Integrated Search Marketing – A Quick How to Guide

If you’re thinking about integrating SEO and PPC, what are the benefits of integration and how exactly do you go about it?

The benefits of integrated search
Reducing Adwords spend is usually the main driving force behind integrating pay per click and natural search engine marketing, but there are a great many other advantages to this particular mix:

•    Attracting quality links to increase natural search engine positioning for your top keywords.
•    Delivering search optimised content assets that promote your brand, either onsite or offsite.
•    Driving higher volumes of relevant traffic from search engines, referrers and social media.
•    Increasing goal conversions including subscriptions, brochure downloads and online sales.

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cc Integrated Search Marketing   A Quick How to Guide photo credit: John Sexton

In short, integrated search marketing improves the effectiveness of your marketing spend, delivering a greater return on investment and enabling more creative, newsworthy content to be developed. It’s a kind of virtuous circle, the more effective your marketing mix, the more amplified your natural search positions, the better your ROI.

It all starts with a search
Whether your potential customer is at the research phase or ready to buy, they’re looking for a solution to a problem. Therefore understanding your customer and what would be of value to them is the key to embarking on an integrated search campaign.Rather than starting with a marketing message and interrupting as many people as possible with it, integrated search focuses on recognising what your customers will find useful and delivering this to them in the right place at the right time. Usually via a search or recommended by their social network.

Out with the old
Traditional marketing models like the 4Ps (product, place, price, promotion) and 7Ps (the 4Ps plus people, positioning, process) fail to identify one key element… customers! In our 21st century business world where entire businesses exist because of user generated content, it is clear that marketing models that ignore a company’s best asset need to be revised.

In with the new
I’ve always been a fan of a good marketing acronym – AIDA and SOSTAC still serve me well in writing email marketing campaigns and planning marketing strategies. Each letter represents a step to help you remember an otherwise complex checklist of practical stages to deliver repeatable campaign successes. So, in true marketing model style, my advice would be to make sure your integrated search marketing campaigns have a THEME…

Tribes
Identify who your interested parties are, this is a bit like identifying your publics or stakeholders in PR. They might not all be customer groups, some may be media owners like bloggers and magazines or customer influencers like associations and agencies. The main point of this step is to segment your audiences by their behaviour and interests.

Hook
What key benefit can you offer to this specific group that they’re going to be interested in? The purpose of this step is to develop a proposition that can be applied across different online channels including natural SEO and PPC, plus social media, online PR, viral and email marketing initiatives. This may or may not be a sales message, although it’s far more likely to succeed if it’s not selling anything but offering a genuine mutually beneficial and unique opportunity.

Engaging Content
Once you know what kind of offer is going to be of interest to your tribes, the 3rd step is all about creating a great piece of content that encapsulates the idea. The content might be a whitepaper, blog post, podcast, widget, video, special offer, event, e-book, guide, tool or simply a new page on your website. The content should be optimised for your relevant top keywords for natural search purposes and be designed for sharing and bookmarking, with the ultimate goals of generating traffic; back links and goal conversions.

Marketing
This stage is crucial to the success of the campaign, once you’ve developed your content where’s the best place to promote it? You may decide to publish it to your website to attract natural search traffic and support this initially with a PPC campaign to attract a certain volume of traffic to jumpstart the social networking effect. Alternatively the content might be more appropriate to syndicate to PR news wires; approach bloggers with or serialise in snippets via Twitter. Timing is everything and both PPC and email marketing can be used to kick-start seasonal content offerings.

Evaluation
As with any marketing campaign, you’re going to need to find a way of assessing the success of your campaign. Choose a maximum of 1 or 2 key performance indicators (KPIs) for each segment. In total the effects of your integrated campaign should be designed to deliver a mixture of different results including links in; relevant traffic and goal conversions. Together, these different elements support a search amplification effect to ultimately improve search engine positioning for your top keywords; help your website to appear in universal search results and improve your website’s overall reputation, further driving more relevant traffic and goal conversions.

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