rising Mobile Internet Use (June 2012, Bruce Clay. Inc. blog).
All in all, the data reveals what many of us believe is the next logical step for companies: treating all efforts and channels as a cohesive plan, and measuring as such. As companies view the disciplines within search marketing as symbiotic, more and more, attribution is top of mind.
Companies want to know how to measure the ROI of their organic search, social marketing and paid search individually. Then they want to know how each of them contribute to the ROI of their holistic marketing plan.
A little about the survey sample:
- There was a total of 883 respondents for the entire survey.
- U.S.-based participants accounted for 64 percent of the total.
- Size of companies by number of employees is as follows: 1 to 9 employees at 4 percent; 10 to 100 employees and 34 percent; 101 to 1,000 employees at 30 percent; 1,001 to 5,000 employees and 9 percent; More than 5,000 employees at 22 percent.
- Size of company by revenue in 2010 is as follows: less than $1 million at 7 percent; $1 to 10 million at 29 percent; $10 to $100 million at 22 percent; $100 million to $1 billion at 20 percent; more than $1 billion at 21 percent.
There’s a lot more interesting data in the SEMPO State of Search 2012 report (72 pages worth) – download your copy here if you’re a SEMPO member. If you’re not a SEMPO member, sign up! (As a side note, we offer special discounts to SEMPO members, including $200 off our SEO training course.)
For last year’s data, check out the post on our blog that looks into the State of Search Marketing Report 2011.