Search Marketing is More Than Pudding

By Nathan Gawel, Paid Search Associate Director, Advertising Solutions

People in the Search world have relied too heavily on “the proof in the pudding” theory. What happens when the proof is not in the pudding, but in the salad or the main entrée? Maybe the proof is in all three combined. What I am referring to is the constant push to reduce CPAs or increase ROAS, all in the name of a better ROI. Granted, Search has a huge advantage in the advertising world because it can show you exactly what you are getting for what you are spending (aka – the pudding). While this is a great advantage, it can often times back Search Marketing into a corner. As the economy remains on shaky ground, the marketing dollars will tighten as advertisers want more for less. I believe as the Search community we are responsible for understanding and promoting the “salad” and the “entrée” opportunities that Search brings to the table.

Online dollars representing offline sales is a hard pill to swallow for many clients, and it is a hard one to prove as an agency or search engine, but not impossible. One must take a step back and discover what actions on a website someone might take before making an offline purchase. Offering in-store coupons is a good way to start, but there are other avenues to consider. For example, if you offer a store locator, do not just count the traffic to this page, but also capture what zip codes are entered. Then match up the zip codes searched to the DMAs and corresponding offline sales trends. See what the differences and similarities are. This could be the beginning of a beautiful geo-targeting relationship.

Now for the entrée, what else are visitors doing on a site? What are the values associated with those actions? Can people sign up to become a member? Is there a newsletter sign up? There has to be a way to figure out the value of a new member. The average member spends X amount of dollars in a year; the average lifetime value of a member is Y etc. Now you have more proof. If you send out 10,000 newsletters a year and make an average of $150,000 a year from newsletter generated actions…then each newsletter sign up could potentially be worth $15. Even more proof that the entrée have measurable value.

Remember, just because a site sells products through ecommerce does not mean that direct sales metrics are the only value Paid Search can bring to the table. There is more than just ‘pudding’. Every dollar spent could be responsible for 20 visitors…1 who purchased a product for $20, 2 more who signed up for a newsletter and 5 who looked up the store locator. Instead of having a $20 ROAS, you now know $1.00 generated $20 in direct revenue, $500 dollars annually, and an average of $100 in offline revenue. Now that is a meal.


dgould said...

Well said Nate. I believe it was Pink Floyd who said, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" Let's hope marketers start indulging not only the pudding.

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