Integrating Search and Traditional Marketing

The Boston Red Sox; “American Idol”; “Lost”; “The Amazing Race”. Wednesday is a busy night on TV! To avoid this viewing traffic jam, I record “Lost” so I can view it another time, minus the ads. Later, when I watch it and fast-forward through the commercials, do I completely miss the “DaVinci Code” movie trailer? When I flip channels between the Sox game and “The Amazing Race”, do I catch a glimpse of people winning trips courtesy of Travelocity, the show’s featured sponsor? With a Wednesday night line-up like that, only one thing’s for sure: Marketing messages abound!

During the course of watching these programs, what messages reach me? Which ones resonate? What do I absorb? As a marketer, you actually have a good shot at finding out. How? With search. By analyzing your search traffic, marketers can begin to learn what messages I saw, what sunk in, and what my interests are. Using slightly different keyword phrase variations in each of your traditional marketing helps identify which message drives search behavior. For example, a television spot could refer to an “ultra-thin cell phone” while a corresponding radio spot refers to an “ultra-thin mobile phone.” Search data can reveal what I look for, how I look for it, and even where I look for it. If you have the right web analytics in place, you can tell when I looked, where I clicked, what I bought, and even what I paid.

Given everything that search data can offer, shouldn’t the findings be used to inform traditional marketing as well?

Traditional marketing, especially TV, is a major driver of search behavior. At any given time I’m partially absorbing myriad messages from TV, radio, the Internet, IMs, texts, etc. No, I don’t have A.D.D. — I’m just multi-processing. Invariably I hear or see something and remember the features and attributes, but not the product. Or I remember the brand, but not the website. Can’t relate to me? Chances are you’re either lying or you’re in Mensa. Less than 20% of us can remember enough of what we see or hear in advertising to go to the right website. When I do remember whatever it is I remember, where do I go, and what do I do? I go online and I search based on what I DO remember.

So what does this tell you? If your website can’t be found when someone performs a search for the messaging you used within your traditional marketing, you are losing out on a huge opportunity to connect with an audience that wants to know more about what you have to offer. According to JupiterResearch, 74% of all online users use search engines to research products or services. So it’s time to integrate search engine marketing with your other marketing channels that are natural drivers of search behavior.

To successfully integrate search marketing with your traditional marketing, it is paramount that all your marketing speaks the same language. If you are not currently engaged in search engine optimization and search marketing, examine your traditional marketing initiatives to identify your winning words. Then, optimize your website around those terms, and bid enough to show-up on them. If you are engaged in search marketing, you probably already know which terms drive the most traffic, and which convert the best. Take what you know, and immediately infuse your traditional initiatives with these words.

Traditional marketing gives you the opportunity to define the language your prospects speak. Give people the words you want them to search on, and they will. Use traditional vehicles to encourage people to search on terms you know you can be found on. If your competitors are dominating a certain keyword, don’t let your traditional marketing work for them. Send people where you know you’ll be found.

Know this, if you are running a promotion or have an announcement that will create buzz, people will search for it. And if your competitors are worth their salt, they’ll capitalize on your efforts. Be smart and do likewise. Pay attention to what your competitors are up to; read their marketing collateral, catalogs, print and outdoor ads. Listen to the language used in their TV and radio spots. Place special emphasis on the non-branded words they use because those words are up for grabs, and making sure you’re found prominently on search for those words will allow you to reap the rewards from THEIR marketing dollars.

For some reason people are still singing Pontiac’s praises for their “Google Pontiac” Super Bowl ad. They paid over $2 million to air the spot, and got 68% of the search traffic for “Pontiac” after it aired. But one-thirdof the traffic driven by the TV ad went elsewhere! And this is considered a success story? Mazda got wind of the Pontiac ad, bid on keywords they knew people would search on, and capitalized on their competitor’s efforts. Mazda ought to send Pontiac a fruit basket.

Most Super Bowl advertisers did nothing with search to accompany their spots, so 68% sounds pretty good. Seems like a lot of money spent on brand buzz to me. Remember – most people recall the feature, not the product or the brand. Integrating search helps you close the loop. But then again, not integrating search also helps you close the loop… for your competitors.

Although integrating search with traditional marketing has the potential to improve marketing results across the board, making the transition is not without its challenges. Maybe you lack the necessary resources to integrate such information, as doing so requires a fair amount of management. A recent Jupiter & iProspect study found that search marketers tend to be responsible for five other job functions on average. With that much on your plate, it’s tough enough to get everything out the door on-time, never mind integrated. But the resource barrier is usually not an issue for larger companies who can afford to hire an agency, or bring all of the functions in-house and staff-up accordingly. Conversely, smaller companies are more agile and, as a result, can centralize more quickly to accomplish integration. In either case, adequate resources are required in order for integration to succeed.

In addition to resources, the successful integration of search with traditional marketing requires something else: the directive to integrate must come from the top. A C-level sponsor that understands the benefits of an integrated marketing approach is the best champion for the cause. Often, there are too many competing priorities to expect all the required parties to gather around the company campfire and integrate on their own accord. For example, often a company’s website and related functions are owned and managed by the technology department, not marketing. This is an approach that can prevent you from maximizing your most visible and effective marketing vehicle. In the digital age, a company’s website is its headquarters. You wouldn’t entrust your company’s brand to the facilities manager just because they operate the building, would you? Bottom line: successful integration must stem from the top of the organization.

Now what? Get together. Get centralized. Get pizza. Whatever. But get everybody speaking the same language. Then… get going. Get optimized. Get bidding. Get me on Wednesday night – I’ll be watching.

Dave Feldman is Client Services Director at iProspect, where he manages the activities of multiple client-facing teams. Feldman has worked with numerous clients, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Sharp Electronics, and Xerox, and has extensive experience in the travel, business services, and insurance verticals. He can be reached at

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