by Jeff Molander
How does your digital marketing team invest today — and why? How will this change given the failings of search engines? Yes, failings. Search marketing is broken and failing most businesses… yet it is the #1 way digital marketers spend budget dollars on the Web. More alarming, research proves search engines are increasingly less trusted and less useful to consumers… and this will continue. Bottom line: search engines are increasingly unable to deliver results against the strategic interests of most companies. True. Now what?
I recently lectured on this and other surprising perspectives in Rio de Janeiro at the request of Petrobras, one of the world’s largest energy companies. My host even convinced me to gain new, bird-like perspective on their vibrant city (see above where I can be seen fully un-prepared in my Gringo slip-ons which are actually tethered to my feet).
As I soared on the thermals gaining new perspectives on South America I realized — the perspective that most businesses have on search marketing needs updating, BADLY. Erick Schonfeld’s piece featuring Nova Spivack is very important, helpful.
Search engines admit it: they’re failing customers and marketers.
They don’t admit it in what they say but they do admit it in what they DO. Search marketing is failing — it can’t help but fail given the increase in Web users and the content we’re all creating (‘social media’). Search engines are struggling to respond by “getting personal” (personalized search).
Most marketers continue to invest HEAVILY in search marketing — believing it to be wise, justified and profitable. Yet for most organizations investment is purely habit — not a measured practice. Just as 75 percent of display advertisements are “left alone” (re-invested in) most search marketing ads that everyone knows don’t work are left alone… to fail.
We’re not aligning compensation structure with strategic (ie. quality customers) goals.
Do you pay or incentivize your search marketing team to deliver on objectives other than “visitors”? Do you give them reason to fix or lower your customer acquisition costs? Do you give them reasons (and means to) set customer lifetime value targets?
A dangerous mass marketing mentality STILL drives our decision-making in an interactive age.
Aside from mis-aligned compensation or internal or external search marketing pros, search often wastes precious budget dollars due to old-school values. Search engines give us a gift: understanding a customers’ real-time purchase intent. Yet we use search engines for wasteful “branding” tactics — merely aligning our name with customers’ specific, product or service-focused intent. We throw up an ad and somehow hope for the best.
Savvy marketers are capturing information on customers’ “need state” along their “chronology of purchase intent” — capitalizing on the opportunity search presents. Think direct response marketing.
In many cases, search marketing’s promise is overstated — an outright lie and a waste of precious budget dollars. But don’t blame digital marketing services companies… consider the role that we marketers play. Many of us actively convince ourselves of falsehoods, look the other way on critical issues or apply worthless mass marketing practices in an interactive realm.
Search is failing to create tactical and strategic value.
Search is failing to create tactical (conversion to sale/action) and strategic (lifetime value of customer) value for most marketers. Why? Because of how most of us use it — as a mass marketing device.
As an example, the very popular and free Google Analytics works hard to overstate the value of search marketing. Danny Sullivan and Wharton’s Eric Clemons are going head to head on strategic and tactical issues that indicate how badly search is broken — if not rigged to exploit marketers themselves. More on that soon as I find Professor Clemons to be on the mark.
The search marketing community is very busy trying to talk their way out of positions they’ve behaved their way into.
There’s no shortage of research “propping up” search marketing but a raging debate is underway on a more important subject — what I call the Ignorance Economy (a “middleman economy” of digital service providers that our struggling world economy can no longer afford to support). I hope to turn up the heat on this issue in weeks and months ahead.
About the Author
Jeff Molander+ is the authority on making social media sell. He's a sought-after corporate trainer to small businesses and global corporations like Brazil's Petrobras. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His new book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with technology platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.