Monday, July 11th, 2016 | 5 min read
The competition to reach users across search is becoming more fierce by the day. Customer search terms signify their intent to buy something (or at least consider buying something), making it a powerful advertising channel.
Companies that don’t appear in the top one or two search results are unlikely to drive traffic. In fact, as of 2013, the first result of a Google search draws 33% of traffic, and the top two ranked results pulled 50%.
And search will only become more competitive, meaning advertisers must rise to the challenge by harnessing the rich customer data available today. Even with the countless resources that advertisers have at their disposal, customers still receive ads that are irrelevant or redundant, resulting in wasted advertising dollars and a poor brand perception.
With paid search advertising, the untapped opportunity lies in delivering timely, relevant content to users, whether they’re considering a purchase, about to make purchase, or have just purchased something. Marketers should leverage customer data to either suppress or enhance the ads they send to consumers based on wherever they are in their customer journey.
As customers’ demands for personalized experiences grow, getting SEM right will become even more important.
Most consumers use a search engine to identify and compare purchasing options before they buy. Offering these customers the right experience, at the right time, can make or break their decision to complete a purchase. After all, 62% of digital customers have chosen, recommended, or purchased more from a brand that offered a personalized experience.
Investing in a personalized strategy can deliver 5x to 8x the ROI on marketing spend and spur customer loyalty. In the digital space, this approach has evolved from an advantage to a requisite.
Marketers understand the value and potential of contextual, personalized experiences, but they often miss the mark when it comes to executing them. Nearly 80% believe customer personalization is key to increasing customer satisfaction, building customer loyalty, and acquiring new customers, but less than half actually use customer behavior and contextual data to personalize experiences.
The difficulty stems, in part, from the expansion of customer touch points to smartphones, tablets, desktop devices, in-store experience, and a myriad of social media platforms. Customers expect to be reached, recognized, and catered to whenever, wherever and however they chose to engage with a brand. For search marketers, this presents a major opportunity—as well as a major undertaking.
The more platforms you can reach your customers on, the more opportunities you have to upsell, drive traffic, and engage your audience. As customers provide more information about themselves across multiple channels, the world of search marketing has evolved to reflect the increasingly complex and sophisticated cross-channel expectations of its audience.
Today, particularly for Millennial audiences (who use mobile devices heavily for social networking as well as for search), reaching your customers on social is merely the cost of getting in the door.
Social channels add another level of context to marketer’s understanding of the customer, allowing them to respond with an equally sophisticated offering. The data available from social activity allows you to identify users across devices and build a holistic, multichannel view of your customer.
As social media continues to become more intertwined with everyday life, and users engage with media in new ways, social advertising is an ideal way to nurture your target audience with contextually-relevant search and segmentation strategies.
After a user engages with an ad on search, their subsequent social media activity provides the basis to create target audiences, tailor keyword strategies to social media activity, and reach customers on platforms where they already choose to engage.
Based on where customers are in their journey, you can retarget and provide content that’s even more personalized—especially considering how many insights consumers generate with their activity on social media.
For example, semantic search allows Facebook to index search results and include people, hashtags, and Facebook posts. This makes customer insight ever more available to marketers, which they can use to enhance the relevance of search engine ads.
Investing in personalized, customer-centric strategies and embracing customers’ shift toward social will pave the way to an exciting future for search; one in which data from online and offline customer touch points will paint a more complete and holistic picture of the customer journey. If you want to get ahead of this evolution, now is the time to improve your customer experience through better search marketing.
The information is out there. The onus is on brands to see it, understand it, and use it to meet customer needs.
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