Hands-On Search: What major trends are you seeing in b-to-b search marketing, both search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search?
Bjork-Jones: The major trend is that everyone feels the pressure to participate, but many have not incorporated search marketing strategies into their overall marketing plan.
HOS: How about Edmund Optics? Is your search marketing budget increasing this year? If so, is there a shift in monies away from other channels?
Bjork-Jones: For 2010 very few budgetary line items saw increases, but SEO was one area where we felt comfortable making an increase—and for one simple reason: The ROI clearly justifies the increased spending.
Unlike many traditional marketing programs, it is extremely simple to track and measure SEO by utilizing free Web tools such as Google Analytics. Not only has Edmund Optics seen significant increases in overall Web traffic, but the percentage of SEO traffic has consistently increased. More important, by utilizing Google Analytics we can easily report that the e-commerce revenue from SEO programs is at an all-time high.
As for the shifting of funds within the marketing budget, when we initially launched our SEO program, funds were shifted from e-mail campaigns in favor of driving qualified traffic to our website to generate direct sales.
HOS: Social media increasingly is seen as a valuable adjunct to search marketing. How have your social media marketing programs progressed?
Bjork-Jones: We also saw an increase in our social media budget this year and are currently focusing on re-evaluating our social media strategies to develop more comprehensive programs. We have moved beyond the phase where one needed to launch a Facebook or Twitter page just to say you participate in social media.
However, the challenges we are facing are justifying ROI, determining the best-fit social media channels and proper resource allocation to maintain these new marketing programs. Overall, social media is an extremely important and growing part of Edmund Optics' customer contact strategy, and we're very excited to adapt our marketing plans to use new methods—not only to market our products and services but also to reach new and existing customers in their preferred communication channels.
HOS: What are your favored social media marketing channels?
Bjork-Jones: Our favorite social media channels are Twitter and Facebook, although we would like to place a greater emphasis on YouTube, since the video format is growing in popularity within our industry, to demonstrate product features and benefits.
But we chose to focus initially on a limited number of social media channels in order to develop a consistent presence while placing a high priority on properties that have been well adopted in the consumer world.
HOS: Edmund Optics' Twitter page—@edmundoptics—seems well followed. Explain your strategy here?
Bjork-Jones: I would suggest any business looking to get involved with social media consider Twitter as the entry point. The Twitter interface is extremely easy to use, and your marketing staff will have plenty of canned content available to tweet. The messages can be as simple as new products, product benefits, trade show appearances or promotions. And the time involved to consistently tweet several times per week will have a minimal impact on resources.
The added benefit of developing social media programs is that you can naturally increase your online brand awareness and gain additional key SEO rankings from social media channels.