Your research shows 2/3 of searchers are driven to search by some form of offline marketing. Were you surprised by these findings?
Not really. People have short attention spans and messages are coming at them all the time so you might remember a tidbit here and there but not who the brand was or what the product was. So you search to find the brand. Then you search again to compare prices, etc.
What are the implications for marketers?
It’s critical that you be active in search. If Google has you indexed up at the top, then people think you must be credible. We did research that showed nearly 40% of people assume if you’re at the top of the results, you must be one of the better brands. We call this the brand halo effect of search.
[Another imperative for marketers] is you need to have full integration. If your [offline] campaigns are creating awareness and intent [to which people respond by searching,] you’re driving queries straight to the competition.
You can’t dump money into offline only. You’re just pissing money away. [At the same time,] you can’t just do search. Search is the best “capture” channel but it can’t create demand.
You can also use search to identify trends, figure out what’s hot and use that to drive offline messaging. We had a shampoo client that was only focused on “shampoo”-related themes. We showed them that there were 5 times as many queries for “hairstyle”–related keywords.” Shampoo is a means to an end. Now [the client’s] go-to-market strategy is designed all around hairstyle and related content.
Should marketers use overt search calls-to-action (ala “Google Pontiac”) in offline marketing to stimulate search activity?
I don’t think so. Search behavior is ubiquitous. You don’t need a special call-to-action.
I suspect Pontiac paid Google a lot of money to make 100% sure they’d have a robust display on the SERP [search engine results pages].
As a marketer you have to understand what your search shelf-space strategy is and have a content strategy to create, distribute, and syndicate content to address all end points. That includes video and other formats now with universal search.
At SES [Search Engine Strategies conference] East last week in NYC, we talked about the future of search. SEO is no longer just not about meta tags and links. As search engines index more content from Facebook, YouTube, etc., the future of SEO is rooted in robust content strategies and distribution strategies.
A single web page is no longer the authoritative source for Google. You don’t need to own the destination, you just have to have content and know how to distribute it. If all your content can reside on a 3rd party destination [like Facebook] for free, why spend the money to build and host your own website. In the future, brand websites will be just feeds pulling in the content from all the various sources.