Like any successful interaction, using search effectively means understanding that it’s a two-way relationship. Brands need to encourage the right people to find them and to provide the right experience to the people who come looking for help.
To get that key search strategy up to scratch for the new year, here are our top three search marketing strategy trends that marketers should keep front of mind for 2019.
1. Right time, right place
Providing the right kind of content to help customers means understanding their motivations: what they are searching for, when and why. While a brand’s key proposition in terms of service or product may be year-round, there are some seasonal changes that should be taken into account from the consumer perspective. To identify the best marketing moment, start big, with a broad list that includes all the big holidays, seasonal changes, awards shows, sporting events, TV finales, and so on. Take this one step further by thinking about less obvious moments where your brand can shine.
Combining your company insights with general search trends helps you plan a more effective search strategy that takes into account all the important factors, not just one or two. For example, research from Google shows that while search volume increases year on year, the impact of the Christmas season on search remains consistent.
Black Friday and Boxing Day events are still important but their individual influence has shrunk compared to the effectiveness of festive shopping overall. Equally, some categories fare better on Black Friday than others, with TVs performing well but demand for gifts such as perfume reasonably constant across November and December.
2. Setting goals
Search has the potential to help brands achieve a range of goals, from raising brand awareness to increasing sales and even growing footfall in-store. There are various tools that marketers can employ to help achieve those goals, once set, and it’s important to keep on top of these to ensure their brand is putting its best foot forward.
One example of this is when The Royal Mint worked with Manning Gottlieb to develop a new approach to capitalise on gold demand trends, after hypothesising that FTSE 100 performance drops coincided with increased searches for gold. Manning Gottlieb had noticed search surges for gold around major events – but they wanted to tap into this in a more regular way. They achieved this by compiling a projected list of socio-economic events across three months.
Across these, they conducted a controlled test using TVTY, a platform that triggers digital campaign optimisations in real-time when relevant moments are detected. Finally, they would pick the best approach and make further optimisations to the winning strategy. The results were impressive: sales targets were outperformed by 85%, cost per clicks were reduced by 10% and an all time-account record was set for pay-per-click revenue for the company.
By setting a clear goal to capitalise on gold demand trends and maintain their budget while improving sales and cost per acquisition, the company was able to execute a fantastic campaign using data insights combined with realtime adaptations: a great example of best practice search marketing.
3. Tying it all together
Digital advertising – and marketing as a whole – covers a whole range of channels, platforms and outlets that should neither be lumped together and treated the same, nor isolated in their own silos, never to interact.
Marketers need to understand the impact search has on other elements of the customer experience, whether that’s in-store or on the go. The common thread in all of this is data. A data-driven approach to marketing can identify the value of each touchpoint in consumers’ journeys and this informs their goals and measurement metrics.
However, using data effectively can require testing a few different approaches. Becoming comfortable with experimentation, testing and learning is a crucial part of integrating search into the wider marketing plan. As The Royal Mint and Manning Gottlieb realised, running measurable tests and optimising around success points can lead to real gains – a much more effective strategy than one, fixed search strategy.
There are a range of useful tools and insights that can help create effective campaigns that reach customers in the best moments. By delving into the data, understanding customer motivations, following how trends shift and evolve, marketers can make the most of search and enrich their projects for the year ahead.