4 Essential Roles Search Plays in Multichannel Marketing
Determining the role of search in the multichannel marketing mix involves some simple logic: How do consumers think? To them, search is a tool they use in the decision-making process—it doesn't make decisions for them.
"I think search is a bit of a misnomer, really," says Ian Baer, chief strategy officer at Costa Mesa, Calif.-based marketing agency Rauxa. "Search is what people do and what search engines do. But from a brand's standpoint, it's really about visibility and reputation."
Here to help marketers better understand the role of search in consumers' decision-making patterns are: Baer; Jill Davis, vice president of marketing and business development at Pawtucket, R.I.-based printing and fulfillment services provider The MATLET Group; and Dan Garfield, manager of online marketing at American Fork, Utah-based online marketing services provider OrangeSoda.
1. First Touch
If consumers enter the sales funnel through search, be the "easiest brand to find in your space," Baer says.
"Search engines have enabled us to be present at exactly the moment a potential customer is looking for our product or service," Davis says. "However, search has also evolved a little since its early years. In the beginning, the use of search engines was more akin to a hunting expedition. Over time, search has become more [of] an information-gathering tool."
That leads marketers directly to Step Two.
2. Research Tool
When consumers already have an idea about what they want, provide them with searchable content and integrate channels so that whether consumers entered the funnel initially through search or not, they can perform research before making their decisions.
Baer says: "Whether a consumer gets interested as the result of exposure to an advertising campaign or a digital asset or some other brand experience, about 80 percent of the time they get interested in a brand they're going to search for information and/or reviews online. So, it's a matter of being a lighthouse that both guides consumers along a path that ends at your brand and is quite simply impossible to miss when one goes seeking."