The SEM Agency Value Proposition: Part II

By David Gould, President

Last week I expounded on the value proposition of SEM Agencies in the face of more increasingly more search tools that automate the executional aspects of search campaigns.

In a nutshell, marketers will require their search agencies to be more consultative and less hard core search executional in the future. Last week I rolled out the first of three ways to accomplish this.

Here are another two ways:


The effectiveness of search as a branding and awareness mechanism is quickly being established as evidence continues to mount. As marketers increasingly turn to search for part of their branding solution, they’ll find that technology alone may be limited in its ability to deliver a satisfactory solution.

Most of today’s campaign management tools optimize toward direct response metrics (CPA, CPL, etc …). Branding and awareness campaigns are typically managed toward metrics not associated with direct response (page views, time on site, etc…).

The disconnect between campaign management tools and branding/awareness metrics requires human intervention to draw the right conclusions and properly apply them. Branding metrics are most commonly drawn from web analytics data, which brings me to my third and most important point.

The Forgotten Majority

Assuming an average search campaign sees 3% conversion on acquired clicks (for illustrative purposes). That means that 97% of the acquired traffic arrives and then disappears. This is the Forgotten Majority.

Current campaign management tools are designed to optimize to the 3% who convert by attempting to deliver more clicks like those 3%. In doing this, the tools may not only ignore the 97% but may actually try to avoid bringing them back through the elimination of keywords or copy. To really move the dial on search campaigns, marketers need to understand that 97% and optimize towards them while continuing to maximize the potential of the established 3%.

Somewhere in that 97% majority is a group, and arguably a large group, that was close to converting but didn’t. Let’s call them the “Fruit” (as in low hanging). Marketers need to understand the Fruit and why they didn’t convert.

Once that issue is addressed, the search campaign can be managed to drive more Fruit. This requires drawing insights from web analytics and again a deeper analysis and coordination than current search tools offer.

No doubt, technology based search tools are required to automate and run search campaigns efficiently and effectively, but they alone cannot take a campaign to the next level. They can optimize and maximize what they already have to work with, but it takes more than that to drive full integration of a search campaign into an overarching marketing strategy and to capture the full potential of a well executed search campaign.

I look forward to debating this topic with my colleagues on Thursday at the OMMA Global Conference in NY.


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