Archive for the ‘SEM’ Tag

A Tale of 2 Marketing Programs: Social Media Versus Search Engines

Social media is going to take budget dollars away from search engine marketing. Already is in many major brands. Simple economics are driving this transition.

If a major ecommerce player is spending 50% of their budget on search engine marketing, website optimization, and link optimization programs, but is losing the war to bloggers in organic search. Why would the ecommerce player continue to spend massive amounts of money on advertising when they can focus on blogger outreach (ethical, not paid) for far less money. Better yet, fix their customer experience and get customers to evangelize on their behalf.  this slide says it all….

Additionally, as we analyze the various social media monitoring and metrics tools, the challenge is pretty evident. Search engines work off of structured data. I can run an advanced search and build filters for my search results. The challenge with social search is that the taxonomy isn’t defined. How you talk about a problem can be completely different than I talk about it. Potential buyers may not even recognize that the problem they are discussing on social media is even in the market. How do you build an automated tracking of taxonomy around unstructured data?

Effective lead generation program within social marketing require human knowledge of your solutions and also the ability to follow discussion threads to identify contextual relavence. Over time, you should be able to fine tune the algorithms for your social monitoring programs to become 80% accurate, but the most successful programs are leveraging human knowledge to make social marketing engagement programs to become discoverable, impactful, and actionable.

Otherwise, you get the the large number of costly “unqualified” leads that flood into websites similar to the search engine marketing programs. These programs either make it up in volume or work the “long tail” of key words to reach better qualified buyers. Social marketing can get you to the “long tail” faster as most buyers start with questions in the long tail when they do not know what they are looking for and leverage the expertise of others to become more specific as they learn what they don’t know.

Search Engines vs Social Media for Marketing Awareness

Most companies’ websites are not on the first page of an organic search in the category. Probably half don’t even show up in the first couple of hits on their company name. This is the fundamental reason that social media is becoming more important to those companies. It is about distribution.

In the brick-and-mortar world, manufacturing and distribution were two well defined roles in business. Manufacturers created the products and then went to distributors (VARs, wholesalers, or even retailers) who distributed. The reason was economics; cost of sales and cost of distribution. Distributors broke up pallets, combined products into solutions, provided consulting, marketed, and managed the relationship with the customer. Manufacturers made the product and managed the relationship with the distributors.

I see the same model evolving with content on the web in marketing. Content manufacturers create the content (on websites, blogs, tweets, social networking posts, Youtube videos, and pictures) that is then redistributed (linkedin, referenced, clipped, forwarded, emailed, etc) to others on the web. Two critical roles are emerging; content manufacturers and content distributors. There is a whole class of  bloggers and twitterers who don’t create anything, but play an incredibly important role of cataloging, annotating, and redistributing content for the particular interest of their networks. You need both.

I think you are seeing a fundamental shift in the way that people distribute information via the web from a traditional direct distribution model (My website is cataloged, I invite people I know, or emailed to a list) to an indirect distribution model where you need a distribution network to reach and influence the right audience. These distributors ( really influencers) are critical to getting the “word out”, but you better have something compelling, interesting, and relevant if you want distribution. They “pay” for the privilege of distributing your content with a real currency… “their attention”.

At the end of the day, SEO is still extremely important for all companies. If only for optimizing your site for secondary and tertiary key words, you still can pick up traffic. Pay-per-click also helps. Search engines are still the leading way to find information on the web.

The “but” in that sentence is that social media is increasingly becoming a strong distribution channel for generating marketing awareness. As in the real world, those manufacturers (marketers) who have the stronger distribution network…. win.