E-commerce Link: Convergence Culture
- Jane searches for your brand online and can't find you. You've just made a negative brand impression. It's a huge favor to your competitors. You've just encouraged Jane to make two additional clicks and find someone else who can deliver what you promised. That's branding.
- Jane searches for your brand and finds her way to dozens of negative reviews about your customer service. Bingo-search just converged with customer service (establishing the problem and not fixing it on time), PR (properly addressing the problem once it got public) and branding (the search result created a negative brand impression). How does that impact her purchase decision?
- Jane searches for your brand online and there you are, right on top of the search results with an attractive offer. It's just what she was looking for. You've made a profitable, measurable and accountable sale, and a positive brand impression.
How about when Jane doesn't search for your brand but rather a generic keyword describing your product or service? Jane searches for mattresses online. She finds your brand on the No. 1 spot. That's branding. The search engine just told Jane that your brand is the synonym for mattresses. Also, you've presented her with a relevant offer, just in the right time. She clicks. She buys. That's direct marketing at its best, coupled with branding.
Unfortunately, it's never that easy. In most cases, interactive marketers need to worry about getting their information/ads on top, fighting the negative feedback and fighting their competitors - all at the same time.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
The convergence of marketing disciplines is upon us. Here's how you can manage the challenge.
First, stop treating search engine marketing purely as a sales or acquisition channel. Give it a strategic position in your organization, impacting both sales and brand. Search cannot be managed simply on the basis of how much revenue it generates; the full scope of its impact needs to be understood - even the "soft" and less measurable parts.
Second, establish a cross-channel and cross-discipline SEM "board" in your company. Here's the composition: Representatives of key marketing stakeholders, like brand managers; customer service, interactive and sales channel managers; the PR department; the call center department; and anyone else who has a stake in how your organization communicates and is seen by the market.
The board should discuss individual, search-driven issues, goals and other items important to various stakeholders. Develop a list of strategic "keywords of importance" to individual departments. You'll quickly see differences in what all of these people deem important. Your direct marketers will focus on keywords that have been proven to generate revenue at an acceptable cost. The brand-focused pros might want to focus on money-losing keywords that would position the brand better.
A New, Holistic Strategy
Analyze all of your brand keywords, checking the number of searches for those keywords. Next, check the percentage of those searches that become your visitors. Simply calculate the total number of clicks on your paid search ads and the number of visitors to your site via the organic results (which you will get from your online analytics solution). The higher the percentage, the better you are doing.
Analyze search results for all strategic keywords on the list. Next, create a set of goals for each individual keyword based on input from all stakeholders. Individual goals per keyword might consist of: