Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The “Search Marketing” Forest

The Marketing Executive Network Group (MENG) just released its first annual survey of its members on marketing trends and buzzwords. Top-Line: Search
Engine Optimization (SEO) is now clearly recognized as an important trend across both consumer and b2b markets. But I see a much more underlying significance in the survey results…

Please first understand the significance of the survey participants – 31% were Owner/Partners, 22% were C-Level Executive Management and 31% were VP level/Senior Management. That’s 84% of the respondent pool who are either the actual decision-makers or are high-level decision influencers.

So what’s on the mind of these leaders?

Well, again, at first glance, “SEO” is the second most important concept (topped only by a hodge-podge of “marketing basics”). The bigger story here, as revealed in the highlighted chart below, is that 6 of the top 10 marketing trends identified by these high-level marketers include elements of what we at DBE are now calling “search marketing.”

How is search marketing different than search engine optimization? Take a look at all the following marketing buzzwords/concepts used by the MENG survey respondents to describe the marketing trends highlighted. These themes were identified independently of SEO by the survey respondents. Yet, we believe all 19 can be grouped together with SEO and, as such, demonstrate our expansive definition and rationale for “search marketing:”

Lead Generation
Personalization (1 to 1 marketing)
Competitive Intelligence
Fragmentation of Media
Leading through Analytics
Experiential/Emotive Branding
Importance of “Stories”
Viral Marketing
Word of Mouth
Web 2.0
Mobile Communications
SNS (Social Network Sites)
CGM (Consumer Generated Media)
Electronic Media
Long Tail
Marketing ROI*

*Note: the last two were actually ascribed to the Marketing Basics trend but most certainly apply to search marketing.

Here’s the bottom-line bad news/good news as I see it for our clients and others engaged in SEO:

Bad News: SEO is clearly out of the closet and, as a result, the battle for natural rankings is going to get more competitive as more of the 85% of sites that are not yet optimized begin to get engaged.

Good News: Most marketers have not yet grasped that SEO is only one dimension of the search marketing prism. In other words and to shift to another metaphor, while they have identified a number of the new tactical trends/trees, they don’t yet see these are all part of the larger search marketing strategy/forest. And that’s good news because we do see the forest and are already working with our clients to seize the opportunities therein.

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