Search keeps its cornerstone within the now much broader and more intricate scope of performance media and marketing. It’s a foundational discipline and plays a critical role within the arsenal, but it’s not the only important element. What else must that conversation and our scope of understanding include these days?
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to uphold the pretense of “doing search” unless you are willing to keep your commitment to the basics. PPC alone or the occasional tweak, does not constitute a search effort.
Some level of SEO analytics will always be vital, to understand the anatomical performance of your site and keep on top of your approach to titling, categorization of assets, removal of obstacles and of course the tuning of the keyword execution itself.
Speaking of the keyword — keyword analysis, both organically and for the paid space, is essentially the blood of your efforts. Keep true to it.
Last up is the oft-overlooked fundamental of the landing page. The first part is wisely selecting them for your PPC campaigns, always attending to everything from path to conversion. This means dealing with content, density, distractions, bells, whistles and of course, relevancy at every touch.
And while you are at it, make sure your team knows its way around the good old QS or Quality Score, addressing things like relevancy, page load and more. There’s no shortcut when it comes to your landing page.
Bringing together deep awareness of your site’s optimization levels, along with keyword analysis (with attendance to landing pages and quality scoring) — together these are a solid foundation. But, these days, there is more.
The Next Level
The next level of search beyond the fundamentals gets us into a broader performance marketing play.
At the next level, we are thinking about things like localization and true integration. There have never been more ways to localize a search program, both at a system/campaign management level and in terms of approach to the keyword — and how we integrate across the mix with localized mobile and social executions.
In terms of integration, it is now very much the norm to integrate search and display, leveraging messaging and performance data across the two — as well as search and social, search and mobile, and more. The pairings are infinite.
They key is to organize your execution for maximum learning, so that you can scale and grow your integrated effort gracefully.
Finally, one of the best things you can do to get to the next level is to enter more thoughtfully into an overall approach of content marketing, developing, executing and populating your content environments strategically, making sure they complement one another and are all directed toward your objectives. Of course, you need to be ever mindful of how this content is being digested, shared and socialized. Spurring these behaviors with your content is a key method to growth.
The Next, Next Level
There’s a lot of talk about Big Data. Figuring this out — when it comes to performance marketing — is very much where we are.
It used to be that pondering and gauging consumer mode and intent allowed us to extrapolate a path to reasonable success. But, now, assuming we’ve done a decent job of suiting up with systems for campaign management, optimization, measurement and analysis in the new era — as well as secured the right access to audience targeting tools — we’ve got data galore. Many bundles of it.
Data for data’s sake will never serve us well, so we can expect as an industry to spend some time now figuring out this next, next level — how to make use of the layers and layers of data at our disposal. We need to continually model our way toward applicable audience intelligence. What we know about our target audience going in to an effort — demographics, a bit of behavioral information — will allow us to execute on some starting profiles.
But, the more we remain open to finding new non-endemic high-performing profiles, the more we can spread our wings and grow our campaigns to encompass a greater scope of productive audience profiles. And what we learn can be applied to the rest of the mix. This iterates and evolves over time with thoughtful execution.
As the space around performance marketing has continued to boom and proliferate, what I have enjoyed the most is a sense of evergreen territory. While our systems get better; our platforms, environments and options expands; our data gets richer and more usable — we can get smarter and learn and earn more. There is always a green bud.
Yet, there is never a singular, final “Ta da!” kind of moment. Every time the options open up or a new level of sophistication is attained in the industry — the bar raises and we’ve got to get back up on our tippy toes. As it should be, right? This is, after all, performance marketing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.