Thursday, July 17, 2008

SEMPO State of Search Survey Summary

If you caught the video highlights of the Great SEMPO Debate, you heard me reference the Annual SEMPO State of Search Survey that was recently released. Follow the link to check out the Executive Summary at the SEMPO site but here is an even shorter take on some key findings:

  • SEM Definitions and Standards: The report starts with definitions and the first definition is

    “Search Engine Marketing (SEM): The entire set of techniques and strategies used to direct more visitors from search engines to marketing web sites.”

    It was nice to see this definition as it is the one we have espoused at DBE from day one – i.e., SEM is the umbrella term and should not be used as an alternative acronym for SEA (or Paid Placement per the SEMPO definition).

    I hope this marks SEMPO’s first step toward helping establish industry standards/best practices as the survey also cites the growing concerns and consensus on the need for such guidelines as search marketing matures.

  • SEM Poaching Budget: The survey shows marketers are shifting budgets from other offline and online marketing programs to do more search marketing. And they aren’t waiting for the next budget cycle to do so. The reason is fairly obvious when you see the ROI value these marketers place on SEM (which is my segue to the next point).

  • SEM ROI Value: Paid Placement (SEA) and Organic SEO were the top two marketing vehicles cited by survey respondents as the most efficient in terms of spend-to-return on investment. At 54% and 50% respectively, these search vehicles far exceeded the number three vehicle – email marketing – which was cited by 39% of the respondents. For further perspective, conferences was number four with 17%.

    Check out my video below (or at the DBE SEM Channel on YouTube) that further explores the correlation of these last two points.

  • SEM Client Satisfaction: The survey reports clients’ satisfaction with their search marketing agencies had improved some from prior years but it is sad, and alarming, to see that only about 40% of respondents were “very happy” or “moderately happy” with their provider. This contrasts with our own recently-conducted client satisfaction survey where 100% of respondents gave us excellent/near-excellent grades. Why the big difference? That’s fodder for another blog but I think one reason is that we act proactively as “partners” with our clients, not reactively as “providers/vendors.”

That’s it for now, but expect to hear more from me in this area as I recently joined the SEMPO Research Committee….

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