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Net Gains: The 4 Most Common Search Marketing Mistakes Made by CMOs

1 May, 2009 By: Mike Jacobs Response

In today's Web-driven environment, effective search marketing can bring a business to new levels of success. In theory, there's no better prospect than someone who has entered your keyword into a search engine. It's almost like selling to someone raising his or her hand and saying, "I want that!"

Mike Jacobs
Mike Jacobs

Unfortunately, implementing incorrect or ineffective techniques can have the opposite effect — decreasing brand recognition and creating missed sales opportunities. How can you avoid doing all the wrong things when it comes to search marketing? Here are four of the most common slip-ups to avoid.

  • 1.
    Going completely hands-off. Search marketing takes time and effort to build a program that's right for you. Simply putting a few keywords into Google and never checking them again is a hands-off approach that won't work. While it's normal to feel like you don't have the resources to manage a search program internally, CMOs often make the mistake of removing themselves completely from the search management process — outsourcing everything to agencies or using black-box tools. While agencies are great to use for the heavy lifting — optimizing keywords, bids and creative on a daily basis — it's important to have a strategic view of your campaigns. While Google helps customers manage larger accounts that haven't enlisted an outside agency, remember it is still a vendor, and its goals might not match yours.
  • 2.

    How to fix it:
    Demand regular reports on top keywords and creative. Look closely at your customer base: what keywords are they searching? How are they finding products after they reach your site? For specific campaigns, make sure that your ROI goals are being met. Have search and content been separated to get an honest view of which channel is driving more results? Investigate alternative techniques such as "matching," which can reduce costs and increase results by adding negative keywords.

  • 3.
    Bad budgeting. It may seem less risky on paper, but working with small daily or short-term budgets for search is incredibly inefficient and will hurt the ROI of any performance campaign. You'll limit traffic and end up paying more for clicks and sales that you could have gotten cheaper.
  • 4.

    How to fix it:
    Setting an effective budget requires a longer-term outlook, but proper use can actually lead to overdelivery. To get it right, start by calculating and confirming your ROI targets, which should take precedence over any other budget constraints. Use Google trends or your overall site traffic to identify peak times (and their relative values) and determine their impact on volume and costs within your vertical. Lastly, focus the budget on the long term, adding as much spend flexibility as possible.

  • 5.
    Optimizing and testing landing pages improperly ... or not at all. Search, click and land on your site. Each of these steps is critical, but it's what you do with that landing page that holds the key to your campaign's success. A search result only gives you 95 characters to entice a prospective customer, so grabbing attention is a major challenge. Using the wrong landing pages for search will not only decrease your sales, but also increase your costs, since search engines reward relevant landing pages with better placements and lower cost-per-click.
  • 6.

    How to fix it:
    Relevancy affects quality score, so it's essential to incorporate the keywords you bid on into your landing page. Navigation/menu bars distract consumers and can keep them away from the actions that will generate sales. Test your new page choices to identify the pages that convert the best.

  • 7.
    Failing to coordinate across channels. Remember, search is only one of many marketing channels. Unless these channels are being optimized together, they're actually not being optimized at all.
  • 8.

    How To Fix It:
    Advertisers need a collaborative approach that includes sharing data across campaigns, integrating internal and external teams, transferring successes from one channel to another, and managing acquisition costs more effectively across the board. Don't be afraid to do less for one and more for another to achieve the right balance.

Mike Jacobs is CSO of iMarketing Ltd., a full-service online marketing agency, delivering cost-effective and results-driven online marketing solutions. He can be reached at (609) 921-0400.

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