The Full Value of Search & Online Marketing
There are 3.6 Billion searches on Google per day. This makes understanding the intent and consumer behavior on search both fascinating and difficult. Both for the Google engineers , and also for those who market to their customers on search engines. Search marketing allows for far more granular and specific tracking of performance, actions and results than any other medium. But it is still challenging to quantify the true value of how search & online marketing affect your bottom line and profits.
Google has developed a framework for understanding the “True Value of Search” that they discuss in this video (starting at 2:37). Watching this video, however gave me a slight headache. While the insights are good, the video is TOO dense. So I\’ve summarized it in more simpler terms for my own learning, and am sharing it so we may discuss and learn from each other too.
Direct Response Traffic Generation
The first piece in the framework that Google mentions is direct response. But surprisingly, Google skips over this first pillar because they assume that direct response is generally well understood. If this were true every website, local business listing an text ad would have offers and call to actions. This is clearly not the case. Direct response is the easiest concept to explain, measure and show proof of performance. And in fact, I think until a company has matured their direct response efforts and optimized their performance, exploring any of the other pillars may just be too overwhelming for local business owners. And more often that not just a pure measurement of direct response can show enough return on investment. The other pillars can be treated with anecdotal or light supplementary evidence.
Latent Conversion – Attributing More to Search
These are conversions you gain after that first click. The point is, not ALL conversions happen on the first visit to your website. The conversion cycle is a long and iterative process, with some people taking as long as 90 days before they come in and spend money with your business. For example, of you\’re a dentist offering implant dentistry, a prospective patient may spend quite a bit of time researching his options, and may even visit your website several times before making a decision to make an appointment.
Online to Offline
This is just an extension of latent conversion. I don\’t know that I would consider this a pillar unto its own. The general idea is that there are offline actions we cannot measure but are a result of your online efforts. An obvious example of this would be direct phone calls to your business. And unless you have a specific process to ask every person that comes to your business how they found you, you may miss out on attributing these clients to your online marketing.
What I encourage my clients to do is establish a baseline for their current call volume and/or walk ins. Look at 6 months of data and take an average reading of stats. Then after you\’ve implemented an online marketing or PPC service, you can analyze if there is an increase from these numbers. Let\’s say you\’re averaging 100 calls per month. If this were to increase to 120 calls, and you made no other changes, you can be somewhat confident in recognizing that this increase came from your online marketing efforts.
The last pillar Google talks about is branding. I would broaden “branding” to include building trust and credibility. The appropriate design of your pages and website can help you convert more of your traffic when they address the issues of trust and credibility. This is especially true for local business owners. Including testimonials, cultivating likes and reviews of your business, and regularly communicating your brand to your customer base using online marketing becomes a critical part of a successful online marketing program.